Resources for career and internship search for LGBTQ+ students
Navigating the career and internship search process can be challenging. Doing so as an LGBTQ+ student can be even more so. We have compiled some of our best advice on how to manage the process below.
One of the most challenging things about navigating the career search as an LGBTQ+ person is determining how comfortable you are with sharing this part of yourself with an interviewing team.
In an ideal world, the fact that you are LGBTQ+ should not be a factor in the hiring process. The harsh reality is that it does matter to some people and to some companies.
Determining how much you want to share with a prospective employer about this part of yourself is up to you and might change throughout the process. It is common for LGBTQ+ people to vary their levels of outness with coworkers, families, and friends. You may be more open in your friend circle and more private in the workplace, which happens frequently.
Hiding your identity may cause you to feel frustrated about leading a dual life and lower your self-esteem. However, being open about your sexuality might lead to discrimination, harassment, or loss of employment. No one can determine how much of yourself you should share except you. Talk with your career counselor or another trusted person to figure out what you are comfortable with.
Figuring out if a company is welcoming to LGBTQ+ people can be a challenge. Here are some ways you can gather information to make your decision:
Do your research
Visit the company website and social media to find the answers to these questions:
Do they have a nondiscrimination policy that covers sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression?
Do they have an employee resource or affinity group for LGBTQ+ employees?
Do they sponsor programs to educate employees on bias and discrimination?
Do their health plans include coverage for parental leave if the parent adopts?
Do their health plans have exclusions that will prevent trans people from participating?
Find someone who works at the company that is LGBTQ+ and ask them for some of their time to talk about the environment. Possible questions you can ask them include:
Do you feel comfortable being out here?
What should I know about being queer in this company?
Visit the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website and view the results of their most recent Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This is a helpful tool that will show you how more than 1,000 companies rank in the areas of policies, practices, and benefits for their LGBTQ+ employees.
Review the list of companies listed on any local LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce websites. For the Indianapolis area, you should refer to the Indy Rainbow Chamber website.
It is difficult to determine if a company will be welcoming to you, however, finding out the above information can help you to make your decision.
Every employer expects to see something different on a resume. If you asked 30 recruiters what they need on a resume, you would most likely get 30 different answers.
Our best resume advice is to speak with a career counselor in your school. There are pieces of information you will want to include that are specific to your major, and the best way to find those out is to speak with someone in your school. To see who you should talk to in your school, visit here.
When you are designing your resume as an LGBTQ+ student, there are some things you should consider:
When listing your name on your resume, you should write the name that you want to be called. When you are completing an official job application or background check forms, you should list your legal name even if it is different than the name you listed on your resume. Sometimes you will be able to put your preferred or chosen name in parenthesis on those documents and follow up with the employer during the interview process to explain why the listed names are different. Talk to your career counselor or another trusted person if you would like to practice this conversation in advance.
LGBTQ+ student group involvement
Some say that you should not list anything on your resume that might have the potential to be used against you in the hiring process. Others say that if an employer takes issue with these parts of you then you do not want to work there anyway. You should consider all of these points and trust your own judgement while navigating the process.
Some people are comfortable with listing their queer extracurricular activities on their resume with the full name of the student organization. Others might want to label the student organization as an "anti-discrimination organization." A third option would be to omit the organization all together. All of these are valid choices. Only you can decide how much you want to share.
When it is time for you to start interviewing for full-time or internship positions, the best thing you can do to prepare is to complete a mock interview with your career counselor. These interactive experiences allow you to practice what you are going to say and to find some common interviewing questions. To find out who your career counselor is, visit here.
Navigating the interview process as an LGBTQ+ student can be challenging and rewarding. Consider these tips:
Dress for the job you want. This is an old theory that still holds true. No matter what your gender identity is, you should dress for the job you want. This means business professional attire should be worn for interviews. It does not matter if you wear pants or a skirt, it only matters that you are professional and confident. If you have questions about how to navigate this, please visit with a career counselor.
Interview the interviewer
Interviewing is a two-way street. Not only are they interviewing you to determine your skills and fit with the organization, you should be interviewing them too. You will want to make sure that this is a company you want to spend 40 hours a week at. There are questions you can ask during the interview process that can help you determine if they provide a welcoming environment.
Are all employees asked to do inclusion and diversity or bias training?
Does your company have all-gender restrooms?
How does your company handle bias incidents against LGBTQA employees?
How would you describe the company culture?
It is sometimes helpful to ask multiple people the same question to see if you get the same answer. This will help you determine if they are answering truthfully or just saying what you want to hear.
These should not be your first questions during an interview. Focus on the job and your capabilities first. Make the company want to hire you. After you have convinced them you are the right one for the job, then make inquiries about policies regarding LGBTQ+ issues.
Once you are invited to do an in-person interview, you will be able to pick up on some clues as well. Things you might look for during an interview include:
Are there single stall, gender-neutral restrooms?
Are there any fliers about diversity or LGBTQ+ causes/initiatives on the bulletin board?
How are people dressed? Is there a strict dress code?
In general, do you notice diversity in the office?
Do they use “guys” and “dudes” or when referring to groups at work?
None of these observations by themselves will give you a full picture, but they can be considered along with other information you gather to determine if this is a good fit for you.
Questions they should not ask
Are you Gay, Queer, or LGBTQ+?
Are you married?
Some of these questions are illegal and some show the negative character of a company. If you asked questions like this, consider responding by asking them how this is relevant to my ability to perform this job.
Congratulations! You have successfully navigated the hiring process, and now it is time to begin your career or internship!
Some people find it difficult to share their full selves at work. That is normal. According to the Human Right Campaign (HRC), there are lots of reasons why people may not disclose their sexuality or gender identity in the workplace including:
Possibly making people feel uncomfortable.
Possibility of being stereotyped.
Possibility of losing connections or relationships with coworkers.
People might think I will be attracted to them just because I’m LGBT.
Coworkers or management will think talking about my sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not professional.
May not be considered for advancement or development opportunities.
Only you can determine how "out" you want to be. Finding like-minded peers will help you feel included and joining or starting an employee resource or affinity group will help you connect with other LGBTQ+ people and allies, which can help you transition into being a full-time employee authentically.