Go Where the Journey Takes You
The title of my inaugural post is 'Go Where the Journey Takes You,' which is a pretty good philosophy for any business school students who may have changed their minds 14 or 15 times about what they want to do with their lives once they get to school. (Not that we know anyone like that. Certainly not.) This past weekend, my journey took me to Boston for Reaching Out MBA, the annual conference for LGBT MBAs and their allies. It was a whirlwind journey, beginning with a mad dash out the door after our last Managing Groups & Teams class on Thursday afternoon and ending with my coming home on Sunday to two meetings and five assignments before the start of our Fall 2 term on Monday. Who said business school was easy? But the journey was worth it, because it had some very unintended outcomes.Like many affinity conferences, ROMBA (as it's affectionately called) is an opportunity for LGBT students to network and recruit at top firms from around the country and around the world. But that's not why I went. I am aiming to recruit at smaller firms and startups, so the opportunity to attend a cocktail reception at the new not-yet-opened McKinsey office in Back Bay didn't exactly excite me—though twelve of my classmates had a great time there. And the career fair, featuring over 70 companies ranging from Accenture to Zynga, wasn't the highlight of the weekend for me either, though I did have a great conversation with the folks at Apple about how Yale's new Center for Engineering, Innovation, and Design has exploded in popularity amongst SOM students as well as how SOM's Design & Innovation Club has grown exponentially from its formation last year. I went to ROMBA to network with my peers at other schools and to discuss the rapidly changing attitudes of workplace equality and corporations seeing treating their employees fairly as good business. I was not disappointed. Keynote speakers included Julie Goodridge, the primary plaintiff on the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Court case which ended in marriage equality for all gay Bay Staters; Bryan Sims, the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature; and Dan Savage, founder of It Gets Better, who delivered a remarkable speech in which he made me and my 11 dinner companions well up with tears when we weren't having coughing fits from laughter. The corporate world has truly been a beacon of hope for changing attitudes about fair treatment of employees, but I was inspired to be a leader in helping to ease the process for other firms and individuals as a part of my ongoing journey. The next afternoon, ROMBA held a pre-MBA fair for more than 100 professionals and undergraduates looking to pursue an MBA. As student government Admissions Chair, I was invited to man SOM's booth and talk to approximately 50 students about Yale and my love for the school. (My favorite subject.) I was lucky enough to be joined by Julia Zupko, our Career Development Office Director, and she gave amazing insights to the pre-MBAs about their own journeys and where they might end up going after SOM. Best of all, it gave me a chance to brag about Caren, Dwight, and Fostin, three SOM second-years who, along with five others from Tuck and MIT-Sloan, planned the entire conference. With 1,200 attendees, over 70 sponsors, and dozens of events over three days, I had every right to brag! But back to the unintended outcomes. I hadn't come into ROMBA with a mindset of getting a job, landing an interview, or even with collecting business cards from my target firms. But as I was sitting down at the end of conference with a plate of hors d'oeuvres and a beer, I recognized the woman sitting next to me from lunch. We had been sitting across the table from each other and didn't get a chance to talk. It turned out she was the head of MBA recruiting for a very large, very famous media and entertainment company. We ended up talking for an hour—she told me what a magical place her firm was, the kinds of amazing contributions MBA interns had made, and how much support there was for folks in the LGBT community. I regaled her with stories of my stint as an actor, brought tears to her eyes when I recounted one of Dan Savage's stories from dinner the previous night, and told her that I wish she hadn't been quite so convincing in selling her company, as I was more confused than ever. At the end of our conversation, we exchanged cards, and she gave me a hug and said, "You're going to do great things. Just know that." My MBA journey has only just begun, and I already feel it sliding by too quickly. We are 1/8th through, and I am nearly driven mad by all of the opportunities I miss in a week—by all of the events, activities, parties, and interviews I haven't had. But it is interactions like this that keep me in check. I never intended to get an invitation to apply to one of the most prestigious media and entertainment internships in the world, but it's where my journey took me. I can't wait to see where it takes me next. I hope you'll come with me.