Corporations meet with LGBT MBA candidates to recruit, offer internships and present workshops on career development

MBA CANDIDATES | Organizers of the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference at the Fairmont Hotel put together welcome bags on Wednesday, Oct. 12, before participants arrive. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

More than 75 corporations stepped forward to sponsor the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference taking place at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas this weekend, according to the students who organized the event.

The entirely student-run event each year brings 500 LGBT MBA candidates and 500 professionals together for career development workshops and consulting projects as well as recruiting for careers and internships.

Organizer Billy Hwan, an MBA student at UC Berkeley, said that the first day of the conference is devoted to career sessions and the second day will focus more on lifestyle issues.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, teams of five will be tasked with coming up with innovations for 10 local non-profits, according to convention organizer Oron Stenesh, a second-year MBA student at University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.

Organizer Anthony Esposito, a MBA student at Baruch College in New York, said he was most excited about a project that teams LGBT students with a local Baptist Church.

“It’s a sharing of values that benefits everyone,” he said.

Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas will work with another team. The Dallas Holocaust Museum, which began a relationship with the LGBT community this year when it brought an exhibit on the Nazi treatment of gay men from the U.S. Holocaust Museum, is turning to the group for ideas on continuing the relationship and developing membership in the LGBT community.

Organizer Rebecca Price, an MBA candidate at Babson College in Boston, said that entrepreneurship is another component of the conference. Three teams have been selected to make a pitch to a panel of venture capitalists. The winner will receive a $1,500 prize.

Among the speakers for the event are Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and Human Right Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

Public relations expert Howard Bragman, best known from his appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and on HNL, will speak on Friday evening. Elyse Cherry is the Saturday speaker at noon. She is CEO of Boston Community Capital and President of Boston Community Venture Fund.

Also as part of the weekend, Target, one of the conference’s platinum sponsors, will host a charity event that benefits the Point Foundation National LGBT Scholarship Fund.

Among the local companies recruiting are AT&T, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

And since most of the students will be back in school in two weeks when Out & Equal Workplace Summit convenes in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole, representatives of the conference and some employee resource groups will be at Reaching Out.

“We encourage our attendees to join employee resource groups,” Esposito said.

The students all said that organizing this conference was one of the most important parts of their graduate education.

“This is one of the most formative experiences of our MBA career,” Price said.

“We get to share with 1,000 people,” Stenesh said. “This is my gay MBA family.”

Reaching Out continues through Saturday and walk-up registration is available. $400.