LGBTQ+ Friendly Employers and How to Find Them

There are some helpful lists out there of LGBTQ+ Friendly Employers. But what do you do if you are interested in working at a relatively new or small company that may not show up on those lists? Luckily there are actions you can take to assess just how friendly this company is to LGBTQ+ employees and they are all part of the regular job search: Do your research and ask questions.

When researching your targeted companies, be sure to look at how a company portrays themselves. Is there evidence that they value diversity and inclusion in the following?

  • Mission statement/overall profile
  • Top management: any minorities and women? Check out Hoovers the Resources for Co-ops section of our website.
  • Charities they support
  • Website and social media (for proof that the company values diversity in its employees, their customers and vendor partners)

Once you’ve researched the what the company says about itself, check outside sources. What is their recent history (are they walking the walk?) and how have they been rated?

The Company’s Employee Policies and Training can tell you a lot. Check for clues in their:

  •  Job postings, website or promotional materials – do they include statements about being an Equal Opportunity Employer?
  • Zero tolerance policies for discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the employee handbook?
  • Ask about training opportunities for employees and managers on diversity issues.

Do they have any LGBTQ+ Friendly Benefits?

  • Healthcare coverage for same sex spouses and domestic partners
  • Paid family leave (maternity, paternity, adoption) allowed for domestic partners as well as children of a domestic partners, regardless of biological or adoptive status
  • COBRA-equivalent benefits for domestic partners
  • Bereavement leave for death of a partner or their immediate family.

How about Employee Resource Groups?

Some companies have affinity or resources groups for LGBTQ+ employees. These groups provide opportunities to network and discuss challenges at work and strategies to overcome them. For the company, these groups help lower turnover and increase retention. Organizations may also have a diversity and inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission.

During the recruiting process however, emphasize qualifications

Focus on what makes you a well-qualified candidate for the position: skills, experience, education and abilities. An individual should never have to divulge their gender identity or sexual orientation. If a person decides to come out it should be on their own terms. Unfortunately, protections are not universal, and disclosure can open one up to discrimination. The best approach is to ask general questions re: benefits and diversity initiatives and compare that with your research.

Lastly, if you do get an offer from a company, but find that you are not comfortable working for them after all, it is okay to politely turn down an offer. And all that research was not for nothing, you know more about who you want to work for and who you don’t.

For more information, check our LGBTQ+ resources page for students: https://wit.edu/sites/default/files/coopscareers/LGBTQ%20Student%20Resources.pdf

Research strategies and questions provided by Fast Company: Six Steps for Finding LGBT-Friendly Companies

Co-ops Abroad: Wentworth Stories and Resources

You can do your co-op anywhere . . . in the world.  Many Wentworth students express an interest in going abroad for their co-ops and quite a few have done it.

One approach to an international co-op may start with a global company that is on your targeted company list.  One student did her optional co-op at Raytheon, but she really wanted to work in the automotive industry.  That likely meant working outside of New England.  She set out to apply for automotive co-ops and landed an opportunity to interview with VW.

One problem: VW was her dream company but she was mad at them for the recent emissions scandal.  She decided to go to the interview anyway.  If she didn’t like them, she could turn them down and if she did, maybe she could change them.

She interviewed well and was offered a co-op in Tennessee.  Her co-op was great and at the end she was offered an opportunity to go back and co-op with VW again, but this time in Germany.

A Computer Networking student started working at Schneider Electric part-time.  He did his optional co-op in U.S. with them and his first mandatory in France and spent a bit of time in Netherlands.  For his last co-op, he was back in the states but he kept getting more responsibility each time he worked for Schneider Electric.

Leveraging connections to land an international co-op – Originally, this student found an internship in his home state of Connecticut with a company that was beginning a large bridge construction project in his home town. Unfortunately, the project came under delay due to a legal dispute and his co-op had to be cancelled.

With not much time left to find a new co-op, he spoke to his father who suggested he work for his employer’s IT department in their headquarters in Munich, Germany. The bank his father originally worked for, Helvea in NYC, was bought by Baader Bank a few years back. He sent his resume over to the head of the IT department who offered him as a co-op. His supervisor was also gracious enou gh to offer him a room in his home for the duration of the term.

This student has had the opportunity to speak with many of the higher ups here at the company including the founder of the bank himself.  He says, “It’s been an incredible experience so far and a huge learning experience”.

Another student leveraged family connections in Ireland and as a result, did his optional co-op at Dell-EMC Ireland in Cork.

These are just some examples on how Wentworth students have secured a co-op abroad.  I recommend you start early.  You will need enough time to do the research, arrange for a work visa, housing and travel arrangements.  Specific programs that offer opportunities to do a co-op abroad often have early deadlines, so plan ahead.

A couple of tips:

-Research countries and regions’ economies by doing some labor market research. Visa restrictions may be a factor in countries where the economy is at a low point.  So, focus on countries with recovering or prospering economies.  Check government websites as well as local and international industry associations, for e.g. European Commission’s European Job Mobility Portal and the European Employment Observatory

-Research countries and regions for travel advisories: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

Resources for Searching for International Co-ops:

My Perfect Resume: International Job Resources  –  This site has helpful links about the international job search.

Global Edge – A database of international internship/co-op opportunities.

AIESEC – An international platform that helps young people discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society. The AIESEC Global Internship Program has four streams including: Management: Internships in general business functions such as marketing, finance and HR and Technical: Internships in IT and engineering.

DAAD – Rise Program – The Research Internships in Science and Engineering program is administered by the German Academic Exchange Service. It is for students studying biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering and physics. The program sends students from all over the world to Germany to work with doctoral students on research projects over the summer. Note: the working language is English however, knowing some basic German will be beneficial.

IAESTE – The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience places students who are currently in full-time attendance at a university or college studying engineering, technical sciences, or technologies such as architecture, agriculture, and forestry. Please note the eligibility criteria, application procedures, salaries and fees.

Greater Copenhagen Career Portal; specifically, for Engineering  – Greater Copenhagen is a metropolitan region that covers Eastern Denmark and Skåne in Southern Sweden. This website lists jobs at companies in the Greater Copenhagen region especially suited for international candidates.  It functions as a matchmaking service that facilitates the contact between companies in Greater Copenhagen and qualified international candidates interested in pursuing a career in Greater Copenhagen.

European Undergraduate Research Opportunities – EuroScholars is a unique research abroad program designed for advanced and talented undergraduate students from US and Canadian institutions looking for an international research experience. The program offers these students to conduct research at one of the 7 internationally renowned European Research Universities. In this program, students take one course in the classroom and then work under the direct supervision of professors and other academic staff on a specific academic research project chosen by both the student and the faculty. There is a cost for tuition and fees associated with this program.

Please note that there may be fees associated with the services that these organizations provide.

Meet the Staff – Sara Dell

Originally Sara Dell, Associate Director of CO-OPS + CAREERS at Wentworth, planned to be a Professor of Anthropology.  She earned two degrees before learning that she liked to work in teams and preferred seeing immediate results from her work.  So, she left her PhD program and instead, having come from a family of small business people, went to work in industry.  First in large corporate banking (in Foreign Exchange – the cowboys of banking, where 20 million dollars is traded into Yen in less than a minute) and then in a series of small startups and emerging growth companies in various industries including Buzz marketing, entertainment, and green technology.

Starting in operations and finding she liked working with people, Sara’s mentors encouraged her to specialize in Human Resources.  She found herself hired as employee number ten and the only operations person working for the 6-foot redhead CEO, and University of Cincinnati DAAP program alum.  She wanted her creative company to have co-ops.  The company had two interns the summer before Sara arrived and she grew the program to where there were co-op students in almost every department.  At one point, the ratio of co-ops and interns to staff was 1:3.

Working with co-op students became her favorite part of her job and so she decided to shift to Career Services in Higher Education.  Through a series of informational interviews, Sara landed an Assistant Director role at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where she advised students’ full-time on their careers and finding co-ops and internships.   She found she loved working with engineering and technology students, appreciated being part of a team and was energized when a student would come in with a co-op, internship or a full-time offer.

A few years later, having lived 20 years in Chicago, Sara wanted to return home to New England.  She missed the region and her family.   When she saw the open position at Wentworth Institute of Technology, the school reminded her of her current school, but with the added benefit of a co-op program.  She applied and got the offer.  Hired as a CO-OP + CAREER Advisor, Sara is now the Associate Director, running the co-op program.  A career that started with building a co-op program in industry has grown into overseeing the co-op program here at Wentworth.   Sara’s journey has come full circle and she is back in Higher Education on a team who works with students’ full time. Sara celebrates every time a Wentworth student lands a co-op!