The Differences Between Being Out at Work and in an MBA Program
by Adam Wolford, 2Y 2021
“I never think of you as gay at work” my client suggested to me during an early Monday meeting. No amount of coffee could have prepared me for this conversation on any day, let alone a Monday morning. I haven’t always had the best professional journey as a queer consultant – at my first firm, I was closeted and at my next firm, I would provide information about my sexuality when I thought it was appropriate. Personally, I had never had a “crew” of LGBTQIA+ friends since coming out in undergrad and certainly did not have any role models I could point to professionally as well. Now this experience had forced me to consider — “Do I think of myself as gay at work?” — and what this means for me and other LBTQIA+ professionals.
It was three short months after this experience that I would receive the call from Kellogg that I had been admitted to the class of 2021. After a sigh of relief of over a year of work, I began to wonder how I would show up to the Hub. I had attended the Pride@Kellogg Diversity Weekend and felt the energy of the LGBTQIA+ community there. Additionally, after I was admitted, I was paired with a P@K buddy to provide me support for any questions I had. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to ask what my client had made me question, and besides I assumed that this LGBTQIA+ program was like the one in my workplace, a focus on social opportunities like happy hours and intermural athletic teams.
After arriving on campus, I began plugging in more with the P@K community here and it completely changed my perspective both personally and professionally: personally, I had finally developed a community of queer friends I could rely on not only for social activities but to discuss my long-distance relationship with my boyfriend; professionally, how I show up to my workspace representing the queer community and creating inclusive environments for others not only in the LGBTQIA+ community, but all marginalized groups. I knew that this queer family I had quickly made would be close confidants for life.
My experience with P@K and Kellogg culminated during pride week in late October. As I was sitting on the Spanish steps overlooking rainbow bannisters and flags and waiting for the allies in my section to come rehearse for our drag TG performance, it struck me that the environment at Kellogg wasn’t just about helping you find others like you, but about feeling welcome by those who are most different from you. It is about having tough conversations to understand where everyone is coming from and question your own assumptions but most importantly, supporting one another to become a better leader in our lives. For me, P@K provided not only those in the LGBTQIA+ community the opportunity to feel this way, but provided a place for all of Kellogg to participate in the discussion and support everyone exactly as they are.
Relate to Adam’s story? Visit the Pride@Kellogg page for prospective students and connect with the Kellogg community.