Laura Carter, our Employer Liaison Officer, reflects on what was discussed at the first event held for LGBT+ students at Careers & Employability…
On Monday 3rd October, Careers & Employability ran our first event focusing on supporting LGBT+ students in their future career planning. This event was held in association with the Iris Prize Film Festival – Cardiff’s LGBT short film prize.
For this event, we were welcomed by a number of influential speakers from different industries and sectors to share their experiences and advice:
Karen Cooke: Chair of Enfys, Cardiff University Staff LGBT+ Network
Ben Hales: Tax Professional, HMRC
Berwyn Rowlands: Festival Director, Iris Prize Film Festival
James Searle: Public Sector Prisons Development Lead, Civil Service Fast Stream
Craig Stephenson: Director of Commission Services, National Assembly for Wales
Andrew Taylor: Principal Engineer, WSP | Parson Brinckerhoff
Each of the speakers spoke about their background, their current career path and obstacles they have faced and we’ve picked out their top tips for you…
Job applications – do your research
Often a job interview is perceived to be the applicant trying to impress the employer. However, the panel members stressed the importance of reading into an organisation’s policies, whether they are listed as part of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index or whether the organisation is involved in any relevant events (i.e. Pride Cymru ) as an indicator of their attitudes. The interview is as much about you finding out about the employer and their culture as it is about them finding out about you.
Living and studying abroad
Some of the panel members spoke about their experiences of living and working abroad. Their advice was not to let being LGBT+ be a barrier to broadening your horizons, whilst also being mindful about attitudes and cultures surrounding LGBT+ people in certain countries. Doing your research beforehand on websites like the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Wikipedia is important to ensure you stay safe and get the most from your experience abroad.
Everyone’s experience is different…
The experiences of being an LGBT+ person in the workplace depends on a lot of varying factors, including the type of industry you’re going to and where you’re going to be based. Attitudes and mind-sets will vary depending on location (working in a diverse city like Cardiff compared to working in rural North Wales) and industry (environments such as construction for example have traditionally been less hospitable to LGBT+ individuals in the past but are slowly moving in the right direction.)
Some panellists commented on how moving to University or a new workplace marked a new chapter in their lives where they could ‘come out’ more fully, embrace and openly share their identity and orientation. Others said ‘coming out’ felt like an anti-climax as others were so understanding. Overall, the main advice to take away was that in order to perform any role to the best of your ability, you need to feel comfortable and happy in the workplace, as there is nothing more powerful than being yourself.
If you attended the event or would like to share your thoughts or advice for other LGBT+ students please tweet us @cardiffcareers using the hashtag #LGBTLeaders.
Ruth Lewis, this year’s LGBT+ Officer (Women) came along and shared her views on the panel:
“This was an event that will help me tremendously in my future career. For me, to hear about the experiences of more senior members of the LGBT+ community was a rare and invaluable occasion and something that I otherwise would never get to experience”
Our next panel event will be Women Leaders in Business, which is taking place on Monday 7th November from 18:30 in the Council Chamber, Main Building. Please do come along to discuss and find out about the experiences of being a woman in the workplace. You can book your place here.
Your feedback and help please
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Laura, Employer Liaison Officer, Careers & Employability Team.
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