Shane Proch-Wilson, then 28, was working at a tech startup in Boston when he heard about the Reaching Out LGBT annual conference in Los Angeles. His decision to travel across the country to attend the event turned out to be one of the smartest he ever made.
At the 2010 gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender MBA students and applicants, he met with admission officials from Harvard Business School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, among others.
Unlike a more typical MBA admissions event, at which 50 to 100 would-be applicants are trying to steal a few memorable moments with a B-school official, he had the luxury of making a true connection. Proch-Wilson had a 45-minute one-on-one conversation with an admissions official from the Tuck School that he believes was crucial in winning acceptance from the school.
“It was the first time I had ever been able to personally connect with an admissions person,” says Proch-Wilson, who just completed his first year of the MBA program at Tuck.
THE 2012 REACHING OUT CONFERENCE WILL BE IN BOSTON IN OCTOBER
So this year, he’s one of several organizers of this year’s student-run conference to be held Oct. 18-20 at the Seaport Hotel in Boston’s World Trade Center. The event, which draws nearly 1,000 participants, provides a networking forum for prospective and current B-school students as well as recent alumni. Some 80 companies will attend this year’s conference which is sponsored by Boston Consulting Group, Target, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Johnson & Johnson.
Last year, says Proch-Wilson, only 70 pre-MBA applicants arrived to meet with admission directors from 30 top business schools. This year, he’s hoping to double the attendance of MBA applicants to something like 150. More than 30 schools, including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago Booth, and Northwestern Kellogg, will send admissions officials to the event. “We’re trying to reach more of the LGBT applicants so the admissions folks have more people to meet with,” he says. “Applicants would draw the most value out of this year’s ‘Together: Building Community’ conference if they plan to apply to business school later this year or early next.”
MBA APPLICANTS CAN USE THE EVENT TO SET THEMSELVES ‘APART FROM THE CATTLE CALL’
The low ratio of admission officials to applicants “allows you to set yourself apart from the cattle call,” says Hannah Yankelevich, a Tuck student colleague and another organizer of the event. “So it’s the best way to get crucial one-on-one time with admission officers. And you can meet with existing students and also get early exposure to recruiters. You can never start that process too early.”
The conference also includes a career fair, which attracted 77 companies last time, as well as several career panels on such industries as consulting, banking and marketing. There’s also a case writing competition devoted to increasing the number of case studies that deal with LGBT issues. Dan Savage, founder of the It Gets Better project, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Savage’s non-profit organization helps to inform and remind LGBT youth that they are not alone and that things will get better. Other keynote speakers include Brian Elloitt, founder of Friend Factor; Julie Goodridge, plaintiff in a prominent gay marriage case in Massachusetts, and Brian Sims, candidate for Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
“A big part of it is empowering students to be an LGBT person without having to be closeted,” says Proch-Wilson.
The cost of registration is $99 and you can register here.