Queer Career Networking Panel: Finding Your Workplace Match

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By Kunal Mulki, Stern Class of 2024, Wasserman Career Ambassador

Hi everyone! My name is Kunal Mulki, and I’m a sophomore at Stern studying Finance and Sustainable Business with a minor in the Business of Entertainment, Media, & Technology. I recently attended the Queer Career Networking Panel, which featured a range of panelists whose careers span entertainment, law, communications, and more.

Melissa de la Rama, a VP of distribution at WarnerMedia, discussed the industry and entertainment itself is changing with new technology and streaming preferences; specifically, she’s witnessed key mergers of companies throughout her career involving Fox, Disney, AT&T, and Discovery. She also discussed how to bring your authentic, full self to the workplace. Specifically, she advised participants on how to put yourself out there while continuing to set boundaries to protect your mental health. For instance, Melissa slowly began mentioning her wife and family life to her co-workers before discussing her sexuality in full. However, she advised students that they aren’t required to put their queer identities on full display, and if they at any point feel uncomfortable sharing, they should never force themselves to do so. 

In his breakout room, JD Schramm—former Stern professor and a current speaker and consultant for JDS Communications—discussed the importance of workplace culture and finding your fit at a firm. Central to this, he said, is recognizing your own power in the hiring process. For instance, JD has discontinued application processes with companies that he felt did not align with his values or struck him as disingenuous, and he feels that an applicant’s labor should be valued just as much as the companies’ work positions (you are valuable to the companies you are applying for!). He suggested asking questions about a firm’s culture during interviews or networking opportunities.

After breakout rooms closed, participants returned to the main room for closing remarks on navigating college and the early career experience. The advice that struck me most came from Mia Porcelli, who said that although something might look great on paper or on your resume, if it doesn’t feel good in your soul, it usually isn’t worth it! Overall, the event was a great resource to hear from queer voices on how their identities have impacted their school and career journeys.

Other panelists included Anita Roja Carroll, a law associate at Rower LLC; Joey Hernandez, a business analyst at Amazon; Adrian Ogle, Deputy Director of Communications and Global Engagement at Echoing Green; and Michael Gamber, Director of Volunteer Relations and training at York Cares.