When Aidan Klemm saw a gap in career-planning opportunities for students at Case Western Reserve University who identify as LGBTQIA+, Klemm set out to do something about it.

Working at the LGBT Center with director Liz Roccoforte and assistant director AmariYah Israel, Klemm had the opportunity to plan a career fair specifically geared toward LGBTQIA+ students.

This fall, the team’s work comes to fruition with Professionals with Pride: Northeast Ohio Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Collegiate Career Fair Friday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Thwing Center ballroom.

The event will bring organizations and companies who are intentionally, through policy and practice, LGBTQIA+ inclusive. The growing list of companies includes Dominion Energy, Proctor & Gamble, Hyland Software Inc., KeyBank and more. View the up-to-date list of employers to be represented.

That day, there will be several sessions running concurrently for students to learn about topics such as pursuing a career in higher education.

While the event is geared toward LGBTQIA+ individuals, allies also are welcome.

Finding inspiration

Prior to the idea for this event, the LGBT Center held a career-themed event each spring. Those events, which ranged from panel discussions to networking opportunities, yielded varying results, with attendance fluctuating over the years.

“When [students] come to hear from the panel, they don’t want to hear about what it’s like to be LGBT in the workplace—we’re past that point,” Klemm said. “We want to get jobs in places where people are LGBT-inclusive.”

So the LGBT Center wanted to meet students where they were: the job search.

During the job search, Klemm said, LGBTQIA+ students may have concerns that can’t easily be addressed in the typical career center setting.

Klemm said one of the goals for the events is to give student the opportunity “to ask those questions that are LGBT-related that they wouldn’t necessarily get to ask in a regular career fair. Going up to an employer at the regular career fair and being like: ‘Would my hormone replacement therapy be covered under your health insurance?’ Many people would be caught off guard; it’s not a typical scenario in which you would be able to ask those questions.”

Getting broader university buy-in

The event’s timing—the day after the university-wide Career Fair—was purposeful. Then-Career Center director Tom Matthews (now the interim associate provost for student success) suggested that, with so many employers in town already, it might fit in the companies’ schedules to stay another day.

Throughout the planning process, Post-Graduate Planning & Experiential Education (previously the Career Center) has been involved, referring employers to Roccoforte for follow up.

In addition, the LGBT Center received support for the event from the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity’s through the Inclusion Transformation Fund.

Expanded appeal

 The Professionals with Pride: Northeast Ohio LGBTQIA+ Collegiate Career Fair has even broader support than just Case Western Reserve University.

The event is geared toward all northeast Ohio students, with Kent State University, Cleveland State University, John Carroll University, Baldwin Wallace University and Lorain County Community College participating.

Pre-sessions were planned at Cleveland State and Kent State to help students prepare for the event. Case Western Reserve also held a walk-in closet event earlier this month for gender non-conforming, transgender, nonbinary and questioning individuals to find gender-affirming professional clothing. Sweetlime Alterations: Uniquely Queer Tailoring was on hand at the event to ensure the new clothing fit properly and comfortably.

“If you don’t feel good in what you’re wearing, if you don’t feel confident or like it reflects you as an individual in general and then especially in your own gender, it impacts your confidence,” Roccoforte said.

The Professionals with Pride Northeast Ohio LGBTQIA+ Collegiate Career Fair will be held Friday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Thwing Center ballroom. Register for the event.