gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer with LGBTIQ leaders in industries related to each students’ field of study. The program facilitates career and personal guidance between LGBTIQ students and mentors, with each one-on-one session used to address issues both unique to LGBTIQ students and to their field of study.
The scheme successfully assigned 45 students to accompanying industry professionals in 2013. Running from April to October, the program matches each student to a mentor based on shared interests their specific discipline.
LGBTIQ students can face certain career planning challenges related to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. A 2012 Australian Workplace Equality Index study found younger employees in the 16-24 year age bracket claimed to be afraid of being “out at work”, apprehensive about their potential career impact and the consequences of their sexual orientation.
The pride mentoring program aims to curb these challenges by providing advice and assistance on topics such as being “out” in the workplace, challenging misconceptions and stereotypes about the LGBTIQ community, career planning and personal goal setting.
Brenton Spink, Queer Officer at the RMIT University Student Union, stresses the importance of the mentoring program.
“The pride mentoring program is an awesome opportunity for LGBTIQ RMIT students,” he told Catalyst. “Mentees will be linked up with LGBTIQ-identifying professionals from their area of study that can give students a picture of how they may fit into their future workplaces. The city queer space at 8.03.06 is also an excellent source of information where interested applicants can ask the previous year’s students about their experiences in the program.”
Adam Rowland, from RMIT Career Development and Employment, says for many LGBTIQ students entering the workplace can be “quite daunting”.
“The pride mentoring program is the first of its kind in Australian higher education and has been welcomed and well supported,” he said. “Students and mentors have been overwhelmingly supportive of the program with 93% of students participating in the program last year stating that they ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that they have a more positive outlook about their future as a result of their discussions with their mentor.”