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Nov 2016


Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

Andrew Janiszewski is a first-year MBA at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Can you tell us a bit about your career background and what you’re doing now?
After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2006, I served on Active Duty as an intelligence officer for eight years. For about the first half of that period, I was primarily involved in the special operations drone and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) programs, leading teams of analysts that were trying to map out terrorist networks and find their leadership. I deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to the Philippines. After that, I was selected for a unique assignment as a defense intelligence liaison officer to the Canadian government. Stationed in Ottawa, Canada, I was both a liaison officer, helping to facilitate the exchange of defense intelligence between our two countries, and an exchange analyst. The latter role was the majority of my time and responsibility: I was a strategic analyst for the Asia-Pacific region, researching, analyzing, and formulating high-level assessments of regional defense and security concerns for senior government leaders and military commanders. I left the military after my assignment in Canada, and took a couple of years before deciding that business school was the right path. I applied and was accepted to Chicago-Booth earlier this year. Booth is a perfect fit thanks to its flexible curriculum and its discipline-based approach to a business education. Coming from a non-business background, I’ve found both of those qualities to be immensely valuable. I’m now looking to transition my passion for problem-solving and innovation into a position in strategy consulting or in the tech industry.

What made you decide to shift from serving your country to the business world? Were you out as you went through the business school application process?
In 2014, when I reached the end of my assignment in Ottawa, I decided to separate from Active Duty to pursue a career in medicine; I was looking for a chance to help make the world a better place, but in a different way than what I had been doing in the military. I spent a year in a pre-med post baccalaureate program at Columbia University when I realized that I had stronger interests in the problem-solving and innovation happening in the health care industry. I was more interested in the digital realm of health care than I was in the actual practice of medicine. Business school was really the better fit. After leaving the postbac program, I joined Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as a full-time volunteer policy analyst while applying to business school (I wouldn’t recommend trying to do both at the same time!). It was an amazing opportunity to analyze problems and create policy solutions – my work was mostly in the foreign, defense, and veterans policy areas. That experience furthered my drive to pursue an MBA, which would give me the opportunity to learn fundamental skills and tools that are necessary to understand and operate in the global economy. I was out and proud throughout the business school application process, and the connections I made through affinity groups – both LGBT and veterans – were incredibly helpful and valuable. And even after arriving at business school, the friends I’ve made through those groups are some of my best friends at Booth.

Tell us a bit about being a member of the LGBTQ community while serving your country. Did DADT impact your experience?
I served both during DADT and after its repeal. Honestly, serving under DADT was difficult. I think coming to terms with one’s sexuality is often a difficult experience even in the most welcoming of circumstances. I went to a military academy for undergrad, was stationed in some pretty conservative parts of the country, and for a long time felt like I couldn’t talk about my struggle with even my closest friends.

The comment has been made that as the US Armed Forces go [in terms of policy], so goes the rest of the nation. With the repeal of DADT, how do you think the culture of the Armed Forces has changed? How do you think the culture of the country has changed?
I was assigned as a defense liaison and exchange officer in Canada when DADT was repealed. The Canadian Forces have allowed LGBT people (yep, T also!) to serve openly since 1992. Day-to-day I sat and worked alongside Canadian military members and defense civilians. So, my view on how the culture in the U.S. military at large has changed is a bit insulated. That said, I do believe that the military has broadly and positively adapted to the repeal of DADT. I began coming out to friends and colleagues while I was stationed in the U.S. before DADT had been repealed, and even then I found people to be largely supportive and appreciative that I’d been willing to show them my “true self.” People were far more concerned with my character and how good I was at my job rather than who I was dating. I’m concerned but hopeful that the country will continue to move in the same direction after the election.

What did/does your veteran status bring to your MBA experience? Your LGBTQ MBA experience?
At first, arriving at Chicago-Booth I felt a bit intimidated by my lack of business experience when I started meeting my classmates and learning about the amazing careers they’d had in consulting, finance, and industry. But despite my lack of business-specific experience, my veteran status still inspired a significant amount of confidence from my peers, not only in my leadership skills, but also in my judgment and ability to organize and prioritize groups to get things done. LGBT veterans in business school are like unicorns – there aren’t very many of us! In seriousness, one of the most incredible things about getting an MBA is the opportunity to go to school with an amazingly intelligent, successful, and motivated group of classmates. And the diversity of that group only serves to enhance the richness of the experience. I helped organize Booth’s National Coming Out Day celebration and, as part of that, shared my story of serving and coming out under DADT. I hope that in some small way I’ve helped enrich my classmates’ experience by facilitating conversation and understanding about the struggle many LGBT people face.

What advice would you give to someone currently serving their county who is considering pursuing a MBA?
Definitely spend a good, long time thinking seriously about what you want to do after separating from Active Duty and how an MBA might (or might not) figure into your future career goals. An MBA can open a lot of doors and offer a lot of benefits, but it has costs: it might be expensive, it might force you to relocate, and it might preclude you from earning a full-time salary for two years. A lot of those benefits and costs might seem unclear while you’re still in the military, so definitely reach out early and often – to veterans and others — to make an informed decision. You don’t have to have all of the exact answers, but you owe it to yourself to at least think through these considerations.

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May 2016

LGBT MBA Admissions Events in Chicago on May 6th

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Apparently Chicago is the place on May 6th if you are LGBT and considering an MBA.  Both Northwestern Kellogg and Chicago Booth are having events for LGBT applicants.

 Northwestern Kellogg’s LGBT Preview Day (All Day)

The best way to determine whether Kellogg is the right school for you is to visit campus as part of LGBT Spring Preview Day. This preview day is your opportunity to experience Kellogg’s vibrant academic atmosphere and supportive community firsthand. During the day you will be able to:

  • Interact with current students, including members of our Pride at Kellogg (P@K) student club and their allies
  • Participate in a mock case discussion
  • Attend a Q&A session with the Career Management Center
  • Learn more about the Kellogg admissions process

This year, LGBT Spring Preview Day will be held on Friday, May 6. Start off your preview day experience on the best possible note by joining us for a kickoff reception on the evening of Thursday, May 5.

Spaces for this event are limited and are expected to reach capacity quickly. If you would like to attend, please RSVP at your earliest convenience.

Booth Live (9:00am-6:00pm)

Chicago Booth’s OUTreach student group wants to invite you to join fellow classmates for a firsthand introduction to life at Booth—from inside the classroom to career resources to the importance we place on a diverse community, and more.

You’ll meet faculty and staff, tour the campus, and enjoy lunch with current students who share your career interests. You’ll get an understanding of how OUTreach works to advance social and professional opportunities for LGBT students and allies in the Chicago Booth community. Finally, understand why our appreciation for diversity of thought creates an open environment where impactful solutions are uncovered. Learn More & Register

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Aug 2015

ROMBA Student Organizer Profile: Michael Collins

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In addition to Reaching Out’s staff, each year the Reaching Out LGBT MBA & Business Graduate Conference’s content is developed and produced by MBA & graduate students from schools across the world. These core group of the students working on the ROMBA Conference are known as the “Student Organizing Committee.”  The Organizing Committee comes up with the conference’s theme, ideates all breakout sessions, and is seen prominently on the ground at the conference!

Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight each of this year’s 8 organizers and share some of their tips for those planning to attend this year’s LGBT MBA & Business Graduate Conference!  Not only will they tell you what they are most excited about for this year’s conference, but they’ll also give readers tips on the summer internship search & experience!

Name: Michael Collins

School (Program/Concentration): Johnson at Cornell University (Strategic Management)

Summer Internship:  Summer Consultant at Accenture in New York City

What you’re most excited about for ROMBA 2015?

Chicago! I’m also looking forward to the keynotes and meeting everyone that I can.

What advice do you have for students, particularly those recruiting, going to ROMBA 2015 in Chicago?

Identify firms that you are interested in before going to make the opportunities at the conference less overwhelming. Also, don’t forget to have fun. Last year, I was so focused on recruiting and school, that fun took a backseat. Make the experience worth it by finding a healthy balance.

What experience(s) do you hope to take away from your Internship?

I hope to gain a specific insight into the breadth and depth of the firm’s offering. I also think that company culture is an important aspect of determining my fit into an organization, so I am also hoping to gain closer insight into that.

How did your first year as a graduate student prepare you for your summer?

1Y taught me the importance of level setting, prioritizing and pacing myself. It taught me that it is ok not to know everything–and in fact, to not know A LOT of things. The humility that it fostered has and will likely continue to serve me well in the internship.

What valuable piece of advice can you offer readers going into their summer internship?

Don’t overthink things. Do your best, be yourself and remember that they hired you for a reason.


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