Each year Reaching Out's staff selects a team made up of 8-10 current LGBTQ MBA (and related degree) students to help craft the theme and content at the annual LGBTQ MBA & Graduate Conference (ROMBA Conference), the world's largest business conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer MBA students and alumni. These students, who are selected via a competitive application process in mid-October, spend 9 months setting the agenda for our community.
As we approach the 2018 ROMBA Conference in Minneapolis (Oct 4-6), we'd like to introduce you to this year's Student Leadership team. Each of them has worked hard to make this the best possible conference for our 1,600 student and alumni attendees.
Each team member will tell you a bit about them, share what they are doing for their summer, and also offer advice to incoming LGBTQ graduate students at business schools around the world.
Adi Rajapuram (UCLA Anderson, Class of 2019)
Adi Rajapuram is a Forte Fellow and C.V. Starr Fellow at UCLA Anderson. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bay Area, she moved to Texas to attend a unique program at Baylor University where she created her own curriculum. She specialized in biology, economics, Spanish, and political science, combining all four in her thesis on Determining the Cost-Effectiveness of Providing Free Prenatal Care to Hispanic Undocumented Immigrants.
Upon graduating, she decided she loved Texas so much she wanted to stay and accepted a role with Oracle in the technology space. There, she ran software contract operations for North America and Latin America, working in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Beyond work, she also found a true passion for nonprofits volunteering with the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio, helping them launch the Start by Believing campaign eliminating community stigmas around sexual assault and encouraging survivors to come forward.
Adi is a self-proclaimed Pinterest expert and you can find her testing new vegetarian recipes or YouTubing creative braid tutorials.
What is Your School (Program/ Concentrations)?
I'm at UCLA Anderson focusing on healthcare and technology
What are you doing for your summer between first year and second year?
I'm serving as a Business Consulting MBA Intern at Adobe in NYC
How did your first year in business school prepare you for your summer internship?
Honestly, I probably could have started my summer internship without going to get my MBA and done an OK job. What has taken me from average to exceptional in this role is the wisdom and soft skills I picked up in school. Demonstrating patience when things don't go your way, helping others in your free time, and building camaraderie with colleagues make you memorable and a valuable team player, all things I did throughout my first year.
What experience(s) do you hope to take away from your Internship this summer?
All of the New York summer activities! But beyond exploring the city, I want to get to know as many groups as I can in the company to understand more about technology and digital marketing. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that you're working for an industry pioneer, so I constantly meet with different people to learn as much as I can about trends and the future of what the market will look like.
What's the most valuable piece of advice going into summer internships you can offer the incoming Class of 2020?
Don't be afraid to speak up and take charge to make the internship work for you. At first, I didn't feel like I was utilizing my shiny new skills I'd picked up in business school, so I voiced my interest in exploring a different function to my manager. She was more receptive than I anticipated and made sure to connect with me another team, and left space in my schedule for me to work on a project that appealed to me more strongly.
What are you most excited about for ROMBA 2018?
Meeting all of the Pre-MBAs! As one of the owners for the track (and having first attended the conference as a Pre-MBA) I reminisce on how impactful ROMBA was on my decision to attend business school and I can't wait to pay it forward.
Any advice you have for people going into the ROMBA Conference for the first time?
Leave some time in your schedule to meet old friends and make some new ones. It's easy to get caught up with recruiting events and all of the sessions, but I met some wonderful people at my first ROMBA and my favorite part of going back is getting to catch up with them again.