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OUTreach is the Full-Time MBA student group representing the LGBTQ+ community at Chicago Booth. Members of OUTreach work together to advance social and professional opportunities for LGBTQ+ students at Booth. From mentorship and guidance with navigating the recruitment process, to networking with alumni and hosting a variety of social events – OUTreach enhances the MBA experience for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies.

This student group truly embodies the pay-it-forward culture at Booth as they provide support to individuals before, during, and after applying to Chicago Booth. Read on as current OUTreach co-chair, Deasee Phillips, provides more insight on OUTreach and building community at Booth.

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Tell us about yourself and take us along your journey to Chicago Booth.

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended Princeton University, where I majored in Politics. After graduating, I started my career at JP Morgan, working there for four years — first in New York for two years, and then in San Francisco for another two. While I gained invaluable experience in finance at JP Morgan, I always had a deep passion for the arts and entertainment industry. I realized that in order to make a successful transition into this field, I needed to pursue my MBA and become equipped with the necessary skills and network.

Chicago Booth's ability to tailor my education to my specific goals provided the ideal platform to pivot my career in the direction of media and entertainment. The experiential learning opportunities, student-led groups focused on the arts and media, and extensive alumni network in the entertainment industry all drew me to the program.

What sold you specifically on our Full-Time MBA Program?

Several key factors drew me to Chicago Booth's Full-Time MBA Program. First and foremost, Booth's highly flexible curriculum was incredibly appealing. With the ability to tailor my education and select courses that directly align with my goals, I knew Booth would provide the optimal pathway to pivot my career from finance to the arts and entertainment field. During my first year, I took various classes such as (1) Pivot for Success where we discussed cases surrounding the evolution of Netflix and (2) Arts Leadership where we talked through strategic initiatives for various arts organizations like The Joffrey Ballet.

Additionally, Booth's clear attention to diversity and inclusion was important to me. I wanted an MBA experience that would expose me to a wide range of perspectives and allow me to learn from people of all backgrounds. The LEAD program is everyone’s first introduction to Booth and it provided clear insight into how the school prioritizes diversity and inclusion. Booth's commitment to building a supportive and tight-knit community where everyone's unique experiences are valued really resonated with me.

Finally, Booth's Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group (MESG) played a significant role in my decision. Knowing there was an active student organization dedicated to exploring business careers in this industry and providing ample support and resources to help students succeed was a huge selling point. The entertainment industry is not an easy sector to pivot into from business school, but MESG helped me immensely. From industry speaker events and case competitions to networking opportunities and career guidance, I am excited to get involved with MESG as a co-chair next year and help incoming students leverage its offerings and make valuable connections.

Insight on OUTreach

Tell us more about OUTreach and the kind of events you all host.

OUTreach hosts a variety of events throughout the year that bring together LGBTQ+ students and allies to build community, raise awareness, and support each other.

One of our signature events is the Pink Party, a celebration of the color pink and its historical significance to the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone wears their best pink attire and comes together to celebrate diversity, inclusion, and unity. We even have a Lip Sync contest! It's also an opportunity for us to give back — at our last Pink Party, we raised money for Howard Brown Health, a nonprofit that provides vital healthcare services to the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. The Pink Party is always a highlight of the year, bringing together OUTreach members and allies from across Booth for a night of fun, friendship, and philanthropy.

In addition to large-scale events, OUTreach also hosts more intimate gatherings like small group dinners. These dinners are a chance for members to connect in a relaxed setting. It's at these casual get-togethers where I've formed some of my closest friendships at Booth. I am so grateful for these dinners. There's something special about sharing food and conversation that really helps people open up about their life experiences being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Another key aspect of OUTreach's programming is career prep. We hold workshops at the beginning of the year to help OUTreach members navigate the recruitment process and find inclusive employers. From resume reviews and mock interviews to panels with LGBTQ+ alumni working in various industries, OUTreach provides tailored support and resources to help members achieve their professional goals. As someone pivoting careers, these career prep events have been invaluable in helping me identify transferable skills, craft my narrative, and connect with companies that value diversity.

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What’s been your favorite OUTreach event thus far?

My favorite OUTreach event has definitely been HoliGays, our annual ugly holiday sweater party that takes place at the end of Fall Quarter right before Winter Break. There's something so joyful about everyone coming together in their most festive and often hilariously tacky attire to dance the night away. The ugly sweater theme creates a lighthearted, laid-back vibe that makes it easy for people to let loose and have a good time.

Beyond just being a fun party, HoliGays holds a deeper significance for me. Seeing so many of my classmates show up in solidarity, ready to celebrate the community, is truly heartwarming. It's a powerful reminder of the allyship and inclusivity that makes Booth such a special place. I remember looking around the room and feeling so grateful to be part of a community where I can be my authentic self and where my identity is not just accepted but actively celebrated.

Celebrating Pride Month in Chicago

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What makes Chicago a great place to be during Pride Month?

Chicago is an incredible place to be during Pride Month for so many reasons! The Chicago Pride Parade is one of the biggest and most vibrant in the country. Seeing the streets of Boystown flooded with flags, floats, and thousands of people coming together to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride is an unforgettable experience. There's an energy in the air that is electric — a sense of joy, liberation, and solidarity that is deeply moving. I am looking forward to marching in the parade alongside my Booth classmates.

Pride in Chicago goes beyond just the parade. The whole city gets in on the celebration, with Pride-themed events, exhibitions, and performances happening at museums, theaters, bars, and beyond. From drag brunches to rooftop parties and film screenings, there's no shortage of ways to immerse yourself in LGBTQ+ culture and history.

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Interested in learning more about OUTreach at Chicago Booth? Check out their website to read up on their mission, events, resources for applicants and more. Happy Pride Month!