My name is Jack Lehrhoff, one of Out Leadership’s 2022 Summer Interns. As my time at Out Leadership comes to a close, I am writing to you in reflection, appreciation and excitement for what is to come.
Although it has been a busy three months, I distinctly remember meeting Todd (Out Leadership’s Founder and CEO) and Marco (Out Leadership’s CFOO) at Out Leadership’s new Chelsea office on my first day. Our nine a.m. introduction meeting resulted in an unexpected invitation to help set up the new space.
As a reward for being the first interns to start, Colby, Brandon and I were gifted the teamworking task of putting together a rug. Just like Out Leadership, this rug was untraditional – consisting of nearly 100 triangular tiles that needed to be put together in a specific abstract pattern. The finished rug was gorgeous (if I do say so myself), and after several days of learning the ropes, sitting in on team meetings and tackling various projects, I found myself on the way to Fire Island for our company retreat.
That morning, we met Cameron (Out Leadership’s Research Associate) to regroup before our trip and were introduced to the rest of the intern class: Camille, Taylor, Tana and Lucas. We immediately hit it off and bonded over the excitement of what was to come.
When I think of a corporate retreat, my mind doesn’t go to a stay in Fire Island Pines; however, having this retreat at such an iconic queer location was an amazing experience. Colby put it best: “traversing the historic boardwalks (led by local history buff Todd), and hearing about the many landmark occasions and historical figures was incredibly inspiring as a Queer individual.”
Even more importantly, we got to bond with our coworkers. “I think what set Out Leadership apart for me this summer was the opportunity to really get to know all of my coworkers below the surface at the retreat. Because this was at the beginning of the internship, it really set us up to flourish in our workspaces because we all felt so comfortable,” says Lucas.
That Fire Island magic stayed with us as the entire intern team got into the Out Leadership flow. Camille became an expert in client relations (and is staying at Out Leadership as a new junior associate), Tana and Colby conducted and studied high-level research and Lucas and I became well-versed in marketing the Out Leadership brand.
And through it all, every day was a new adventure. Camille proudly discovered the ultimate iced chai latte recipe: “I add the hazelnut syrup and brown sugar to a smaller container with oat milk. I then froth the sweetened oat milk to make a hazelnut cold foam, which tastes like a Butterfinger.” Tana found her “fashion twin flame” in Colby, managed to teach Jack, Elle and Lucas some Romanian slang, became a bit more versed in the world of theatre thanks to Camille and ultimately understood the importance of preserving one’s youthfulness and drive for life through Kenya and Jane. What I was saying in Romanian I couldn’t tell you, but what I do know for sure is that getting to work with successful, out and empowered LGBTQ+ adults was extremely powerful and guiding for a queer young adult like me.
Beyond making chai and learning Romanian slang, we learned of the power we possess as LGBTQ+ individuals. Out Leadership taught me not only to embrace and accept my identity but to treat it as an advantage — because it is. We call it our “Out-vantage.” As I walked out of the office for a final time, I was surprised that the rug we put together had held up beautifully. Like these triangular logo-colored rug tiles, it felt as if Colby, Taylor, Tana, Camille, Lucas and I had fallen perfectly into place.
To everyone at Out Leadership, thank you for making this summer out of this world amazing! And to all future Out Leadership interns: add furniture-building to your resume, avoid any and all rug tiles, and get ready to embrace an amazing team of supportive, hilarious and hardworking individuals.