Taking part in treks with CWIB is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and learn more about the business world in general. They always serve as a major source of encouragement for each trek attendee. Most recently, a group of CWIB members traveled to Richmond, Virginia in the hopes of learning more about the ins-and-outs of different companies and how to thrive as a woman in business.
The trek began with a visit to the headquarters of CarMax, a Fortune 500 company. The company greeted our members with donuts and a friendly networking session, where trekees spoke with some highly successful employees. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) /Chief Information Officer (CIO) even took time out of his busy schedules to meet the six members of CWIB who attended the trek! Junior member Emily Vang stated, “This trek experience definitely helped me practice my networking skills, particularly when we were at Carmax and I got to talk with the CTO about using virtual reality (VR) as a tool.” Networking is a significant aspect of treks in CWIB, as members meet countless business professionals who can provide insight for furthering our careers, collegiate and beyond. Vang added, “I will definitely apply these skills when it comes to communicating with others in a business setting.”
Our members proceeded to learn from the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) that CarMax is extremely supportive of women in business, reassuring the trekees that they truly can succeed as a woman in the corporate world. The CHRO highlighted the importance of working for a company that sincerely cares about its employees. A team leader and member of the growing robotics division of CarMax shared how they put their focus on giving employees more opportunities to improve their skills while growing the company overall. In order to focus on this constant development, the robotics division wants to eliminate, or at least lessen, the burden of mundane tasks in the workplace. Following this encouraging discussion, trekees attended a panel of three employees from the Accounting, Finance, and Cybersecurity Departments. CWIB members learned about their roles and career paths before receiving advice on how to advance into a career path as future professionals. Trekees enjoyed speaking with the CarMax employees so much that they did not have time to go on the planned tour afterward! In fact, at the monthly meeting that followed the trek, each member stated that Carmax was their favorite company that they visited! Our members left this company feeling excited about the future.
Attendees of the trek then traveled to the Martin Agency, a highly regarded company in the advertising industry. Known worldwide, the Martin Agency represents clients such as Geico, Oreo, Timberland, Land O’ Lakes, and many more major companies. The CWIB members were taken on a personal tour of the agency’s growing office. After seeing their modern workplace, trekees met with two Virginia Tech graduates who shared with them the agency reel, which is a highlight of their past work. You can find Hokies working for companies all over the world, and one day that will be you! The CWIB members even got a sneak peek of a commercial for the agency’s latest client, Buffalo Wild Wings.
The Virginia Tech alumni were transparent with the trekees about their journies to careers in business, the ups and downs of the advertising industry, and what they wished they would have known in their collegiate years. Junior and future CWIB CEO Ashton Hughes shared, “I learned that the career path you start on may not always be the one you end on and that there’s nothing wrong with that!” A journey to success is never perfectly linear, which every college student must remember. The obstacles and changes in your journies to success help develop the businessperson you will be in the future. Hughes continued, “It was so eye-opening for me because I feel as college students we feel so much pressure to decide what we want to do as quickly as possible when in reality, you have the freedom to explore and grow after school.”
CWIB members finished the trek with a trip to Cary Street Partners, a financial planning firm. The visit was hosted by Virginia Tech alumna Christina Todd, a devoted supporter of CWIB and its mission. Trekees spoke with women from different fields in order to gain insight into different positions throughout the professional world. These women were from departments such as Human Resources, Legal, and Accounting. They highlighted how it is possible to take a career path in finance, even if it is not your major. It is important to always keep an open mind! The CWIB members heard from ladies who were just beginning their professional careers as well as those who have been working for decades. Hearing from women with varying degrees of experience taught the trekees how the business world used to be concerning for women and how much it has changed for the better. Junior CWIB member Delaney Russel revealed, “The most empowering part of the trip for me was listening to the testimonies of the women at Cary Street Partners. They reminded us that there’s never a direct path to life and you won’t always be doing what you thought you would be.” As women, we must have the strength to persevere through the ups and downs of our future career paths in order to become the powerful women in business we see more of each and every day.
Treks are meant to be an empowering experience for every member that attends, and this Richmond trek was just that. The reassuring nature of the testimonies from the business professionals at CarMax, the Martin Agency, and Cary Street Partners helped motivate our members to continue chasing their passions. According to Vang, the trek was inspirational because she “got to meet various successful women who had their own unique story of how they got to where they are today.” Everybody has their own stories of success, and CWIB is excited to see each of its members create their own path in the business world. Another aspect of treks that is always memorable is the female support each trekee receives. Hughes shared, “The most significant part of the trek for me was seeing just how many women from the three companies wanted to come and speak with us.” As women in business, we have to stand together during our strive for success in the often male-dominated fields we will be entering into. Hughes continued with, “They shared so many tips for helping us succeed.”
Finally, treks are simply a glimpse into our potential futures! VP of Treks Marissa Wharton states, “Treks are such a great way to take a step back from campus for a couple of days and really see what life will be like after college.” Physically seeing companies and learning about how they operate is one of the best ways to discover what your interests are in terms of a potential career! From everyone here at CWIB, we hope you use treks to the best of your advantage and cannot wait to see the paths you all carve out for yourselves.
By: Allison Wood