This past week, on November 14th-15th, some of our members had the opportunity to go on one of our treks to Charlotte, North Carolina. During their time in Charlotte, the attendees visited Apex Systems, Duke Energy and LendingTree. Apex systems is an IT staffing and workforce solutions firm whose mission is to, “bring clients the best digital and data transformation services.” Duke Energy is an electric power holding company that is dedicated to sustainable energy. The culture at Duke energy is inclusive and committed to transparency, honesty and integrity. Lastly, LendingTree is an online marketplace that connects borrowers and lenders so that people can find the best deals on loans, credit cards, deposit accounts, insurance and more. LendingTree guarantees excellent customer service and wants to empower its clients to feel confident in their financial choices through education, support and guidance. CWIB members were eager to learn from all three of these powerful companies.
In addition to visiting influential companies and networking with prominent business people, members also had the chance to create closer bonds with other women in CWIB. I reached out to some of the attendees about their favorite memories from the trek. All of the members who participated in the trek mentioned how much they loved getting to know the other members in CWIB and highlighted how they would not have been able to make these tighter bonds without this trek.
Rania recalled, “sitting in the lobby telling scary stories from people who have studied abroad, as we waited for our rooms.” Izzy also mentioned her respect for the upperclassmen in CWIB, and because of the bonds she has made on this trek is much more inclined to reach out to them for insight they may have regarding school, internships, and life after college. Paige echoed what other members said, stating that her favorite memories of the trek were “the van rides and all hanging out in our hotel room. It felt like a sleepover. I feel like it’s a great way to meet your fellow members and make new friends.”
Along with emphasizing the importance of creating meaningful relationships within our organization, participants also emphasized the networking aspect of the trek. As many are aware, networking can be a highly intimidating task, and for many students networking events are anxiously awaited. Many professionals consider networking to be one of the most important skills in business and as such, students and prospective employees need to be confident when speaking to recruiters. During the trek, members of CWIB were able to experience networking firsthand and were able to relieve some of the stress relating to meeting important businesspeople.
Izzy learned that a crucial part of networking is being prepared as she observed that “not everyone is as professional and intimidating as they appear, most of the time they’re just prepared.” Rania highlighted that networking can happen at any time, whether it be at an airport, at the grocery store, or during happy hours after work.
I also asked the attendees about their biggest takeaway of the trek. Many of the members stated that they feel much more confident in the path that they are pursuing, as they are part of such an amazing organization that helps them take the right steps to set them up for success in the future. Izzy highlighted that going on this trek allowed her to take a step back and be able to “visualize my end goals and give me reassurance that I’m doing the right things as a freshman.” In addition to this, Rania expressed that many of her fears about the business world were resolved during this trek:
“All those things I worried about, before, diminished a significant amount as a result of all the tips and diverse advice we got from various employers at each company we visited. I felt like at each company I gained more confidence and it facilitated my ability to communicate with business professionals. It was truly empowering to see how successful women can become in the business world. Lastly, I felt more confident in regards to finding the right place after graduation.”
After conducting these interviews, I realized how abundantly clear it is that treks are a great experience; all members who participate gain invaluable advice and insight. With Charlotte being a major city, home to companies that hire Virginia Tech graduates, attendees knew this experience wasn’t one to miss out on. I highly encourage all members to apply to future treks in order to meet and connect with other empowered and influential business women! Keep an eye out for the places CWIB will be going in the spring!
By: Paige Horn