Climbing Up the Ladder: A Guide to Attaining Leadership Positions

Being a business major has to do with a lot more than just reading a textbook or completing complex math problems. It has to do with networking, getting involved on campus, and exhibiting leadership skills that not enough classes may take into their own hands to teach to their students. However, those who have been getting involved in organizations such as Collegiate Women in Business are already ahead of the game. Collegiate Women in Business has helped us with the skills already included in our pillars: empower, prepare, and connect, which are all valuable tools in such a competitive and popular career field. However, many of us are now asking ourselves, “Where do we go from here?” What can we do to go beyond what we have already achieved, and impress those who will review our resumes in the near future?

Leadership Positions

There are over 700 organizations at Virginia Tech, and many more leadership positions within these organizations. Multiple positions can exist for each organization, including President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, or Historian. In fact, Collegiate Women in Business offers a variety of positions to its members- a marketing committee consisting of multiple members with roles fit to their unique skills, and writers for the Chronicles, an online blog of CWIB’s. By inquiring the leaders of different organizations in order to understand their perspective on how they developed such skills, you can already get a lead on attaining such positions by showing interest in getting involved.

CWIB Leadership diagram

Most of recruitment for leadership positions occur in the beginning of the fall semester, but for those who are still seeking leadership positions, do not fret – there is a lot of preparing that you can get done during the next year, and it is much better to be a dedicated and involved member in your organization before signing on to the executive board. And most of all, being in a club to begin with shows a lot of commitment in working hard for your future, especially in an organization such as Collegiate Women in Business, which emphasizes all the skills necessary for success. Attend workshops, meetings, and treks to get a grasp on what CWIB prioritizes. This is no different than being an active employee and engaging with your bosses and peers. The level of commitment you put forth will be recognized, whether you notice it at first or not.

Application Process

Because being an organization leader can come with a lot of responsibilities, there is usually an extensive application process that precedes being appointed to a position. For Collegiate Women in Business, one can get involved during the beginning of the fall semester. During the 2019-2020 school year, an email was sent out in October with a sign-up link for those who wanted to get involved in either the marketing committee or the Chronicles. This sign-up was also announced during the monthly meeting, and new members were able to gain more insight on what responsibilities came with these roles by listening to current officers. Pay attention to the little details of each organization, internship, or job regarding their application process — overlooking something trivial may end up being a disadvantage to you in the end.

Many of these leadership applications consist of a written portion, either a short answer or an essay. These questions can be about anything, such as your leadership skills, experiences, or why you want to get involved. The best way to write these answers is to show genuine interest in what you want to do for the club, internship, or job. Mention events you have attended and showcase the small details that show the application committee that you are dedicated. Then, make sure you highlight your skills to guarantee your ability in being a great asset to the organization. Don’t forget to utilize buzzwords that allow the application committee to connect your skills to the ones they seek.

Interviewing

Once you pass the initial application, you should be notified about the next step of the process. Most clubs will hold interviews because of how much one-on-one meetings can provide insight into your abilities, people skills, and dedication. You can do a lot to prepare for this step, and at least a little preparation is necessary to have a successful interview.

One way you can prepare is by writing down your top achievements and skills, anything that would help assure your interviewers of your capabilities. Next, you can search on Google for potential questions that might come up for your particular position. For example, when searching for questions that might come up in a position for the Chronicles, you might want to search for “interview questions for journalists.” Practice answering these questions using the bullets you wrote before, and get a good grip on what you would want to say, or not say, during the interview.

Another way to prepare is to get a friend to ask you interview questions on the spot without any preparation beforehand. This way, you can improve your ability in quick but knowledgeable responses, and get a good idea on what questions might be asked. For any particular questions you get stuck on, make sure you review these thoroughly in case your interviewer asks a similar one. By preparing well for your interview questions, you can go above and beyond the expectations of the interviewer and take a huge step towards the position you want!

Acceptance

For most positions, the last step will be waiting to hear back on whether you landed the position or not. For those who do, congratulations! However, it is important to revisit the responsibilities of your new position and reevaluate if you will be able to uphold these requirements. If so, you can accept your new position and wait for further instructions. Always remember to thank the committee for your offer!

If you do not get the position you desired, there is no need to worry! Rejections will happen more often than not, but new positions open up every year, and you should not settle for a role that you do not have much interest in. Take the time to build your skills, and by the next time you apply, your organization will have a much better idea of who you are and your commitment to the position.

Competitive career fields can require skills such as leadership and communication. To demonstrate these skills, you should join organizations and seek leadership positions that you are interested in. By putting your full effort into the application process, your organization should be able to see your dedication and skills and accurately evaluate whether you will be a good fit for the position or not. Going through with these processes in college will not only make you a contributing member of your organization, but also prepare you for real-world applications of these steps! Get a head start and don’t be afraid to take advantage of leadership positions here at school, and especially in Collegiate Women in Business, to gain those much needed abilities!

Leadership team 19-20
Collegiate Women in Business’ 2019-2020 Leadership Team

By: Gyu Ri Kim

 

Faculty Advisor Feature: Nadia Rogers

Meet Nadia Rogers, a CWIB faculty advisor, successful business woman, professor, and a member of the community. A Virginia native, Rogers found success in public accounting and is now using that experience as a professor here at Virginia Tech. Outside of Blacksburg, she was recently appointed to be the educator member of the Virginia Board of Accountancy by Governor Northam.

nadia
One of our wonderful faculty advisors, Nadia Rogers!

Rogers earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Virginia Tech in Accounting. She came to Tech because, “Throughout my childhood, my family visited campus and I loved the excitement in the air and the beauty of the town.  Most importantly, I knew that I would receive a world-class education from Virginia Tech.” Her family holds a legacy here as multiple family members, including her father, graduated from Tech as well.

After earning her Master’s degree, Rogers worked for KPMG’s Audit Practice in Richmond for eight years. She then worked with Creedle, Jones & Alga, P.C., a small public accounting firm. Prior to this work experience, Rogers taught Principles of Accounting as a graduate student and says she, “knew in my heart that I ultimately wanted to teach.” Her professional success, love for Blacksburg, and passion for teaching has led to her dream job of being a professor at Virginia Tech. She is now an Associate Professor of Practice in the Accounting and Information Systems Department as well as the Director of the Master of Accounting and Information Systems Program. Rogers is a great testament to the fact that it is okay to change around your career and chase your passions! She learned  “the combination of [her] practical experience and passion for Virginia Tech,” has been exactly what she needed to make her dreams a reality and she enjoys helping students understand and fulfill their dreams when it comes to education and career paths.  You can read more about her passion for teaching here.

Rogers decided to become a CWIB faculty advisor because she loves CWIB’s mission, which is to “inspire and develop world-class leaders in business, foster interactions with successful role models, and build the confidence, courage and the will to create meaningful impact.” She says, “Given that I graduated from Virginia Tech and then pursued a professional career, I felt that I could provide a helpful perspective and be a great resource to our members. I’ve been where they are – studying to earn the highest grade possible, interviewing for jobs, filling internship positions, etc.” Her experience and belief in our pillars: empower, prepare, and connect, makes her extremely valuable to CWIB and a great resource for our members.

Rogers says she’s excited for CWIB to “continue to fulfill our mission and increase awareness and membership.” This year, she wants members to “leave meetings with the same sense of fulfillment that I have when I leave meetings – empowered, connected and prepared to conquer her next step, whatever that may be!”

Originally from Clarksville, Virginia, Rogers continues to enjoy the beauty of Virginia in the “gorgeous views” of Blacksburg. She equally loves the students and community of Virginia Tech and Blacksburg. She enjoys spending her free time with her family.

CWIB would not be possible without faculty advisors like Rogers who are willing to support our organization and offer their knowledge and time. Rogers is a valuable resource for all our members and is happy to do what she can to help, whether it be professional or career advice, including resume reviews, etc. or helping with the understanding of course materials. If you would like to reach out, her email and office hours are listed below.

Finally, we would like to thank Nadia Rogers for the inspiration she is to us aspiring business women and her dedication to CWIB.

Email: narogers@vt.edu

Office Hours: M/W 11:30-1:30

By: Grace Farmelo

 

Public Speaking 101

Imagine being able to stand in front of any crowd at any time and know your audience understands you and your message perfectly. Well, most people have a long way to go before achieving that level of confidence in public speaking. Nobody enjoys the nervous anticipation that builds up right before having to speak in front of an audience or the thoughts that race through your mind: “What if I forget what I want to say?” “What if the audience doesn’t understand?” “What if my nerves get the best of me?” We have all experienced these fears when it comes to public speaking. Whether it’s in front of a small class, a large audience, or a room full of professionals, it can be daunting! Unfortunately, public speaking is a fear that must be overcome to be successful. Being able to present information to others is a very important skill to have in order to convey messages in a professional manner. Luckily, I am here for you! Keep reading for my guide to successful public speaking to discover tips to get over the pre-speech butterflies.

orange present1. Take a Deep Breath  We have all heard the classic line “picture everyone in their underwear.” It sounds silly, but if it works for you, then why not! Like I said, public speaking is scary, so first things first: take a deep breath. Calm yourself right before you begin by focusing on your material, not the audience. Remember, being nervous is normal! However, the goal is to convert nerves into positive energy. Find what works for you. Some people use the underwear strategy, others have motivational quotes they can refer to, or you can give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. If possible, get to the presentation room early and picture yourself giving your presentation. Walk around, check out the configuration and size of the space and get acquainted with the set-up. Try to get a goodnight’s rest the night before so you don’t oversleep and eat a good meal, that way you’ll be energized and ready to deliver an impactful message!

2. Develop Talking Points  Talking points are like a mental to-do list. They provide a quick way to stay on track and avoid going off on a tangent mid-presentation. To create a list of talking points, start by identifying your main message, then come up with a few points to support your message  A great way to do this is to consider the “rule of three.” The rule of three means structuring your talking points around the three most important ideas you want to highlight. Think of talking points as elevator pitches, they should be made up of keywords or short sentences. Don’t make them too long, as talking points are meant to be remembered at a quick glance. Providing specific examples that are personal and impactful will also support your talking points and be more memorable for you and the audience.

3. Express Excitement  If you’re enthusiastic throughout your presentation, your energy will transfer to your audience and they will be more likely to fully engage in what you have to say. Get excited about your topic through research and facts that you are eager to share with others. Share your passion by using inclusive language. For example instead of saying “I,” use “we” to integrate the audience into your ideas. You’re speaking to inform, persuade, and motivate. If you make your speech come alive, you will be more persuasive and motivational and, overall, a more interesting speaker.

speech picture

4. Master Body Language  Using your body and facial expressions while presenting can allow you to convey your message successfully and with confidence, if done right. Putting your hands in your pockets or fidgeting with them may display your nervousness and can be distracting to the audience. Try to keep your arms in front of you and emphasize words with hand gestures when making an important point. If information is attached to a movement, the audience will better remember it. Leg movement is also important to  control. Try not to move your legs restlessly as this gives away feeling nervous. Posture is very important. Stand up tall and confidently as if a string is connecting your head to the ceiling. This will make you appear much more professional than if you were to slouch. Making controlled, concise movements will convey that you are a natural presenter and will keep the audience more engaged, than if you were to stand in one position. Lastly, don’t forget to smile! Smiling will engage the audience, reduce your own nerves, and  make everyone involved more comfortable.

5. Practice Makes Perfect As Virginia Tech students, we are lucky to be surrounded by available resources to help improve our public speaking skills. Start by asking professors for feedback after a presentation. They will be more than happy to critique you and give advice or tips. Another excellent resource  on campus is the CommLab, located on the second floor of Newman Library. The CommLab has undergraduate and graduate students trained in public speaking and groupwork ready to coach students through the speech-making process from topic selection to speech delivery. Although appointments are highly encouraged, a visit to the CommLab could make all the difference in your presentation! There are also clubs that you can join that will help you develop public speaking skills. One is Toastmasters, a club operating worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication and public speaking skills. Toastmasters Blacksburg is open to anyone and meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 7:00 pm in the VT Language and Culture Institute, as well as the second and fourth Fridays of each month at 12:00 pm in Room 2034 of Newman Library. Although Toastmasters has a $20 membership fee, it offers another great way to improve your public speaking skills outside of a classroom setting, both here in Blacksburg and beyond. Finally, utilize your CWIB resources! Reach out to upperclassmen who have had more experience public speaking for advice or constructive criticism. Attend workshops relevant to presenting yourself in the best light in front of peers, professors, and future employers. If you’re still working up the courage to take advantage of these resources, another great way to build confidence is practicing in front of friends and family first.

 

 

The most important thing is to have confidence in yourself, if you don’t believe you can successfully public speak, then it will be much more challenging to improve. Constantly ask yourself “what can I do better?”. Self assessment following each presentation will help guide you in further growth. I hope this guide has put you in the right direction to learning how to become more confident in your public speaking skills as well as made you feel more prepared for upcoming presentations. Through practice and experience, it will slowly get easier and more natural. Good luck everyone!

By: Lindsay Barnes 

 

Washington, D.C. Trek Recap

This past week on October 24-25, CWIB went on a trek to Washington D.C. This trek provided a great way to improve on members’ networking skills while meeting new companies, such as Protiviti, Cvent, and Capital One, while also allowing attendees to meet other members of CWIB. Treks enable members to connect with professional companies, and hopefully, in the future, help them later down the road when applying for internships and jobs. I contacted a few members that attended the DC trek, and asked about their favorite experiences:

Billy Clarke said that his favorite part of the trek was visiting Capital One’s new campus in McLean. He described their campus as “impressive” because of the resources Capital One provides to their employees. Lauren Miles stated that she found it helpful how the trek allowed her to get to know the other members of CWIB. Emily Fusaro shared that she appreciated learning about the companies they met with, and meeting members from CWIB.

Since CWIB met with Protiviti, Cvent, and Capital One, who are companies that hire Virginia Tech graduates, attendees ran into several alumni. They got to meet with alumni who were also a part of CWIB, such as Gigi Jones who was the former CWIB CEO and Heather Sangalang who was the former Chronicles’ Editor-in-Chief. This trek not only let current members meet each other, but enabled alumni to meet the new CWIB members to further expand on the network of our organization.

DCTrek
Trek attendees meeting with Protiviti employees.

Protiviti is a mid-size global consulting firm that provides business solutions for numerous areas such as internal audit, data analytics, and risk & compliance. Cvent is a privately held software service company that offers software solutions for event planning. The last company they visited was Capital One. Capital One provides numerous services in the banking industry such as credit cards, savings accounts, and loans.

When meeting these companies, CWIB sat down with each of them and learned about their initiatives through panels. The attendees on the trek learned several things from each company. The most frequent response to the question “What did you learn from the companies you met with?” was that you are not limited by your major or what you learn while in college. This is an important aspect to know while applying for jobs and internships because you should never limit yourself to opportunities just because you think you aren’t qualified or have all of the credentials checked off. Many of the employees they met with from each company expressed the amount of new skills they learned after starting their new jobs. While applying to jobs and internships, it is important to know that companies do not expect you to know everything going into a new job. It is comforting to hear from multiple employees the amount of new skills they learned after starting their job! It goes to show that you should apply for positions you may think are not a good fit for you, because as long as you express your passion and commitment to learn, companies will be convinced you have the applicable skill set to expand on! It is also important to do this to challenge yourself, because you never know of all of the possibilities that will come to you by doing so. By attending the DC trek, the members learned that it is important to step outside of their comfort zone and learn new things that may seem challenging at first.

DCTrek-6
Protiviti’s presentation to CWIB members.

I also asked the attending members to explain any new networking skills they learned while on the trip.  Billy Clarke talked about learning to utilize the skill of maintaining his confidence in himself throughout the trip. He talked about how it can be very intimidating talking to highly ranked professionals and how it is easy to get nervous. He concluded by saying that professionals appreciate talking to students who display some level of confidence. This is an important skill to have and to practice on because when you are speaking to professionals, you want to come across as more confident than not, as you are representing exactly why you deserve the position. Some other pieces of advice the members received from the companies about networking were the importance of communicating respectfully and also following up after meeting with companies in person.

DCTrek-42
Learning how to network the right way could land you a job here, at Capital One!

Lastly, I asked a few of the attendees why they would recommend going on the treks to other members in CWIB. Emily Fusaro explained that treks are a perfect opportunity to “get your feet wet in exploring businesses.” Meaning, that treks provide experiences to explore different companies that provide vastly different services. Protiviti, Capital One, and Cvent are all very different businesses, with different missions and services. By meeting with three diverse companies, it allowed the CWIB members to learn about different career options for future internships and jobs. It is important to keep your options open when learning about different companies, because you never know, you might become very interested in a company that you never thought you would be! Laruen Miles would recommend going on the treks because of the connections and friends you make while on them. She said it is a great way to get to know other members involved in CWIB while also making fun memories.

DCTrek-47
CWIB members posing for a group shot. Attend treks to get to know your fellow members!

Overall, the trip up to D.C. provided CWIB members with great opportunities to network with VT alumni and meet with diverse companies. It is a great way to improve upon your networking skills and learn about different opportunities within the business field. While connecting with professionals from companies, you are also connecting with members of CWIB! Make sure to apply for the next trek in order to feel more involved in our organization and reap the same benefits the DC trek attendees did!

By: Ashley Mattson

Meet the CWIB Chronicles’ Writers!

The CWIB Chronicles is your go-to resource for articles intended to empower, prepare, and connect our readers. I’m very excited to introduce you to the faces behind the amazing articles you will be reading! I’m honored to work with these talented ladies and know they will provide the best writing to you all. Keep reading to meet your 2019-2020 Chronicles’ writers!

Lindsay BarnesLindsay Barnes

Lindsay is a freshman majoring in Business Management, and hopes to pursue a Spanish minor. In addition to being a Chronicles writer, Lindsay is a member of the Love Your Melon Campus Crew and Snow Club. She loves the school spirit Virginia Tech provides, especially through attending football games. She has enjoyed meeting people of different backgrounds and the fact that there are so many activities and clubs here. Outside of school, Lindsay enjoys hanging out with friends, staying active by playing sports like field hockey, soccer, basketball, and skiing, as well as watching Netflix. Lindsay is excited to be apart of the Chronicles so that she can become an involved member with CWIB, as well as have a group to go to for support. With that, comes a great opportunity for her to grow her writing skills! She hopes members feel inspired through CWIB and know that we are always rooting for each other to succeed! She wants them to take advantage of this great group of women who are always around to offer academic and professional support.

Lauren MilesLauren Miles

Lauren is a freshman majoring in Marketing Management and Statistics, with a career goal to work as a Market Research Analyst. She is involved with the Japanese Culture Association and Beekeeping Club, as well as working at Hokie Grill here on campus. Lauren loves how kind everyone at Virginia Tech is, and thinks the on-campus food is great! In her free time, she enjoys reading, eating, being with friends, and watching movies. Lauren wanted to be a part of the Chronicles so that she had a creative outlet where she could help provide fun and insightful articles to our members! This year, Lauren hopes members can experience an inclusive and empowering community through being a CWIB member. She wants us to feel supported by each other, whether it is through exploring career paths, networking, or learning more about our unique individualities.

Gyu Ri KimGyu Ri Kim

Gyu Ri is a sophomore majoring in Marketing Management, specifically Digital Marketing, and hopes to work as a Marketing Manager. Here at Virginia Tech, she is a business manager-in-training for the Bugle, and is on the events and social media team for Her Campus. She appreciates how open everyone is to being your friend here, and how easy it is to get involved in organizations. For fun, Gyu Ri likes to cook or bake, spend time with friends, and watch movies. She is most excited to exercise her writing skills with the Chronicles, as this can give her a break from practicing math problems in her classes! Of course, she is also ready to make new friends within the organization! Gyu Ri hopes members will be able to share empowerment amongst other strong and intelligent women in business, and feel inspired to do great things in life!

Grace FarmeloGrace Farmelo

Grace is a freshman who is currently Business Undecided, but is leaning towards Management or Entrepreneurship, with a minor in creative writing. One day, she wants to run her own equestrian center. Here at school, Grace is involved with YoungLife and hopes to start playing intramural sports and ride horses in Blacksburg. In her free time, she enjoys going to football games, riding horses, playing rink soccer, and getting coffee with friends. Through the Chronicles, Grace is excited to apply her passion for writing in order to empower our readers! She is ready to inspire her peers and better her writing skills through publishing articles. Grace hopes members find a sense of community within CWIB, since this is what she loves most about Virginia Tech. Additionally, she hopes they find the inspiration to pursue their degree with passion and feel empowered after reading Chronicles articles.

Paige HornPaige Horn

Paige is a sophomore majoring in Management Marketing. Ultimately, she wants to help others by working for a company that promotes an inclusive and progressive atmosphere. Not only is Paige invested in the Chronicles, but she is also a member of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and sorority Alpha Chi Omega. Because of these organizations, Paige feels that Virginia Tech truly is home, and values the supportive and accepting community here. When Paige isn’t hard at work, she enjoys spending time with friends, hiking, playing soccer, and watching Netflix. By being a Chronicles writer, she is eager to share her voice on business topics and expand upon the guiding principles that encompass the culture and goals of CWIB. Overall, Paige wants members to feel empowered through CWIB, academically and socially, to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Ashley MattsonAshley Mattson

Ashley is a junior majoring in Business Information Technology and Finance. She hopes to work within the government, and then for the FBI. In addition to being a Chronicles’ writer, she is a mentor within the Mentorship Program at CWIB and is looking to start showjumping as a horseback rider here in Blacksburg. She feels Virginia Tech professors and students provide a supportive atmosphere where we all can succeed, which is why she loves the community within this school. For fun, Ashley enjoys playing field hockey, spending time with friends, watching movies, and running! She is excited to work on her writing with the Chronicles, since many of her classes do not involve writing. She believes that writing is a very important skill and is ready to take advantage of this opportunity to write more often! Ashley wants members to utilize the Chronicles as a valuable tool to guide them through various aspects of their professional endeavors, as well as to provide a source of inspiration.

cwibfall2019.jpgEmma Harwood

Emma is a junior majoring in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise with a concentration on Dietetics. Her career goal is to work within pediatric nutrition and dietetics. In addition to her role as Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicles, she is a manager for the Women’s Basketball team, works at McComas, and is a member of the Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association. In her free time, Emma enjoys working out, skiing, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. She feels fortunate to attend Virginia Tech where they offer excellent academic opportunities in line with her professional goals, as well as being the place she has met some of her closest friends. Emma aims to give her writers the confidence she was given as a staff writer, and help them develop their writing skills so that they feel proud that their pieces are positively affecting our readers! She hopes members read the Chronicles and feel empowered to take the steps needed to accomplish their goals, prepared to tackle difficult situations, and connected to other women by being inspired by those around us.

By: Emma Harwood

CWIB’s Story: Insight from the Founders on Establishing our Organization

It is astonishing to think that Collegiate Women in Business  was founded only 5 years ago, given the number of members we have gained, the incredible sponsors who endorse us, and the impactful events at which we have made our mark. Have you wondered how all of this is even possible? I wanted to provide you with an in-depth background of how our professional organization came to be, based on the vision our founders had for CWIB’s success at Virginia Tech. After interviewing the women who helped CWIB gain its presence, I feel that their passion and drive for our organization is apparent through the steps they took to help us be where we are today.

Corrigan Serpa, Shannon Cabrey, Catherine Kidwell, McKenzi Macdowall, and Shannon Lavery are the founding women of CWIB. All five women had great team chemistry and worked well together to get the process started. They all agreed that this organization would better Hokie Nation, so they sought out a method to achieve their goal. Serpa told me, “The idea came about during a female lunch meeting at the Innovate LLC [Living Learning Community] in the Fall of 2013.” They realized other universities had similar organizations and believed Virginia Tech should be one of those. Serpa soundly felt that our school should provide a platform for “women to be equipped with the right skills and network to build their careers as they wish.” In order to be an established organization, they needed to find a faculty sponsor. Cabrey describes how “Gina French stepped into that role to provide us with advice and passionately lead us forward as we got started.” The next steps were to “register our group as a formal student organization through the university, create a website and a page on GobblerConnect, and start to try to get the word out as we grew.” Serpa is grateful that “Gobbler Fest, Pamplin Picnic and renting booths in Squires helped us” start to gain the presence they wanted on campus.

Gina and McKenzi
Gina French and McKenzi MacDowall at Pamplin Picnic

There were several more obstacles they faced throughout this process, one being establishing the proper pillars as the main core of what CWIB should represent. Empower, Prepare, Connect stemmed from the desire that women should feel “empowered to accomplish, prepared with the skills necessary to successfully accomplish, and connect them with a network of business professionals, peers, and alumni,” Serpa explained. Cabrey breaks down the method the founders used to put together these pillars so eloquently:

“We sat together one evening with VT faculty member Derick Maggard, and he led us in a discussion and an activity to determine our core values. Derick had the five of us simultaneously create lists of words that we wanted CWIB to stand for, represent, and accomplish with its existence. This was a timed activity and… once we were done, we found several words that were common across each of our lists.”

By initiating these pillars as the principles CWIB stood by, the “goal was to build a community at Virginia Tech that women felt comfortable and at home in, would be challenged by, could learn from to stretch their thinking, and would find lifelong friends and mentors within,” Cabrey told me. In doing so, “CWIB will empower students and prepare women with the knowledge and skills they need to have the career that they choose,” Serpa explained. Kidwell tells the Chronicles how the founders aimed to “not empower women in the workplace, but in general. Those verbs [pillars] have duality.” Personally, I have found these statements to be incredibly true based on my experiences within CWIB. The fact that the founders pushed for a professional organization for all women is something we cannot take for granted. As a non-business major myself, I still reap the benefits CWIB provides and know that the founders thought this through when creating CWIB. The workshops and advice we are provided with will help me in my field just as much as it will help a woman in Pamplin.

Serpa with 18-19 leadership
(From left to right) Morgan Beavers, Corrigan Serpa, Erica Sullivan, and Gigi Jones and our first monthly meeting of the 2018-2019 year!

In order for us to excel in our respective careers, the founders wanted to bring in sponsors for CWIB who would be a point of contact to assist in our professional endeavors. Serpa remembers calling every contact she could think of; they graciously accepted the help that was offered, especially since not every contact was providing sponsorship. She also explained how “… it felt awkward asking for sponsorship as a student. In each email I asked to set up a phone call to further explain CWIB and answer any questions. I think picking up the phone was essential; they could then fully understand how passionate about the organization we were.” Being able to thoroughly explain their goals for CWIB gave sponsors a sense of the founders’ determination, which was a convincing way to support CWIB as a legitimate organization. In addition, acting as an all-female organization was a way for CWIB to individualize itself and advance womens’ careers. “All companies are emphasizing diversity and inclusion and backing a women in business group is usually a no brainer if they understand what that funding will be applied to long-term,” Kidwell felt.

Taking this intimidating step to reach out to business professionals proved to be one of the best decisions the founders made, as CWIB now is sponsored by many successful companies such as KPMG, Accenture, Altria, and Deloitte. Cabrey talked about how Gina French helped them get in contact with one of their very first points of contact, Deborah Golden, who leads Deloitte’s US Cyber Practice. Cabrey explains how “A few of our founders were able to sit down with Deborah and find ways for her and her organization to get meaningfully involved with our members, which ended up evolving into our very first Power Panel, with Deborah as a panelist.” Golden continues to support CWIB as she has hosted several workshops over the years! Engaging in these initial conversations can lead to some pretty fantastic connections, which have undoubtedly assisted CWIB in gaining more sponsors in a short amount of time.

Building connections through various communication routes, effective planning and organization tactics, and leadership opportunities in a team setting are only a few of the fundamental skills the founders believed they gained by being so involved with CWIB. Communication is a skill that will never disappear and Serpa feels that because of CWIB, she feels more comfortable in the business world where she is constantly speaking with other professionals. The fact that CWIB always has events taking place, thus requiring constant scheduling and planning, helped Cabrey with her general organization skills. “Keeping track of meetings and implementing strategic goals and action items” for CWIB kept Cabrey on her toes by giving her the experience she needed to prioritize her time. On a more creative note, CWIB let her express her visual design skills through “creating flyers for Power Panel and designing our logo and merchandise.” Her diverse skill set is thanks to CWIB’s preparation for success in the professional world!

aesthetic Gobblerfest
Our creative booth decorations at this year’s Gobblerfest, featuring the CWIB logo on our mugs!

As CWIB continues to grow, the founders are hopeful for further empowerment, preparation, and connections that will derive from being a member. Serpa feels strongly that “this [CWIB] connection motivates alumni to remain connected to the students and one another.” This stems from the initial goal of bettering Hokie Nation; the fact that alumni and current students can be connected due to their membership in CWIB can foster a continuous Hokie family where we can all relate to shared experiences. Cabrey states, “I think the group strikes the right balance between professionalism and skill building, all the while making lasting friends and connections that will last years beyond college.” Between attending monthly meetings, workshops, and socials, Cabrey hopes members “are able to make connections with other students across campus to study with, interview prep with, and just hang out and have fun with as friends!” There’s no better way to express the principal goal of CWIB as “people-oriented,” as Kidwell would say. She aimed for CWIB to provide its members with “a sense of inclusion and the toolkit to succeed outside of Blacksburg.”

Gina and some founders
(From left to right) Gina French, Shannon Lavery, Corrigan Serpa, and McKenzi MacDowall

I would say that CWIB has made the founders proud as leadership, membership, and sponsorship continues to grow and develop each academic year. The founders’ main goals for the organization continue to advance as we strive to empower, prepare, and connect women from all over Virginia Tech in all that we provide. New leadership teams implement these core values while incorporating their unique ideas as CWIB expands in its presence. I hope you all are as proud as I am to be a part of CWIB and feel inspired to take more initiative to get involved, better yourself, and better someone else as you connect to fellow CWIB members. Many thanks to our founders for endorsing and believing in CWIB in order for us to reap the benefits and make our own mark within the organization!

By: Emma Harwood 

Summer Experiences: What Members Learned Through their Internships

CWIB members are some of the most proactive students at Virginia Tech in terms of landing internships. Whether they occur throughout the summer, winter, or full semester, CWIB encourages each of its members to pursue at least one internship during their collegiate career. Specifically, summer internships are the most common among college students, and the most recommended among recruiters! Internships foster an environment of growth, and they assist in determining potential career paths one may want to engage in after graduation. Immense opportunities can come from gaining experience interning for established companies, such as the development of technical and interpersonal skills, potential for full-time job offers, and more insight into specific industries.

Four of our own members, Gabrielle Bryda, Samantha Mottes, Elizabeth Sweeney, and Abby Mercatoris-Morrison, have experiences to share about their own internships this past summer. They each took part in a unique internship following the collusion of their junior year. Read below to see how they gained new skills that are applicable in their current academics and everyday lives!

Gabrielle Bryda: 

Gabrielle Bryda is a senior majoring in Computational and Systems Neuroscience and Economics. During the summer of 2019, Bryda interned at Deloitte as a Business Technology Analyst. As part of her internship, she conducted market research and authored a white paper, or a specific document intended to inform the reader about a certain subject. In Bryda’s case, that subject focused on being agile while meeting traditional project management requirements. Bryda shared, “I learned client relationship management, business research, and networking skills,” regarding her client work. In addition to her client work, Bryda was a part of D2international (D2i), a social impact fellowship developed specifically for Deloitte employees.

The D2i Program provides interns with the opportunity to develop solutions directly for a nonprofit. Bryda worked with a small team of interns to analyze and optimize daily operations of a Colombian nonprofit called La Juanfe, which seeks to empower teen mothers by providing child support, psychosocial counseling, and job training to escape poverty. Bryda revealed, “I learned collaboration across teams, building relationships with new partners, and analytical and problem-solving skills,” from her experience brainstorming, developing, and executing deliverables for La Juanfe. The D2i program concluded with a week-long solution delivery trip to La Juanfe’s headquarters in Cartagena, Colombia. In addition to the amazing work Bryda completed, she served as her team’s liaison, coordinating between workstreams to provide information and structure for her team. She even participated in weekly calls with leadership from La Juanfe!. Her most memorable experience this summer was presenting her team’s solutions to the senior leadership of La Juanfe, and speaking directly with the women whose lives the nonprofit is changing.

We are so proud of all the work you put in during your internship, Gabrielle!

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Bryda’s professional headshot from this past summer!
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Bryda in Cartagena, Colombia with her team during their solution delivery trip.

Samantha Mottes: 

Samantha, or “Sam,” Mottes is a senior majoring in Public Relations. As a rising senior, Mottes took part in an internship at Immersion Consulting, a firm that aims to provide clients with applicable business solutions. Her internship consisted of various duties, mainly involving marketing sales and recruiting. Regarding marketing sales, Mottes promoted brand awareness by developing innovative tactics to increase market presence and gain the attention of those in the current market. She also managed and leveraged the LMS, or Learning Management System, which monitors and evaluates training progress and development of the company. She even presented her findings in an LMS walkthrough at the firm! Mottes assisted with the recruitment process of the consulting firm as well, learning more about ins-and-outs of hiring operations. She handled important forms regarding new hires as part of the company’s recruitment policies. Finally, Mottes was given the task of implementing SEO’s, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimizations. Through this assignment, she analyzed target markets and tested optimization. According to Mottes, she is appreciative of, “Getting amazing experience and building connections,” in regards to her summer with Immersion Consulting.

We are so proud of your contributions at Immersion Consulting, Sam!

sam with collegues
Mottes (far right) and peers posing on day of presentation for Immersion Consulting.
Sam Presenting
Mottes during her Immersion Consulting presentation.

Elizabeth Sweeney: 

Elizabeth Sweeney is a Senior Marketing Management major with an ENVG, or Entrepreneurship: New Venture Growth, minor. Sweeney spent her summer at Ferguson Enterprise in Beltsville, Maryland as a sales intern. Her internship incorporated tasks derived from multiple different business operations. Sweeney shared, “I learned every aspect of the business, from filling orders, to dealing directly with the client in outside sales,” about her diverse position. Sweeney also helped a published author create media for his new publishing agency, C-N-J Publication! She relied heavily on her Marketing skills to assist her in developing media that properly showcased the author’s brand and mission. One exciting component of Sweeney’s summer internship was the Summer Interns Project, where she and her team presented to an audience! Sweeney improved multiple skills during her summer at Ferguson Enterprise, including her patience, face-to-face customer communication, and leadership abilities within a team. Being in a diverse sales role led to her development of a wider range of skills! Sweeney states, “The most memorable aspects of my experience were living in a different area, making new friends/connections, and experiencing a different kind of work atmosphere.”

Elizabeth, we are so proud you reached outside of your comfort zone at Ferguson Enterprise!

Elizabeth Sweeny
Sweeney (second from left) and her team posing after their 2019 Summer Interns Project presentation.

Abigail Mercatoris-Morrison: 

Abigail, or “Abby”, Mercatoris-Morrison is currently a senior majoring in Marketing. Mercatoris worked in Seattle as a summer intern with Frito-Lay. She served as a sales intern for the multinational corporation. Mercatoris worked on a significant project that was in the early stages of development. She assisted with the rudimentary, or beginning, stages of the project in order to ensure the final product would stand on an effective foundation. Mercatoris’ team’s goal was to save time for sales representatives in the overall sales process. They helped the specific sales representations who stocked the shelves with products in order to assist in keeping their jobs more organized. Her team focused greatly on precision ordering methods. Mercatoris shared, “I learned the importance of communication among co-workers and managers. I also appreciated the work-life balance with this company.” A large factor of this sales internship that interested Mercatoris was the idea of traveling around the Pacific Northwest and getting the opportunity to work with unique individuals from various backgrounds. Her hard work all summer paid off, as she was offered a full-time position for Frito-Lay at the conclusion of her internship!

We are proud of you for working so hard and getting that job offer, Abby!

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Professional headshot used for Mercatoris’ internship with Frito-Lay!

We are honored to have members like the women featured here who made the most of their summer experiences. Through gaining the knowledge to work in diverse places with talented individuals, they developed the communication skills, connections, and technical applications of delivering real-world projects. We know they will put these skills to good use throughout their classes, jobs/internships here at school, and during CWIB events!

By: Allison Wood