Senior Spotlight

Despite an earlier-than-expected end to their time at Virginia Tech, we are so grateful for the positive impact that each of these seniors has had on CWIB and the Virginia Tech community as a whole. This group of ambitious, powerful, talented, and intelligent women has learned and grown so much and we know will find success in whatever life throws at them. We are so excited for these women to take on their next adventure in the fall. I’m very thrilled to showcase some favorite memories and lessons learned during their time in CWIB as well as important pieces of advice that remind us our time here is valuable and we must make the most of it.

erica throwing cap
Erica Sullivan, Co-CEO, Class of 2020

After years of hard work and great networking, these women have left their mark here at CWIB and have found their next big adventure. Erica Sullivan, one of CWIB’s wonderful CEO’s, will be joining the Kayo Conference Series as a Marketing Associate after graduation. Some may remember the CEO, Lindsay Burton, was our February monthly meeting speaker. In the fall Emily Vang, our CFO,  is excited to start work at IBM as a Federal Consultant in their Digital Strategy sector. Additionally, Abby Mercatoris-Morrison, our CMO, plans to intern at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. this upcoming summer. This internship will be in an online format where she “will be creating exciting online content for the Gallery Shops, developing a retail social media strategy, generating email marketing campaigns to drive revenue, and copywriting compelling product descriptions that relate merchandise to the Gallery’s collection and mission.” Then she plans to stay in Blacksburg to finish her last year of graduate school at Virginia Tech in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program. Despite these crazy times, Abby says that “As the world is filled with uncertainty, I can be certain of the hope I have for the future. I’m proud to be a Hokie and proud to call VT my home.”

How we choose to spend our time at Virginia Tech can be impactful. All three women feel that their time in CWIB has influenced their college experience as well as paved a path for their futures. Emily feels that her experience with CWIB has played a huge role in helping her become the person she is today. “When I first came to VT I actually started out as a Communications major and I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Emily says, but CWIB led her to so many wonderful opportunities such as her very first internship in IT. CWIB has also left her feeling empowered and a lot more prepared to take on the real world. “I know I’ve grown a lot because of all that I’ve learned from CWIB both as a member and from serving on leadership this past year,” Emily remarked. Abby also feels that CWIB has opened so many doors for her as well as giving her the incredible opportunity to hone in on her skills as a marketer. “Treks, workshops, and monthly meetings are all so inspiring and I have loved working with my fellow leadership members to propel this organization forward,” Abby says. Similarly, Erica believes her time with CWIB truly has been the highlight of her college years, saying she is “forever grateful for this organization and the amazing women that make it all that it is.”

CWIB’s pillars, empower, prepare, and connect, are the foundation of our organization and foster an atmosphere of professionalism and many lessons learned. Erica says that the most important thing she’s learned from CWIB is that “when women support one another, amazing things happen.”  Emily told the Chronicles that if she had to choose one important skill she’s learned, it would be stepping out of her comfort zone. “At the beginning of college, I was super shy and incredibly unsure of myself. Joining CWIB and pushing myself to meet new people was the first step I took outside my comfort zone. Then I started to apply this mindset to everything else I was doing, whether it was signing up for a case competition or taking on different projects at internships. This allowed me to have confidence in trying new things (even if it was a failure!) and eventually helped me discover what I’m passionate about,” Emily said. Additionally, Abby believes networking has been the most important skill because it was something she was not at all comfortable with coming to college. “I come from a very small town in Northwest Pennsylvania, where everyone knows everyone. I needed to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there to meet professionals without embarrassing myself. CWIB has given me that and I am so thankful!” said Abby.

Along with learning important skills and lessons for the real world, our seniors have had many defining moments and unforgettable memories along the way. “When I transitioned into the role of CMO and had my first marketing meeting with my team, it validated my efforts in working arduously to get to this point as a leader. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a passionate and wonderful group of marketers. The experience of working with them has been rewarding and I have learned lessons along the way that will stay with me as I move forward,” Abby says when recalling her most defining moment in CWIB. Similarly, Erica has had the honor of serving on the CWIB leadership team from sophomore until senior year, remarking that “choosing the most memorable moment is nearly impossible, because every trek, workshop, and the monthly meeting has offered tremendous value.” Emily remembers her most defining moment in CWIB as the first Pumpkin Patch event she ever went to, recalling she “didn’t know anyone in the organization at this point and I felt so out of place. But I ended up meeting two inspiring women who have been super influential in both my academic and career life. This helped me realize how important it is to build a good network but more importantly how awesome it is to surround yourself with strong women who lift each other up.”

Though they face an unprecedented end to their senior year and may not be able to walk across the stage side by side, these seniors do leave behind words of wisdom for the rest of us to consider and embody in what time remains for the rest of us.

Emily Vang: Never doubt yourself – you are so capable and deserving of anything you put your mind to!

Erica Sullivan: Connections matter. Never burn bridges. You never know what a connection from networking will turn into a job opportunity. That’s how I got my full-time job!

Abby Mercatoris-Morrison: Even though I am a business major, I love everything creative and artistic. During my freshman year, I felt a void in my life. I was so used to my art classes in high school and being surrounded by the art community. When I came to Tech, that changed and I felt that something was missing. I added my minors, which helped with that void, but when I entered my graduate program I truly felt like I was whole again. Take a chance by looking into accelerated graduate programs (saves you time and money), make meaningful connections with your professors, and engage in your passions. Network within the CWIB community!

Along with Erica, Emily, and Abby, the Chronicles would like to congratulate our other amazing seniors on the leadership team! Class of 2020, we are so proud of you!

Ashton Hughes

Mel Christ

Elizabeth Sweeney

Kaelyn Petrides

 

By: Lindsay Barnes

 

CWIB’s Philanthropy Feature

Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim – “That I may serve” –  is a very powerful statement and one that many students are drawn to while choosing a college to attend. Not only is our motto based upon serving others, it is actually enacted through the many philanthropic events that students at Virginia Tech host throughout the years. CWIB is extremely committed to upholding Virginia Tech’s motto and following through with it on a daily basis by giving back to the community around us.

This year, our philanthropy has gone in a different direction, thanks to the guidance of our Philanthropy Chair, Emma Sedlack. Our philanthropy is One Girl, and our organization is dedicated to this cause, however this year we have become much more involved in our community outreach in Blacksburg and the surrounding area.

I’ve reached out to Emma Sedlack to discuss how our philanthropy has evolved this year and what she envisions the future of our philanthropy to look like.

How did you become involved with our philanthropy and what drew you to the position of VP of Philanthropy?

“I have always had a passion for community work. In high school, I had the urge to get involved and give back. Throughout high school (sophomore-senior year) I organized a sock drive from October to December called Socks for Seniors. I collected new warm, fuzzy, festive socks to deliver to the eldery at Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities. After wrapping the socks in bows, I organized a group of volunteers to come with me and sing holiday carols to the residents to brighten their day. Seeing something as small as a pair of fuzzy socks make such a difference really made me realize how important it is to be involved and give back. This stopped once I came to Tech, but I still wanted to be involved, and thought VP of Philanthropy was a great way to give back to the community.”

How would you describe CWIB’s philanthropy?

“I wouldn’t put a definition to CWIB’s philanthropy, because we can do whatever we want to give back and support who we choose!”

Why did you decide to change the direction of our philanthropy?

“In past years, “One Girl” was deemed our philanthropy, and no one knew about it, or was involved whatsoever. Money was raised through Instagram stories which so many people would just click through. Coming into this year as VP of Philanthropy, I had free range to morph CWIB’s philanthropy into whatever I thought was best.  I wanted to move away from One Girl, and change it up a bit. I really wanted to focus on getting CWIB involved with the community and Virginia Tech itself. I think it is so important to give back to what is around us, and make philanthropy a tangible thing so members can see the difference they are making. A goal I had for this year was to partner and really just build ties with other on campus organizations and their philanthropies as well as community organizations so CWIB could grow.”

What events do we hold to support our Blacksburg community?

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Check out all the food and goods that were donated to the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry!

“This year I implemented a fundraiser / food collection for Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry during the fall to help those in need. CWIB donated proceeds of over $100.00 and 4 big bags of canned/dry goods to the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry. This spring I was super excited for CWIB to be part of the Big Event, we registered as a team and had many members sign up, but sadly that was cancelled.”

Why is it important for us to give back to our Blacksburg community?

“Blacksburg is our home. Although it may be our second one, it is no less prevalent. We spend a majority of our college career pouring our heart and soul into Blacksburg in so many ways, but I don’t think we realize how lucky we are to have such a community and family. Without Blacksburg, Tech is nothing, and vice versa. It has given us amazing experiences, and I think it is important to be in the know about our surrounding area and give back in any way we can.”

Lastly, how can someone in CWIB become more involved with our philanthropy?

“If you have any ideas or passions that would allow CWIB members to be involved, please reach out to our incoming Philanthropy VP Sraavani Jayanti @ sraavanij36@vt.edu, or me, Emma Sedlack @ emmas5@vt.edu.”

Clearly, due to Emma’s passion for helping others and giving back to those around her, she was naturally drawn to VP of Philanthropy. I want to give a huge shoutout to Emma for all of the hard work that she has put in over the past year and continues to do in her everyday life.

After talking to Emma about our philanthropy, and the importance in giving back to our community it is extremely clear that uplifting those around you is a crucial aspect of being a Hokie. During this time, while we may not be at Virginia Tech, being a Hokie doesn’t stop. Now more than ever is a time where we can give back to a cause greater than ourselves. I urge everyone to take the time to thank those who are risking their lives taking care of people affected by the Coronavirus. To the nurses, doctors, teachers, truck drivers, scientists, grocery store workers and so many others, thank you. Please continue the Hokie tradition of helping others and I can’t wait to see how this translates to how CWIB can further help our community. This excites me to see all of you back in Blacksburg in the fall!

By: Paige Horn

 

Lockdown Learning

Over the past couple of weeks, students have had to adapt to a situation that no one had seen coming. Due to the complexity of the environment we are currently in, there is no real telling when the lockdown for the Coronavirus will be lifted. Some people say that it will only last until the middle of the summer, while others make far reaches towards even the start of next year. The general consensus seems to be that we will be stuck inside for the summer, and because social distancing is an important part of helping the effects of Coronavirus fade faster, here are some tips and resources to expand your skills and work on improving your resume so that by the time the lockdown is lifted, we will be better prepared than ever to resume our academic activities!

Free Online Courses

Desperate times have called for many changes in people’s lives, destabilizing any plans we might have had for the future before the pandemic. Internships or jobs may have gotten cancelled, or at the very least, moved online, which is not the easiest transition. Because businesses around the world are understanding of this situation, there are a lot of feel-good stories on the Internet about how they are contributing to their community’s welfare. Local restaurants offer free care packages for those in need, and grocery stores are doing their best to minimize contact between customers to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Likewise, many organizations online have offered courses for students to utilize at this time to try to learn beyond what they are required to.

edX is an online nonprofit organization that provides free access to different courses. Many top universities around the country such as Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have offered to put their courses online for students to learn for free over the summer. They can be found at edx.org, where they are organized by categories such as Computer Science or Humanities. If you want to try to transfer these credits from completed courses onto your transcript, you can look into that more by reaching out to the edX support center. However, there may be an associated fee, and not many courses are provided under this program. Utilize this program to expand upon skills that are not necessarily required for your major. Branch out and widen your individual toolbox so that employers will see you are dedicated to improving, growing, and adapting to all sorts of situations.

There are various other online learning platforms such as Coursera or Udacity. However, it is difficult to get teacher feedback in these courses, and you usually have to pay for a certification. You can take these courses by auditing them, which is having access to the content without being able to have your assignments reviewed. However, you can also apply for Financial Aid for each individual class. While you may have to wait a couple of weeks to hear back from them, it is totally worth the effort if it is a class you really want to explore. With more time on our hands, I encourage you to explore these sites to see if there is an offer you really want to take up!

mug after free online courses

LinkedIn Learning

As we all may have experienced by now, Virginia Tech provides a lot of free resources for students to use. One of such that you may not be familiar with is LinkedIn Learning, which was previously known as Lynda. Virginia Tech partners with LinkedIn Learning to provide us a premium membership with unlimited access to courses, salary or career insights, certification that you can directly transfer onto your LinkedIn profile, and more.  You may be surprised to see how many courses there are for even the narrowest of interests. Use these courses to learn a completely new skill you may not have had the time to explore before, or develop the ones you have already been working on during your time at Virginia Tech.

Rosetta Stone

Another great resource provided by Virginia Tech is Rosetta Stone, which many more students may be familiar with. Rosetta Stone is an online learning resource for many different foreign languages. By logging in with a Virginia Tech PID and password through the University Libraries website, students can have unlimited access to any language on Rosetta Stone, not limited to Spanish, French or German. Learning languages is a very unique way to use your time, and can be very rewarding. Ever thought about studying abroad someday? Focus on learning the new language now to be better prepared in the future! As our world becomes more globalized, employers love to see diverse individuals who are able to communicate with a wide variety of people.

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CWIB Resources

Always know your CWIB friends are there to support you! Reach out to members, friends, or classmates about starting a book club related to your major. Don’t discount the benefits of reading a good book, especially one that covers issues in your field. You will have a better understanding of real-world practices and gain confidence reading about success stories which will help you enter the next school year ready to go.

The Coronavirus lockdown has undoubtedly cancelled many plans for students. However, we can make the best of this time by honing in on our skills, which can be learning a new one or further developing our strengths. By using the resources provided above, you can tackle your lockdown with a great sense of productivity and more useful skills you never thought you would acquire before.

By: Gyu Ri Kim

 

The Power of Connection

You may have heard someone recently say,“ its physical distancing, not social distancing.” While there is truth to that, there is also no denying so much social interaction has been lost due to the Coronavirus and quarantine life. Not only have social interactions greatly declined, but many internships, networking opportunities, and academic opportunities have been postponed or canceled. Even though these circumstances are disappointing, we don’t have to sit on the sidelines until this passes. There are still many ways to stay involved with your community and further your professional goals.

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Continue to reach out to the company you planned to work for

If there’s a new job or internship you worked hard to lock down that’s now in question, there are still ways to stay connected! Keep track of how the company is doing and how they have adapted through their website and social media. If you are not quite sure what your position/internship may now look like, reach out! There’s no harm in asking, the response might just take a little longer than expected. Even if a company is not struggling financially, they likely have had to reorganize for remote work as well as adjust to the changes in the economy and what the future might hold, so be a little patient.

Pick up a new professional skill

Even though many campus activities and resume-building events have been canceled, there are a lot of ways to build your resume and grow your expertise online! LinkedIn Learning has courses available for you to learn more about how to be a better professional. Take a few courses and add them to your profile to show employers you care and are interested in improving yourself.

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Find a way to get involved in your community

Volunteer work is so important in times like these, and getting involved in your community is much more than just something to add to your resume. Whether it’s through an organization or just helping an elderly neighbor get their groceries, doing something for others will give you a sense of purpose and could (safely) get you out of the house a little. Other ways to help may be offering to run social media for a local nonprofit or small company that is struggling, facetiming a child you usually babysit to give their parents a small break, or offering to virtually tutor someone in a subject you excel in.

Make connections by asking for advice 

Professionals enjoy helping students, so to maximize your time as a college student now stuck inside, consider reaching out through email to a few successful businessmen and women in a field you are passionate about. Tell them you are a student and were wondering if they would be willing to share how they got to where they are and what advice they might give their younger selves. People love talking about themselves and you might make some valuable connections by showing interest!

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Follow a new company or organization online

Maybe you are like me and don’t have an internship or job lined up yet, but are missing the networking opportunities and information sessions that being on campus brought you. Now is a great time to do some research on where you may want to work one day. You can do this through LinkedIn or Handshake, as well as just looking up companies based on your interests. You can also reach out to a fellow Hokie in the professional world and ask how they found the job they have now.

Reach out to a friend this week 

Everyone varies in how to connect with friends and family through this time. You may be facetiming people everyday all day, or maybe you have happily settled into minimal social interaction. I personally have been surprised how easily I have settled into a slow social pace of not seeing or talking to friends everyday. No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, it can be good to break routine a little, so I encourage you to reach out to someone you maybe have not talked to in a while! This could mean calling a grandparent, a roommate, a friend from high school, or whoever comes to mind.

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Stay positive 

The weight of being in the middle of a global pandemic can be heavy sometimes, and it can be frustrating that the best way to help is to essentially sit still. It’s important to stay informed, but don’t let the stats get you down. Put good news into your daily routine! I recommend following Tank’s Good News on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to get happy stories daily. I also highly encourage you to check out John Krasinski’s new YouTube channel “Some Good News,” where he reports on heartwarming stories of the week, cracks some jokes, and surprises everyday heroes through video calls.

Remember, it’s okay if you aren’t productive or social every second of every day. 

While this is a great time to utilize online resources and better prepare ourselves for the rest of college and life afterward, its okay if some days you aren’t productive or the only thing accomplished is a Netflix marathon. Just like in a normal week, some days are better than others. Some of the best advice I have ever received is that it’s never too late to start the day over. The beauty of quarantine life is we have more flexibility than normal to do just that. There’s no shame if some days you make your bed and start your work at 7:00PM.

Although we may be physically and geographically distanced, COVID-19 does not have to stop us from connecting with people personally and professionally. Everyone is in the same situation in that none of us have endured a global pandemic before, and in a lot of ways, this means we have more in common with each other than ever before. If we can work hard and help each other out (by physically distancing), we will be back to normal life soon.

By: Grace Farmelo

Reaching Out to Your Dream Job

It’s always good to have a dream to chase. Working towards a goal not only gives you a drive to succeed, but it motivates you to better yourself. A common dream for many young women about to enter the working world is the idea of a dream job or a dream company you would love to work for. If you have found either of those aspirations for yourself, it can be exciting to start a new journey in your professional life, but it can also be intimidating. How do you even begin the process of working towards such a goal? Who should you contact, and what should you say to get your foot in the door? It all begins with establishing contact.

above create contact

Create Contact

Let’s say you have found a company that seems like a perfect fit for you and you want to reach out to them and make yourself known. You know about what they do and how they operate, and you have a good understanding of their history. When approaching a large corporation or a well-established company, there is a certain professional etiquette for communication you should become familiar with.

You can start by using the most ubiquitous social platform on the web to establish contact with the company: LinkedIn. Connect with the company on LinkedIn and follow their updates to keep up with changes in their activities, staffing, and accomplishments. Networking via LinkedIn is also a great way to get in contact with people working at your company of interest or in your dream job. This is why it is so important to invest time and effort in LinkedIn. By continuously growing your network of connections, you may give yourself the opportunity to establish contact with someone in an advantageous position to you at that company through an introduction from a different connection. Keep in mind, the most polite way to reach out to someone on LinkedIn who you do not know personally or who does not provide you directly with the opportunity to connect with them, is through a 2nd degree connection. A 2nd degree connection on LinkedIn is similar to a “friend of a friend.” It is someone you do not know directly, but who is introduced to you through someone with whom you have a direct connection.

Additionally, following the company on their social media platforms, like Instagram or Facebook, is a great way to create contact. This goes for entrepreneurs and public figures as well, but not for private personal accounts for individuals. The relationship will be professional, and will help you stay updated on their activities and give you the ability to make a name for yourself by commenting on and sharing their posts, which expresses your interest in their work.

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Topics of Conversation

Although it may seem counterintuitive, it is never a good idea to start a conversation with a company, employee, or employer by asking about a job. Instead, start by introducing yourself and ask if they can provide some information about the position you are interested in, the company they work for, their workplace culture, their industry, their personal experiences, etc. It is important to appeal to your correspondent’s expertise and to give them respect as someone in a position above your own that may end up helping you in the long run. You want to make a good impression, and asking for a job without building a relationship first will come across as hasty and impersonal.

In terms of introducing yourself, here are some key points to cover. First, provide your contact with information about yourself that establishes your credibility as a worthwhile connection. Furthermore, offer information about your skills, interests, goals, or knowledge that would highlight their value to your contact. Understand that whoever you try to connect with may receive many similar emails or messages. To stand out to them, make an impact with your unique qualities and keep your introduction concise. Lastly, make it clear that you do not expect a job offer from your relationship. This takes pressure off the other person and makes them more comfortable with the idea of keeping in touch with you.

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Other Ways In

Talking directly with someone of interest to you is ideal, but not always possible. Gaining the appropriate connections and networking can take time, and your current situation may not allow for that kind of opportunity yet. Luckily, there are other ways for you to reach out. If there is an event put on for your target company or industry that is open to you, make an effort to go. Conferences and events can be a great way to gain information and network, which could lead to an in-person or online connection. Don’t forget to notify companies you follow on social media attending the event that you will be there too!

Additionally, a method of establishing contact that has been decreasing in popularity is sending a letter of interest. Moving communications online has streamlined operations and hiring for many industries and has become quite ubiquitous. If you are confident in your fit at a particular company and really want to stand out among the many applications that company sees every day, then you may want to consider sending a letter to them explaining your interest in a certain position. Be sure to include your resume, but don’t ask for a job outright. Mention their recent successes and how you may contribute to that success in the future, instead.

It Takes Time

Now that you know how to approach a company or individual employer appropriately, and in a way that optimizes your relationship, you can try applying these tips and strategies to help you progress on your path to your dream job! However, the key to succeeding in this task is to be patient. You can find yourself being eager to get the job and get started, but expressing interest calmly and professionally benefits your image in the company’s eyes. So be confident in yourself and your decision to follow your dreams because you may be their dream employee!

By: Lauren Miles