CWIB Spotlight: Erica Sullivan

CWIB has some truly incredible members that deserve recognition, and the member to know all about right now is Erica Sullivan, the 2018-2019 incoming Chief Marketing Officer. With her own successful blog, she has already broken into the business world of fashion. Read on to learn more about how she got to where she is today and the advice she has for other members.

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What the Clique is a blog “dedicated to being a source of inspiration for every woman who loves high-end, yet affordable style.” Erica began this blog to give herself an outlet from some nasty bullying she endured in 2011. Little did she know it would turn into a full-fledged business. The What the Clique brand aims to “incorporate inclusivity into the fashion industry because you don’t have to spend a million bucks to look it.” She has truly made strides in this industry, working with brands like Clarisonic, Elemis, Laneige, Sundee Best Boutique, Monkees of Charlottesville and many more.

So what made Erica start this blog in the first place? She began blogging before it even became the trendy, common hobby it is today. “There were only a handful of bloggers I could look up to for inspiration, and it really wasn’t an established field,” Erica explained. As mentioned above, she was severely bullied in middle school and this blog became an outlet for her to find her voice without the fear of being criticized by her peers.

 “I spent a lot of time on my laptop creating this persona of confidence, success and professionalism, and with time I slowly started to realize this wasn’t a persona but rather me discovering myself as an individual.”

 The blogging industry is a very recent development in this modern era of technology, so Erica has truly been able to watch it grow and flourish. Ten years ago, retailers spending $1 billion on influencer marketing would have been a laughable matter, but today it is a reality.

 

 “There is no better feeling than watching something you’ve built from the ground up flourish. Being a self-starter has taught me so many valuable skills that I am able to take into my future career. I’ve also developed this little network of followers who allow me to have this powerful platform and voice.”

Erica’s biggest challenge with her blog has been nurturing it and marketing it every single day. She explained that not many people realize how much work actually goes into maintaining a business and brand like her blog. “It takes me about an hour to put the content of a post together, and that does not including the back and forth emails with brands, photographing the product, editing pictures, etc. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” Erica exclaimed.

“When I first started out, people thought the idea of blogging was comical. It hasn’t been until the last four years or so that those laughing at me in 2011 are now attempting to start their own blogs.”

The interview ended with a final question:

What is your advice for any CWIB member who wants to start pursuing a passion like you pursued yours?

“Passion is my biggest motivator. If I’m not passionate about an opportunity, I don’t pursue it, because there is no point in wasting time and energy on something that will leave me feeling unfulfilled. My advice for any CWIB member who wants to start pursuing a passion is to go for it! Don’t let anyone else decided which direction your life is going to go. I know people laugh at the quote, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but that honestly couldn’t be any truer. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference and create a name for yourself.”

As you can see, there are lots to learn from Erica and her experience so far in the industry. She is a prime example of taking the negative in your life and turning it into something positive. Make sure to keep an eye out for her blog; she has a new post every Monday during the school year and two to three times a week during winter and summer breaks! Who knows, maybe you’ll even become inspired to start your own blog!

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Summer Internships: How to Prepare for Your First Day

Summer is slowly approaching, which means so is the first day of that summer internship many of you were able to receive. It is very stressful and nerve-racking to think about the first day and what the entire summer will be like, but it is important to be ready. Keep reading to learn some tips on how to make sure you make great first impressions on that day!

1. Have an Open Mind

Since you got this job, you have most likely done some intense research on the company and the position, right?  When given your first task, you may find that it isn’t something you expected you would be doing. Be able to adapt to any situation and try your best.

2. Ask Questions

Do not hesitate to ask any questions! Don’t think that any question is a dumb one; someone probably asked it before.  Your manager will appreciate it if you ask thorough questions on your position; it will show that you’re interested and want to do the best you can. Also, your coworkers are in the same boat as you, so ask them anything and you may even make a new friend along the way.

3. Dress for Success

Go to the mall a few days before your first day, and stock up on clothing that satisfies your dress requirements. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have a blazer, some blouses, and dress pants – this will get you through the majority of the summer. Remember to take into account the conditions of your travel! For example, if you’re walking a few blocks to your office, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes.

4. Get Organized

Load your Metro card, fill your gas tank up, prepare your bag/briefcase, and pack your lunch the night before! Also, look up directions to the building and leave about 20 minutes earlier to allow yourself more than enough time to get to work on time. Another important task you should do is familiarize yourself with the area so you can easily find the closest coffee shop!

5. Have Proper Etiquette

This is a little obvious, but still one of the most important concepts one needs to remember when in a professional environment. The first impression is typically how one is remembered, so make sure to smile, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake with everyone you meet. Introduce yourself properly and ask as many questions as needed.  Don’t be shy!

6. Be CONFIDENT

Everyone has their own unique strengths, personalities, and skills. Believing in yourself is the first step in showing the people at your company that you are an intelligent, capable intern. Make a lasting impression on everyone you meet, attend company events, never stop learning, and don’t hesitate to ask a question or pitch any idea. Confidence is the key to success!

 

These are all little tips that can lead to a great first day on the job and a great internship experience. Remember, you were hired for a reason. Show this company they were smart for hiring you. Good luck this summer, CWIB! We know you’ll make this organization proud!

Double Majoring: Is It Worth It?

“Dear Rosie… I’m thinking of double majoring. Is it worth it or should I just stick to one major and really focus on it?”

 Hi CWIB Reader!

That’s a great question! This topic is something I’ve thought about a lot as well. When it comes to getting a double major, it really depends on what you want to do when you graduate. If you are thinking about taking on another major within Pamplin, women currently in the business world are going to say that double majoring isn’t worth it.

At the Fourth Annual Power Panel, Kerry Wekelo from Actualize Consulting said that getting a double major wasn’t worth the late nights, extra work, and stress; and that you can reach the same success with one degree.

However, if you want to extend the scope of your education with a business and a liberal arts degree, then you should go for it. Studies have found that a college graduate with both a business and liberal Arts degree may earn a higher income than a graduate with only a Business degree. If you decide to double major, make sure you are aware of the opportunity costs before jumping right in.

Double majoring comes with a larger time commitment to academics and may limit how involved you are with organizations on campus. Another thing to think about is that when the time comes to apply for jobs, employers want to see how you got involved and exemplified leadership in the community as well.

If you are still having a difficult time deciding, make an appointment with your Academic Advisor! They are a great resource for us students and will help you decide what is best for you.

Charlotte Trek: A Recap

A few weeks ago, Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB) members trekked to Charlotte, North Carolina and visited three diverse companies, networked with Virginia Tech alum, and explored new and exciting career paths. Our outstanding peers represented CWIB on the Charlotte campuses of Red Ventures, Wells Fargo, and Dimensional Fund Advisors. Each company and its employees offered unique perspectives on business and professionalism. Read on to hear what CWIB members thought of their experience in “The Queen City!”

At Red Ventures, where intelligent innovators use data to bridge the gap between consumers and the services they need, members were immersed in a community-focused culture. On their growing campus, Virginia Tech alum introduced them to the work they do and offered valuable career advice. “The atmosphere was like no other to me,” says Sydney Woodward, “the company really embraced a ‘go-getter attitude.’ There was even a board that said, ‘Be Great People to Work With’ where employees are encouraged to take a piece of paper and do whatever it says – from grabbing lunch outside of the office to talking to someone they haven’t met before.”

 
During the CWIB visit to Wells Fargo, trek attendees spoke with more empowering professionals on careers in banking and the numerous paths within the industry. Their visit to Dimensional Fund Advisors expanded on their exposure to the finance industry – members heard from high-level employees and learned about the fast-paced world of investing. Tori Pollard, Sophomore CWIB member, and Business Information Technology (BIT) major found Dimensional Funds to be her favorite visit as it offered a company culture that seemed like an enjoyable place to work. Sydney Woodward found the visits to both companies highly informative since those are the types of firms she will be working with as a Financial Planning major!

Outside of the company visits, the trek attendees networked with other CWIB members. “It is always extremely empowering when you’re in this professional atmosphere and you are actively engaged,” says Woodward. Pollard, echoes her sentiments. “I had such a great time getting to bond with other CWIB members… this was my first trek and hopefully not my last.” Both women enjoyed exploring the city of Charlotte as well. Pollard states “Charlotte was never a place I had considered for an after-graduation job, but it is definitely on my radar now – it is an incredible up-and-coming city for young people entering the workforce.” Woodward even fell in love with the city and it is now her number one location to live after graduation!
 

Congrats to all Charlotte Trek attendees on seizing opportunities to expand your network and knowledge. Thank you to the companies who hosted CWIB and don’t forget to keep an eye out for these amazing opportunities throughout the following semesters!

A Freshman Survival Guide to Interviews

“Dear Rosie, I’m a freshman. In interviews, they always ask me what experience I have in whatever subject they use, and I don’t have much experience. How do I answer those questions?”

Hi, CWIB reader!

First of all, that’s incredible that you’re getting interviews as a freshman. You’re already way ahead of the game! Secondly, it’s important to understand that if a recruiter has called you back for an interview, it means they have looked at your resume/application and liked what they saw. Interviews are nothing but a way for them to see how you’d fit in with their company’s atmosphere, and how you’d handle certain scenarios under pressure.

There are three types of interviews – case studies, behavioral, and technical. For a business position, interviews are most often behavioral. This means they’re testing to see how you react to their questions and come up with answers in a short amount of time. When it comes to the “experience” question, remember that they already know about your skills and past experiences based on your resume. It’s all about how you sell yourself – your attitude, your answer delivery, etc.

If you’re in a situation in which you feel like you don’t have the right skills for the company or position you’re interviewing for, an important thing to remember is to sell whatever you have. Talk about the classes you’ve taken, whether they’re in high school or college, as long as they’re relevant. For example, if it’s a technical position, talk about your experience with technology (such as coding classes) or using social media (which is something we all do…come on). If you’re a business major, you’ve probably taken ACIS 1504, a technical class that teaches basic Excel skills. Refer to that!

A piece of valuable advice I got from one of our panelists at Power Panel this year was to twist whatever you have into what the company is looking for. Were you a waitress in high school? Talk about customer service, people skills, and working under pressure. Have you babysat? Talk about responsibility, organization, patience, and dealing with difficult situations on the fly. Did you work in retail?  Working with people, following delegated tasks, and conducting shop operations are just a few examples of things you can discuss with the interviewer!

You can also talk about clubs (*ahem*, CWIB!) you’re involved in, past positions you’ve held, any projects/volunteering you’ve done, and discuss what you learned from these activities. Remember that you don’t always have to talk about your major in school – flaunt your extracurriculars!

Last but not least, remember to talk about your future plans. Talk about classes you’re going to take later, clubs you plan on joining, or any skills you intend to learn, like a new coding language or a certification you want to get. When a company takes interest in you for a position, they’re looking to make a long-term investment in hopes that you’ll one day join them as a full-time employee. Make sure they know what you have in store along the road!

Maximizing Your Summer

Question: I’m a freshman and have had trouble finding an internship. I know it’s uncommon for freshmen to get internships, but I don’t want to do nothing this summer. What can I do to maximize my summer?

 

Dear CWIB reader,

First of all, I want to highlight some things that students often forget: not all internships are like the classic office job where you copy papers or get coffee for people at big firms, and some may not be paid. An internship is a position that students hold in an organization with the goal of gaining real work experience. It’s okay to think outside the box when considering internships. Just keep in mind that there are many more opportunities than you think of, so you just might have to be willing to look a little harder. Are there any passions you have that could be relevant to your major? You could ask a local business or charity if you could shadow someone who works there with your dream job. However, if you aren’t able to find anything, there’s always next year.  In case you can’t find anything, below is a list of a few things that you can do to maximize your summer.

  1. Clean up your resume: you may have already done this during winter break, but it’s always good to keep it updated.

  2. Volunteer: getting involved in your community looks great on resumes!

  3. Get a job and save: take the pressure off during the year by saving as much as you can during the summer!

  4. Get ahead on a class or two: if you don’t have a hectic schedule, you can take classes at your local community college to get ahead.

  5. Network with people you met on a company visit: Ask for tips on how to ace internship interviews or ideas for resume builders! This is a great first step to building your network!

How to Handle Rejection

There are some topics that we all deal with that are often ignored by people in our society. Rejection is one of them. Though it is common with every single one of us, we hesitate to discuss it. This may be because of embarrassment, shame, or refusal to admit failure. However, how natural is it to fail? Is success always guaranteed?

 At this time in our lives, rejection is something that has almost become an everyday occurrence. Many of us are currently applying to things, whether it’s summer jobs, internships, on-campus organizations, scholarships, etc. We also face rejection outside of our career lives in relationships with others, or even rejecting our own selves.

However, one thing is clear – rejection can’t be avoided. There’s no “5 Step Plan” to preventing rejection. Instead, you can improve your methods of dealing with it once you have to face it.

I’ve gathered testimonies from four different girls who have faced rejections in every aspect and have now secured internship positions at well-reputed companies. All of them have learned valuable lessons from their job searches and have used them to their advantage.

1. “Learn from your mistakes and keep on trying, no matter how hard it gets.” – Incoming Amazon intern

       I spoke with an incoming Amazon intern who told me about her struggles with interviewing. After four months of applying, interviewing, and getting rejected from just about everything, she was ready to give up. However, she was able to identify her weakness, which was her lack of preparation for technical interviews. She soon learned how exactly to study and prepare for these interviews in order to leave the best impression. She also stopped getting discouraged by watching people around her getting jobs. Eventually, she received an offer from Amazon as an engineering intern. Her key to success was to keep trying, no matter how bleak the situation seems.

2. “Don’t limit your options by sticking to ‘big’ companies.” – Incoming CNN intern

        This friend of mine I spoke with told me her tips for dealing with rejection, which includes telling herself it’s not the end of the world and there are so many other companies to apply to. When she gets rejected, she just starts filling out more applications without dwelling too much and losing momentum. Most importantly, she’s learned that it doesn’t matter where you work. Getting rejected by a large company is to be expected since they are very picky, and they have a large number of applicants from all over the world. The purpose of internships is to learn new skills, and you have just as much of a chance doing so at a smaller company or a startup, which is where she interned last summer. Her key to success is to not overlook small companies because you want a flashy, big-name internship that’ll look good on a resume – look for the value the position provides. It also doesn’t hurt that the smaller the company, the higher your chances tend to be.

3. “Don’t get overly attached to a position.” – Current Home Depot intern

        Emotions tend to get the better of us, no matter what situation we’re in. It’s important to remember to stay objective and focused during the application process. Whether it’s rejection emails, cold interviewers, or just no replies at all, none of it will affect you in the long run. Just accept the situation for what it is and keep going. Even if a position sounds perfect for you and you feel like a good fit for it, try to not get your hopes up and get attached since there’s always the slightest chance it won’t work out. While it’s good to have hope, you should stay grounded and practical at the same time to avoid excessive disappointment. Her key to success is to remember that you’ll end up where you need to be if you continue to pursue your goals without giving up because of one rejection.

4. “Think of rejection as a push in the right direction.” – Incoming KPMG intern

         It’s difficult to accept rejection because it feels like proof that you weren’t good enough. However, it’s important to understand that it’s not against you personally. When companies recruit, they have a very specific type of person in mind – someone who matches their corporate culture – and it’s often hard for them to find just the right match. If you didn’t get a job you applied to, chances are, you will definitely find something better. It also means that even if you did get that job, it might not have gone so well because you didn’t fit well with the company initially. Her key to success is understanding what leads to certain things happening and continuing to search for a company that is the perfect fit for you.

        This is a critical time in our lives, where it seems like securing jobs define our worth. However, we are still young and still have time left in school, so use it to your full advantage! Companies are always visiting Virginia Tech, whether they’re at a booth at a career fair, speaking at an organization’s meeting, or just hanging out in the Pamplin atrium waiting for you to swing by. Take every opportunity available to  build relationships instead of “connections.” Remember, you have time. Rejections don’t signify failure – they’re just a sign that you applied for the wrong place, and your dream job is still out there. All you have to do is keep searching!