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 @, or me, Emma Sedlack @”

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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.

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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.


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

Your Passions and Your Projects

Some lucky people find their passions in high school and go on to major in Biology or English with a specific career in mind. The majority of us, however, know a little about what we are good at and what we like to do, but not the career path that best fits us. Especially in the arena of business, there are so many avenues to take and paths to take them. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay inspired when your classes aren’t quite what you thought they would be or you are not exactly sure what job you want to work toward. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you find more purpose in your work and bring your passions into what you do daily.


   1. What feels like it has purpose and what feels like an obligation?

There are a lot of opinions thrown around about careers, but only you know what feels best for you. Of your classes and extracurriculars, what do you like to do best? What feels fun, easy, or like a welcome challenge? On the flip side, what feels like something you have to do instead of something you get to do? We tend to lean towards what we are good at and interested in. I suggest making a list of positions, activities, skills, and atmospheres you like and comparing that list to possible career options.

Maybe you are in a leadership role with your sorority and you love working with a primarily female organization, so you look for that in a career path. Or you volunteer with kids and would love to be involved with education but don’t see yourself as a teacher. These are all important things to know when thinking about what you want to do with your life.

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2. Are there any obligations you can get rid of? 

As we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, most events and obligations have been canceled. So maybe the better question is this: Of the activities you had before, what do you not miss? Of course, obligations are a part of life and there is something to be said for trying new things, taking a class you know nothing about and resume building, but as far as your future career, what would you prefer it not involve? As I like to tell myself, it is just as important to know what you dislike as it is to know what you really enjoy.

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3. Are there any projects/activities you are passionate about that you can add to            your schedule?

With the current state of events, as well as summer on the horizon, hopefully you have a little more time on your hands. Now is the perfect opportunity to begin a new venture — something you have been wanting to do, but always thinking it wasn’t the right time. Maybe it’s an art project, a side hustle, a blog, an Instagram account about plants — really anything you feel passionate about wish you had more time for in regular life. It is also a great time to research companies and organizations you are interested in or hope to work for in the future.

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4. What is your end goal? 

It might seem like an obvious question, and most of us would probably just say a job, but reflecting on what you really want in life can help you put your career path in context. Is climbing the corporate ladder your goal? Do you want to go to a nine-to-five for most of your life? Does where you want to live have jobs you are interested in? Would you prefer working from home or going to an office everyday? Would you like flexible hours or do you need more structure? Even within specific disciplines, there are numerous concentrations and companies that all do things a little bit differently.

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5. Do you want a career with your passions or a side hustle?

Although our skills and passions overlap, you may find yourself really good at a job you don’t completely love. That does not mean you have to force yourself to love it or even stay in that field. If you don’t mind it, maybe make your passion your side hustle and keep your job to help fund that project.

While college is a vital starting point for your career and future, the job you get right out of school doesn’t determine the rest of your  life. As you probably know from successful business men and women – people rarely stick with the path they start on, and that’s okay! You may change your career drastically multiple times throughout your life. What matters now is that you explore what interests you and what you may be able to do with those interests and skills you have.

By: Grace Farmelo


Nashville Trek Recap

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This past week, from February 27th-28th, some of our CWIB members participated in a trek to Nashville, Tennessee. They got to enjoy the sights and sounds of the country music capital of the world, as well as visit the Creative Artists Agency, Dollar General, and Nissan. Creative Artists Industry (CAA) is a talent management agency representing all kinds of performers, from music and acting to sports. They focus on collaboration within the workplace to provide a holistic approach to client representation. Dollar General is an American retail store that, according to their motto, focuses on “serving others” by selling a variety of products at accessible prices. And lastly, Nissan is a household name in the car industry that originated in Japan and now operates as a successful multinational enterprise. At each of these companies, our members were able to network and to hear from panels of female and male speakers, who all spoke about their experiences in their respective industries and within the company itself.

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One of the most memorable aspects of the trip for all of the members I contacted, in addition experiencing Nashville, was the advice they gained from the panels they attended. Paige Horn recalls that the women in the panels recounted their time in the working world thus far and their experiences within their companies, which varied greatly due to differences in background, level of experience, age, and skill. The women the members talked to at Dollar General, for instance, were newer to the workforce than that of the other companies, and thus provided advice that was more applicable for recent college grade transitioning into the workplace, explained Samy Febles.

Some of our members had a piece of wisdom from these panels in which they found especially great value. Sarah Viebrock claims that her favorite piece of advice from the panelists was that you are not limited by your degree. If you find a company that provides the best fit for your skills and lifestyle, it can allow you to move around and try different tasks internally. Laurel Rubens learned that “stepping up to challenges” and taking ownership for your actions without going overkill on apologizing, a habit for some, can improve your interactions with others at work and your satisfaction with your work. Paige Horn also notes that the importance of finding a mentor was mentioned, and that being open to critique and advice while maintaining confidence in your abilities is key as a woman in the workplace.

Apart from tips on adjusting to the workplace and workplace culture, each company educated our members about specific aspects of their business. Nissan representatives discussed the struggles of managing a very large corporation, as well as how to market automobiles to a globally diverse audience. Dollar General focused on retail strategy and their approach to supply chain management. They also included a fun tour of the company and a trip to the “Dollar General Museum.” Lastly, CAA discussed the experience and skills needed to represent major artists and build personal brands. At CAA, our members also had the opportunity to meet with an agent who recently helped world famous performing artist, Harry Styles, book his tours.


When I asked what their biggest takeaway was from this trip, I received some very poignant and empowering responses. A theme throughout their responses was being unafraid to put 100% of yourself into attaining what you want, especially in your career. Laurel Rubens learned that pursuing your great idea for a new product or company could change your life for the better, so don’t be afraid to follow that dream! Both Samy Febles and Sarah Viebrock emphasized the importance of being unafraid to push yourself and take risks. With great risk often comes great reward, and some of the most successful people in business made it to where they are today by learning how to take calculated risks. Our members seemed to have learned a lot about becoming trailblazing women in business!


Treks are truly great experiences for any member of CWIB to be a part of. The members I contacted expressed their appreciation for the unique networking opportunities these trips provide, as well as the wealth of knowledge they gained from talking to women in business directly. Treks often provide more diverse and realistic perspectives of the working world, and having the ability to ask specific questions can help members personalize their experience and do their own research on different industries in a fun and open environment. Sarah Viebrock says that the trek “opened [her] eyes to many possibilities of a business degree.” Visiting diverse varieties of companies that all fall within the category of “business” can indeed broaden the horizons of what opportunities lie in wait for your specific skill sets or degree. Furthermore, treks are great for bonding with other members of CWIB. The time spent in the car during the trip actually a great chance to get to know everybody and grow closer to each other, and was one of Paige Horn’s favorite parts of her trek. A new opportunity to participate in a trek is always right around the corner, so if you’re interested in making friends, travelling, or exploring what options are waiting for you after graduation, make sure to keep your eye out for CWIB’s next trek! CWIB would like to thank Creative Artists Agency, Nissan, and Dollar General for networking with our members, providing insight to their company missions and cultures, and fostering a welcoming atmosphere while on this trek!

By: Lauren Miles