Mentors: Your Guardian Angels in the Workplace

When reading articles or watching educational videos on developing your professional career, most people will advise you to look into mentorship. Mentors are experienced professionals in your workplace who can assist and teach you about skills valuable for building your career. Such skills can be as general as writing up your resume into its most appealing version, or technical and specialized skills that are unique to what you do. To help new Collegiate Women in Business members adjust to the organization and the different benefits it provides such as events and networking, the mentorship program was developed. We asked VP of Mentorship, Elizabeth Sweeney, some questions to help inform members about the CWIB mentorship program.

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Elizabeth Sweeney, VP Mentorship

How would you summarize the mentorship program?

The mentorship program is a place for girls of various backgrounds to come together and simply help each other. Helping them with school work, personal, or social aspects of their lives. The mentorship program is what you make of it. If you want to see your mentee/mentor at the monthly meeting, you can save a seat for them. If you want to go out and have lunch weekly, go for it!  The whole purpose is to pair up two ladies and hopefully allow them to use our three pillars and encourage each other.

What are the benefits of having a mentor?

Mentors can help with whatever you need. As previously mentioned, the mentorship program is what you make of it. I have heard feedback from girls that have had their mentors go above and beyond. Mentors have texted random encouraging texts, helped with job and internship activities, met up for lunch, and even go for a fun night out of bowling. Having said that, the benefits can be any amount of anything, but it is truly creating a familiar face in a time of your life that can be crazy.

What made you want to become VP of Mentorship?

VP of Mentorship has been a position for years. The reason why the mentorship program is run the way it was is solely based on two facts. First, I wanted young Hokies to find somebody that can be more than a friendly face. Getting involved as a freshman and seeing other girls already know what their major is and who their friends are can be intimidating. I want women to feel empowered and loved by girls in the room.

Secondly, I wanted somebody to help young Hokies, knowing what I needed help with my early years at Tech. I needed somebody to tell me that there is free tutoring offered on campus. I needed to learn basic things as a new Blacksburg local. I was in the mentorship program last year. In my head, I thought that it can be a strong associate to CWIB. With a little bit of rewiring, I think steps to continue to improve the program are in place.

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CWIB Mentorship

Participating in this mentorship program can be greatly beneficial for internships or jobs, having a second opinion on professional questions, and all things Collegiate Women in Business. Not only do you have another familiar face in the many women who are in the organization, you also have a guide to help you with professional questions that you might not know who to ask. Plus, previous mentees can eventually become a mentor to other new members and pass down the knowledge they have acquired!

Many students go off to find professional mentors in their workplace for advice stemming from personal experience in their chosen career path, or simply wanting someone to help further their knowledge in their respective field. There are countless benefits to mentors, who can be a support system, advisor, and coach all in one. You can look through your company’s Human Resources department to see if your workplace provides a mentorship program, or search outside the office such as on LinkedIn or other networking sites. Finding a professional mentor can be especially helpful for those just starting to work in the real world, and are not sure where to begin learning. Befriending those in your department is always an additional way to find a support system when just starting out, which will benefit your collaboration abilities and help you to work on solving problems with others. There is never a time when having a network of professionals to turn to won’t help you with your career! Begin surrounding yourself with those who have goals, ambitions, and are looking to support others now!

By: Gyu Ri Kim

 

Protiviti Spotlight

CWIB would not be possible without our sponsors who provide networking opportunities, jobs to CWIB alumni, and insight into the corporate world. Protiviti, a global consulting firm, is one of these sponsors and I had the opportunity to hear more about this company from three CWIB alumni currently employed at Protiviti.

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Andra Scaliti, a 2019 graduate with a Business Information Technology degree, says she found Protiviti through other CWIB members and a Pre-Business Horizon’s event. She says, “What stood out to me immediately were the people, each one of which I could easily have a friendly, open, and candid conversation with.” Lauren Carey, another 2019 graduate with a degree in Finance and Management found Protiviti through a workshop they held with CWIB and also from CWIB members newly employed there.

Heather Sangalang, also a 2019 grad who found Protiviti through connections in CWIB, says Protiviti stood out to her because, “everyone has been so warm, welcoming, and inclusive. The passion they have for Protiviti’s culture and mission, as well as their genuine desire to see their peers succeed, are evident.” She is, “so thankful to have a job that allows me to enjoy not just the work itself, but the people I work with as well.” Lauren mentions their new Foundations Program, which allows new employees to work on a range of projects, is what drew her to Protiviti and says “I was excited to be a part of this program to help me to figure out what I am actually interested in and have the opportunity to work with multiple clients.”

The transition from college to the real working world can be a tough one, but Protiviti provides assistance in many ways to help new employees feel at home. At the “training school” Heather says, “You get the opportunity to travel to a cool city with hundreds of other new hires to learn about what the firm is like, how to implement our methodology, what basic consulting skills are, and how to network.” Andra mentions this eased “the transition from college to corporate life.” Lauren says Protiviti’s mentorship program greatly helped her transition. She became friends with her peer advisor and says, “she was there to answer all of my questions and help me navigate my first months with the firm.” She mentions while the transition into the workforce has been difficult, her mentors have greatly helped.

Andra, Lauren, and Heather are all current consultants at Protiviti. Andra explains, “While consultant level responsibilities vary greatly across engagements, some common functions include attending client meetings, generating work papers, and completing risk assessments to enable our clients’ success.” Heather is currently working on a project with a large software company and with her team, “is conducting a risk assessment, which means we are evaluating the client’s current processes and identifying what risks exist that may impede their day-to-day operations, customer interactions, and profitability.” Lauren is currently working on an anti-money laundering project and is “in charge of account analysis and reviewing people’s accounts to determine if there is suspicious activity.” Andra is a Foundations Consultant in New York City and works “across multiple solutions including Technology Consulting, Business Performance Improvement, Risk and Compliance, and Internal Audit.” Though these women have similar job titles, their responsibilities and interests vary greatly and all have been able to find their place at the company.

Heather says in addition to working with clients, she has, “been able to help with campus recruiting, get involved in network groups (i.e. Women in Technology group), and plan social events.” Andra appreciates the experience Protiviti offers her and says “Protiviti enables rapid growth for its consultants’ skillsets, both technical and interpersonal.” Lauren says she has been given more responsibility in her first six months than she expected, which has made her feel valued and respected in the company.

If you are anything like me, you are probably wondering how to land a job at such a great company right out of college. Andra says in addition to being involved in CWIB leadership, she played Club Soccer and Club Lacrosse at Virginia Tech, “which built work ethic and taught team dynamics which apply directly to my day-to-day.” Lauren’s experience working at Wells Fargo part-time helped her “learn how to balance work and school. At my job now, my clients are mostly large banks so working at a bank has helped me to understand the customer facing side.” Heather, who was involved in various CWIB positions all four years at Virginia Tech, says in her roles she, “learned how to communicate within a team to execute things for the organization, which has helped me tremendously in my job now because I collaborate with people every day.” She was also a Student-Athlete Tutor, an experience that taught her to “think about how I communicate my thoughts and knowledge to others in order to transfer the information successfully”.

In an attempt to recruit other promising hires such as these women, Protiviti provides both internships and externships.” The internship is an eight-week program that allows interns to get real consulting experience. You get staffed on 2-3 short engagements throughout the summer. It may seem like you wouldn’t get that much experience in that short period of time, but you’ll be surprised how much you can learn,” explains Heather. Andra mentions “Virginia Tech is one of Protiviti’s target schools for recruiting and can be found on campus multiple times throughout the year for Business Horizons, Pamplin events, and of course CWIB workshops. Protiviti applications can be found on Handshake and the firm even provides convenient on-campus interviews for students. Protiviti hires interns, full-time hires, and offers its Summer Leadership Conference for sophomores to get involved early in the Protiviti community.”

As not only Virginia Tech graduates but CWIB alumni, I was curious what advice these women who are a few steps ahead of us could offer. Lauren suggests saying yes to as many opportunities as possible your first year at a company will help you get to know the people in the office and gain respect. Andra warns against imposter syndrome and says “Harnessing your abilities, taking ownership of your successes, and making your voice heard is a sure way to combat imposter syndrome, impress coworkers, and stand out among peers.” Heather says making connections now is extremely important and suggests, “Whether you introduce yourself to the speaker at a CWIB monthly meeting, ask for the business card of an interesting employee you meet on a trek, or start a conversation with the person sitting next to you in class, any small step is good practice!” She reminds us “As women, it’s important to have a strong support system in this male-dominated industry, and the more comfortable you are with making those connections, the more prepared you are to be successful in the business world!”

I would like to thank Heather, Andra, and Lauren for taking the time to give such great insight into their personal experiences at Virginia Tech and with Protiviti. Protiviti’s partnership with CWIB provides many valuable opportunities for its members and I encourage you to look for them at the next job fair or networking event!

By: Grace Farmelo

 

CWIB Member Feature: Gabriela Oporto

CWIB began in 2014 as an organization for women who were in the business school, but over the years the club has grown exceptionally and stresses how CWIB is open to all majors. For this feature I contacted non-Pamplin students and asked them certain questions pertaining to their education and how CWIB has affected their collegiate careers. The member featured in this article is Gabriela Oporto.

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Gabriela Oporto

Gabriela is a junior studying statistics here at Virginia Tech. She found out about CWIB through her friends who were Pamplin students. I asked why she decided to join knowing that CWIB is thought of as a business organization, since she is not a student of Pamplin. She explained that she decided to join because CWIB wasn’t a “stereotypical” club for business majors. She also discussed how she liked that we focus on our three pillars (empower, prepare, and connect) and how these words resonate with members to prepare them for the workforce. This supports the club’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.”

The goal of CWIB does not only pertain to business majors, but all majors because eventually, everyone ends up working for a business of some type, or they even start up their own business! Either way, CWIB is a club in which many students with all different backgrounds can come together, learn, and inspire each other to become empowering women in their field. Tying into the point just made, Gabriela was asked what opportunities CWIB has provided her outside of the stereotypical business setting, and she replied by talking about how CWIB has allowed her to connect with other students that share similar experiences as Gabriela. She also discussed how much easier it is for her to connect with other girls via club meetings and events. This is a great example of the third pillar, Connect. As stated in the mission statement, one goal of this club is to foster relationships amongst women in the collegiate world, and also in the business world. Gabriela is able to take advantage of this through numerous organizational events.

CWIB provides many opportunities for their members which allow members to meet others and create meaningful memories with each other.  I asked Gabriela about a favorite memory she has from an event or meeting that resonated with her. One of her favorite memories was at a monthly meeting where a guest speaker presented. Gabriela described how the guest speaker, Dana Hummel-Smith, used to babysit her and how she was an important person in her life. She explains how inspiring it was for her, later in life, to hear Dana speak about her experiences and to see how far she has gone. This is another great example of how CWIB uses connection to empower its members, and also it shows the power of networking!

As a club that inspires young women and also fosters relationships amongst collegiate women, we are always looking to expand and invite more members to join the club. When asking Gabriela about how she would convince her friends to join and what she would tell them, she stated that she would simply tell them about the “positive environment” the club provides and would recommend it to anyone who is willing to network. She would also tell them about all of the fun activities and events CWIB participates in!

CWIB provides a great environment to learn about business skills and grow within the business world. I asked Gabriela about what this club has taught her in the time she has been a member. She said that the club has taught her how to be more confident, how to believe in herself, and how it has helped her achieve a more positive mindset. Gabriela is a great example of how CWIB helps its members in a positive way and how the club encourages their members to grow into confident young women in the business world.

Outside of being a member of CWIB, Gabriela spends most of her time working at the West End dining hall. She discusses how she has recently been more driven and motivated to do “simple” tasks and also she has been more motivated to look well because she believes that it will lead her to more leadership opportunities within her job, which she says, CWIB has made an emphasis on. I was very excited to hear how CWIB impacted her in this way in another aspect of her college career!

Lastly, to wrap up the interview, I asked Gabriela what her professional goals are and how being a member of CWIB will help achieve her goals. She aims to get an internship for this upcoming summer working in data analysis in order for her to hopefully land a full time career in that field. She once again talked about how much CWIB has taught her about how to be more confident in herself and how she can make herself stand out to employees, which will in turn, hopefully land her the internship she wants. There are many successful graduates of Virginia Tech who were involved with CWIB that have gone on to do amazing things. I can’t help but think that being an active member of this club, has helped them along the way, as shown by this interview with Gabriela.

Throughout this interview, Gabriela has shown the many benefits CWIB has provided her even without being a Pamplin student. This shows the numerous opportunities this club can provide to its members, and how these opportunities can pertain to everyone and not just business majors. It was a pleasure hearing about Gabriela’s experience of being a member of CWIB because she comes from a different perspective than most members. It is amazing to hear about all of the wonderful outcomes members like Gabriela receive from CWIB and how we set up our members for success in their everyday lives.

By: Ashley Mattson

Alumni Spotlight

Throughout college, there are a variety of ways that we find meaning and connection to our peers, community, and future career. Collegiate Women in Business is an amazing organization that we choose to identify with, which brings meaning into our time here at Virginia Tech. To get a better understanding of the impact that CWIB has had on members of our organization, I reached out to Andra Scaliti, Angela Zadrima, and Heather Sangalang to get their perspective on college, as well as life after graduation.

I think that all of us wonder what life is like after college, as it is an inevitability: we are all going to graduate, have real jobs, rent an apartment, and finally do things on our own, possibly for the first time in our lives. This is a scary thought for some of us, but at the end of the day, reality. Luckily, we have some amazing women who have gone through this transition that have been more than welcome to share their experiences with us. Here are their responses regarding their experiences, memories and careers.

When did you graduate from Virginia Tech, what was your major, and what do you miss most about Tech?

Andra: “What I most miss about Tech is the Blacksburg community. The sense of comradery and spirit is entirely unique and unmatched.”

Heather: “It is so hard to pinpoint only one thing that I miss most about Tech, but the first thing that comes to mind is being in close proximity to my friends all the time. We lived within minutes of each other, and jumped to “Enter Sandman” every fall Saturday together. . . Blacksburg’s tight-knit community is rare and should be cherished while you still have it.”

How did CWIB help you during your time at Virginia Tech?

Heather: “CWIB helped me feel empowered when I was at Virginia Tech. I went to the first meeting and the rest is history. The leaders and members of the organization were all ambitious, and I really wanted to surround myself with people like that. I immediately joined the Marketing Committee, then transitioned to the Magazine Committee during my sophomore year, which led me to become the Editor-In-Chief of the CWIB Chronicles my Junior and Senior Year. My increasing responsibility in the organization empowered me to know that I can do whatever I set my mind to and know that I am capable of taking on responsibility and leading and inspiring others.”

Angela: “CWIB gave me the confidence I needed to secure my job offer and make everlasting connections. I also met some of my best friends through CWIB! The women in this group are not only incredible resources but incredible people – you each possess different strengths and add so much value to the organization and Virginia Tech.”

Describe your career path since graduating from Virginia Tech.

Angela: “My career path really solidified after attending Business Horizons my sophomore year. After speaking with all of the Big 4 accounting firms, I ended up participating in an externship for KPMG that summer. That externship led to an internship offer, which I accepted and worked the summer of my junior year. The internship led to a full-time offer, and I started working as an audit associate in September.”

Andra: “Upon graduation, I started my career in New York City as a Consultant at Protiviti, a large global consulting firm, the offer for which I accepted upon my internship with the firm the summer following my junior year. My start date was not until September which allowed for a long, relaxing, and reflective summer after graduation to prepare for this exciting new chapter.”

What do you think are the most important skills to possess when going into the workforce? What are the skills that are most important to you in your day to day job?

Heather: “In my opinion, good time management and communication are the most important skills to possess when entering the workforce. Good communication is crucial because most jobs require you to work with others. Whether it’s revealing the status of your deliverable, asking for help on something, providing constructive criticism, or simply sharing your ideas, you need to have good communication skills to effectively get your points across.”

Andra: While skills obtained in the classroom are essential for workforce success, it is soft skills that often differentiate entry level employees from their peers. The pinnacle among these is professionalism. I’ve learned the single trait that stands out the most to seniors and managers is a mature level of professionalism in terms of written communication, dress, respect, and overall personability.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share? 

Angela: “Put yourself first. It’s easy to become bogged down by whatever is stressing you at the moment – school, romantic relationships, friendships, family. It’s ok to be selfish and take care of YOU. Forget arbitrary expectations and don’t spend time comparing yourself to others. Everyone has a different path. I failed 2 classes, broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years, lost friends, stayed in when everyone else went out, spent entirely too much at Al’s  (RIP), got my car totaled on 81, broke my foot, got tonsillitis 4 times – and I’m still here. You’re all gonna be ok. Savor every day you get to wake up as a student of Virginia Tech.”

Heather: “The one piece of advice I want to share is to always do what is best for you. As you get older, you’re going to have to make more and more decisions for yourself.. . . It is okay to make mistakes and I am confident that each and every one of you CWIB members are strong and smart enough to learn from them and move forward. Life is short and you shouldn’t spend it feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, bored, and/or not challenged. Do yourself a favor and “Be you, Do You, For You.”

It is overwhelmingly clear that these women greatly valued their time at Virginia Tech and treasure the memories that they made here. Not only did they work hard in school, they went beyond, became involved, and created lasting connections and friendships within CWIB. An underlying theme that went through all of their responses is to fully appreciate and value every day that we get to spend here at Virginia Tech and as a part of CWIB.

Lastly, I want to sincerely thank Andra, Angela, and Heather for sharing their responses with us and wish them the best of luck in their careers!

By: Paige Horn

Mastering the Handshake

The handshake is not a new movement, in fact its beginnings date back thousands of years. Historians believe that the gesture began as a way of conveying peaceful intentions, that by extending their empty right hands strangers could show each other they did not hold any weapons and intended no harm. Although the handshake has evolved over time, it eventually became a part of commonplace etiquette and a sign of courtesy and friendliness.

However, there is so much more that goes into a handshake. The handshake is a first impression, it can be a make or break in a job interview, and it may influence whether you strike a big deal or not. The handshake can play a part in many different business decisions, which may sound silly, however a great handshake makes you appear confident, professional, and more trustworthy. A handshake is a personal connection between two people; it displays mutual respect. Even when it is impersonal, a great handshake can help convey your personality and intentions towards the other person. When is the appropriate time to shake someone’s hand? When being introduced to someone, when saying goodbye to someone, at the beginning or end of a business meeting or interview, and whenever deemed appropriate within a business context, such as sealing a deal.

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There are a few guidelines to remember in order to have an unforgettable handshake. First things first, you have to be ready for it! Make sure your right hand is free. Move anything out of your right hand well before you know you’re about to give a handshake, that way you’re not awkwardly fumbling your items around. If you’re sitting down, rise before shaking someone’s hand. Have your hands out in the open rather than in your pockets – you will look more confident and trustworthy. Then, extend your right hand straight out. Don’t have your palm facing either up or down; the palm should meet with the palm of the other person. Next, you will take the other person’s hand in a firm, but not knuckle crushing, clasp making sure the web between your thumb and fingers meets the web of the other person’s hand. While keeping your hand parallel to the ground, pump your hand up and down about two or three times.

In a job interview, the handshake is crucial. Don’t spend a lot of time stressing about it beforehand, however you should always prepare. Sweaty hands can be common before a big interview as we all get nervous! However, make sure to wash, dry or wipe off sweaty hands right before your interview. One tip to impress the recruiter or interviewer is to be the first to reach out, this shows great confidence. If you follow the handshake tips as mentioned, your interviewer will be impressed with you before you’ve even said anything!

Although a handshake may sound like a simple action, it is actually not that hard to do it wrong. Let’s go into some things to avoid. First, the limp shake is a big no. This gives off the impression you’re shy or lack confidence. Try to follow the tips mentioned above and, when in doubt, just mirror the other person’s grip. There is also a “knuckle crusher” handshake that is the opposite of a limp handshake, but must be avoided as well. Again, use moderate pressure so that the handshake is firm but not hurting the other person’s hand. Another mistake people make is shaking hands for too long. Try to stick to about 2 or 3 pumps in order to avoid an awkwardly long greeting. Lastly, steer clear from the “politicians’ handshake”. This is when you’re shaking someone’s hand and then place your left hand on top. This kind of handshake is to be avoided unless it is a more personal greeting.

Don’t forget about your body language! Stand up tall as if there is a string pulling you to the ceiling and face the person directly, rather than a side stance. Make sure to speak clearly and confidently to block out any nerves you may be feeling internally. Don’t fidget, as this can be distracting to the other person and they may perceive you as nervous or shy. Lastly, as you break away from the handshake do not look down. Looking down after a handshake will also make you appear shy, nervous, or untrustworthy. Most importantly, use plenty of eye contact, this will exert your confidence in the situation.

 

politician handshake

As members of Collegiate Women in Business we are lucky to have many opportunities to practice our handshakes. Whether it’s at coffee chats, monthly meetings, networking opportunities, or treks, we have plenty of time to perfect the handshake with fellow members, sponsors, and professionals before it comes time for the first big job interview and beyond. Remember, the handshake is a seemingly simple formality, however it is an opportunity to make a lasting impression, Keep these guidelines in mind and you’ll be shaking hands like a pro in no time!

By: Lindsay Barnes