Charlotte Trek Recap

This past week, on November 14th-15th, some of our members had the opportunity to go on one of our treks to Charlotte, North Carolina. During their time in Charlotte, the attendees visited Apex Systems, Duke Energy and LendingTree. Apex systems is an IT staffing and workforce solutions firm whose mission is to, “bring clients the best digital and data transformation services.” Duke Energy is an electric power holding company that is dedicated to sustainable energy. The culture at Duke energy is inclusive and committed to transparency, honesty and integrity. Lastly, LendingTree is an online marketplace that connects borrowers and lenders so that people can find the best deals on loans, credit cards, deposit accounts, insurance and more. LendingTree guarantees excellent customer service and wants to empower its clients to feel confident in their financial choices through education, support and guidance. CWIB members were eager to learn from all three of these powerful companies.

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Trek attendees at Apex Systems

In addition to visiting influential companies and networking with prominent business people, members also had the chance to create closer bonds with other women in CWIB. I reached out to some of the attendees about their favorite memories from the trek. All of the members who participated in the trek mentioned how much they loved getting to know the other members in CWIB and highlighted how they would not have been able to make these tighter bonds without this trek.

Rania recalled, “sitting in the lobby telling scary stories from people who have studied abroad, as we waited for our rooms.” Izzy also mentioned her respect for the upperclassmen in CWIB, and because of the bonds she has made on this trek is much more inclined to reach out to them for insight they may have regarding school, internships, and life after college. Paige echoed what other members said, stating that her favorite memories of the trek were “the van rides and all hanging out in our hotel room. It felt like a sleepover. I feel like it’s a great way to meet your fellow members and make new friends.”

Along with emphasizing the importance of creating meaningful relationships within our organization, participants also emphasized the networking aspect of the trek. As many are aware, networking can be a highly intimidating task, and for many students networking events are anxiously awaited. Many professionals consider networking to be one of the most important skills in business and as such, students and prospective employees need to be confident when speaking to recruiters. During the trek, members of CWIB were able to experience networking firsthand and were able to relieve some of the stress relating to meeting important businesspeople.

Izzy learned that a crucial part of networking is being prepared as she observed that “not everyone is as professional and intimidating as they appear, most of the time they’re just prepared.” Rania highlighted that networking can happen at any time, whether it be at an airport, at the grocery store, or during happy hours after work.

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The companies at the trek were very welcoming to our CWIB members!

I also asked the attendees about their biggest takeaway of the trek. Many of the members stated that they feel much more confident in the path that they are pursuing, as they are part of such an amazing organization that helps them take the right steps to set them up for success in the future. Izzy highlighted that going on this trek allowed her to take a step back and be able to “visualize my end goals and give me reassurance that I’m doing the right things as a freshman.” In addition to this, Rania expressed that many of her fears about the business world were resolved during this trek:

“All those things I worried about, before, diminished a significant amount as a result of all the tips and diverse advice we got from various employers at each company we visited. I felt like at each company I gained more confidence and it facilitated my ability to communicate with business professionals. It was truly empowering to see how successful women can become in the business world. Lastly, I felt more confident in regards to finding the right place after graduation.”

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CWIB members awaiting their company visit at Duke Energy.

After conducting these interviews, I realized how abundantly clear it is that treks are a great experience; all members who participate gain invaluable advice and insight. With Charlotte being a major city, home to companies that hire Virginia Tech graduates, attendees knew this experience wasn’t one to miss out on. I highly encourage all members to apply to future treks in order to meet and connect with other empowered and influential business women! Keep an eye out for the places CWIB will be going in the spring!

By: Paige Horn

 

Women Empowering Women

Many times, we are put in situations where it seems that we are each other’s competition, when in most cases, we are not, and we shouldn’t feel like we are. Instead, we need to be supportive of one another because I believe when women support other women we can truly feel empowered. As young women, it can sometimes be intimidating majoring in a field that is predominately male. It seems that most business majors are male, especially at Virginia Tech. I can speak from experience because in most of my classes, there always seem to be more men than women, and sometimes, that can be intimidating, even though it shouldn’t have to be. That is why it is important to be supportive of the women in your lives. CWIB does an amazing job in presenting material to its members in a way in which the organization makes everyone feel motivated and excited about their potential as young women in the business world. There are several reasons why women should empower other women as this brings about benefits for us all.

empowerpic1One reason ties into the point made earlier about being in a great organization like CWIB. It is incredibly important to have a network of women and only women. As Victoria Pynchon explains in her article Why Women Need Women-Only Networks, she discusses how crucial it is to have a judge-free zone. As women, we are judged more often than not, and the ability to have a “room of our own” is essential to get rid of the uncertainty many women feel when they walk into a room. Many times, women feel like they are taking up space in which they do not belong, so by having, in a sense a “safe space”, women will feel more comfortable and feel like they fit in, which could translate into being more productive in their work (Pynchon). Most of us do not have full time jobs right now, so this may not pertain to you currently, but think about the close girlfriends you have right now in classes, clubs, and internships — those are networks for you to take advantage of!  College, as we all know, can be stressful and daunting at times, so it is crucial to have that cushion of support that you can rely on during arduous times. It always comforts me knowing I have many girlfriends that I can go to for advice, or receive comfort from whenever I’m stressed, worried, or anxious. CWIB is one of those supportive networks toempowerpic2 be apart of as young, aspiring professional women because it is a place where its members can grow in confidence while networking with other young women in a safe environment. I always feel inspired after the meetings presented by the club and through networking with members; inspiration is a huge part of empowerment. This is where your empowerment can start, with your group of friends!

Research shows that women who support other women are more successful in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review found that women with a network of only women were more likely to get promoted to executive positions, whereas on the other side, there was no correlation found between close-knit networks among men (Zalis). Zalis explains how women who strive to climb the ladder of leadership often face more struggles and obstacles than their male coworkers. One way to deal with these obstacles is to develop close connections with the women in your workplace who have been in the position that you are in right now (Zalis).

Overall, we should strive to encourage and support each other because everyone needs a support system. Make yourself that person who gives someone the support she needs for the day. Everyone has bad days, and now with our last midterm exams coming up and finals looming over our heads, it seems that we are preparing for the inundation of the empowerpic3work that is to come. So, we might have more stressful days than usual. I encourage all of us as CWIB members to be that person who empowers another, because who knows, you might have just made someone’s day. By complimenting someone’s outfit or make-up, or by congratulating someone about an internship she just accepted, however big or small the encouragements are, they make a difference and mean more to someone than you might realize. These small acts of empowerment are the driving force which distinguish great women. So today, go out of your way and compliment or congratulate a fellow woman. These are all ways of empowering other women; you may have just given her a small enough amount of motivation to finish that application for her dream internship or to keep studying for an exam coming up.

There are many reasons and benefits as to why we should find ways to empower our friends and colleagues. Luckily for us, we are a part of an influential university, Virginia Tech, that in many ways prepares us to become successful business leaders one day. So, from creating a “room of our own” for a judgement-free zone, to having the capability to become more successful due to close-knit networks among women, empowerment amongst women is an essential component of our lives as young women. I will leave you with this quote from Zalis’ article:  “…a woman alone has power; collectively we have impact.”

By: Ashley Mattson

Faculty Advisor Feature: Nadia Rogers

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

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One of our wonderful faculty advisors, Nadia Rogers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Email: narogers@vt.edu

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

By: Grace Farmelo

 

Washington, D.C. Trek Recap

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

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

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

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Trek attendees meeting with Protiviti employees.

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

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

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Protiviti’s presentation to CWIB members.

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

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

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

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

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

By: Ashley Mattson

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

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

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

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Gina French and McKenzi MacDowall at Pamplin Picnic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Emma Harwood