Making the Most of Freshman Year

Freshman year is a nerve-racking, exciting, and memorable time! Whether it’s trying to choose your major or track, finding activities and organizations to get involved in, or adjusting to college life in general, freshman year can present you with overwhelming challenges. However, your freshman year should also be an enjoyable time and one where you set yourself up for success. As an upperclassman, I have some dos and don’ts to help you make the most out of your freshman year!

1.Do pursue your passions

Getting involved with clubs and organizations that match your interests is a must in college. Finding groups of people that share your interests and goals is important, especially at a large university like Virginia Tech. In addition to the connections you’ll build through getting involved, clubs and organizations help you grow your leadership skills and provide access to opportunities and resources that you may not have known about otherwise.

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Here in CWIB, we share a lot of the same goals and passions!

2. Don’t spread yourself too thin

While it’s important to branch out, explore new interests, and get involved in college, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin by joining every organization that peaks your interest. Pick a few organizations that you like the most and commit to those for a semester to get a true feel for what they’re all about. Then, if an organization does not make you happy, join something else you’re interested in or shift your attention to the other more fitting organizations and get more involved in those. It’s not about how many organizations you’re in, but what you do to add value to those organizations!

 

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If you join CWIB, take advantage of all the opportunities we have, including treks!

3.Do seek mentorship

Trying to navigate college can be challenging.  One of these struggles could be picking a major. As a former “University Studies” student, it’s hard to feel like you don’t have a network of people in the same program as you. Actively seeking mentorship by reaching out to career advisors, upperclassmen in a major you’re interested in (CWIB has a mentorship program!), and family and friends is important if you are unsure of your major (or any other area you may need guidance in!). As you receive advice from different resources, recognize that ultimately, you know yourself, your passions, and what you are capable of better than anyone!

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Sydney with her mentor, Maddie

4.Do set yourself up for success

While freshman year should be a fun and memorable time, do set yourself up for success by building good habits to carry into the rest of your college career. Find the right study schedule that works for you, discover that study spot that lets you focus really well, and learn what kind of class schedule is best for your learning. School comes first and you don’t want to slack off so early in your college career. Your GPA will thank you for getting good grades your freshman year when you get into tougher, upper-level classes!

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Panelists at the 2018 Power Panel giving their pieces of advice to CWIB members

5.Do Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

College is a brand new experience for all of you and Virginia Tech has infinite opportunities for us students. Is there a hobby you wanted to try in high school but never got around to? Join a club for it or try it on your own! Did you meet someone in your dorm who is so different than you that it’s fascinating? Ask to grab lunch! Being open to new experiences and new people can lead you to find out some things about yourself, so be proactive and try new things!

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Some former freshmen with upperclassman, Gigi Jones

 

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One Last Time

With a new school year comes a lot of exciting new experiences and opportunities. This is especially true for seniors, who will be graduating in about 9 months. Seniors need to find a perfect balance between making the most of their last year and thinking about the future. Although this is a very exciting time, it can also be very overwhelming. To help ease any concerns you seniors have, I asked some CWIB alumnae for advice they could offer to current seniors to make this the best year yet!

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Madison Blevins, Class of 2018, had some great advice to offer regarding making connections for the future.

“Prioritize relationships! The friends you make and people you meet at career fairs/professional events are your future network and can be really valuable in the next season after college.”

Ashley Roberts, Class of 2018, offered a tip for those moments when senioritis hits a little too hard.

“Think about your plans for the future and what you want to achieve. When I needed some extra motivation, I would look at apartments in Richmond (where I’ll be moving to after graduation) to see what I had to look forward to.”

Annie Bokulic, Class of 2018, thinks CWIB is going to be a valuable resource for your last year, and I have to agree! “Go on a CWIB trek before you graduate. You won’t regret the experience.” CWIB treks are great for networking and making connections. You will also be making lasting memories in different cities with fellow CWIB members. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on the handful of treks that we have planned this year! The first one is to Nashville, TN from September 20-23rd!

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Ashlin Webster, Class of 2018, thinks that preparing for your life post-graduation will save you from a rude awakening in the months after you leave Virginia Tech.

“Treat it [senior year] as practice for the real world. Go to sleep early and wake up early. Your body will thank you later.”

Shannon Cabrey, Class of 2018, made a fantastic point about not limiting yourself just because you think your life should be perfectly mapped out. “If you find something that interests you and you’re passionate about in an area of your studies or work, take a class in it, or look for more ways to get involved.” It is never too late to do something that makes you happy!

Catie Kidwell, Class of 2016, gave tips about not limiting yourself to what you think you are supposed to do. “There were so many other jobs and opportunities I didn’t pursue because of fear of failure and perceived ‘lack of skills/background’ – if I were to do it again I would apply to so many more jobs and think of them as learning opportunities.” Catie was kind enough to pass along her email (ckidwell@deloitte.com) if any of you would like to ask her questions about the consulting world, Deloitte, and life post-graduation.

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CWIB is so fortunate to have a successful and passionate alumnae network that is still willing to help out current members. Thank you to these co-founders, past CEO’s, and other former CWIB leaders who took the time to give these valuable pieces of advice.

Seniors, make the most of this year! There is one year left at this amazing university, so don’t walk away feeling like you could’ve done more. Good luck to all of you amazing young women!

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No Internship, No Problem

As a college student, there is one constant fear looming over our heads – what the heck am I going to do after I graduate? With this thought comes the desperation to build up our resumes with anything that will make us a desirable candidate for our desired companies. One of the most common ways to do this is through summer internships.

Summer internships are obviously incredibly useful. They give us experience in our desired career field and allow us to network with industry professionals. However, the internship search has become an incredibly stressful process, and many students believe they need to have these experiences every summer so they can be an attractive candidate to future employers.

Is it really the end of the world if you do not have a summer internship? Definitely not! There are so many things you can do during the summer besides an internship that will allow you to build your professional toolbox! Here are just a few examples:

1. Work a regular summer job – Whether it is waitressing, babysitting, or working in retail, summer jobs will help build various skills. Jobs like this put you in the position to learn about the most important thing in the business world – how to deal with people! You will consistently be put in different situations where you have to solve problems on your own to keep clients happy. One of the things employers most look for in a candidate is empowerment- are you confident enough to do the right thing on your own?

 

2. Volunteer – More and more companies are starting to place a higher importance on service and giving back to the community. Companies are not only looking for great employees but great people! Volunteer opportunities can also help you figure out what you are passionate about and what your values are. When searching for a full-time job, you can look for one that not only aligns with your professional goals but your personal values as well!

3. Take the summer off – You have the rest of your life to work, so you do not need to be in a rush to figure your future out so soon. Spend time with your family and friends, travel, or simply stay home and relax! Sometimes the most important thing you can do for yourself is taking the time to figure out what you really want.

If you did not get your dream internship this summer, do not worry! Internships are not the defining factor in whether you get a full-time job or not. Your four years of college are all about finding the path that is best for you.

Leaving Legacies: Class of 2018

In just eight short days, six of CWIB’s leadership seniors will be graduating! While all of their undergraduate activities and post-graduation plans differ, they all have something in common: they will be leaving legacies.

In CWIB’s final meeting of the school year, these seniors led an informative and inspirational panel for the attendees. Each of them spoke about special moments from their college career, the advice they want members to hear, and of course, what CWIB has done for them.

Cici Sobin, a future Federal Business Technology Analyst for Deloitte Consulting, opened up the panel by speaking to her saying, “prioritize yourself.” She learned this lesson after burning out from doing too much. Cici said that she would do things because they “looked good” or “to satisfy others” such as going out the night before a big exam. After that started to take a toll on her, she learned to say no to things if she did not see a true benefit to them. She admitted that “Learning to prioritize yourself will allow you to find your true passions.” After this turning point in her life, she switched majors to Business Information Technology because she looked at her friends’ textbooks and was intrigued by the material. She started to love what she was doing because she prioritized herself!

Muneeba Ahmed, a future Audit Rotation Program Associate for Capital One, talked about her motto, “be you, be confident.”  She advised CWIB members to “channel your passions into what you want to do.” Muneeba identified her passion as fashion. Whether it is at school or a professional event, she loves dressing up in cute outfits because doing so gives her confidence. She noted that the business world is “sometimes gray” and loves bringing some color into it with her wardrobe. Muneeba talked about how a work professional approached her at the Pamplin Leadership Conference and said that he/she noticed her because of her lace dress that stood out in the crowd.

Ashlin Webster, a future Marketing/Business Analyst in Economic Development at Duke Energy, advised the meeting’s attendees to “maximize your options.” Going into senior year, she had a full-time offer with the company that she interned with the prior summer. Although she was content with that offer, she wanted something more. Ashlin proceeded to search for more jobs and got a handful of different interviews. Then during the interview for the job position she ultimately decided to go with, Ashlin shared that she fell in love with it right then and there. She did not just want to settle for the offer she got from the company she interned with; she continued to search for something that made her happier. Ashlin learned that you never know what opportunities will arise for you until you keep working hard to find something greater. Her perseverance paid off!

Maddie Blevins, a future Risk & Compliance Consultant at Protiviti Consulting, shared that “it’s okay to break.” She started off her segment with talking about an internship that made her really unhappy. Maddie then came back in the fall and talked with one of her CWIB mentors to figure out how to handle this situation. She learned that it’s okay to break sometimes because you will learn what you don’t like and you will always have people to fall back on. After that summer, she attended a consulting dinner and networked with different professionals. That ultimately led to Maddie earning an internship with Protiviti, the company that eventually gave her a full-time offer! From that experience, she learned to “make opportunities for yourself and go for it.”

Ashley Roberts, a future Risk/ IT Advisory Consultant for Dixon Hughes Goodman, spoke to her motto: “do something scary.” She started out by talking about how she viewed herself as a “shy and awkward freshman.” She then talked about how getting involved in CWIB, studying abroad, and working with freshman orientation were all “terrifying things that shaped her into who she is today.” She’s proud of how far she has come and even joked that “if I told my freshman self that I can now talk in front of people, she would probably laugh.” Ashley will be sticking around Blacksburg next year to pursue her Master’s degree!

Last but not least, Annie Bokulic, a future Risk & Compliance Consultant at Protiviti Consulting, talked about how important it is to “go the extra mile.” At the beginning of her internship last summer, she asked herself, “How am I going to differentiate myself?” After careful consideration, Annie decided that her love of “going up to people and starting a conversation” was how she was going to stand out. She worked to accomplish this by introducing herself to all of the other interns, organizing a happy hour and even introducing herself to the partners of the firm! This all paid off because it was one of the partners that gave her a full-time offer. Annie ended her segment with three of her favorite pieces of advice: attitude is everything, don’t surround yourself with people who are the same as you, and believe that everything happens for a reason.

CWIB is so proud of the Class of 2018! These individuals have contributed so many things to our organization and they will be greatly missed next year. We cannot wait to see all of the amazing accomplishments you all are bound to have in the future. Please come back and speak at a meeting and we’ll see you all on our future treks!

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!