How Entrepreneur, Komal Ahmad, is Fighting Hunger Through Technology

Komal Ahmad is a woman on a mission to solve what she believes is the world’s dumbest problem: hunger. Her start-up company, Copia, is a technology platform that connects businesses with excess food to nonprofits. The businesses schedule pickups of their excess food on the app, Copia Connect, and Copia drivers come to pick up the food and deliver it to nonprofits in need. Nonprofits create profiles on the app to indicate their food needs and constraints and request recurring or on-demand food donations so that they only receive food on days when they are able to accept it. Copia has recovered over 1 million pounds of food and delivered over 900,000 meals according to its website. The 29-year-old was featured on Forbes 30 under 30 and Copia is recognized as one of the top three startups run by a woman in the U.S. to name a few of the numerous awards and recognition Komal has received.

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Ahmad was featured on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Photo credit: Forbes

Komal studied International Health and Global Development at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She had no plans of becoming an entrepreneur and starting her own technology company, but rather was training to become an officer in the Navy upon graduation. Meeting impoverished and hungry veterans is what really made her start thinking about issues of poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity. In this Forbes article Komal explains how she encountered a homeless man who was begging for food one day and felt compelled to invite him to join her for lunch. He was a veteran who had just returned from Iraq and hadn’t eaten in three days. Ahmad explains that she thought, “This is a veteran, someone who made a selfless sacrifice for our country, only to come home to face yet another battle…to add insult to injury, right across the street Berkeley’s dining hall is throwing away thousands of pounds of perfectly edible food.” After her lunch with the veteran, Ahmad was determined to alleviate the hunger around her but was told by Berkeley’s dining hall that there was too much liability in donating unused food to the local homeless community. Unsatisfied with this answer, Komal did more research and eventually convinced her university to start a food recovery program. Starting this program, Komal saw firsthand how hard it was to match places with excess food to nonprofits. She would call nonprofits in the area and they wouldn’t be interested in the food she had recovered or would only be able to take a small portion of it.

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Komal allowed her passion to become her career. Photo credit: Experience Life 

Three years after graduating from UC Berkeley, Komal founded Copia in 2015 and experimented with various business models while she was starting out. First, she thought that Copia should be a non-profit, but found the time it took to apply for grant funding to be consuming all her time. So, she decided to see if the businesses she worked with would pay Copia a percentage of the tax deduction they receive from their donations in exchange for data about where their food surpluses are coming from. The businesses agreed to this arrangement. Copia quantifies the impact of the businesses that use its service, like how many people they feed by donating food and what their environmental impact is, so they can share that information with internal and external stakeholders. It’s really a win-win situation for businesses with excess food and communities with people in need.

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Copia has recovered over 1 million pounds of food! Photo credit: Millenial

Komal has hit rough patches in getting Copia to where it is today. She admits that there were times when she was sleeping on a blow-up mattress at a friend’s apartment and rationing out a pizza for a week because she didn’t have any money. Additionally, without a business background, Komal has had to surround herself with people who have expertise in areas that she does not. Despite the obstacles she’s faced, her mission to find a solution to the world’s dumbest problem has pushed her to keep going.

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Komal is solving the social problem of hunger through her business, Copia! Photo credit: Millenial 

In the future, Komal hopes that Copia can expand beyond food and redistribute items like clothes and books, understanding that many of the same logistics issues exist with the redistribution of these items. Her LinkedIn bio begins with “The reasonable woman adapts herself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to herself. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable woman.” Komal has found success by believing that she is capable of solving a huge global problem through a simple yet well-thought-out solution. She has persisted through the trials of entrepreneurship and is on her way to growing Copia and recovering more food. Komal was once a student with a growing passion for a problem she saw in her community. She is proof of the fact that if you believe in yourself, you can turn your passions into a career and make a great impact on the world.

 

By: Allison Desantis 

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Richmond Trek Recap

Taking part in treks with CWIB is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and learn more about the business world in general. They always serve as a major source of encouragement for each trek attendee. Most recently, a group of CWIB members traveled to Richmond, Virginia in the hopes of learning more about the ins-and-outs of different companies and how to thrive as a woman in business.

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Trekees with their CarMax favors. Photo courtesy of Marissa Wharton

The trek began with a visit to the headquarters of CarMax, a Fortune 500 company. The company greeted our members with donuts and a friendly networking session, where trekees spoke with some highly successful employees. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) /Chief Information Officer (CIO) even took time out of his busy schedules to meet the six members of CWIB who attended the trek! Junior member Emily Vang stated, “This trek experience definitely helped me practice my networking skills, particularly when we were at Carmax and I got to talk with the CTO about using virtual reality (VR) as a tool.” Networking is a significant aspect of treks in CWIB, as members meet countless business professionals who can provide insight for furthering our careers, collegiate and beyond. Vang added, “I will definitely apply these skills when it comes to communicating with others in a business setting.”

Our members proceeded to learn from the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) that CarMax is extremely supportive of women in business, reassuring the trekees that they truly can succeed as a woman in the corporate world. The CHRO highlighted the importance of working for a company that sincerely cares about its employees. A team leader and member of the growing robotics division of CarMax shared how they put their focus on giving employees more opportunities to improve their skills while growing the company overall. In order to focus on this constant development, the robotics division wants to eliminate, or at least lessen, the burden of mundane tasks in the workplace. Following this encouraging discussion, trekees attended a panel of three employees from the Accounting, Finance, and Cybersecurity Departments. CWIB members learned about their roles and career paths before receiving advice on how to advance into a career path as future professionals. Trekees enjoyed speaking with the CarMax employees so much that they did not have time to go on the planned tour afterward! In fact, at the monthly meeting that followed the trek, each member stated that Carmax was their favorite company that they visited! Our members left this company feeling excited about the future.

Attendees of the trek then traveled to the Martin Agency, a highly regarded company in the advertising industry. Known worldwide, the Martin Agency represents clients such as Geico, Oreo, Timberland, Land O’ Lakes, and many more major companies. The CWIB members were taken on a personal tour of the agency’s growing office. After seeing their modern workplace, trekees met with two Virginia Tech graduates who shared with them the agency reel, which is a highlight of their past work. You can find Hokies working for companies all over the world, and one day that will be you! The CWIB members even got a sneak peek of a commercial for the agency’s latest client, Buffalo Wild Wings.

The Virginia Tech alumni were transparent with the trekees about their journies to careers in business, the ups and downs of the advertising industry, and what they wished they would have known in their collegiate years. Junior and future CWIB CEO Ashton Hughes shared, “I learned that the career path you start on may not always be the one you end on and that there’s nothing wrong with that!” A journey to success is never perfectly linear, which every college student must remember. The obstacles and changes in your journies to success help develop the businessperson you will be in the future. Hughes continued, “It was so eye-opening for me because I feel as college students we feel so much pressure to decide what we want to do as quickly as possible when in reality, you have the freedom to explore and grow after school.”

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CWIB members pose in front of a mural at the Martin Agency that celebrates diversity in the advertising industry. Photo courtesy of Marissa Wharton

CWIB members finished the trek with a trip to Cary Street Partners, a financial planning firm. The visit was hosted by Virginia Tech alumna Christina Todd, a devoted supporter of CWIB and its mission. Trekees spoke with women from different fields in order to gain insight into different positions throughout the professional world. These women were from departments such as Human Resources, Legal, and Accounting. They highlighted how it is possible to take a career path in finance, even if it is not your major. It is important to always keep an open mind! The CWIB members heard from ladies who were just beginning their professional careers as well as those who have been working for decades. Hearing from women with varying degrees of experience taught the trekees how the business world used to be concerning for women and how much it has changed for the better. Junior CWIB member Delaney Russel revealed, “The most empowering part of the trip for me was listening to the testimonies of the women at Cary Street Partners. They reminded us that there’s never a direct path to life and you won’t always be doing what you thought you would be.” As women, we must have the strength to persevere through the ups and downs of our future career paths in order to become the powerful women in business we see more of each and every day.

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Our six trekees representing CWIB at Cary Street Partners. Photo courtesy of Marissa Wharton

Treks are meant to be an empowering experience for every member that attends, and this Richmond trek was just that. The reassuring nature of the testimonies from the business professionals at CarMax, the Martin Agency, and Cary Street Partners helped motivate our members to continue chasing their passions. According to Vang, the trek was inspirational because she “got to meet various successful women who had their own unique story of how they got to where they are today.” Everybody has their own stories of success, and CWIB is excited to see each of its members create their own path in the business world. Another aspect of treks that is always memorable is the female support each trekee receives. Hughes shared, “The most significant part of the trek for me was seeing just how many women from the three companies wanted to come and speak with us.” As women in business, we have to stand together during our strive for success in the often male-dominated fields we will be entering into. Hughes continued with, “They shared so many tips for helping us succeed.”

Finally, treks are simply a glimpse into our potential futures! VP of Treks Marissa Wharton states, “Treks are such a great way to take a step back from campus for a couple of days and really see what life will be like after college.” Physically seeing companies and learning about how they operate is one of the best ways to discover what your interests are in terms of a potential career! From everyone here at CWIB, we hope you use treks to the best of your advantage and cannot wait to see the paths you all carve out for yourselves.

 

By: Allison Wood

Meet Your 2019 Power Panelists!

Collegiate Women in Business’ most empowering event of the year, Power Panel, is taking place on Monday, March 25th, so I want to give you all a sneak peek at the amazing women who will be speaking at this year’s panel! All three of them will provide helpful advice, inspiring stories, and deep insight into their values that help them strive to be courageous in their respective careers. With the everyday challenges that arise on the job, they are required to make courageous decisions that leave a positive impact on themselves and the people around them. They all started off as motivated students such as ourselves, eager to learn as much as they could before tackling the workforce. Before these women answer your most pressing questions, here’s an introduction to each of them in order to get to know them a little better.

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Frances Reimers  

Hometown: Cheyenne, WY

College Education: University of Wyoming; University of Minnesota Duluth; Johns Hopkins University

Favorite Pastimes: traveling, watching sports, going to theater/concerts, cooking, fashion

Favorite Quote: “You can bullshit the fans, but not the contestants.”

Frances Reimers is the founder and CEO of Firestarter Communications, which requires her to manage all aspects of the company, such as Accounting, Human Resources, Legal, and Marketing. When asked why she was motivated to establish her own Public Relations (PR) firm, Reimers responded that it was necessary she do so. “I had accomplished all that I could at my previous agency. I knew the services I wanted to provide and the clients I wanted to serve, so I saw no logical reason to delay creating my own firm,” Reimers said.

Reimers is proud of what Firestarter offers in order for their clients to “create, grow, manage, and protect their brand.” The services they provide include “personal brand and message development/enhancement, strategic planning, creation, and management of social media and content marketing, media representation, reputation management and repair strategies, and personal brand training for individuals and teams,” Reimers explains. Her clients range from individual athletes, such as NFL players, to entire small businesses. Reimers must educate and be educated about the specific needs of each entity she works with. “Many people don’t fully understand what PR  professionals do and the expected return on investment of their work. I spend a large amount of time with each client educating them about marketing and public relations best practices, project timing, and expectations,” Reimers said.

Every day, Reimers gets to help others reach to be their best selves. She loves being an educator by teaching clients about the creative process of business and feels this creates a strong client-vendor relationship. Reimers feels that “If I’m successful [with clients], what I do will serve them well not just at the moment, but for the rest of their life.” In addition to working with all of her clients, Reimers involves herself in philanthropic activities that are meaningful to her. Her PR career and volunteer work assure her that she has left a lasting impact in her profession and on her community, which is incredibly rewarding.

Tricia Harper

Tricia Harper

Hometown: South Dakota; spent high school in Chesterfield, VA

College Education: James Madison University

Favorite Pastimes: Anything outside on our farm (gardening, running around with the kids, cleaning the coop); and journaling. I’ve been journaling since high school 23 years ago…

Favorite Quote: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to START to be great.”

Tricia Harper was the first in her family to graduate from college and was persuaded to choose a major where she could start a career immediately following school. Accounting naturally came easy to her, so Harper made an effort to specifically talk to the accounting firms. “I immediately was attracted to the Partners from KPMG, as their style and approach, even in the interview, just resonated with me,” Harper said. As soon as she started interning at the company, she found that KPMG really does care about their employees as individuals. Since then, she is pleased to have spent the last 20 years working here! Harper admits she tends to lack confidence, so establishing relationships with co-workers over time is really helpful to her. “It’s important to find people you trust, and that are courageous enough to speak with candor, which I define as the equal blending of truth with love!” Harper said.

Harper is currently the President of KPMG’s Network of Women, which provides opportunities for career advancement for women in the workforce. “Over the last several years we have done some really cool events to stretch our women,” Harper said. Some of these events include improv to find your voice, alumni networking, and workshops focused on risk-taking and building one’s brand. As Harper continually strives to reach her potential, she feels that “being asked by our current Chairman and CEO to serve as her Chief of Staff for the last 5 years” has left the most lasting impression and shaped her as a leader.

As women in the workforce, there is more pressure on us to have a consistent work-life balance. Harper’s greatest achievement with KPMG is not only the fact that she was elected into the Partnership position two years ago but how she was able to do it at this firm. While this process took longer for her than other peers, she was able to achieve this despite changing her career path several times, taking a sabbatical in order to prioritize her three children, and working from home so she and her husband could start a ‘hobby farm.’ I respect Harper so much for this, as she is a proper representation of how women can successfully be there for their families and establish their career simultaneously, even in times where this may seem impossible. Her courage and persistence showed her that this was the path she knew she was supposed to follow.

Allison Sitch

Allison Sitch

Hometown: Southampton, England

College Education: Suffolk Hospitality College, England

Favorite Pastimes: time with my family, traveling to new destinations, & watching live music performances

Favorite Quote: I have two:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” -Margaret Thatcher

Allison Sitch works in PR for Marriott Hotels. In the hospitality industry, PR is very important, as Sitch tells The CWIB Chronicles thatA great PR person must be prepared to deal with things that make them uncomfortable…It’s a delicate dance to reassure customers that you’ll get to the bottom of something while simultaneously reassuring employees that you have their back.” She stresses that the “fluffy work” PR employees get a reputation for clearly doesn’t play a role at Marriott. “The team I work with is best-in-class at moving quickly to address issues and opportunities real-time and in multiple languages…We are recognized as an essential lever in an arsenal of tools that must be brought to life to safeguard the brand reputation and also to complete a marketing mix,” Sitch said.

Sitch’s job requires that she always puts the customer first, and there are many different types of customers she interacts with daily. “The public-at-large, the media, our own senior leaders, investors, hotels owners, and employees” all request her services. “Listening to their requests, understanding their needs, being able to translate information into strategic plans and actions, and then deliver in a way that demonstrates a benefit to the business is probably our biggest mission,” Sitch said.

In order to reach her potential in her career, Sitch shares the attributes that help her thrive in the PR Hospitality industry. Having a great attitude, being energized about your work, and therefore, working hard at your job are essential components in Sitch’s course to success. She stresses that you should “Never burn your bridges.” Establishing relationships with people who help you learn and grow are crucial for your advancement. “I believe you learn from the people you love to work with but learn even more from people you don’t enjoy working with as much…You have to take the good with the bad,” Sitch says. Finally, if you desire to be a leader, you must “be a leader that others choose to follow.” People choose a job not only for the work but for the type of people the company recruits. “They choose to give their loyalty and work for those they respect, admire and are inspired by,” Sitch said.

In addition to leadership, female empowerment is at the core of Sitch’s mindset, as it goes hand-in-hand with giving everyone an equal opportunity. Sitch is fortunate to work for female leaders who prioritize enhancing opportunities for women. She also gets to “work in a discipline that boasts many exceptional ladies and my circle of positive female influence also extends into the world of Public Relations agencies, editors and journalists.” She realizes that there are “So many brilliant women out there that have not waited for the call to progress, they have just done it,” so what is stopping each of you from doing the same?

After reading about each of Reimer’s, Harper’s, and Sitch’s backgrounds, I hope their stories have already motivated you to reach your full potential. Don’t miss out on your chance to be empowered even further when these women speak at Power Panel, located at The Inn at Virginia Tech on Monday, March 25th at 7:00 pm. Come with questions and an open mind to learn more about how you can always choose courage, no matter what obstacle you are facing.   

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By: Emma Harwood 

Do’s and Don’ts when Contacting Employers

The way we represent ourselves in online correspondences can say a lot about the people and employees we are or may be in the future. It’s often easier to convey certain messages by communicating in person, but mastering how to communicate electronically is critical in the professional world. Whether you are contacting a potential or current employer, DO follow these three main guidelines:

 

  • Use a formal tone
  • Format with an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Represent yourself well

 

Using a formal tone is crucial in showcasing your professionalism. Contact with an employer is of a business nature and should be treated as so. It is always best to err on the side of formality than to set a poor first impression by being too casual. To begin, your subject line should convey the main idea of your message. Two to six words are recommended, as one-word explanations are not descriptive. You want to grab the recipient’s attention to ensure they will read your message. Next, use a formal greeting, such as “Dear,” using the employers last name and proper prefix, such as “Dr. Brown” or “Mrs. Smith.” After your initial email, follow the lead of the employer in their response. If they addressed you with “Hi _____” and signed their message with “Kevin,” then your next greeting should be “Hi Kevin.”

One significant factor to consider when it comes to tone is the syntax you use. According to Career Cast, nearly 50 percent of all emails imply an unintended tone. Communication online can be easily misunderstood, so diction is incredibly important to focus on. To avoid misinterpretation, use words and phrases that are easily understood. For example, instead of  writing “Be ready for Thursday,” you can use “Please bring the sales report to Thursday’s meeting.” Specificity is key! You do not want to leave anything up for interpretation. Also, do not use language that is only common to your way of speaking such as college slang. Finally, avoid long and complex wording, as this gives the reader a higher chance of misunderstanding.

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Examples of different greetings to use. Graphic provided by The Balance Careers

With the help of a beginning, middle, and end format, your emails will have the structure needed to inform and connect with your recipient. Your introduction should include a quick greeting, showing you are personable. “I hope your job search is going well!” is an example of a great preface for a friendly conversation. Although it seems excessive, it really does make a difference in their view of you. “It was great meeting you at Business Horizons” is also an example of a charismatic statement, which simultaneously reminds the reader of who you are. Another introduction often used is a statement about why you are reaching out, such as “I am contacting you about your job application.” Regardless, your introduction sets the premise for the entire string of communication. You want to show you are both affable and proactive in your professional career!

The body of your correspondence contains the most important content. Here, you want to give your reader the information they will need to complete the task you are asking of them, an explanation of what you are informing them of, or any other data needed to accomplish the goal of your message. It is important to avoid rambling, while also ensuring all of the content needed for the email is present.  You do not want the reader to wonder what the purpose of your email is, but you do not want them to stop reading halfway through your message simply because it’s too long. Include only what is necessary!

To conclude, provide action steps, a salutation, and your full name. Actions steps can include a date and time to meet, a statement of your excitement to hear back from your reader, a proposition, or anything else to advance towards the goal of your correspondence. Examples of a salutation are “Best regards,” “Thank you,” “Sincerely,” or any other polite closing. Follow the salutation with your full name, avoiding any nicknames. You also want to include an electronic signature with your contact information. Remember, your conclusion is the last opportunity to show the recipient of your efforts!

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Seven pointers to remember. Graphic provided by Cupcakes and Cashmere.

Representing yourself well may seem like a simple task, but individual details can make a big difference. Re-read your email multiple times before sending it off. You can even have a friend or colleague edit it for safety measures. Also, make sure to fact check all of your information to make sure everything is accurate. Are names spelled right? Are dates correct? A great tool to use for proofreading is Grammarly! It is an online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection platform. You can download the software onto your computer in just a few minutes! A misspelling, grammatical error, or improper punctuation can be the reason another candidate was hired or promoted over you. Show the workplace what you are capable of! Electronic communication is also an opportunity to give the recipient a glimpse into your writing skills. Employers are impressed with those who are effective in their writing, while also being concise and to-the-point. Whether you are writing an email to an employer, colleague, or a client, knowing how to compose messages is a crucial business skill. It’s a component of your professionalism.

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An important overview of email guidelines. Graphic provided by The Balance Careers.

Regardless of the reasoning behind sending an email to an employer, use it as an opportunity to convey your determination in relation to your career. Use these guidelines to protect yourself from making simple mistakes when it comes to electronic communication. CWIB believes in all of you to communicate effectively and professionally with your employers, potential or current, and leave a lasting impression on them!

 

By: Allison Wood 

 

 

 

Do’s and Don’ts of a Virtual Interview

As technology evolves and becomes more functional, more and more companies are beginning to use it as a way to interview prospective employees and to save money. A couple of significant advantages of going virtual is that they can save on both the travel costs and time spent sending employees to college campuses and other recruitment locations. If you have a virtual interview in the near future, here are a few do’s and don’ts to think about for a successful experience!

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Caption: Keep in mind that your interview is not going into a black hole once it leaves your computer screen. If you move on to the next step of the hiring process, you will likely meet with the same people who watched your interview. Try to put your best self forward and display your personality in your video! Photo credit: Your Career Intel

1.DO Be Extra Prepared

Unlike an in-person interview, virtual interviews require you to prepare not only yourself but your technology and your environment. If you have roommates, it’s important to make sure they are aware of where and when you will be during this interview so they do not interrupt you. Further, it’s important to consider the network you will be doing the interview on. For phone interviews, a landline is the most reliable method. For virtual or Skype interviews, having a strong internet connection can be the most important. For instance, you may think going to the library and reserving a private room may be a good idea, but when there are a lot of people in the same location, the network connection may be slow or pause. In addition, it’s important to prepare your space. A clumsy background can be distracting to the viewer, but a clean stark white may also seem too formal. Try to find a balance of neutral and clean to complement your interview.

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Caption: Virtual interviews come in many different forms! If an employer tells you there is a virtual interview, it’s important to clarify the form of the interview and the specific details! Photo credit: INC

2.DON’T Write Out Answers

It can be helpful to have your resume on hand during an interview, or a few notes on a flashcard. However, there is a difference between referencing notes and writing out word-for-word answers to common interview questions. Of course, it is still a good preparation technique to practice answering common interview questions, but reading them off a paper during your interview is not a good idea. Not only will you look unprepared and unconfident, but reading off a script will also blatantly affect how the interviewer perceives you and your professionalism. For a successful interview, be confident, trust yourself, and speak naturally.

3.Do Dress (Half) The Part

Although you won’t be meeting anyone in person, dressing professionally and making sure you appear polished and neat is important. In fact, it’s even more important to dress the part for a virtual interview because, without your physical presence, the interviewer can only get a sense of who you are and if you are a good candidate through two ways. The first is what you say, and the second is what they see. If they see that you look professional, it shows you care about this opportunity. One tip is to make sure that you test your location and webcam in advance. The lighting in the room and the view from your webcam all affect how you look. Plus, if you test and know that only your upper body will show, you can stay in your sweatpants and just dress your top half!

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Caption: To avoid being caught off guard during the interview, or having to improvise when your technology or plan doesn’t work, make sure you prepare ahead of time! Photo credit: EZ Talks

4. DON’T Be Shy

You may be confused about how the virtual interview process works for your specific situation or you may simply be unsure about how to ask questions. Some companies, such as EY, use virtual interviews through pre-recorded videos on a platform which allows you to practice before you submit your final attempt. Others expect to call you on Skype or over the phone and interview you in real time. Prior to your interview, you should confirm the details and the procedure for the virtual interview in order to avoid any complications. During your interview, it’s important to speak up and ask questions about what the next step will be and when you should hear back. Being proactive will help you in the long run!  

5. DO Practice Before 

You may have experience with interviews and feel like you don’t need to practice for this one. However, it is important to practice every time, especially for virtual interviews. You may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a webcam or on a Skype call, or you may not know how to speak on the phone without being able to see the person you are talking to. By practicing beforehand, you can see how you look and find areas to improve on when you are speaking. Another important step is to have someone else watch your recorded practice interview. This is useful because they may notice something about you from their perspective which can help you improve. A key tip for webcam or Skype interviews is to practice looking at the webcam and away from your image on the screen. Although it may be hard to not focus on how you look, it’s essential to show that you are paying attention to the interviewer and not something else.

 

A virtual interview can be daunting at first, but learning how to prepare for it can make a career-changing difference! These interviews will become more and more common as technological innovations increase, and knowing how to approach them will only help. CWIB hosts many interview preparation workshops with companies which can be very helpful for learning about a specific company’s process. Make sure to take advantage of these workshops to keep learning about interview skills!

 

By: Lina al Taii

Asking Questions in an Interview

While an interview is a chance for a company to get to know you and your skills, it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and the role you’re interviewing for. After all, you want to work at a company that is a good fit for your personality, career goals, and work style, right?  In addition to finding out if this company is the right place for you, asking questions shows that you came prepared and are actually interested in working there. This article from The Muse cites recruiter Angela Smith explaining, “If an applicant doesn’t have any questions for me, that’s a red flag. I’m thinking that they either don’t care or can’t be bothered to do research about my company.” Therefore, make sure to do your pre-interview research!

During the interview, more questions will likely pop into your head, but it’s a good idea to have a few prepared. That being said, make sure you’re not too focused on forming questions during an interview that you stop paying attention to what the interviewer is saying; they might answer some of your questions along the way! Also, you don’t want to stump your interviewer with difficult or confusing questions. Keep your questions specific, but open-ended (avoid yes or no questions). This will give the interviewer a chance to dive deeper with their answers!

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An interview is a chance for you and the interviewer to learn more about each other! Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

I’ve broken down the types of questions to ask in an interview into four sections: about the company, role-specific, interviewer’s personal experiences, and next steps. These are by no means the only questions you can ask during an interview; they are just a few ideas to get you started!

About the Company

Team culture, work-life balance, and diversity of a company are all important aspects to consider when deciding which company to work for. You are going to be spending a good chunk of your week there, so you need to ensure that you’re going to like where you are! While there are a plethora of questions you can ask about the company, here are a few ideas.

  • How would you describe the culture of (insert company name)?
  • What values are most important to the company?
  • What are the company’s long-term goals and plans to achieve those goals? (Tailor this one based on the company: Are they developing new products, expanding into new markets, growing specific teams/departments within their company, etc.)
  • What are the company’s current goals and how does the team support those goals?
  • Would you describe the work environment as more collaborative or independent?
  • Does the company have any diversity and inclusion initiatives or networks?
  • Do employees participate in any team events outside of work?
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Company culture is an important factor to consider when interviewing! CWIB visited Custom Ink on the D.C. Trek, a company that’s known to have a great culture. Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Role-Specific

It may seem obvious to many of you, but you want to ask questions about the specific role you applied for in an interview. Many interviewers give a rundown of the role at the beginning of an interview so some of your questions might get answered. Here are a few questions to ask if you find yourself wanting more information about the work you’ll be doing

  • What kinds of projects would I be working on?
  • What projects have interns/associates worked on in the past?
  • What would the training process be like?
  • What are the main technologies/software/platforms I would be working with?
  • What skills do I need to excel in this role?
  • What would a typical day in this role look like?

 

Interviewer’s Experience

The interviewer’s own experiences can be a great wealth of information to tap into during an interview. They are a professional in an industry you aspire to work in, so they have some nuggets of wisdom to share. Asking your interviewer questions about their experiences will also build rapport and show that you value their perspective. Here are a few questions you could ask your interviewer about their career.

  • How long have you been with (insert company name)?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face as an (insert specific role) in the (insert industry)?
  • Has your role changed since you’ve been with the company?
  • What is your favorite part about working at the company?
  • What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in this industry/role?
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Don’t be afraid to pick your interviewer’s brain! Learning about their career journey and experience with the company can give you a lot of insight. Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Next Steps

If the interviewer doesn’t explicitly explain, you might want to ask about the next steps in the interview process. Asking questions like these will show that you’re still interested in the internship or job after the conversation you just had.

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Will there be another round of interviews?
  • What is the timeline for the selection process?
  • Do you have any concerns about my background being a good fit for the role? (This might be a scary one to ask, but it gives you the chance to put the interviewer’s concerns at ease and gives you valuable feedback for the future.)

 

Hopefully, these interview questions were helpful in offering some ideas on how to get the most out of your interviews. Some questions cannot be answered on the internet, so don’t be shy to ask the genuine questions you want to be answered about the company! Good luck interviewing this spring!

 

By: Allison DeSantis

Taking Control of your Life: Advice from Female Entrepreneur Rachel Hollis

College is the time to prioritize what we want. With all the available opportunities, it can be strenuous to maintain good grades, apply for jobs, and balance a social life, all while the opinions of others are stuck in the back of our minds. We continue to question the decisions we make. “Should I change my major too?” “Do I need to have an internship lined up just like she does?” “Is it a bad thing I don’t go out every weekend like them?” The problem with these thoughts is that they do not focus on YOU! Too often we let the comparisons of others interfere with what we really want. Female entrepreneur, Rachel Hollis, has a few things to say about this. As founder of The Hollis Company, as well as the lifestyle blog The Chic Site, Hollis’ priority is to empower women to take control of their own lives and live authentically as themselves.

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Rachel Hollis is the founder of the lifestyle blog “The Chic Site,” as well as the business The Hollis Co. She is a best-selling author, wife, and mother of four. Photo via The Magic Brush Inc.

Rachel Hollis created The Hollis Company as a motivational force to propel women into living better lives while focusing on positive personal growth. She states that the motto of the business is “Giving women the tools to change their lives” (“The Hollis Company”). They offer life and business coaching online, in addition, to live events based on her podcast “RISE,” focused on motivating audiences to achieve their goals. From relationships to business ventures, Hollis encourages women to live up to their potential and stop putting off what they have wanted to accomplish.

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Rachel hyping up the crowd at her conference “Made for More.” Photo via shedoesthecity.com

Before running the Hollis Co., Rachel began writing her lifestyle blog The Chic Site to connect with other women in a relatable way. Whether it was sharing a new fashion trend or discussing her personal growth journey, Hollis successfully created a community of empowered women who felt they could  “Live unapologetically as [them]self” (Hollis). By “taking ownership of your hopes and dreams and values” you are prioritizing what is important to you, and not what other people think of you (The Hollis Co).

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Here’s a piece of the Home Page for “The Chic Site.” From sharing dinner recipes to fashion favorites, Hollis is proud to say her blog is “helpful in the lives of our readers” (“The Hollis Company”).

It can be hard to take a step back and focus on yourself when we constantly see what others are doing, especially through social media. After exploring Rachel’s uplifting content, I have compiled 5 pieces of her best advice for staying confident while prioritizing your goals:

1.Be your own Cheerleader

Hollis reminds women that “Nobody cares about your dreams the way that you do” (The Hollis Co). We must be proud of who we are and what we have accomplished, no matter how small.

2. Lift Up Other Women

It’s important to remember that “We should not be threatened by each other” (The Chic Site). Our time for success is right around the corner! Don’t be jealous; it’s not a becoming trait.

3. Don’t Apologize for Anything

We make choices for a reason, so we shouldn’t feel bad if those choices are not the same as what another woman would do. If we are proud of our decisions, no matter what they are, then there is no need to be sorry for them.

4. Stick to a Schedule that Works for You

Figure out when you are productive and accomplish the most pertinent tasks at this time. It may mean working alone if others are on a different routine, but when it comes to your success, you must prioritize your schedule above anyone else’s.

5. Never Stop Learning

In order to figure out what you truly want out of your life, you can’t be satisfied with mediocrity. There are always opportunities to gain more information and better yourself in your field of interest.

 

Following Rachel’s advice has undoubtedly helped me on the path to achieving my goals. It is definitely hard not to compare ourselves to others in the competitive atmosphere of college we find ourselves in, but prioritizing our personal values will surely lead the right people to fall into our circle. There is nothing more motivating to others than meeting someone who is confident in their own abilities!  

If you found any of this information encouraging, be sure to check out some of Rachel’s best-selling books dedicated to self-care, improvement, and motivation.

 

 

 

If you want to check out Rachel’s blog, click here! Also, follow this link if you want to check out her company’s website.

By: Emma Harwood