The Power in Being Proactive

Happy summer, CWIB!

Now that the school year has officially wrapped up, it’s time to start those summer internships, externships, study abroad programs, volunteer programs, and part-time jobs! Before you embark on your first day of whatever you’re up to this summer, I have some advice for all of you CWIB members: be proactive!

This was the most valuable lesson I learned in my summer internship last year. This habit will serve you well not just during the summer, but during the school year and eventually, your full-time jobs also.

During the first week, I was only given small assignments, but nothing of substance. The 8-hour days felt so long. I eventually realized that I had 12 weeks to learn and make a name for myself at this company. I knew that if I wanted to feel fulfilled at the end of this program, I had to do something.

First, I emailed this entry-level employee whom I had met at orientation asking if she wanted to grab coffee together. She was a friendly, bubbly person who had also interned with this company, so I thought she would be a great person to get advice from. We hit it off right away and she quickly became my “work BFF!” Throughout the summer, she invited me to meetings that she was involved in. If I didn’t take the initiative to reach out to her, I wouldn’t have been able to see this company from different perspectives or meet any of those amazing people, including her!

Another example is more work-related. Like I said before, I wasn’t doing anything at the beginning of my internship. I worked up the courage to talk to my manager and express my desire to do more. She listened to me and shortly after, I was invited to more meetings and assigned to more projects. I was even invited to go to business process alignment meetings with our vendor in Maryland! All of these were opportunities that I know I would not have been given had I not spoken up.

I hope these two examples showcase the value that being proactive can have. All of you CWIB members are capable, intelligent, and talented young women. If something isn’t going the way you envisioned, say something! Doing so will show your peers/managers what your interests are and what you can bring to the table. Do not think that all of your hopes and dreams are going to be delivered to you on a silver platter. Work hard, be proactive, and you will come back to Blacksburg in the fall feeling fulfilled, I promise!

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!

New York Trek Recap

The first event for the CWIB members was Hokies on Wall Street, which was hosted at the Citigroup Midtown building. Alumni and current students from Virginia Tech mingled as they chatted about experiences in the business world as well as their college days. A first-time attendee, Jennifer Lee, Consultant at Citigroup, said, “[Hokies on Wall Street] is such a large networking opportunity and when awesome [opportunities like this] come up, you just have to take [advantage of] it.” A group of CWIB members was fascinated by Jennifer’s story, amazed at how she achieved a position at Citigroup after graduating with a degree from the College of Science. She is a strong believer in “doing what you want to do as long as you work hard for it.”

Other alumni mentioned the reason they attended this event was that they could “really feel the Hokie Spirit.” Many women from CWIB would agree, there is just something special about going into the world and feeling at home with the people you’re around because they’re part of the Virginia Tech Community.

As the sun began to shine over the city that never sleeps, the group headed over to the Google Building, sporting blazers, and bright eyes.

After a tour of the 2.9 million-square-foot building (and plenty of pictures on the block-long balcony), CWIB members sat down in a room of the Summer section on the “Four Seasons” themed floor for a panel. The main topics of the Google panel were: finding mentors in college and the workforce, building a personal brand, and overcoming challenges of being a woman in the business world.

“Not all mentors are labeled,” said Ingrid Gonzalez, Head of Sales for Google Cloud. “They can be anyone who is there for you in doubt and gives you opportunities. You will have many challenges [in your career], so make sure you have the right people around you to help you through them.” Suzy Schumer, Strategy and Sales Operations Consultant, advised that “when it comes to building your personal brand, you want to make sure you leave an impact on your interviewer [or client]. Learn what makes you passionate and let them remember you.”

In a lifetime career, we’re bound to run into many challenges. Suzy said, “It is okay to fail. It is okay to cry. Give yourself a moment in private, then gather yourself and get back out there.” As a woman in business, Suzy knows the importance of embracing who you are. “There will be times that you may find yourself as the only woman in the room. Embrace it and be comfortable with yourself.”

After the panel at Google, the women headed to the Citigroup building for a presentation of the early career opportunities at Citigroup and a panel that focused on the recruiting process. When preparing for recruiting, Panelist Nancy Song advises to “Be passionate! Have an open and adaptable mind. Understand what you are being interviewed for.” She also stressed that in your career, “stereotypical networking is not the only way! Build relationships that you already have, like with those you already work with every day. However, don’t be afraid to talk to people, be proactive and look for ways you can help and connect.”

When asked what the best decision they’ve made for their career was, Christina Capitelli responded by saying, “Taking opportunities as they come. Don’t stay static, use opportunities to grow and develop.” Jennifer Lee’s best decision was “Keeping an open mind, you never know until you try.”

Next stop was Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Capital Markets, “a global investment bank that provides focused expertise in banking, finance and capital markets to [clients] around the world.” At RBC, CWIB members and the speakers had an enriching conversation about women and their impact in the corporate world. “The way we [women] respond to situations is different from men, but that makes us no less legitimate: our brains work the same,” said Cara. “We have strengths and characteristics that make us great leaders. You can’t have the same exact people sitting at the table looking at a problem.”

To wrap up the visit, the group was given the privilege of going onto the trading floor for a better idea of what happens at a company such as RBC.

 If you haven’t been on a CWIB Trek yet, make a goal to attend next year! You won’t regret the invaluable experience and connections you build in CWIB as well as in the corporate world.

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!

Summer Internships: How to Prepare for Your First Day

Summer is slowly approaching, which means so is the first day of that summer internship many of you were able to receive. It is very stressful and nerve-racking to think about the first day and what the entire summer will be like, but it is important to be ready. Keep reading to learn some tips on how to make sure you make great first impressions on that day!

1. Have an Open Mind

Since you got this job, you have most likely done some intense research on the company and the position, right?  When given your first task, you may find that it isn’t something you expected you would be doing. Be able to adapt to any situation and try your best.

2. Ask Questions

Do not hesitate to ask any questions! Don’t think that any question is a dumb one; someone probably asked it before.  Your manager will appreciate it if you ask thorough questions on your position; it will show that you’re interested and want to do the best you can. Also, your coworkers are in the same boat as you, so ask them anything and you may even make a new friend along the way.

3. Dress for Success

Go to the mall a few days before your first day, and stock up on clothing that satisfies your dress requirements. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have a blazer, some blouses, and dress pants – this will get you through the majority of the summer. Remember to take into account the conditions of your travel! For example, if you’re walking a few blocks to your office, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes.

4. Get Organized

Load your Metro card, fill your gas tank up, prepare your bag/briefcase, and pack your lunch the night before! Also, look up directions to the building and leave about 20 minutes earlier to allow yourself more than enough time to get to work on time. Another important task you should do is familiarize yourself with the area so you can easily find the closest coffee shop!

5. Have Proper Etiquette

This is a little obvious, but still one of the most important concepts one needs to remember when in a professional environment. The first impression is typically how one is remembered, so make sure to smile, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake with everyone you meet. Introduce yourself properly and ask as many questions as needed.  Don’t be shy!

6. Be CONFIDENT

Everyone has their own unique strengths, personalities, and skills. Believing in yourself is the first step in showing the people at your company that you are an intelligent, capable intern. Make a lasting impression on everyone you meet, attend company events, never stop learning, and don’t hesitate to ask a question or pitch any idea. Confidence is the key to success!

 

These are all little tips that can lead to a great first day on the job and a great internship experience. Remember, you were hired for a reason. Show this company they were smart for hiring you. Good luck this summer, CWIB! We know you’ll make this organization proud!

Double Majoring: Is It Worth It?

“Dear Rosie… I’m thinking of double majoring. Is it worth it or should I just stick to one major and really focus on it?”

 Hi CWIB Reader!

That’s a great question! This topic is something I’ve thought about a lot as well. When it comes to getting a double major, it really depends on what you want to do when you graduate. If you are thinking about taking on another major within Pamplin, women currently in the business world are going to say that double majoring isn’t worth it.

At the Fourth Annual Power Panel, Kerry Wekelo from Actualize Consulting said that getting a double major wasn’t worth the late nights, extra work, and stress; and that you can reach the same success with one degree.

However, if you want to extend the scope of your education with a business and a liberal arts degree, then you should go for it. Studies have found that a college graduate with both a business and liberal Arts degree may earn a higher income than a graduate with only a Business degree. If you decide to double major, make sure you are aware of the opportunity costs before jumping right in.

Double majoring comes with a larger time commitment to academics and may limit how involved you are with organizations on campus. Another thing to think about is that when the time comes to apply for jobs, employers want to see how you got involved and exemplified leadership in the community as well.

If you are still having a difficult time deciding, make an appointment with your Academic Advisor! They are a great resource for us students and will help you decide what is best for you.

Charlotte Trek: A Recap

A few weeks ago, Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB) members trekked to Charlotte, North Carolina and visited three diverse companies, networked with Virginia Tech alum, and explored new and exciting career paths. Our outstanding peers represented CWIB on the Charlotte campuses of Red Ventures, Wells Fargo, and Dimensional Fund Advisors. Each company and its employees offered unique perspectives on business and professionalism. Read on to hear what CWIB members thought of their experience in “The Queen City!”

At Red Ventures, where intelligent innovators use data to bridge the gap between consumers and the services they need, members were immersed in a community-focused culture. On their growing campus, Virginia Tech alum introduced them to the work they do and offered valuable career advice. “The atmosphere was like no other to me,” says Sydney Woodward, “the company really embraced a ‘go-getter attitude.’ There was even a board that said, ‘Be Great People to Work With’ where employees are encouraged to take a piece of paper and do whatever it says – from grabbing lunch outside of the office to talking to someone they haven’t met before.”

 
During the CWIB visit to Wells Fargo, trek attendees spoke with more empowering professionals on careers in banking and the numerous paths within the industry. Their visit to Dimensional Fund Advisors expanded on their exposure to the finance industry – members heard from high-level employees and learned about the fast-paced world of investing. Tori Pollard, Sophomore CWIB member, and Business Information Technology (BIT) major found Dimensional Funds to be her favorite visit as it offered a company culture that seemed like an enjoyable place to work. Sydney Woodward found the visits to both companies highly informative since those are the types of firms she will be working with as a Financial Planning major!

Outside of the company visits, the trek attendees networked with other CWIB members. “It is always extremely empowering when you’re in this professional atmosphere and you are actively engaged,” says Woodward. Pollard, echoes her sentiments. “I had such a great time getting to bond with other CWIB members… this was my first trek and hopefully not my last.” Both women enjoyed exploring the city of Charlotte as well. Pollard states “Charlotte was never a place I had considered for an after-graduation job, but it is definitely on my radar now – it is an incredible up-and-coming city for young people entering the workforce.” Woodward even fell in love with the city and it is now her number one location to live after graduation!
 

Congrats to all Charlotte Trek attendees on seizing opportunities to expand your network and knowledge. Thank you to the companies who hosted CWIB and don’t forget to keep an eye out for these amazing opportunities throughout the following semesters!