By Emily Grandjean
[At the Senior Panel hosted by Wellesley Women in Business, a large group of Wellesley seniors candidly shared their experiences and insights into many different industries. The group included Anisha Vishwanath, Anne Williams, Elicia Chen, Farheen Rahimtoola, Irene Pang, Ivy Wang, Kristian Tran, Marjorie Cantine, Taili Feng, Tasha Beg, and Una Graonic. Below, you will find some of the key points of discussion raised over the course of the evening.]
HOURS & TRAVEL Some of the seniors mentioned the long hours sometimes expected of young professionals, which could stretch from 6:30 AM until 9:00 PM and include weekends. Others pointed out that some jobs, especially consulting, require constant travel in order to meet with clients. One person noted that although jetting around the country may sound glamorous, that was not the reality. The seniors stressed that it is important to be flexible because one’s schedule could be erratic.
SEXISM In the male-dominated industries, such as finance, one must cope with being around people who exhibit strong sexist beliefs. One senior told a story about working with a man who told her outright that she was not qualified for her job because he believed women were too emotional to be in banking. Another described the double standard often expected of women, which is that they retain their physical femininity while maintaining their stoicism. Off-color jokes are another aspect of life in the working world. To work and succeed in hostile environments, the senior panelists urged the audience members to find female mentors or role models and build their networks.
WELLESLEY RESOURCES The consensus among the seniors was that the Wellesley Network is a powerful resource. Many alums are more than happy to forward along your resumé, discuss their experiences, and refer you to people who can help you get what you need.
KNOW THYSELF Before attending an interview, it is important to know your motivations, values, and strengths. The seniors urged audience members to craft a “personal brand” or have a coherent story with which to illustrate why you’re the perfect candidate for a particular position. You should ask yourself, “What questions do I have that this internship would answer?” Furthermore, you should be sure to give the impression that the organization and position for which you’re interviewing is special and important to you.
ENGAGE The seniors advised the audience to be engaged in a number of ways: attend conferences for inspiration and networking, take classes at MIT, Babson, and Olin, browse the career websites of other colleges, get involved in research at Wellesley, and work on independent projects to demonstrate your passion and develop valuable skills. In addition, one senior mentioned that Boston’s start-ups are a great place to begin one’s career because, in general, there is a low barrier to entry.
BE CONFIDENT One senior described what she called “The Wellesley Problem,” or the astonishing efficiency with which Wellesley students complete assigned tasks. In her experience, it was often the case that her Wellesley education had more than prepared her to take on the challenges she faced in the workplace. Many Wellesley students are smarter than they realize and have talents they take for granted. The seniors reminded the audience members to be confident in themselves and show that they are eager to learn and work hard.