Some days are more inspiring than others. For many students at Salem College, September 21, 2013, will stand as one of the most inspiring of their college careers. It was the day of the second-annual Women’s Conference: Developing Emerging Professionals, an event that provided students the opportunity to learn and practice many of the skills critical to building a successful career through seminars, workshops and networking events with local and regional professional women.
After a day filled with valuable learning experiences such as workshops on interview skills and personal branding, plus a networking fair, the conference concluded with the powerful message of “leaning in,” delivered by a panel of highly successful women from the Young Professionals Organization and LeanIn.org. The panel, designed around the theme of Sheryl Sandberg’s New York Times bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, featured Julie Schoenfeld, entrepreneur and CEO of Perfect Market, Inc.; Maryellen Gleason, President and Executive Director, Milwaukee Symphony; Carol Hansen, President and CEO, Tatonka Capital Corporation; and Dr. Susan Pauly, President of Salem Academy and College. The panel was moderated by Wanda Starke, evening co-anchor of local NBC affiliate, WXII News 12.
Panelists were asked several questions, including the “best advice you had ever heard” or “what challenges did you have to overcome to be where you are now.” Julie Shoenfeld inspired attendees to approach challenges, work and life like a ballerina—“graceful while standing on your tip toes to make your hard work seem effortless.” Carol Hanson urged attendees to be female leaders: “If we choose not to do what we are capable of, we are short changing everyone around us.”
“They really gave great tips that I felt I would actually be able to use in the future, “ says Carolina Corona, a junior at Salem College. “All of their messages really touched on subjects that would help me in my future job search and career."
In addition to Salem students, students from several area colleges and universities, such as Elon University, Winston-Salem State University and Forsyth Technical Community College, also attended.
“I am always seeking opportunities where I can grow as a professional and develop myself,” says Ashlei Brown, a senior at Winston-Salem State. “I thought this was a good opportunity to do that."
Living the philosophy of “leaning in” while they’re learning, a group of Salem students led by Kimbrough Professor of Business and Economics and Director of the Center for Women in Business Alyson Francisco planned and executed nearly every aspect of the conference. It was the kind of invaluable experience that resonates long after the event has passed.
“I had the privilege of being involved from the very beginning of the conference,” says Salem College senior Katie Hall. “This was such a valuable learning experience for me and my colleagues. I know the experiences will make a difference to our futures.”
The Women’s Conference is sponsored by the Salem College Center for Women in Business, and the Salem Signature iLead program, made possible by grants from BB&T, the George Foundation and area sponsors.