by Gina Petruzzi ’17 IWL Student Advisory Panelist
On Wednesday October 26, student volunteers and members of the IWL Student Advisory Panel welcomed Bartlett High School juniors and senior females to campus for our second annual College Connection. The program is made possible in part by a grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The Nichols students acted as mentors for the Bartlett High School students for the entire day. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot from each other.
The Nichols mentors arrived in Daniels Auditorium bright and early at 7:15AM to prepare for the day that was about to begin. At about 8AM, we welcomed the Bartlett students to Nichols. Each of the students got off the bus with an eager smile on her face and you could tell that they were all excited to see what the Nichols College mentors had in store for them. As excited as all of the Bartlett students were, we Nichols students were equally as excited. We began the day with introductions and a few icebreakers. We then broke out into small groups and got to know each other a bit more. We made vision boards and encouraged the students to dream and envision their futures. We led the students through an interesting exercise where they drew the roads that were going to pave the way to achieving their dreams. It was useful to better understand the various steps it would take to turn a goal into reality. We then helped the students craft a personal introduction, tapping into our elevator pitch experience from our Effective Speaking course. The goal was to get the students comfortable with networking and asking questions of people who might help them achieve their goals. Then, it was off to lunch — the Bartlett students love Lombard!
After lunch we went back to the Auditorium and the students participated in a mock networking event, where they were able to practice their introductions. Lots of volunteers — staff, faculty, and students — came to help; their role was to role-play as whomever the Bartlett students thought might be useful to meet. The students had identified a wide variety of people such as manga artists, tourists, doctors, RNs, college admissions counselors, and faculty of their desired majors. Each student was tasked with finding their “person” in the crowd, then practicing their introduction and interacting with that person. This was an awesome part of the day because it was when each student came to life and stepped out of her comfort zone. It was amazing to watch the progression of each individual throughout the day.
One of our last activities was forming a large circle with all the students, mentors, and staff. Each individual gave one word to describe the day; they included: inspiring, amazing, life changing, motivational, and awesome. All of the words said were so sincere about the day for everyone involved. We ended the day with certificates of completion for each of the students, and goodbyes. We were sad to see our friends from Bartlett go, but we look forward to seeing them again in March!
Being a senior in college, especially at a business school, I feel I should be proficient in networking. But when given the opportunity to put these skills to a test last spring, it is safe to say, I was less than pleased. It was a male-dominated setting with significantly older professionals, and I found it a little overwhelming. Improving these skills quickly became a top priority for me. From that day on, I now take the initiative to attend any and every networking opportunity that I am offered. In addition, I also suggested that the Institute for Women’s Leadership hold a networking event.
After weeks of preparation, we recently hosted our first-ever Student-Professional Networking Social. The IWL invited faculty, students and professional guests to come together in Daniels Auditorium. The evening was separated into two parts: the first section was speed networking and the second section was a “mocktail” reception.
For the speed networking section, students and professionals were paired up for five minutes to have one-on-one conversations that were guided by prompted questions about networking. At the end of the five minutes, students would rotate one seat to the left, giving them the opportunity to speak with nine professionals over the course of the evening. During this time, the room was buzzing with conversation!
The “mocktail” reception that followed was a fun and interactive way to simulate an actual networking event. This portion of the evening enabled students and professionals to circulate around the room and connect with individuals that were of interest or professionals they had not had the opportunity to meet. A lot of the attending professionals spoke very highly of the Nichols students whom they had met throughout the evening. It was a night full of great conversation, networking advice, and connections.
All in all, this was a great event that I believe students and professionals alike were able to benefit from. In the future, I hope the IWL will host more Networking Socials, and who knows, maybe I will even get to come back as a professional in the near future!
by Nicole Zheng ’19, member of the IWL Student Advisory Panel
Suzanne Bump, former State Representative and State Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, is currently the Massachusetts State Auditor. She is the very first woman to serve in this role and has become an inspiring role model for women striving for leadership. Auditor Bump visited Nichols College on October 4, 2016 to give a speech about public leadership, her experiences, and her roles in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In her speech, I admired how honest she was, especially about her failures. While Bump experienced her disappointments, she also conveyed that if it weren’t for her failures, she would not have the opportunities she has today. She delivered a message that to be successful, achievements and accomplishments should be balanced with failures, otherwise you would not truly understand what ‘success’ is. I can relate to this. I have had my share of failures and I sure felt discouraged from trying again, but then I pulled myself together again and looked at other opportunities. I learned that if you do not get what you expected, do not stop trying and working hard. Focus on doing better or direct your focus towards other opportunities because it is not about one thing you do, but all of the things you do. I want to thank Suzanne Bump for being such a strong and courageous woman to step up and inspire many students like me to become better leaders.