Women’s Empowerment Day – Educate, Unite, Inspire

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Some of you may have seen the email in your inbox with the subject line, “Women’s Empowerment Day”, otherwise known as “WED”. Because spots were limited, I wanted to share my own personal experience during this day, encouraging all females interested in business to attend this event next year. And men? You, too, should read this post, so that we can take a step closer towards coming together as people.

I walked up the stairs to Memorial Stadium with Emily Luna and Elyse Weissberger. We were on our way to the top floor – the club house. As we exited the elevator, we were greeted by one the of the most spectacular views of the entire Bay Area, as you can see in the picture above. It was a clear and sunny day, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. It was Women Empowerment Day.

I’ve never been ashamed of being a woman. In fact, I’ve honestly never given too much thought about the disparity in equality between men and women. I’ve always just focused on being the best version of myself without much consideration of my gender. Now, not only do I feel “self-powered” as a woman, I also feel honored to be associated with such a remarkable group of people. With accomplished and ambitious women surround me, I felt inspired.

Challenging the Status Quo

After grabbing a cup of coffee, I took my seat at one of the many circular tables. Our first keynote speaker was Krystal Thomas. Some of you may know her as your UGBA 100 professor, but I know her as a graceful and strong woman that has continuously challenged the status quo. She spoke about her own personal struggles as a black woman fighting to follow her passions in the entertainment industry. My favorite quote from Krystal is, “Quantity is about sales. Quality is about relationships.” One of the most basic frameworks in business is prices x sales = revenue. In order to increase revenue, you can either increase the price or the quantity of your sales. Nevertheless, it is essential that the quality of your work and character is never compromised. Krystal is now the executive producer for Pooka Ventures, which is a branded entertainment and media consultancy that creates content at the intersection of entertainment and purpose. After listening to her speech, we were invited to engage in dialogue amongst those sitting at our table of about six to eight women. With a mix of students and Cal alumni professionals at my table, we discussed the idea of closing the gap between racial groups on campus. Tackling heavy and controversial topics allowed us to open our minds and engage in priceless conversation that I will never forget.

Closing the Gap

Our next keynote speaker was Hilary Weber, founder and CEO of Opportu, which is an innovation coaching and consulting company seeking to enable leaders and teams to build high-impact creative cultures. She is also co-founding a second company, based in India, focused on entrepreneurial excellence and women’s self-empowerment. Hilary stressed the importance of the Haas core values and the difference between “empowerment” and “self-powerment”. She pointed out that women who are struggling to survive on a daily basis need empowerment. As women who have or are about to graduate from Haas, we need self-powerment. We already have the power and opportunity to be who we want to be in the world. We just need to believe in ourselves to fight the obstacles that come our way. Though the issue of inequality between men and women needs to be addressed, the issue of inequality amongst women shouldn’t be undermined either. As women, we shouldn’t treat each other differently because of the color of our skin, differences in beliefs or the clothes we wear. We have so much more in common than we do different. Unfortunately, society seems to focus only on the differences, completely neglecting different groups from supporting each other as a whole.

For five hours, I had the honor of listening and conversing with some of the most amazing women I have ever met. It wasn’t about distinguishing ourselves from one another. It wasn’t about putting blame for inequality on men or any other group for that matter. It was about uniting ourselves together as women. It was about educating each other about an issue that truly does exist in society, and more specifically, in the business world. It was about inspiring each other to support one another, so that we can fight for the equality that is long overdue. I encourage any woman who has the opportunity, to attend Women Empowerment Day next Spring. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Special thanks to Dresden John and Erica Walker for organizing this amazing event!

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Interview Prep and Job Success

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In this blog post, I am going to be talking about the struggles of the “recruiting process”. We aren’t particularly taught how to apply for jobs, nor how to do it successfully. It can be very frustrating and emotional at times. Hopefully, you can relate to some of the thoughts that I’ve had throughout my time applying for internships and take away some helpful tips!

As part of the Haas Business community, I am very fortunate to have been exposed to a world of professionalism and networking. We aren’t explicitly taught what to wear for interviews or how to “recruit”; nevertheless, we are constantly surrounded by professionals influencing our behaviors each and every day. Some may think that as long as you are good at adapting to your surroundings, you will be able to pick up the skills needed in order to become a sufficient “networker”. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most majors aren’t immersed in such an environment, where recruiting and job search isn’t as highly emphasized. And even if you are part of the Haas community, applying for jobs is a scary and intimidating process.

Networking Events

First, there are all the “events”. Networking here. Recruiting there. After a long and exhausting day of classes, you have to socialize with people you barely know. Oh, and did I mention hundreds of other students are attending as well? Yes, so that leaves you with one, maybe two, minutes to make a good impression on the company representatives, who are taking time out of their day to find exceptional students for potential employment. As such, you have to buck up, drink some coffee, and smile big, because in reality, you’re the host at the recruiting events. You’re the one who has to carry on an engaging conversation, so that you become memorable.

Applying

Then, you have to apply to the company, which usually involves a resume and cover letter. I don’t remember ever learning how to write either of these in high school, do you? So, here we are…students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, yet our resumes have the potential to look like they’ve been written by a 12-year-old. And don’t get me started on the cover letter. I had never even heard of the cover letter until I got to Cal.

Even if all that goes well, you still have to do well in the interview. Scratch that. I mean interivewS with a capital “S”.

This Decal Helps!

As a Spring admit, I felt that I was a semester behind everyone in terms of everything I needed to be doing while in college. So, I decided to take a decal called, “Interview Prep and Job Success”, where I was able to develop the necessary skills in order to land the right job for me. You don’t really realize you need these skills until you get to the point in your life where you need to get a job or internship. You find yourself spending every spare moment you have sending out resumes and cover letters, and at the end of the day, that might not even be enough. Maybe you’ve applied to a bunch of companies, but just can’t seem to be able to land an interview. I would recommend going back and revising your resume and cover letter. Or maybe, you keep interviewing with different companies, but you just can’t seem to get the offer. Well then maybe you need more practice developing your interview skills.

I know what you’re thinking, “okay, thanks for pointing out the obvious Emily, but HOW do I actually do that?” The decal that I took really helped me to sharpen my interview and networking skills, so that I could go up to any working professional with confidence and enthusiasm. Since then, I’ve become a co-facilitator for the decal myself, along with Tyler and Cameron Haberman. We help students from all majors, years, and interests, fine-tune their resumes, cover letters, interview and networking skills, so that they can apply to jobs with the same confidence and enthusiasm. Some students have experience in speech and debate, and therefore are very comfortable in an interview setting; whereas, others have never created a resume in their life. Not only does this decal provide the basic tools students need in order to enter the workforce, but it brings me satisfaction to watch students transition from the beginning of the semester to the end. How do I answer that annoying question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” How can I find open job positions within my realm of interest and expertise? How can I take my resume to the next level? All of these questions are answered in this decal, so that students don’t go their entire college experience without a taste of professional realty. Nevertheless, here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  1. It’s about quality, not quantity: Whether it’s the number of jobs you apply to, or the number of positions you include on your resume, it’s important to focus on the quality of your applications and experience, rather than just volume. It’s more effective to spend hours on five to seven applications, rather than ten minutes on each of 50 applications.
  2. Use the STAR method: Each of the positions listed on your resume should include two to three bullets. Each bullet should include the SITUATION at hand, TASK requested, ACTION taken, and most importantly, the ending RESULT or impact you made.
  3. Have stories in mind: Before going into an interview, make sure you have five to seven stories that demonstrate the skills and leadership needed for the position you’re applying for. A story where you were successful at leading a group will be a lot more memorable than just saying, “I’m a great leader.”

In short, it’s overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Fall 2017 will be my last semester facilitating the decal, but I will do everything in my power to ensure it continues on. I encourage anyone who has never been exposed to professional development to take this decal. So, whether you’re reading this as a business student or have a friend that just wants help applying for jobs, we can help! 

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You’re Not a “Haas-hole”

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People aren’t born with corruption as their goal in life, but rather people grow and develop aspirations, and sometimes fall short of their moral compass along the way. I want to share my story, where I went through and continue to go through the process of balancing my dreams with my ethical values.

Throughout my life, I have been taught to act with integrity and consideration for others. As a business student, I am constantly reflecting on my career goals, making sure my intentions and actions are in line with my moral compass and ethics.

The “Haas-Hole”

From an outsider’s perspective, the term “Haas-hole” comes to mind. People feel that business students’ intentions are corrupt, because we are “learning to make money”, rather than a technical skill. However, this mindset fails to grasp everything the term “business” encompasses. Yes, in order for a for-profit business to survive, profits are necessary. But, there is so much more that happens before profits are realized.  Businesses have the potential to impact thousands, if not millions, of lives every day. Employees, customers, influencers, suppliers, distributors, shareholders – these are all people who are touched both directly and indirectly by the role businesses play in society. Moreover, businesses have significant power, where their actions can either benefit or hurt stakeholders. Though my intentions are to act with integrity and consideration for others, is that really enough? Or do I need to consider the repercussions of my actions?

The Beginning

Ever since I was the age of six, I have had a love for business. This sounds crazy, right? You’re probably thinking, “how on earth could a six-year old possibly like, let alone love, business?” It all started in my home. My younger brother and I had converted our bedrooms into operating businesses. Some days it was a 5-star restaurant, and other days it was a luxury day spa, where we charged our parents and grandparents reasonable prices, of course. Throughout high school, I continuously exercised my creative desires, organizing school dances and other events. I’d show up at 5AM just to start lining the entire school with posters and decorations in order to build spirit and unity amongst our campus community. And somewhere in between making menus for my restaurant and making signs for high school dances, I found my love for marketing.

Marketing

In my opinion, marketing is one of the fastest changing aspects of business. The ways people interact with products are constantly shifting. In the 1920’s, people would sit by the radio in order to receive information. By the 1950’s, television ads had become the next big thing. Then came the online banner ads. And now, you are exposed to product promotions on Instagram and Snapchat. Cool, so what’s the point? My point is this. Marketing is so much more than just advertising products or services. Marketing captures the art in which people communicate with each other and our surrounding environment. It’s the way businesses connect and engage with society. Sure, radio, television, internet and social media ads are all trying to sell you something, but it’s the “why” that is most intriguing to me. Marketers have to be knowledgeable of the relevant communication outlets in order to do their job effectively. Coming up with a message is easy. It’s coming up with a message that people will resonate with that’s difficult. This includes the way people are exposed to the message. Different audiences engage with different technologies and platforms at different times and places, so it is important to capture them appropriately. Now with that said, I have to ask myself, “will pursuing a career in marketing allow me to continue acting with my core values in mind?”

Career Goals and Ethics

Objectively speaking, marketing involves a variety of processes that ultimately attempt to create a demand for a product or service. However, is this really ethical? How much “stuff” do people really need. Do people really need that Kate Spade purse? Or do people really need five different colors of Converse shoes? I’m a person who considers my ethics and moral compass in every decision I make. As such, this was a conversation that I commonly had during interviews. My passion for marketing was obvious, but could it satisfy my need to make a positive contribution to society? Could I still pursue a career in marketing, while staying true to my beliefs about what I feel is right and wrong? My answer is yes, conditional to the following:

  • I believe in the company’s mission statement
  • I believe in the product and/or service the company is offering/selling
  • The company is genuine, meaning anything the company portrays itself as to the public eye is 100% accurate
  • As a member of the marketing team, I will never lie to consumers (i.e. products that consumers do not need will not be expressed as such)

Though this list is quite general and brief, it has helped me to find an amazing opportunity, where I feel I do not have to compromise on my career aspirations or personal values. And trust me, there is no better feeling than waking up to do something you love, while feeling good about doing it. So, just because you’re majoring in business, it doesn’t mean you’re an unethical person. You’re not a “Haas-hole”, despite outsiders’ negative perspectives. You’re allowed to follow your career interests and passions, while following your ethical values. Hopefully my story and thought process can help you to figure out how your aspirations will or will not align with your moral compass.

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What’s your brand image?

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When you hear the names “Nike” or “Starbucks”, what comes to your mind? “Nike” represents athletic performance and athletic prestige. “Starbucks” illuminates the white cup with the green logo, personalization and the cozy atmosphere inside. Your interpretation of these names may be different; however, we’ve all heard of them and we all have some relatively similar connotation. We’re exposed to hundreds of powerful brands every day. Now, it’s time for you to develop your own.

Start by asking yourself, what do people think of when they hear your name? Do they even think of something? Is it consistent with your own image of yourself? A brand image doesn’t just pertain to companies or businesses. People, too, have personal brand images representing their interests, expertise, opinions, etc. Whether you’re a student, professor, or working professional, it is important to create a plan when creating or strengthening your brand image for your career.

One of the Haas defining principles is to always be a student, constantly learning with an open-mind and adapting to our surroundings. You don’t have to figure out your life’s ultimate purpose, but rather create a brand image that accurately represents yourself while appealing to your target audience. In order to do this, you’ll need to research a bit.

Step 1: What’s your message?

Figure out how you want to be perceived. Do you want people to think of you as a leader who is friendly and comical? Or do you want people to think of you as the hardworking individual who can get their work done efficiently? Or maybe you want people to see you as both.

Step 2: Audience and Competition

Research your target audience. In other words, who are the people you are trying to give an impression? Are you aspiring to work in marketing? Maybe it’s finance or accounting. Whatever field or line of work you are trying to enter, make sure you are familiar with its leaders. Once you figure that out, you’ll need to research your competition. Who are other players in your market that are trying to attain the same goals? For example, if you’re student trying to pursue a job in banking, take a look at what other students and banking professionals are doing with their personal image.  

Step 3: Implementation

With today’s technology, there are many channels and platforms that can be utilized in order to communicate your brand image to your target audience. Some of these include the more common social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, there are also less common methods such as creating a personal blog. Nevertheless, it is critical you communicate the same brand message with consistency throughout all the channels. Post about conversations you’ve had with business professionals or thought-leaders in the industry. Create content people want to engage with, so that you start a conversation and cultivate a community. Differentiate yourself from others through your own personal experiences and know-hows. Patrick Armitage, director of marketing for BlogMutt says, “The best stories have a human element. Without a personal connection, a story is just information.”

Creating a personal brand image is by no means easy. It will take time and practice before you are able to effectively communicate your message to your desired audience. However, once you are successfully able to establish your own personal brand image, you’ll be on your way to becoming a leader in your career field.

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