WIT Seminar: Internships 101

On Wednesday, January 10 YPC held the first WITiquette seminar of the season for YPC’s high school girls, as part of YPC’s Women Inspiring Tomorrow (WIT) program. Thirty-two female choristers enjoyed an evening of conversation and camaraderie with five professional young women working in the finance sector to learn how to prepare now for successful lives and careers. The special guests were part of the 100 Women in Finance’s Next Generation group. The fact that these young career women in their first decade of professional life were close in age to the roomful of the YPC choristers was particularly meaningful to the participants.

We extend an enormous thank you to Steering Committee member Alexis Belladonna and her colleague Marie Kiczek from 100 Women in Finance for leading the program and choosing such a diverse and captivating group of women to speak to these YPC choristers. All of the panelists had compelling personal stories about their lives and the challenges they faced, which resonated with our young women. For example, one was pressured not to choose a career “not for girls.” Two others were the first in their families to attend college. Another was discouraged from applying to Ivy League schools (she did anyway, and was accepted), and a couple were proud to have accomplished so much as first generation Americans. The encouragement they offered was heartfelt, and their advice was practical and action-oriented.

For example, they:

  • Urged the choristers to ask people they admire for informational interviews through LinkedIn and Google. They reminded choristers to look in their own communities, among their friends and family members, and talk to people who are doing interesting things, as well as reaching out to those with higher profiles
  • Emphasized the importance of having internships, part-time or summer jobs of any kind, and volunteering to build experience
  • Described how to effectively respond to questions about specific experiences in particular skills (or lack of such experience) in interview settings
  • Emphasized how helpful it is to identify specific interests and goals and to pursue them, knowing that they can always change direction and move towards something more satisfying as they gain more real-world experience
  • Encouraged them to face their fears by asking the question, “what’s the worst that can happen?” and when the going gets tough, doing things that remind them of their aspirations

After the initial 45-minute discussion, the choristers broke into five small groups, each led by a panelist, to continue the conversation and allow for more personal interactions. The fun that everyone was having and the obvious admiration that the choristers had for these impressive young women, only a decade older, was palpable. Though the seminar was scheduled to end at 8 p.m., YPC’s young women did not want to leave and our special guests accommodated them for another hour.

Alexia and Marie prepared information for the attendees to take home, which included bios of the panelists, guides for networking, writing cover letters and resumes, and preparing for interviews. The folders were gone by the end of the evening, and we know our young women will enjoy reviewing the information and remembering the great time they had. As so many of them said on their way out, “This was so much fun!” and “I had such a great time!”

Thank you, once again to Alexis and Marie for getting WIT off to a great start and laying the groundwork for the Conference in April and the sessions to come in late spring.