15 Things I Learned at the NYWICI Student Career Conference
This year I was privileged enough to attend the annual NYWICI Student Career Conference representing Ithaca College’s chapter. Now, do not get me wrong, I understood what NYWICI was all about: the professional development of women in the communication industry. But after attending the conference my perception broadened far beyond my day-to-day work as an individual member of Ithaca’s small chapter. I saw the larger picture of a network connecting colleges and universities across the country, built upon a foundation of strong, influential women.
Melissa Finney, Director of East Coast Sales at Spotify, commenced the conference as the breakfast keynote speaker. I identified seven major takeaways from her speech:
1. Fortune favors the BOLD
Anything is possible as long as you SHOW UP!
2. Take a risk! Go work for number two
Melissa drove home the point that Spotify was a company in crisis struggling to keep up against Pandora and because she was at number two they allowed her the freedom to suggest ideas. She became the point person which enabled her to gain a ton of experience.
3. Who cares?
This is a piece of advice is for everyone who has felt like a bother sending what seems like the thousandth email, but in reality, it’s the seventh. Melissa said, “I know how to ignore my email. I know how to use my delete button. I know how to ignore a call. So you sending an email or calling and leaving a voicemail does not bother me because I have gotten REAL GOOD at ignoring things I do not want to see! The worse somebody can do is delete your email. Send it anyway.
4. All you need is ONE
All you need is one company, one job, one YES to have your foot in the door and once you do, knock their socks off!
5. ‘My life fulfillment ain’t in coach’
Another conference goer asked Melissa if you should take the job that pays you more or the job that allows you to do more. Melissa responded, “I am not sure if this is the right answer. However, my life fulfillment ain’t in coach.”
6. Givers, Takers, Matchers
There are people in this world who give and give and give. There are takers that take and take and take. Matchers who recognize who you are and then play the other role. Learn to be a matcher!
7. Life over job
Sharing another quick anecdote, Melissa explained that it’s great to have a job that inspires you and that you are passionate about; however, it’s even better to have a life that inspires you and a job that affords you the opportunities to do so.
Excited after Melissa Finney’s interactive speech I attended my next panel called, “Finding Your Best Opening Act: Exploring First Internships and Jobs” with panelists Ashley Schwartz Lavares (Associate Producer for ABC News), Opal Vadhan (Executive Assistant to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton) and Courtney Connley (Careers Reporter of CNBC). From their engaging panel I left with many important lessons:
1. Pure intentions!
Melissa hinted on this in her speech, but so did Courtney and Ashley in their panel discussion. Be genuine with your interactions, because it is really easy to see through the nonsense.
2. Try something new BEFORE your career
It is extremely hard to leave your career to do something new, so before you get wrapped up in everything else around you try an internship outside your comfort zone. It might lead you to a new passion or help narrow your scope.
3. COVER LETTERS: get to the point!
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, hates cover letters! However, the point of the cover letter is to get to the point, which seems contradictory when the point of your letter is to expand upon information in your resume. Here are some tips: state what you want to do, share your skills, and acknowledge how your career goals align with the company goals. Ashley said this should be in the first sentence. Do not bury it.
4. Pen and paper
Handwritten thank you notes seem to go a long way. Everyone can send an email and it takes about three seconds; however, the time and energy it takes to write and address a thank you note is so much more meaningful. Opal said that she always writes an addressed thank you note and mails it once she finishes the interview.
5. Exit gracefully
This is for all those rising seniors who have or will have a full-time job. If you plan to leave a job put in your two-week notice so the company can find and train somebody in your position. However, try and stay in the company for about a year before exiting gracefully. It looks a lot better when you apply to your next job.
6. FOLLOW UP! FOLLOW UP! FOLLOW UP!
I think this goes without saying, but a follow-up email never killed anybody! Wait about two weeks and then send a follow-up email to gain the status of your application.
7. Elevator Speech
It’s good to do your research on the company and key individuals you wish to talk to; however, this is pointless if you have not done research within yourself. Prepare what is called an elevator speech: a 30-second pitch that explains who you are, what you have done (start with the most recent), and where you want to be.
Remember that when you negotiate it is a discussion. Often times as interns we fail to realize the worth of our time and skill sets. Do your research! Know how much other interns in the area are getting paid and ask for more.
I expected this conference to be like every other conference: They feed you horrible unseasoned food, talk your ear off for hours and then repeat the cycle until you can barely hold your eyes open, finally letting you go home. But NYWICI was completely different. It was an interactive conference where I could ask questions, explore what interests me, network with women in my industry and obtain advice that will further my career.
I want to thank my chapter for giving me the opportunity and also NYWICI for orchestrating such a lovely conference.