Recently, I attended a Women in Business conference that my school hosts every year. The conference is focused on women in the workplace, and alumni from all different branches of business are invited. The day started out early in the morning with coffee and breakfast pastries. Everyone was invited to sit at tables with different alumni from my college, and we could ask questions to get to know them. After that, we heard from a keynote speaker, and this year the speaker was Deirdre Latour, the senior advisor and chief communications officer at General Electric. Latour’s speech was more of a mock-interview, with the provost of the college asking her questions to answer and elaborate on. One of the key messages I took away from Latour was that women must be able to speak up and have a voice at every single meeting. You need to assert yourself, even if you are in a conference room full of men.
After Deirdre Latour spoke, Kim Miles, the founder of Miles in Heels Productions, separated us into different groups. I sat at the Marketing and Sales table, where I got to hear from other female alumni about some of their positive and negative experiences in the workplace. Kim Miles went around and asked people from different tables to describe some of their negative experiences, most of which were centered around sexist comments and assumptions from men. Kim Miles also gave everyone tips about networking and communicating with other people in the business world. One of the main takeaways from her speech was that you should never apologize to other people. You should never say “I’m sorry if this inconveniences you," as you should not be sorry for reaching out and creating connections. A great tip I learned for sending emails is to say “in order to be respectful of your schedule, I’d like to know what works best for you." I will definitely be including that in all of my emails from now on, as I did find myself saying “I’m sorry if this inconveniences you, what would be more convenient." I apologize a lot when it really isn’t necessary. However, you should obviously apologize if it is necessary to do so.
After lunch, we all went to different panels that were all centered around different aspects of business. They ranged from writing resumes and cover-letters to creating an online social media presence. One of the panels I visited was about how to properly establish a good foundation and impression of yourself when applying for jobs or internships. One thing I learned was that if you are submitting a cover letter to someone through email, do not send it as an attachment. Send it as the body of your email. This actually makes a lot of sense. I always thought you should attach it to an email, but if you think about it, your cover letter is supposed to give the best impression of yourself. I also learned that cover letters shouldn’t be super long; about three short paragraphs will do it. Additionally, you shouldn’t go on and on about your work experience because that’s what your resume is for. Another tip I learned was that your resume shouldn’t include anything from high school and you can adapt your resume to fit the job or internship that you’re applying for. Make sure you give off the impression that you’re confident but not cocky- there’s a fine line between the two. I learned to never say “I look forward to hearing from you" at the end of your cover letter, as that sounds as though you are just assuming that you’ll hear from them. Furthermore, you should be the one following up on your application progress. Following up is extremely important because it shows that you’re serious about the job.
I learned a lot of important advice during this Women in Business conference, and I even made a few connections for myself. I highly recommend participating in a similar event that your school may host, as it will definitely be beneficial to you in the future.