This is a transcribed interview of a conversation between Current CEO Elaina Atallah ’16 and CWiB Founder/Past CEO Carly Keller ’13
EA: What inspired you to start the club three years ago and what did you hope to accomplish?
CK: I was an intern at Chegg and I had this idea after seeing Stanford Women in Business through a couple of friends be a really successful organization on campus. They brought in speakers and had the fortune of being close to Silicon Valley and were able to host conferences and summits and all sorts of different things. That organization had been around for ten years at that point. I started to study some of the other clubs. Having been a part of several different clubs on campus I was aware of some of the bureaucracy of CLSI and SGA, how clubs are formed and what you need to do to get money. I started talking with the student body president saying, “Hey, I don’t want to mess around about getting this started, we only have our senior year and I want this to be something of value to my classmates.” I started to put together a plan and talk to some of my friends about what they would want out of an organization that would help them with their career aspirations or prepare for internships. Being part of Career Services, I knew a lot of the resources that were available. I was interning with Teresa [Olsen] that previous year and coming back to campus, I felt that there needed to be a venue for people to talk about their experiences. At that time TIA was just getting off the ground, and the Finance club was a pretty closed community in terms of industry. That wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I knew lots of people who felt that it was the only thing that Colgate strived to provide for. Whether or not that true didn’t really matter. When I was looking at starting this club because I wanted to find a way to find a small enough audience that it would be something that people would become interested on their own, but also big enough that we could talk about a bunch of different topics and have people who were interested in all different paths get together.
That summer I organized the structure of the organization, I asked Teresa to be our advisor. Having worked with her I knew that she would be a great resource to the club and having someone in Career Services would be helpful. I recruited five other women to put the plans together and kick it off. We started the fall as though we were already an official organization and then went through the SGA process to become a formalized group that could actually apply for money. I was friends with people on the BAC and talked to them about the fastest way to get a budget through. We had enough momentum going into the Activities Fair, and got a lot of involvement from other organizations I was a part of to come and see what we were going to do. From there the club was formed.
EA: Obviously members of our club range from first-years to seniors so what advice did you wish you knew as a first-year and what advice do you wish you knew as a senior that you know now?
CK: I wish as a freshman I had known all the different resources available on campus. There are a whole many different ways you can get help on all different topics. I used Career Services and CLSI. The Center for Teaching Leadership and Research is an awesome place if you are struggling academically and understanding learning differences. The Counseling Center is a tremendously valuable resource and it was a great outlet to talk to someone. I didn’t go for any major life event but rather just when I felt that I needed it. It is also completely free which is something you don’t have to think about and don’t have the benefit of in the real world. College is the time to go out and try everything possible. It also keeps you sane, especially because there is so much going on all the time.
For seniors, I have actually worked a lot with people who are in internships and I have found that even though its not exactly what anyone wants to do right after school, it is a really great way to test something out to see if you actually like it. It is the best possible interview to have. When you are twenty-one, or twenty-two you don’t know that much about what is out there, and what kind of boss someone is, and what kind of paths are available for career development. When you are intern, it can be a really great way to set a trial. Don’t be nervous about finding your first job out of school. If you have the chance to shadow someone over spring or winter break that’s a great way to find out what is out there and put yourself in front of potential employers. Something could pan out between January and May. To place someone six months ahead of time is not feasible in a lot of industries. If your friend’s mom asks you what you are doing after school you should say, “Well I am currently looking for a job in marketing and tech in San Francisco. If you know of anyone who would be good to talk to let me know.” It is a really good way to bounce back from the conversation you could be having which is much more negative. Sometimes they know you better than you know yourself and may have a better sense of your skills.