Informational Interviewing

By CEO Elaina Atallah ’16

As a senior at Colgate, I have done my fair share of networking and more specifically informational interviewing. If done correctly, this can be a great way to set yourself not only on a career trajectory that you are interested in, but also form key relationships with people who can help you along the way! There are two main reasons to do an informational interview: (1) to find out more about a career path you are interested in, and (2) to find out more about a company you are interested in, but aren’t applying to yet.

Here are some tips:

Where to find people.
Everywhere, but here are some suggestions:

  • Recent alums that you were friends with at Colgate
  • Alums you meet at information sessions or networking events
  • Family friends
  • People found on ICAN, LinkedIn, etc.

Do your research.
In this day and age you can find an overview of people’s entire career path on LinkedIn. By doing your research ahead of time you can save both parties a lot of time by skipping the overview of where they worked. It also reflects well on you, because it shows that you are taking it seriously. By doing your research you can also craft a series of specific questions to ask, which brings me to my next point…

Be specific.
I usually try to skip very vague questions, because it will lead to a vague response. Here is an example of a question I wouldn’t ask:

  • If you could give one piece of advice to a student about the job search what would it be?

If they are a high ranking professional with years of experience, they probably can’t sum up their entire career in one piece of advice. Instead, I would questions along the lines of the examples listed in the Career Services Informational Interviewing guide.

Be sure to maintain these relationships.
Take notes during your conversation. Send a thank you email referencing some of the things you talked about. Then, when you have a milestone in your career (ex. you land an internship for the summer), email them and let them know how you are doing.

What if your career interests change?
That’s okay! Maintain these relationships regardless. They may have friends who work in that field they can refer you to. Think about it this way, not all of your friends at Colgate want to do the same thing after graduation. This proves people have networks beyond their own career fields and would often be happy to utilize them to help you out!

Coffee Hour Roundup: ‘Tis the season to perfect cover letter writing

By Charlotte Scott ’19

On December 1, 2015, Colgate Women in Business held an interactive and informational Coffee Hour on the subject of cover letters. Sara Hinton, a student liaison from Career Services, and Elsa Gomez Pena, CWiB’s Director of Education, led the discussion and answered questions from other students attending the Coffee Hour. We discussed the benefits of using cover letters, general formatting instruction, and information on how a cover letter differs from a resume.

Elsa asserted that since employers read countless cover letters, it’s incredibly important to find a way to make the cover letter distinguishable from the rest. This can be done using various methods including writing style or formatting, and even through the inclusion of evidence of detailed research about the company and elaboration on applicable skills and past experiences. Sarah explained the importance of finding the particular skills or qualities that employers list in the position description and ensuring that those same skills are clearly presented in the cover letter in the context of personal experiences.

Elsa and Sarah agreed that the ending of a cover letter should always be assertive. The two explained in their presentation, “Rather than saying, ‘I hope to hear from you soon,’ consider something along the lines of, ‘I believe I can be a valuable addition to your company, and I look forward to hearing from you.” Using this approach allows the cover letter to stand out to an employer with a more powerful and impactful finish.

Afterwards, a panel of members of the CWiB Executive Board including CEO Elaina Atallah, CFO Ariana Martin, and CMO Miriam Charry answered questions about previous experiences searching for internships, and how to most effectively use the resources available at Colgate throughout the process.

The last Coffee Hour of the semester was a definite success with a great turn out. Next semester we can expect topics such as LinkedIn profiles, mock interviews, and further career exploration for Coffee Hours.


To the Second Job: An Interview with Carly Keller ’13 (part one of two)

This is a transcribed interview of a conversation between Current CEO Elaina Atallah ’16 and CWiB Founder/Past CEO Carly Keller ’13.


EA: Could you explain what you do now at Scoot?

CK: I am the User Acquisition Manager for Scoot Networks. We rent electric mopeds in San Francisco and we are really targeted at commuters and people who would use Scoot to fit into their everyday life. Mopeds in general are not a huge market in in the US, so it has been really interesting to watch in terms of the green-tech community and transportation. We are doing something really interesting where we are affordable; it’s two dollars per half hour, we are clean because they are all electric vehicles, and you can get around faster than anything because you can get through traffic and you don’t need to worry about parking. We allow one-way trips so we are not asking you to rent a vehicle and keep it all day; we are just making your trip possible.

My role at Scoot is focused on the piece of marketing that is centered on both awareness and getting people to sign up and use our service. The key for me is to tell as many people as I can about Scoot. Once they try it and they fall in love with the service, my counterpart is responsible for marketing communications and engagement. She is the one emailing and putting out new features in the app, communicating all the cool new things Scoot is doing and convincing people to continue riding. If you look at a marketing funnel, the top of the funnel is awareness, the next level is acquisition, then you have engagement, and retention is to make sure they continue to be interested in your product. That funnel is split in half at Scoot. The top of the funnel is my responsibility and the bottom half is Sofi’s (her counterpart). That way we can use the same channels: social media, email, in-person events, digital advertising, retargeting, PR to serve different needs and help us succeed as a business. I came from Chegg where I was on a team of thirty-five doing marketing. Everyone was a specialist. I was one of the few generalists covering a lot of different channels for one part of our business. Now I am on a team of two, where we do everything.

Day-to-day, I spend my time on everything from planning and executing events, to scheduling interviews and thinking about our PR strategy, getting articles about Scoot written in various news outlets. I also manage our marketing website, which is where you would go to do some research on Scoot. I also manage the sign-up flow, so once someone signs up for Scoot, we get them all the way to the point that they pay for their sign-up.

EA: Besides going from a team at Chegg that was much larger to a team at Scoot that was much smaller, what were the major challenges that you faced?

CK: So there are new challenges and there are challenges that have gone away. So the fact that I’m on a team of twenty full-time employees at Scoot, that means my boss is the CEO and I work directly with the entire company to get different things done. Anyone that has a challenge or recommendation can come straight to me or I can go straight to someone else. So it cuts out a lot of the running in circles that you tend to do at a larger company. At the same time, since there are only twenty people, your plate is a lot more full with all the different possibilities of what we could be doing because your job covers a huge portion of the business, and it can’t be super specified. You have to be really disciplined about what is a priority and how you are going to manage your time. You also have to be much more realistic about how much money you can spend, what kind of people can you hire, (or) how many people we can sign up in a week. I do my own forecasting and analytics (to measure) how we are performing in marketing. It is really powerful and fun for me, but it is also not what you would see at any larger sized company. (I) knew that this is what I wanted. I wanted to be somewhere small, scrappy, with not a lot of baggage in terms of company history. I learned a ton at Chegg about how to run a marketing organization, what the structure of a well-run team looks like and how you work with other parts of the company. I am using that in my day-to-day work now but it is a very different story (then my day-to-day at Chegg). I am not meeting with fifteen to twenty people in a day; I am working closely with three to five people over many weeks. I don’t go to meeting after meeting; we have one conference room. I meet with people in the kitchen and sit on scooters in the mechanic shop. A meeting doesn’t start at ten and end at ten-thirty. We meet for a couple hours and really knock something out. It is just really different.

Another thing we should probably talk about: I did my first real job search other than internship searches starting this past year. I spent four months. I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to find the right opportunity. I didn’t want to be worried about leaving Chegg and not having picked the right place. You make your second step and it’s not like an internship where you get to leave in four months. You are there to stay, so I wanted to be really careful about it. The first month are two started with a lot of coffee with people I haven’t seen in a while, people who had left Chegg, people who I knew from Colgate. I wasn’t networking in terms of some huge event; it was a lot of “Hey would you like to grab coffee? I am looking for my next opportunity and would love to talk to you.” I had probably six or seven coffee or drinks meetings a week for two months. A lot of those started to turn into references to people or companies. I didn’t really apply to any formal job listings. There were a couple (of) companies where I applied to the listing, but not until after I had spoken to someone at the company. That, in my opinion, is the only qualified way you can put yourself out there, because you actually know that someone is going to look at your resume and you have done everything in your power to ensure that you are a viable candidate. There were probably twenty companies on my list by early March. I interviewed with various companies and was really judicious about which companies were a good fit and which ones I needed to let go of. It is really great to be excited about every opportunity that comes your way, but at some point you have to make a decision about what is actually a good fit for you and what is just exciting. All of a sudden I got an email from Scoot and saw this job listing. I had never thought about working for Scoot, but I loved the company. I sent in my application and got a response that night from the person hiring for the job that happened to be the CEO and came in and interviewed a couple days later. Everything lined up so I was able to make a decision and negotiate the offer. I left Chegg in mid-April and started at Scoot a week later.

EA: Working in tech in San Francisco, have you noticed any challenges specifically for women?

CK: Yes, but not in the ways that are truly present every day. What you will notice is more men typically in management positions, even in tech. There is a strong focus in being from a technical focus if you are a co-founder or if you have influence in the company because engineering drives so much of the company’s value. People in technical backgrounds are 70-90% male depending, on what part of the country you are in. There is this very immediate power dynamic where the people who are making a lot of money because their jobs are of great value are perpetuating the male power dynamic in the workplace.

You also have a bunch of women who are very good at finance, marketing, (and) communications. They are involved in many of the “liberal arts friendly” career paths. There is still a good mixture of men and women. I work on a team that is a 50/50 split, but it really depends (on) what part of the company you are talking about. Our entire engineering team is male, and we have one female mechanic. That stuff equality-wise is definitely interesting, but I don’t think it’s as much of a challenge as people would say. A lot of what needs to be fixed about women in the workplace revolves around childcare and maternity and paternity leave. A lot of tech companies have made headway on paternity leave and offered equivalent benefits for paternity leave. They realize that parents (who are) around for a child’s infancy are much more involved parents, share housework, all that sort of research. Obviously it is a really hot topic and is part of why I started Colgate Women in Business in the first place. It wasn’t just to provide opportunity to women; it was to provide a place to have discussions about these topics that are so important, and issues that people tell us we are going to face in the world. However, the club didn’t necessarily come from a place that was driven by those issues, but rather to have discussions about different career paths.

Past to Present: An Interview with Carly Keller ’13 (part one of two)

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.

A Call to First-Years and Sophomores… Why Join CWiB?

“Why join Colgate Women in Business?” a first-year might ask at the activities fair. “Sure, I’m a woman but I have no idea what I want to do after graduation!”

Colgate Women in Business (CWiB) is more than a pre-professional group on campus. CWiB helps undergraduate women build confidence, understand their strengths, and realize their passions.

CWiB shares insights about how to break into the business world and the opportunities that exist post-Colgate. Our organization educates women through their peers and from Colgate alumnae in varying business fields. The support of other women who have been through the internship and job search processes is paramount and provides a reliable support system to students entering business.

My involvement in CWiB has helped me narrow down on careers that I don’t want to pursue, which is just as useful as realizing a specific path after graduation. I have had the opportunity to build relationships and gain advice from alumnae who see the value in supporting undergraduate women. I have learned life-skills in CWiB coffee hours, such as budgeting and the importance of body language, which I can always carry with me.

When I joined my sophomore year, I was looking for some more information about career fields that might be interesting. Since then, I have come to love this organization of women who support one another and who take advantage of all that Colgate has to offer.

– Mallory Hart ’16, Content Director

Here is why some of our Executive Board Members decided to join CWiB in their first-years….


“I joined CWiB as a freshman because I knew that from the start I really wanted to be on top of driving my career and understanding how career exploration and the job search worked. I also really wanted something I could get involved in from an early stage in my college career. In the spring of my first-year I served as the Conference Director of the first Immersion Trip, and by the end of that semester I was selected to serve as the CFO. The experience I received early on from CWiB was vital to my development throughout my career at Colgate!”

– Elaina Atallah’16, CEO


“I joined CWIB for a few reasons: to meet smart young women, to increase my exposure to the business world, and to become more comfortable networking. In the past few years I’ve been involved in CWIB, the club has absolutely fulfilled my expectations and more. Joining CWIB was one of the best decisions I’ve made at Colgate!”

– Ariana Martin ’16, CFO


“I joined CWiB my first year as the secretary for the executive board to learn more about the experiences of other females on campus seeking to transition their liberal arts education to business industries. The group seemed like a great network of women looking to empower each other in their career pursuits and I knew I wanted to be a part of it early on to ensure its success on campus.” 

– Lauren Casella ’16, CCO

Amanda Milberg Discusses the Forté Foundation College 2 Business Leadership Conference

April 10th, 2015 – Deloitte. 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC

This past Friday I attended the Forté Foundation College 2 Business Leadership Conference. After a competitive application process, I along with 80+ women representing 40 schools as well as multiple countries came together at Deloitte’s office in New York to ‘learn by doing’. The conference started with a presentation by Nicole Weber, the Corporate Trainer from Great on the Job. Nicole taught me how to perfect my pitch and take my leadership to the next level by improving my brand. She explained how I can improve my executive presence by having confidence, looking great, sounding great, and sharing my story about what makes me unique. After her remarkable and informative presentation, there was a summer internship panel consisting of three current representatives from Citi, Macquarie Group, and Deutsche Bank. These three women helped me gain a better understand on how to prepare my resume, interview successfully, and the necessary steps to land my dream job in the upcoming future.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing an online Marketplace Business Simulation. Each group consisted of four women and one mentor from a one of the companies that sponsors Forté Foundation. This stimulation places each team in a virtual business world setting as the managers of start-up company. Each individual was responsible for a given department, I was the head of manufacturing, but the team worked cohesively to execute a business strategy and make the final decisions. The stimulation gave each team the opportunity to experience all aspects of business management. I quickly realized the challenges, benefits, risks, and rewards of a business environment.

The last hour of the conference was a Company and Graduate School Expo which allowed each of the participants to talk to employers and network. Overall, I learned so much in such a short period of time and am so thankful that CWiB introduced me to this opportunity. I spent the entire day talking to aspiring women business leaders and making important connects with big name companies who are interested in having motivated women, like myself, become a part of their team in the future.