Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend

Sheryl Sandberg was the star act for Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend this year. As the COO of Facebook, mother of two and now published author, she spoke to an impressive audience about the challenges that females face as they climb the career ladder. Her book, Lean In, explores these issues as well as provides proactive solutions through which women can achieve greater and more rewarding success.

Key Points

Leaders get to create the rules – it’s a simple fact of being in charge. If more women are leaders, more women will be making crucial decisions which both impact their business directly and speak for women around the globe.

Sandberg wants to ban the word “bossy” from the playground and replace it with the phrase “executive leadership skills”. Bossy is most commonly associated with little girls rather than boys. She explained this phenemonen to be an outdated concept: it’s no longer natural for boys (and men) to lead while their women watch passively. Sandberg believes that all women possess the capabilities to lead if only they choose to lean in and take more risks, whether those risks be professional or personal.

Taking credit and attributing one’s skills to the success of a project is key. Men are more likely to claim personal involvement in a successful situation whereas women will call on the powers of luck and the help from others. Sandberg understands that assertiveness can be a major factor in selecting employees for promotions and profitable project proposals, and shyness will prevent women from reaching top leadership positions.

A final point, one which received both criticism and applause, was that Sandberg advised choosing the right life partner to be the most crucial decision of one’s career. It’s understood that the right person, not just any husband or wife, will appreciate and understand each other’s goals, strengths and weaknesses. At this point a tangible sense of discomfort and dissension rose from the crowd. Many young women, including myself, feel enough pressure to find the right job, choose the right partner and attempt to complete these “Herculean Efforts” before the age of 30. Hearing one of the most current successful females in business mention this further emphasized the competitve pressures all female Colgate students face. Although I stand in agreement with Sandberg on this issue and am aware that my choice of husband will affect my career and parenting future, it’s clearly a touchy subject to address with so young women who are dedicated to their academic and career pursuits while also striving to uphold a bustling social agenda. 

We are all facing the bottom of the food chain upon graduation. Entry-level jobs redefined as “Associate”, “Assistant”, or “Intern” do not erase the likelihood of acquiring responsibilities and tasks similar to those of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Yet Sandberg cautioned against women who enter the workplace looking for an exit. Heeding Sandberg’s advice means making instinctual, sound decisions and to lean in, in whichever arena you may call the playing field.


LinkedIn: A Fantastic Networking Tool

Colgate Women in Business met during the last week of March to discuss our members profiles on LinkedIn, a prominent job search and colleague connection website primarily used to network. In creating a profile, you can post a resume online, list your education background and work experience, provide a short summary and photograph and connect with potential employers and friends to build a strong networking foundation.  

Once you have a profile with LinkedIn you can build your network by requesting to connect with classmates, previous employers, parents, siblings, friends, etc. LinkedIn will also show you “degrees” of connections too. For example if your sibling shares a connection with someone at NBC, they will be a connection by two degrees of difference. 

Making the right connection is key, however…. Linkedin is not Facebook. CWIB suggests requesting certain connections with potential, whether that be in an industry of interest or an employer with whom you share a common background and unifying attribute, such as Colgate University. The Colgate University group on LinkedIn unites all current students and alumni who participate with this virtual interface. Searching the Colgate group serves as an alternative to ICAN or Navigate because it also lists alumni by career, industry and city. 

A few weeks back, I was browsing through the Colgate University group, specifically of alumni who work in the food and wine industry. I discovered a ’97 alum who owns his own wine distribution and importing company, and I was able to set up a phone conversation with him with just a few clicks. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for exercising the number one piece of advice you’ll hear in Career Services, “Networking”. 

Make sure to update and revamp your LinkedIn profile as needed. It is a fantastic professional and social outlet for finding a job, researching an industry or simply looking for a potential connection that may form a bridge leading to your next opportunity. 




Biz 101: Introduction to Business School

Our next coffee hour (11/27) will focus primarily on the topic of business school. We are lucky to have a Colgate alumna Skype into our meeting and elaborate on her experiences, but we must prepare ourselves for her virtual visit! We’ve put together a crash-course called ‘Biz 101: Introduction to Business School.’ Your first assignment is to take a look at the sources below.
  • Wikipedia offers a great overview of what business school is, with regards to types of degrees offered, courses, and a history of the field.
  • The Princeton Review delves further, breaking down the B-school curriculum into years one and two. This source has other useful features, including articles about types of MBA programs, finding which program is right for you, and GMAT/GRE testing.
  • Bloomberg is another excellent source! It features more B-school admission tips, program rankings, and financial aid information.
  • Out last source is a thought-provoking post from the Harvard Business Review Blog that questions the role of B-school and business ethics.
Happy reading, CWIB!

What Julie Kelly Taught an English Major

The stock market, Economics 101, graphing calculators and Julie Kelly were four things that made a lover of words, books and open discussion nervous on Wednesday night. The Investment Studies Program brought Colgate alumna Julie Kelly (’04) to speak to students about the basic terminology of finance and explain the importance of understanding these terms. She aimed to enlighten students on how to prepare and handle their own finances once they’ve graduated from Colgate, and for some that date is rapidly approaching. Kelly lectured at a slow pace, ensuring that those who had never taken an economics course could understand what a bond was and how to buy, use and redeem it. She also spoke about mutual investments, which are her specialty, and how one person can invest in a portfolio of different companies that share a common theme. Above all, there were two lessons that stuck out from the rest. First, we need to start thinking about retirement. Although a daunting and faraway place, Kelly urged that it is never too early to begin saving. Second, emotion must be absent when investing in the stock market because those companies that appear to do well one day can change the next. Kelly suggested that it’s much safer and smarter to invest in a company with a history of steady growth and productivity in order to gain, not lose.

Along with a handful of other students, I was additionally lucky to attend a welcome dinner before Kelly’s lecture where she spoke informally about her experiences since 2004. Kelly’s biggest weakness is her intensity, she told us, and she cannot relax and sit back easily. It was obvious that Kelly worked for every dollar and promotion she has earned with both ferocious tenacity and a strong background with her liberal arts education.

During this dinner conversation, Kelly mentioned the most important thing we, as current students and future graduates, can do right now is to set up informational interviews. She understands what it feels like be lost and confused when facing the job market. Kelly suggested sending e-mails, making phone calls and mailing notes to employers of potential interest. Whether they can schedule a lunch date or coffee break, it’s useful to ask questions and get a sense of what people actually do from 8am-5pm every day.

I took many new points of information away from Julie Kelly’s lecture this past Wednesday. Nevertheless, Kelly reaffirmed my confidence in a Colgate education and the tireless work ethic that is born and bred on this campus as two things that will take me far in the career I choose.

Internship Reflection: JumpStart Marketing Intern

This summer I had the opportunity to work at JumpStart Inc. – a non-profit venture development company in Cleveland, Ohio – as an Online Marketing Intern. I worked on IdeaCrossing, a free website designed to connect entrepreneurs with investors and other resources in order to build their businesses. As a non-profit, IdeaCrossing had limited resources, so I worked as part of a four-person team – two of whom were interns.

This small setting gave me the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount about marketing and the venture capital industry while making tangible contributions to the company. I ran the site’s administrator account which included screening all new users to ensure the legitimacy of investors, entrepreneurs, service providers and business mentors. I also managed the IdeaCrossing support email which included responding to user inquiries and managing requests from vendors. Additionally, I posted a daily relevant article to the website and updated the events calendar.

I worked on a variety of other projects throughout the summer as well. I drafted and programmed a survey to send to IdeaCrossing’s users in order to get testimonials to put on the website. Additionally, IdeaCrossing’s largest initiatives were “regional rollouts” – efforts to partner with venture capital firms and increase membership in Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Upstate New York, amongst other areas. I supported this initiative in whatever way I could throughout the summer.

As a whole, the internship was an awesome learning experience and a job I truly enjoyed. JumpStart’s employees were a great group of people that were fun to spend my summer with. As the only full-time intern in my department, I wasn’t sure how close I would get to the others in the office, but we had a minor prank war, went to several happy hours and I really felt like I belonged there by the end of the summer. I’m planning to go back to JumpStart for a few weeks over winter break.

The internship made me really excited about a career in marketing, and certain that it is the path I want to pursue.

The Beginning

Earlier this year as I was scanning my Facebook, a friend’s event popped up on my news feed. As it turned out, she is a member of Stanford Women in Business, a well-founded organization at Stanford University for undergraduates and graduate students to connect with businesswomen (alumnae or not). Their official mission, “to provide the women of Stanford University an opportunity to build a foundation in business and join an encouraging community of aspiring and successful businesswomen” cites several important issues at undergraduate institutions.

After exploring their website and blog, I found myself wondering why Colgate didn’t already have such an organization. In fact, there’s not even a business club at all. With pre-professional programs in engineering, health, and law, to name a few I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of student-organized business activities. I decided to narrow the spectrum by focusing on women at Colgate. This will allow the group to focus on women’s issues in the workplace, as well as spotlighting alumnae and other businesswomen.

As a junior abroad in France, and soon to be a rising senior, I decided that now was the time to make the leap. I emailed friends and family asking for feedback on my idea, and all I heard was yes, yes, yes. As it turned out, I had discovered a wide gap in student organizations and every female student I spoke to was completely on board. I set the idea on the back burner until earlier this summer I started to reach out to friends again and my dear advisor at Career Services, Teresa Olsen, who fully supports the group’s creation. In fact, she has graciously agreed to be the organization’s staff advisor.

The organization will provide organized business education, networking opportunities, and other related activities. The executive board is comprised of six women, all seniors at Colgate, who will run campus and online activities.

Officers: Carly Keller, Chief Executive Officer (Me)

Jenny Large & Markie Cohen, Co-Chief Operations Officers

Isabel Pluck, Chief Financial Officer

Lindsey Brummer, Chief Marketing Officer

Katie McChesney, Chief Communications Officer

I am thrilled to have such talented and dedicated women working alongside me in this endeavor. This fall semester will be particularly exciting for us as we pursue SGA recognition and attempt to execute all of our grand plans!