This week’s profile takes a closer look at our very own president, Erin Stafford. Erin is a sophomore in the Honors College studying Information Systems and Business Communications. Two weeks ago, Erin traveled down to Washington, D.C. for a conference held by the Forté Foundation, “a non-profit consortium of leading companies and top business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers.” I sat down and asked Erin a few questions to find out more about the conference and her experience as a future woman in business.
How did you find out about this opportunity?
I actually heard about the foundation itself from a post on Facebook and immediately knew that the foundation was an organization I was interested in looking more into. Then, after signing up for their emails, I got an email inviting me to apply for the conference, so I did!
What was the application process like?
You had to do most of your basic application questions, attach a resume and also a short paragraph on why I wanted to attend. I applied early decision, and one hundred girls were selected to attend.
What all did you get to do at the conference?
We learned many different things from building our own personal brand to how to gain a summer internship. After the speakers, we separated into different teams and competed in a hands-on, virtual business simulation where we started our own business and went through different market scenarios to see who could build the best business the fastest. Once we completed the simulation, we networked with many different companies to learn more about their opportunities and advice.
What kind of companies were you able to interact with?
I was able to interact with so many different amazing companies such as PNC, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, Hines, Davita, and many MBA schools like Yale and MIT. Another great part of this conference, though, was networking with all the other aspiring, like-minded women from colleges across the country.
What is your biggest takeaway from the conference?
My biggest takeaway from this conference is to set your dreams high and constantly reach for them. I had no idea that I would get selected to attend this conference, and once I did, it opened up a lot of pathways for me that I am very lucky to have. I believe that you can gain important leadership and business skills outside of the classroom when immersed in a group or team with different backgrounds, knowledge and experiences. This conference taught me that there are so many amazing individuals, both peers and professionals, that are willing to help you reach your goals. I also learned that studying business is awesome – and so are the other 99 girls I had the pleasure of meeting.
What do you see as your biggest challenge as a woman looking to enter the field of business?
As I enter the business world, I feel as if many people underestimate the power of women. We are so motivated to make a change and willing to come together to do so. As a woman going into a STEM field (Management Information Systems), I strongly believe in advocating for all women in technology fields and bringing us together. Therefore, my personal goal is to encourage and motivate women interested in these types of fields to go after their dreams and to not let any stereotype or stigma hold them back.
Thank you Erin for a glimpse into the world of business. We are grateful to have such a strong, intelligent, and driven woman as our leader.