Saturday January 20, 2018

A Weekend of Wonderful Women: My Time at the 2018 Women's Leadership Immersion

As I got my nametag and binder which stated "Women's Leadership Immersion 2018: Strategy, Vocation, Leadership" across it, I walked into the peaceful Marianist Commons area into a room full of a good number of young women, all chatting with one another. Some familiar, some strangers, some of them those people you sit next to for an entire semester of class but you never learn each other's names because the mutual respect and gratitude for being able to confide in someone are much more valuable than labels we call names. I had the typical feeling of being curious about what I signed up for, but it was from this beginning that the atmosphere in the room was light, there was no tension, no one was agitated, but everyone was excited. There was an aura of extra light-heartedness in the room that everyone seemed to enjoy, an extra kindness to those strangers and nameless friends that laid my social anxiety to rest and made me feel oddly at home. Nothing had happened yet. I just knew from the beginning that I was in the right place and I was meant to be there. 

As we began the program and moved on with the day, one thing that I was amazed by was the fact that there was such a diverse group of women there, in so many ways, but to me, I loved that this was such an interdisciplinary collection of individuals. This was rewarding because I don't often spend much time with a smaller group of just women who represent so many unique areas of the University. I had the opportunity to meet them, interact with them, and get to know the benefits of the program in a community of like-minded individuals. What attracted me to the program was the opportunity to learn about the financial aspects of navigating your career that I never had the opportunity to learn for myself. The program was only open to Juniors and Seniors, so a lot of us could appreciate this type of information as we have post-graduation plans in mind already. Everyone wanted to know "Well now what?" Let's say you're already getting co-op experience or internship experience or you already graduated and you're still in the search--what does the world look like outside of UD from the interdisciplinary perspective of successful women who were once in your shoes? What is life actually like when you love a job, found your passion, but in everything that you do, you are surrounded by men, who often times underestimate your potential? That question brought us all together, and we spent the next 2 and a half days figuring it out together. 

Representation is everything, and for me, it was refreshing seeing women who look like me or who shared my similar academic/professional interests, giving back to this community of women and paving a way for our success. What was most helpful to me was learning about saving for retirement, saving for life in general, what a bunch of fancy financial acronyms means, but also just becoming more aware my fiances and more literate in having a comfortable future. We also talked about negotiating salary--when to do it, how to do it, and why. This was helpful because it gave us the big picture of what all of the seemingly boring paperwork means when you go in for your first day at a new job. There were even workshops that discussed how to navigate work culture, a seemingly abstract aspect of a new job, but ultimately important as it reflects the values of the company and yourself that should ultimately line up so that you can love where you work. 

Why do I care? Because when you're the first in your family to go to college, it's resources and learning opportunities such as these that keep me on track, focused, and afloat as I continue to navigate the different types of learning that come with a syllabus or happen in a classroom, but the type of learning guided by mentorship, leaders who make the decision to lift up others as they climb, and a supportive community that makes this learning that much more meaningful. These are the experiences that I learn the most from. When you know what you value and know how to be resourceful, you start to get that superhero feel. You feel so empowered and like you can conquer anything you put your mind to, like you know you're qualified, worthy, and powerful, and no male-dominated space can take your awesomeness away from you. That's the energy that this program gave me, that's the energy that transformed the room after a few days after everyone's minds were blown with facts and information and pure light. 

The purpose of this blog entry isn't to give away all of the great details of the program. Instead,  want to share that this was the best program I have taken in, in a long time, and I hope this program returns in the next few years to graduate the next cohort of young women who want the best out of their careers and experiences after graduation. I never realized the wealth of resources and opportunity around me before being inspired and energized by this group of women--peers and professionals. I hope to stay in touch with many of them, but I know for a fact that I will never forget the things that I learned during those 4 days of pure enlightenment. Sure, I was sad that I had to be away from my HRL friends who were going through Rejuvenation at the same time, but I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience of self-reflection, leadership development, and rich inspiration. Special thanks to Daria Graham and Cerelia Bizzell in the Office of Student Leadership Programs for making such a  powerful, transformative experience available to so many of us young women. This program was a great start to a new year, a new semester, and new goals, and it was truly a catalyst for my new mindset as I approach a jam-packed, challenging semester. 

If you're a Sophomore or First-year reading this, make a point in your agenda to sign up for this program before you leave UD. 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Previous Post

Next Post

Suggested Links