Women’s Leadership Summit: Alumnae That Inspire

After discussing the importance of networking, students were encouraged to speak with panelists about their career goals after the event’s conclusion.

On Wednesday March 30, the SUNY New Paltz Foundation collaborated with the Career Resource Center to host a Women’s Leadership Summit in the Student Union Building (SUB) from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The summit featured over 25 successful recent to senior career level alumnae who embody leadership roles within their given fields.

The summit asked students to sign up in advance through SUNY New Paltz’s website so attendees could be organized into small breakout groups decided by their majors. However, students were also invited to drop in and be assigned to the group that best catered towards their career goals on the spot.

Some majors/professions that were represented at the summit were the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Fine and Performing Arts and the School of Science of Engineering.

Students received their small-group assignments at a table on the second floor of the SUB outside of the multipurpose room. Those students would proceed to the given room where they would sit in on a conversation about the women’s career paths, the steps they took in college to get them to where they are now and advice they have for young women looking to enter their field.

One of the panels included women with careers in digital media production, journalism, history, acting and theatre.

During this panel, students asked questions regarding what it was like to be a woman in a male dominated industry, how to know if your work or efforts are being taken advantage of in the workplace and other tips and tricks on entering the workforce.

Panelists eagerly answered every question from the group with each of them adding their experiences to the conversation, allowing for students to receive as many points-of-view as possible during their short time together.

One of the panelists in the group was Jenna Flanagan, host/reporter of MetroFocus. She told students about the early stages of her career and the highs and lows of the “hustle.” She told students to prepare themselves to be fetching coffee for people for the first few years of their career — but not to worry because it all pays off in the end, and as you get promoted, people will respect you more because you have done the dirty work.

Panelists educated students on the importance of boundaries and how what you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to. 

Flanagan told the group about a job offer she recently turned down. She explained that the offer was for more money and had what some would consider more prestige than her current job, but taking that job would require her to work hours she hated.

Flanagan admitted that there was once a time where she would have jumped at the opportunity — but she has since learned to proritze her own happiness and set boundaries for herself that she was not willing to cross for a new position.

Another key point made during this breakout group was that you don’t need to have everything in order to start talking to people; getting your name out there to people who someday could help you or put you in contact with someone who can help you is of the utmost importance.

Networking was the key word of the event.

Additionally, once you find people who are willing to mentor you, don’t only go to them when you need something for a job — form a friendship with them. All the panelists agreed that they are much more included to help someone out who knows them and they know well.

At the conclusion of the small group breakout sessions, students were invited to an ice cream social from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m where they were encouraged to network with the women from the panels they had just witnessed. 

Many students took advantage of that opportunity. Walking through the gathering, one could overhear many students sharing their goals and aspirations with these women — who in return gave them either a direction to head in or their contact information to stay in touch with.

Students who missed this event should keep an eye out for other opportunities to network with alumni. One resource the career resource center offers is the Orange and Blue Network. 

The Orange and Blue Network is a program where current students and alumni can get in contact with one another. Students can use the website to find alumni who have the job they are interested in or alumni who they think can give them the advice they are seeking, or help them get in contact with a potential job.

Both the Women’s Leadership Summit and the Orange and Blue Network are of no cost to students. For more information on the Orange and Blue Network, visit their website. For more information about upcoming events like the summit, keep an eye out for updates from the Career Resource Center either on their website or on their Instagram page, @npcareers.

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About Kyra Russo 45 Articles
Kyra Russo (she/her) is a third-year journalism major from East Greenbush, New York. She spent two and a half semesters as a Copy Editor and is now the Managing Editor. Besides the newspaper, she is on the women’s soccer team at SUNY New Paltz and participates in the Rising Hawks leadership program. You can reach her by emailing russok5@newpaltz.edu.