Event Recap: 'Business Career Fair' - GFB CON 2022

Written by Allison Zhang on Saturday, 03 September 2022. Posted in Event Recap

Graphic by Lily Wei for Girls For Business


The final workshop of GFB CON was the Business and Career Fair, with three panelists sharing their diverse personal experiences in their business careers. The workshop began with general questions and then transitioned into an open Q&A where participants gained an in-depth view of different paths and learned how to navigate business from a younger age.

Panelists:

Victoria Zammit is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. She is enrolled in the Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Dual-Degree Program where she studies the intersection between Computer Science and Finance. This past summer, she traveled to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to conduct blockchain development for a crypto start-up. At Penn, she started a consulting club called Diversatech and is currently doing diligence work for Penn Undergraduate Capital Partners. Additionally, she is a software engineer for Hack4Impact, a nonprofit organization, and a peer tutor for Algorithms and Data Structures.

Sierra RyanWallick is the founder and CEO of Up Cycle Design, a social entrepreneurship enterprise that diverts waste material from landfills while supporting professional development within the team. While working full-time at her startup, she also takes classes at the University of Delaware. She attributes her passion for entrepreneurship to AutumLeaf Fundraisers, a nonprofit that she founded at the age of 10. She is also a GFB mentor and Advisory Board Member.

Divya Ramamurthy is a recent graduate of the UPenn Wharton School of Business with concentrations in finance and operations management. She previously worked as a financial intern at the Securities and Exchange Commission and an investment intern at Goldman Sachs. Currently, she works full-time in the private credit area at KKR. She was also a mentor for GFB and is an Advisory Board member. 

 

FAQ

Q: How did you get into business and what advice would you give to young individuals interested in the business field?

Sierra recalled how she was interested in business at 10 years old, which was before she even knew what “entrepreneurship” meant. However, she realized that there was a problem with animal organizations, which inspired her to start her first nonprofit organization. She stated,  “I’m passionate about something, I want to solve an issue, and that’s what entrepreneurship is.” For advice, she says that connections are essential to business. She recommends starting a Linkedin profile and building up a strong network. Furthermore, she emphasizes the importance of getting mentors and asking for advice.

Victoria always thought that she wanted to be an engineer until she worked at a research project where she was in charge of taking a patent and developing it into a business. After learning more about business for her project, she realized the infinite possibilities that the field provided. “Business has the opportunity for breadth,” she elaborated when describing how her major allows her to explore multiple aspects of business. She advises that students should never shy away from opportunities just because they think they aren’t good enough and that they should demonstrate leadership and social impact throughout their activities. 

Divya was also more interested in engineering as she grew up in a school that was more geared towards STEM. However, towards her senior year, she became more interested in business. She recalls how she loved forming connections and analyzing the macrotrends of companies. Divya advises students to leverage upperclassmen or college students and reach out to people to ask what internships, camps, or programs they did. Additionally, she says, “Don’t follow whatever everyone else is doing. It’s really easy to just follow one path, but there are so many paths within business”

Q: What skills would you say are the most important to have going into the business industry or just a career in general?

Divya believes that public speaking is an essential part of business. “Even if you don't know what you’re talking about, you should still be confident and speak with poise and elegance.” For those seeking to become more familiar with public speaking, she recommends that they develop those skills throughout high school by joining clubs like debate, model UN, or SGA. She also suggests that students should go for whatever they can. Whether that means volunteering for a project, stepping up as a leader, or applying for an internship, “it never hurts to show that you are eager and willing to work hard.” Finally, Divya says that people should show respect to everyone they are working with because based on her own experiences with internships, she remembers that people in workplaces just want to be respected. 

Sierra corroborates that students should take initiative and think with an entrepreneurial mindset. Regardless of what career one is interested in, abilities such as innovation, problem solving, and resilience are all necessary to achieve success. She also believes that people should always offer to help and try to provide value to others. Moreover, she declares that communication is key. Developing interpersonal skills and being able to communicate effectively with a team will be helpful in workplaces and in general. Also, she states that people should ask questions if they don’t understand something because it tells others that they want to do a good job.

Elaborating on what Sierra said about communication, Victoria advises that people should always respond to emails and messages in a timely manner. She also emphasizes that students should try to be inquisitive, especially if they need extra clarification. “Go the extra mile at understanding what your task is,” she added. Victoria also suggests that people “be on par with everything that’s going on in the world” and learn how current events can impact the business industry.

Q: What types of sources would you recommend to stay up to date with business?

All three panelists recommended newsletters such as Morning Brew, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and James Clear’s newsletter. Additionally, they also suggested that students can listen to podcasts such as TechCrunch and read more books related to business. 

Q: What was a challenge you faced as a student in business and how did you overcome it?

As a student at the University of Delaware, Sierra observed that they teach more about how to identify a problem but not how to solve it or pursue a venture. This meant that she had to figure out how to properly handle issues herself. Thus, she advises everyone to “take initiative and figure out the information yourself” because there are plenty of resources out in the world. 

In high school, Divya’s school lacked a proper business curriculum. Additionally, colleges are looking for different types of internships and research projects, which were hard for her to find because they were not as common when she was applying. To overcome these issues, she suggests leveraging any connections and making opportunities out of them. For example, something as simple as shadowing people at their workplace can turn into a working relationship.

Victoria had a similar experience to Divya both in high school and college. She recounted how she applied to over 100 internships without success and that the biggest thing she learned was how to cope with failure and learn from it. “It’s easy to get defeated by comparing yourself to others,” she stated, but ultimately, she was able to pull herself around by utilizing her connections. She also observed that an essential skill to getting internships is cold emailing because it makes the process much more efficient. When asked how to cold email effectively, Victoria suggested keeping it brief and mentioning the names of any mutual contacts. She also told students to “show that you are not just copying and pasting” and try to do more research on the person or company. Then, they should give a personal paragraph with specific details that add a more personal element.

About the Author

Allison Zhang

Allison Zhang

Allison is a Business Analytics Writer at Girls For Business.

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