Last Saturday, the Bowdoin Women in Business Club (BWIB) welcomed 15 female speakers to campus for its annual Bowdoin Women in Business Spring Convention. The convention gave female students the opportunity to learn more about career preparation, networking and leadership in areas ranging from media to technology.
"These women are always so inspirational, just to listen to them would be fantastic," said BWIB Co-President Rori Cremer '11.
The convention has been held sporadically for the past five years. This year's event was sponsored jointly by the Student Activities Funding Committee, the Women's Resource Center and Career Planning. Notable guests included Kathleen Shannon, news anchor with WCSH 6; Paula Volent, senior vice president of Investments at the College; and Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power Company.
The convention, an all-day affair held in Moulton Union, consisted of three breakout sessions throughout the day. Approximately 50 students, including seven from Bates, attended the convention. The students were assigned to the sessions depending on individual preferences for media, law, technology, finance, entrepreneurship or marketing.
BWIB Co-Presidents Cremer and Karin Schmidt '11 began organizing the event in October.
"We were presidents last year and so we sort of saw [the convention] from the inside...we saw where we could improve," said Cremer. "The biggest thing that we felt like we needed was...a little bit more time. I'd say we weren't nearly as stressed this year as we were last year."
For ideas and speakers, Cremer emailed past convention guests and searched the Bowdoin Career Advisory Network (BCAN). In order to expand the number of speakers, Cremer and Schmidt invited guests from Portland, Boston and other local areas.
"I think it was a good opportunity for the [BWIB] members to take up leadership roles," said Schmidt. "[It gave] the opportunity for students to network."
"We also hoped to just get our name out there so that more women will join our club," she added.
Paula Volent, the day's first keynote speaker, opened the event by speaking about her experiences as an art curator, businesswoman and then assistant treasurer at Bowdoin. She encouraged female students not to be intimidated by careers in finance or business, but to "assert yourself and not be afraid to apply or to aspire to some of these jobs."
Volent emphasized that women today have a "great and privileged opportunity" to choose their careers.
"The myth of having one job for the rest of your life is not ever going to happen to you," she said. "You're going to find that thing you're passionate about that you never anticipated."
Volent also spoke about the struggle to balance a career with family.
"One of the things I want to emphasize is that the myth of...superwoman is not a good myth," she said. "You should realize that there is no superwoman. Everyone is who they are."
The convention concluded with a speech by Stanford Management CEO Rosa Scarcelli, followed by a networking tea. The closing meeting gave students the opportunity to speak with guests and alumni about their careers and interests.
In the future, Cremer and Schmidt hope to increase student attendance and augment BWIB club members' involvement in the convention. They also hope to invite more students from Bates and Colby.
For now, Cremer reflected upon the success of the convention, and was particularly satisfied by the fact that it was "completely student-run."
"I feel like there were so many good speakers," Cremer said. "I want to be a businesswoman now."