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Women in Business: Preparing students for life after college

New IU Northwest student organization provides networking, professional development, leadership opportunities

Student Activities Mar 1, 2024
A group of women sit on two sides of a table.
Women in Business members participate in a speed networking event with area business professionals.

From helping students gain confidence for in-person networking events to openly discussing the challenges they may face in the workplace, Indiana University Northwest’s Women in Business (WIB) is preparing students for life after college and setting them up for real-world success.

Starting in the fall of 2023, the organization is open to all IU Northwest students and aims to foster personal, professional, leadership and entrepreneurial development and success.

WIB was spearheaded by two IU Northwest leaders: Jaclyn Barkow, Clinical Assistant Professor of Accounting, and Symphony Raudry, Graduate Programs Coordinator/Lecturer in Business and lecturer for the School of Business and Economics.

“We started WIB to support and encourage students and strengthen the school’s focus on increasing student engagement,” Barkow said.

“Any student can join, and it’s not only a way to get involved on campus, but it complements the academic experience by providing practical opportunities, such as developing soft skills and learning ways to navigate the workplace after graduation. It’s also a good way for students to learn from one another and grow their network.”

“Through WIB, students learn to get out of their comfort zones,” Raudry added. “It could be something simple like learning how to introduce themselves to a complete stranger, delivering an elevator pitch or even talking about their own successes — important skills which help to make professional connections.”

Women in Business members attend a Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association networking event.

Building connections, forming a network

Many current students face obstacles, in some cases, that are greater than they were for past generations. Not only did they grow up with the internet — technology meant to connect people that often results in the opposite — many were in high school or newly in college during the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing was the norm and learning shifted online.

“I started college in the middle of the pandemic,” said senior Business Administration major Lorena Carbajal, WIB vice president. “All my classes were online, and I just wanted to get involved.”

Initially interested in WIB to connect with her fellow IU Northwest students and receive some resume help, Carbajal quickly realized there was more to gain.

“The networking experiences were very helpful,” she said. “I realized that when I was out talking to people, I got anxious and didn’t know how to make introductions. It was also hard for me to talk about myself, but I soon realized that to stand out in a crowd, you have to learn how to ‘sell’ yourself a little. Being involved in WIB has helped me grow and become more comfortable during networking opportunities.”

Carbajal also learned how to refine her interviewing skills and says that helped her secure an outside sales internship with Steel Cities Steels, a provider of carbon, aluminum and stainless steel products based in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Upcoming Women in Business Events

Students involved in WIB, like Carbajal, are connected with leaders within their area of study and meet monthly on a mentor-mentee basis to discuss and plan several on- and off-campus activities, including professional workshops, speaker events and fundraisers.

By doing so, the students learn important professional aptitudes like project management, leadership and communication skills.

Some WIB activities are in collaboration with other groups, such as the campus’s Latinx Community Advancement Program, IU Northwest’s Women and Gender Studies program or events with local groups, like the Junior Achievement chapter.

According to Raudry, another feature of the organization is helping students understand they’re not alone in potentially facing today’s challenges of corporate America. Issues ranging from maternity leave and career advancement, to pay disparity and sexual harassment. By offering students the opportunity to network with women already navigating the workplace, students can learn from their experiences so they’re better prepared if they should experience similar challenges.

“Although there’s been a lot of advancements since women have been in the workforce, the job’s not done,” Raudry said. “As much as we’d like to tell students they won’t experience these things, that’s not always the case. Having honest conversations with women with those experiences is extremely useful to our students.”

Raudry says that because WIB’s primary goal is to prepare students for life after college, no matter what industry they land in, non-business students are also encouraged to join the organization.

“Students in programs like nursing or dental education may not have the same networking opportunities business students may have,” Barkow said. “That’s why we established WIB as inclusive for all majors — and men, too — because they’re going into the workplace alongside women as colleagues.”

To learn more about WIB, or to join the organization, please contact Jaclyn Barkow or Symphony Raudry.

IU 2030: Student Success and Opportunity
IU Northwest will ensure the long-term success of all students while remaining grounded in our unique identity as an Hispanic-Serving Institution and as a Minority-Serving Institution, with a commitment to meeting the needs of our entire student body.

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