Meredith College’s Office of Career Planning (OCP) and Office of Alumnae Relations partnered with Catalyst, the nation’s leading nonprofit with a mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion, to sponsor the Strong Women to Success event on Tuesday, March 28. The goal of the event was to help students learn how to be successful in their careers, and to teach them about the importance of sponsorship in the professional world.
The first part of the event was a networking hour, where students and alumnae were able to communicate, interact, and build new connections. Katie Peterssen, assistant director of career development in OCP, believes networking is extremely important during the job search. “Eighty percent or more of jobs are filled based on referral,” Peterssen said. “A lot of jobs don’t get posted on the job sites because they rely on building connections and relationships, so a lot of it really is who you know.”
Peterssen learned about Catalyst last year during a conference in Chicago. Catalyst shares a lot of similar values with Meredith, such as advancing women in the workplace, and having a strong, diverse work environment. She thought it would be a great opportunity and hopes to continue this partnership.
Katy Breitenbach, senior director of US strategy and corporate relations for Catalyst, was the guest speaker. Breitenbach discussed the importance of sponsorship in careers, especially for women in the workforce. “Mentorship is necessary in careers, but sponsorship is needed for advancement,” said Breitenbach. “It’s about who you know, but it’s also about who knows you.”
As Breitenbach explained, the difference between mentorship and sponsorship is mentorship is someone you can talk with while sponsorship is someone who talks about you. Both are important in the workplace, but sponsorship is important for advancement.
The event concluded with a panel discussion that included three Meredith alumnae in different stages of their careers. The panel members were Josephine Cooper, ’67, Kate Breen, ’01, and Angie Ramkellawan Kondub, ’14. These women discussed the role of sponsorship and mentorship in their careers, and how it has helped them be successful thus far.
Breitenbach said, “this event is all about providing information, real-life examples, and guidance around how to take charge of your career and aspirations, and how to utilize mentorship and sponsorship as a means of support to achieve those aspirations.”
“I really loved that the event was sponsored by Catalyst,” said Neema Kimaru, ’17. “I learned so much about how to rise up as a woman in the workplace, and since I’ll be entering the workforce soon this event was so beneficial for me.”
The goal of this event was to open doors for women students, and teach them how to build their careers and relationships to open more doors in the future. “I hope the students and alums that attended are able to build connections and relationships,” said Peterssen. “I hope they walked away with strategies and ideas for their own career path.”
By Molly Horton, ’17