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Catawba College Hosts Panel Discussion on “How to Succeed in the Real World”

April 01, 2016

Category: Alumni, Events, Staff

IMG_8500.JPGCatawba College Career Services and C2C (Catawba to Career) hosted an informative panel discussion for young women addressing how to be successful in the workforce.

An impressive panel of professional women discussed relevant topics and each shared insightful ideas. Some of their insights are below:

Does doing the right thing mean sticking to your principles?
You know your strengths and weaknesses, go after whatever it is that you want. Everyone has an opinion of what you should do. But listen to your own voice. Don't feel bad about sticking up for yourself. There is a right way and a wrong way to approach it. Make sure you follow the right way. Learn something from every experience. Work hard in everything you do. Great things come about by hard work, not luck.

Self-confidence in the workplace; is it OK to fail?
Confidence is one of the most important things in the workplace. Hard work leads to increased confidence. Learning new things sometimes will lower your confidence. But realize there is a learning curve, and you will gain confidence as you master new tasks. Rely on others during this time, confidence will come. Confidence stems from preparation. Make a list. This helps you prepare for whatever task you need to do. If you are not confident in yourself, no one else will be confident in you. You will make mistakes. Own them and be confident in the resolution. The saying "Fake it 'til you make it" applies here. You will not know it all at first. But work hard toward your goal. Focus on key words you find yourself saying and work to change them to more confident words. Many businesses are still male-driven. Often you have to have a tough skin. Do not belittle someone to make yourself look good. Admit when you make a mistake, admit when you are wrong. Learn from it. Don't let fear of failure hold you back.

Networking and mentoring:
These are critical to success. You don't always have to rely on a mentor, you can also learn by being a mentor. You can learn from both roles. Don't be afraid to ask someone to be a mentor. When talking to someone, you don't have to phrase it as being a mentor. You can say something like, "If I have a question, can I e-mail you?" People like to offer help. Never turn down an invitation to a meeting, social function, or networking possibility. You never know where the people you meet or the business card you collect will lead. It may lead to a great opportunity. Make sure you use a firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile.

Keys to Success in your First Job/Looking to the Future:
Learn everything you can in your first job. But usually your first job will not be lasting. Don't be afraid to move on. Put in the time it takes for that job. Always do your best in that job. But don't let fear hold you back. You never know who you'll meet and what impression you made that could lead to a future job or position. Don't think that your major is so specific. Explore different ways to use your major, branch out. If you don't love your job, don't be afraid to change.

Balancing home, work, family, self:
Balancing these is very difficult. Always take care of yourself first. Focus on what you love. For women, family is our legacy. You are the strength of your family. Use time blocking. Don't bring your family or personal life to work, and don't bring your work into family life. Make your schedule flexible, have hobbies and interests. Don't feel guilty about setting time aside for yourself. Your life partner is a very important aspect of this. Discuss everything with them. And let them help you with the balance.

Giving back to yourself, others, your community, your college:
It is very important to give back. It is important to be part of the team. If you don't have money to give, then give your time and talents. Giving back is humbling. It helps keep the community going, it is fun, it is life-changing, and it is rewarding. Make sure the way you give or the project or organization you give is meaningful to you.


About the Panelists:
The panelists included:

  • Megan Spidell '09, Catawba College Honors alumna and graduate of Elon University School of Law. She is the managing attorney of the Greensboro office for Dummit Fradin, practicing primarily family law. She is a recipient of the Super Lawyers: Rising Stars award, and recognized as Business North Carolina's Legal Elite;
  • Summer Sturgill, 2008 graduate of UNC-Wilmington who joined Enterprise Rent-A-Car and has worked her way up the corporate ladder;
  • Jacqueline Jensen '11, Catawba alumna and Retail Chain Account manager with Empire Distributors of North Carolina, Inc.;
  • Meredith Abramson '96, Catawba alumna and middle school teacher with Rowan-Salisbury Schools. She is the winner of the North Carolina Association of Educator's Terry Sanford Award and runner-up Teacher of the Year for the district. She also manages an art business, Whimziggy;
  • Desiree Pugh '03, Catawba alumna who received both academic and athletic scholarships. She has been a web developer and graphic designer. This year, she joined Keller Williams as a realtor.

    Alumna Darlene Ball '62 served as moderator. Ms. Ball has enjoyed a long career in the textile industry. She currently serves as chair of Catawba's Board of Trustees.