Lehigh’s Women in Business organization hosted its annual spring conference, allowing students to engage in networking opportunities, panel discussions and workshops.
The event took place on Feb. 26 in Mountain Top Building C with around 180 students, alumni and other members of the Lehigh community in attendance.
Women in Business is a student-run organization seeking to promote its members’ personal and professional development by engaging them in activities and workshops supporting business skills and etiquette.
The organization helps students connect and hear from successful women in the business industry.
“What we aim to do is provide a lot of different networking opportunities for a variety of industries for women in business,” co-president Ellie DeGeorges, ‘23, said. “We really want to open as many doors for women at Lehigh as possible.”
This year’s conference titled, “The Power of You: Creating and Defining Your Path,” returned to in-person following last year’s move to a virtual setting as a result of the pandemic.
DeGeorges said getting to meet professionals face-to-face is an invaluable experience, so she was glad they were able to deliver it to the Lehigh community.
“So much has happened with COVID – a lot of opportunities have been taken away,” DeGeorges said. “It’s hard to really meet someone on camera over Zoom, and I think that being able to do that in-person is huge, and that’s what I think really sets our conference apart and makes it a super amazing opportunity.”
Following the pandemic, this year’s conference focused on training students on how to value themselves in the business world during uncertain times, as well as how to plan a path that is right for each of their individual career journeys.
Taking almost a year of planning and coordination, Women in Business runs one of the biggest networking events on campus.
Co-president, Priya Bhatnagar, ’22, said planning these events is a cumbersome process with a lot of moving parts. She said their work starts with figuring out a budget and getting sponsors. Then, they must figure out how to get attendees, panelists and workshop hosts by reaching out to their alumni networks and discussing with their Board of Trustees.
“It’s not a small conference,” Bhatnagar said. “It takes a lot of planning on our end just to make sure it runs smoothly. We have a faculty advisor, but we are a purely student-run club. So, it’s really on our backs on top of our classes, and it takes some time.”
This year, the conference featured several big names in business, including Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, which attracted many students hoping to make connections to receive guidance for internships or job opportunities.
Many students also attended the day-long event to hear stories and advice from a group of female Lehigh alumni in attendance.
“I’m just here to try to figure out what I want to do,” Julia Kirkpatrick, ‘24, said. “I want to hear about everyone else’s experience, I want to talk to everyone. I’m also so excited to network with these different people and companies and to get to hear all about them.”
In addition to networking, during the conference, which spanned from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students could attend three panels and partake in three workshops.
One panel titled, “From Failure to Confidence, Resiliency, and Authenticity,” hosted by five female Lehigh graduates, facilitated discussion on how to move past a hardship and learn from pitfalls to become stronger and more successful – both in the workplace and life in general.
The day ended with a keynote address by returning speaker Alita Friedman, ‘87, a consummate entrepreneur and brand advisor who formed her own branding and licensing company in 2014.
Bhatnagar described Friedman, who was also the keynote speaker for the 2020 conference, as someone who took a more unconventional path in her career.
“(Friedman) grew this small company that she started on our (her) own to become this massive, successful conglomerate,” Bhatnagar said. “We thought she had a different path than the traditional one and that it would be good for our younger students at Lehigh to hear.”