Mentorship program encourages future female business leaders
Elizabeth Molina knows she wants a career in business, so she was inspired to hear from a panel of United Way employees in their first year on the job.
“I really connected to them, especially because they were young and jumping into a new career,” said Molina, a sophomore in marketing.
Molina is among 12 UIC students selected for the Future Leaders Program run by the Chicago Network, a professional organization for women leaders. The Chicago Network approached UIC and St. Xavier University last year to start the mentorship program. Participants spend a day at a nonprofit and for-profit business to explore career paths; they are invited to Chicago Network-sponsored dinners, talks and other events.
“This program enables young, talented women to explore the full spectrum of what it takes to run successful businesses and nonprofits,” said Kate Bensen, Chicago Network president and CEO. “We hope that this program opens the doors to new career possibilities and that they come away with an appreciation of how multifaceted and rich a career can be.”
UIC students visited the United Way offices May 11, where they met employees, heard a career panel discussion and received hands-on résumé advice.
“The vice president of finance gave first-hand knowledge of the cycle of nonprofit work and that was really interesting to me, as a future accountant,” said Thu Nguyen, junior in accounting.
The UIC group visited the ABC7 Chicago studios May 15. The students sat in the audience for a taping of “Windy City Live,” then chatted with the show hosts and met staff in news, business, sales and marketing. They were featured on a segment about the Future Leaders program on that day’s 4 p.m. broadcast.
“It was really interesting to see and learn about the inside of television and news in general,” said Ashley Pimentel, junior in industrial engineering.
Before the visits, students were coached by UIC Career Services staff on professional dress and formulating good questions, said Thy Nguyen, director of Career Services.
“The program really gives students exposure to various sectors of a company or an organization,” he said. “What really stood out at both organizations was when the contacts shared their career stories. In a company information session or a job fair, they don’t do that often.”
Benson said she was impressed by the students’ maturity, intelligence and commitment to education.
“Many of these women, besides having incredibly full plates of school and part-time jobs, also volunteer and give back,” she said. “They are an extraordinarily special group and we are privileged to have them as our UIC Future Leaders.”