Dream bigger and be bolder in planning your future while you’re still in college. This is the sage advice a global HR executive advised recent female high school grads preparing for their freshmen year pursuing STEM degrees. Each student had been awarded a four-year renewable ITWomen scholarship in June.
Melissa Martin, SPHR, Citrix’ Director of Global Employee Relations and Compliance, told the girls that they already had a lot going for them by virtue of being scholarship recipients and female.
“This industry is dying for talent and diversity,” she said.
“The big question is not whether [you’ll get job offers], or learning the art of job applications or interviews, but what are you going to do with all your education?”
Melissa was speaking at a unique event August 5, centered around a video production of interviews with the 2017 ITWomen scholarship recipients. Included were members of the students’ families, Citrix volunteers, and ITWomen officers. Hosted at Citrix, the video production day in support of scholarship recipients and encourage younger girls to pursue tech was initiated and organized by ITWomen member Madisen Farley in 2015.
Ways to Open New Horizons
To think beyond job resumes and descriptions, Melissa suggested ways to explore different paths early:
- Look at products you think are cool.
- Think geographically: Is there anywhere you’d like to live?
- Keep a journal to sort out your true feelings.
- Pay attention to what scares you, and why.
What Price Are You Willing to Pay?
“One of the most important questions to ask yourself is what price are you willing to pay for your perfect job?” Melissa said.
By example, she relayed a story about a young man whose girlfriend dismissed his chosen occupation, dentistry, so much that he considered giving it up. In the end, he chose to stay with his career path. Ultimately he fell in love with a woman who was also in the medical field, and he has never looked back. Sometimes you may have to choose between a person and your dreams, she said.
“You pay the price. It’s conscious living.”
Visualize Your Dream, Don’t Wait to Be Bold
While in college visualize in detail your future self. “There is a lot of power in seeing yourself as you want to be.”
“Be politely bold,” she urged. For example, email a CEO to ask for a meeting. Master your Elevator Pitch. Brainstorm all possible paths and solutions.
Don’t stop at the first obstacle, she added.
“Most people will not say ‘no’ to you, not because they are not nice, but because they are conflict adverse!”
“And never forget in interviews that you are the product. It’s all about marketing . . . and remember that your questions are just as important in interviews as your answers.”
The message is that the more you explore options and get to know yourself through reflection, journaling, and pursuing opportunities while in college, the more focused you can be on what you truly want and how to get there after graduation.
— Christine Zambrano
ITWomen VP Digital Content