Making Career Connections

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Yeshiva University Women in Business Initiative Bonds Students With Mentors to Chart Professional Journeys 

On March 22, aspiring business students at Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business met successful women in a wide range of careers who will help them blaze their own professional paths as part of the Yeshiva University Career Center‘s Women in Business Initiative. The mentoring program was designed to help students navigate everything from the potential inequities women face in job searches and workplaces to the unique challenges and work-life balance challenges religious women may encounter on the job.

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Yehudis Owrutsky (left) and Shani Hava (second from right) speak with Debra Malki, a consultant for business development and global human resources (second from left) and Debbie Kamioner (right), associate director of global talent at Young & Rubicam.

“We created the Women in Business Initiative to encourage interested students on the Beren Campus to launch business careers,” said Marc Goldman, executive director of the Career Center.

Twenty students were selected through an application and interview process that began in January. During February and March, they met with counselors in the Career Center to energize their résumés, practice interview skills, review professional etiquette and prepare for their initial meetings with their mentors.

The Career Center then matched the students’ interests with mentors selected from a broad cross-section of the professional world, including women working in accounting, corporate compliance, sales and new business development, talent recruitment, investment, banking, real estate, media and engineering.

The March 22 meeting was the first time the mentors and students had the opportunity to meet and talk face-to-face. The students prepared for the meeting with extensive research on their mentors and lists of questions to steer their conversations.

To maximize the benefits of having such a wide range of successful professionals and talented students in one room, the Career Center staff set up a version of musical chairs so that every student got to meet every mentor. After five minutes of spirited discussion, each student moved one seat to her right for another five minutes, and so on until the last meeting resulted in the student and her mentor finally having a chance to meet.

Journalism major Sara Marcus from Springfield, New Jersey, has a strong interest in disability advocacy, and was able to connect with Rochelle Kohn, director of disability services at Yeshiva University. “I like writing,” Marcus said, “and I want to use my writing to raise awareness around disability issues and effect change. Being able to work with Ms. Kohn is really exciting.”

Tzipora Baitch, another journalism major from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has a real love of the profession and serves as a staff member of the YU Observer, and having written several pieces for other publications. But Baitch’s true desire is to extend her reach into all aspects of the media. Her mentor, Sandee Brawarsky, a writer and author at The New York Jewish Week, was the perfect complement for her goal.

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The mentors found their encounters with the students beneficial and invigorating. Sue Weston, an industrial engineer, has been connected to the Women in Business Initiative since last December, when she gave a keynote address titled “The Power of a Mentor” at a kick-off event. “I love working with these young women,” she noted, especially as she counsels women about how to pursue careers in a male-dominated vocation like engineering. “I want to help them avoid some of the mistakes we made coming up through the ranks.”

Liz Roth, senior technical programmer at KPMG, echoed these sentiments as she spoke about her career in computer programming, a field she has worked in since the 1980s. “I am very involved in diversity efforts at my company,” she said, “and I’m working to make it possible for women to take time off to have a family without losing their place on the career track. This is why I find mentoring such a great experience—it’s about helping these women find their way.”

After this meeting between mentors and mentees, the pairs will see each other twice more before early May. The shape and direction of their meetings are completely up to the people involved but are geared to extending the personal relationship and gathering important tips about how to navigate the journey towards a fulfilling career and life.

“The Women in Business Initiative allows the Career Center to connect with students early in their studies at Yeshiva University, facilitating their career planning and preparing and empowering them to manage their own successful internship and job searches,” said Susan Bauer, director of employer and alumni relations. “This is accomplished through an educational, supportive, and structured personalized strategic plan for the participating women.”

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