“Don’t ever underestimate confidence. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing at the moment, act like you do. Fake it until you can make it.”
These are just some of the words of wisdom imparted to about 175 students, mostly women along with several men, from business classes, faculty, staff, and guests by a panel of prominent women business and community leaders at the Successful Women Leaders Symposium hosted by the College of Business and Public Policy at California State University, Dominguez Hills on Feb. 25 in the Loker Student Union.
The diverse group of women, director of recruitment at Northwestern Mutual Kristin Burke, attorney at law Sonia Waisman, professor emeritus of nursing at El Camino College Linda Leon, and alumna Alice Harris (Class of ’76, B.A., Sociology), a community organizer and founder and executive director of Parents of Watts, shared insights into how they found success in their careers as well as advice for students who are preparing for or are early in their careers.
“Start thinking about some careers and professions that interest you and then look in your own network and see ‘who do I know in my network?’ in that job, in that career, that profession, call them up, take them out for coffee, pick their brain. [From an] informational interview, you can learn a ton about what you want to do, where you fit in, in that way,” said Burke who also recommended students read Tom Rath’s book, “Strengthfinder 2.0,” as a way to learn about where their strengths lie.
Blanka Salgadl, a senior majoring in business, said the discussion was “motivational and inspirational.”
“I’m really looking forward to finding a mentor so the person can guide me through my path to success and also be more confident. Sometimes I’m intimidated by people, and I have an accent and I’m afraid that people are going to judge me because of my accent, but there’s more to [me than] that,” she said.
CBAPP Advisory Board member, Michael Grimshaw, who is a trainer at the Small Business Development Center-El Camino, president of the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center, and a professor of business and entrepreneurship at Marymount College in Palos Verdes, said women are becoming a force in the business world, especially in forming small businesses.
“I help people be successful by starting small businesses, and I see women really, really overtaking and being successful in that field because, one, they’re smart, organized, focused, have some creative ideas, and they’re not afraid to communicate,” Grimshaw said. “[S]mart women … excel in the fields that they’re in, and now they have an opportunity to share that with everybody here [at CSU Dominguez Hills].”
The symposium was the second of a series sponsored by CBAPP. For more information about CBAPP, visit www4.csudh.edu/cbapp.
Wyahee Turckile, a freshman majoring in communications, contributed with the reporting of this story.