By Lauren Herber, Co-Editor
In light of my other article this week on third wave feminism, I wanted to highlight some opportunities on campus that allow female Tbirds to network and find support in their professional growth. While all the clubs on campus are open to and beneficial to female students, there are a couple of on-campus clubs that cater more specifically to women’s professional needs. For me personally, these resources have been invaluable because I started the MAGAM program with very little professional work experience. I’ve received guidance on everything from how to dress professionally without sacrificing my personal style to how to speak to my peers in a confident way that demands respect. On days that I feel like my voice will never be heard or my career goals will never be realized, it’s reassuring and helpful to know that there are like-minded groups of women on campus that I can turn to for support and inspiring female alumnae that I can turn to for advice.
One such resource is the Women’s International Business Club (WIBC). Led by Thunderbird women for Thunderbird women, the WIBC offers everything from informative, business-oriented speaker sessions to creative, relaxing paint nights. “Women are still a minority demographic at Thunderbird,” comments club president Salma Kemmou (MAGAM ’17, US and Morocco). “This is an important club because it’s a place that women can get together and network with other professional women, engage in fun activities, and support one another.” One of the club’s biggest goals for the semester is to promote more involvement of the female alumnae and other outside professional women. “I want to provide the members as many opportunities to meet and listen to other professional women through presentations and social events,” says Salma. Some of the club’s activities to look forward to this semester are a self-defense class, several guest speaker sessions (with topics ranging from interview skills to dressing professionally), a collaborative cultural dining event hosted with other Thunderbird clubs, cooking and painting classes, and opportunities to volunteer in the community. Last semester, I attended a Zumba fitness class hosted by the WIBC. It was a great way to de-stress, connect, and laugh during finals.
Another great resource for women (and men, too!) who are interested in careers in the fashion industry is the new Business of Fashion Club (BOFC). Started by Allison Skabrat (MAGAM ’17, US) this semester, the club aims to elicit what a career in fashion would look like for a Thunderbird graduate. “Working in fashion isn’t just painting-by-numbers,” says Allison. “It’s a multitrillion dollar industry full of employment opportunities. I want to contradict the misconception that fashion is all polka dots. In fact, most fashion jobs require hard business skills, the same skills we are learning at Thunderbird.” Personally, I’m thrilled about what this club has to offer. This club is a great example that women don’t have to reject or hide their femininity in order to be perceived as strong, intelligent, or business-minded people. BOFC is a great opportunity for male Tbirds as well. “The industry provides jobs in marketing, consulting, supply chain, operations, and more,” says Allison. Additionally, the club will focus on issues of sustainability and ethical business practices, making the club a good resource for students interested in corporate social responsibility as well. “We’ll use a multicultural approach to brainstorm better solutions for the fashion industry,” adds Allison. “Students shouldn’t write off fashion jobs just because of any preconceived notions they may have about the industry. It’s a huge industry that needs all types of employees.” Some events to look forward to include a fashion show viewing, guest speakers from the fashion industry, and showings and discussions of documentaries related to fashion and sustainability.
Finally, attending alumni events in another great resource for female T-birds. From my experience, all of the alumnae I’ve met so far have been eager to share their experiences with me and offer me their guidance. And I’ve met some truly amazing women: women who have started their own nonprofit organizations, women who have their own businesses, women who have highly influential and powerful positions in huge companies, and more. Despite the busyness of their schedules, all of them were willing to take time out of their day to speak with me on the phone or even in person. The information and advice that I’ve gleaned from these women is invaluable and extremely inspiring. Plus, they genuinely want to help T-birds succeed in any way that they can, especially women! Don’t let this resource go to waste. There are plenty of opportunities to meet Thunderbird alumni. First Tuesday is a great place to start, and you’re in luck: February’s First Tuesday is next week (February 2). The pressure of summer internships is mounting, so don’t waste any more time. Grab a friend, head to first Tuesday, and introduce yourself to some of the alumni. You won’t regret it!
For more information regarding the Women’s International Business Club, email Salma Kemmou at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding the Business of Fashion Club, email Allison Skabrat at email@example.com.