June 23, 2014
By: Sara Marron
This week at ICSC, eight fresh faces mixed with some of the top female executives for a casual luncheon to discuss professionalism in the corporate world and tips for building a successful career. All of the interns for the summer 2014 were invited, and we agreed it was informative, and inspiring. I work in the Publishing Department with Patricia Montagni, Director of Publications, on professional books dealing with the industry’s major disciplines such as leasing, marketing, management, retailing, development, and design, and I’ve been learning from the moment I stepped off the elevator onto the forty-first floor.
Corporate settings are shifting from the male dominated, suit-and-tie wearing environments that exclude women from powerful positions. Instead, the board room was filled with confident women; college students sitting next to senior managers. We discussed LinkedIn and the “new resume” over pizza and cookies. After a round of introductions, the executive women took a hold of the room, conducting and educating us with vivacity and zeal.
Janet Cortazzi, Staff Vice President of Human Resources and Office Services, emphatically urged the interns to mind their etiquette during the interview process. Post-interview thank you notes were debated around the table: do you send digitally, or via snail-mail? Some women agreed that the sentiment of the handwritten note is unique and sets a candidate apart, while others firmly stated that the immediacy of the email must be the prime concern. Cortazzi’s years in Human Resources have provided her laughable stories about the one-liner thank you notes and job inquiries that are simply dismissed.
Sarah Ritchie, Manager of Leadership Development, organized the luncheon in order to introduce the next generation of female businesswomen to the accomplished, poised, and powerful mentors that hold executive positions at ICSC. Ashley Smith, Strategic Initiatives Manager, has an impressive resume and a smooth, calm demeanor that extends to those around her. She admitted that after college and in her first entry level job, she still didn’t have a clear idea about what she wanted to do. Encouraging us to make connections, network, follow-up, and stay in touch with the professionals we meet was her advice for moving forward in the business world.
Leslie M. Fox added a similar sentiment to Smith’s advice about pursing a career path. Fox is the Director of Legislative Outreach and is responsible for developing awareness for policy relating to retail real estate through grassroots campaigns. In response to a question raised by Veronica Polanco, a Communications and Business major at Cornell University, about the disparate gap between male and female salary in the workplace, Fox said that, when she was young, she had the energy and the drive to put in “a 100 hour work week, no big deal.” After working a few entry level jobs, she said that the key to success and happiness in the workplace is not making a ton of money, but finding a job that you feel is the right fit for you socially, financially, and with your career goals. Balance is key, otherwise the money and the hours will quickly upset the quality of your work and attitude.
Sarah Malcom, Director of New Media, made another important contribution to the discussion. She pointed out from her experience at Macy’s that the workplace is all about perception: you are what people see. Stand up and take the big projects that no one wants. Offer to do the work when the company is in trouble, even when there seems to be no benefit to you; management will notice, and if they don’t, keep a list! Your projects list will come in handy at your yearly review. Montagni added that those who ask for more work and complete things efficiently are the ones most-likely to move up within the company.
Going into any interview, it’s important to keep yourself organized. There are three points to consider that can help you market the ‘you’ that will win over the HR department and convince them that you are passionate about the job, and perfect for it.
- Career Objective
- Your skill set (3 points)
- Personal Appeal
Have a clear, yet flexible or open-minded career-objective. Your skill set should be naturally woven into the conversation with the interviewer. But if you have a bad interviewer, Cortazzi pointed out, you may have to get them back on track by leading the conversation. Keep yourself organized and clear headed with your objective in mind. The personal appeal simply means: Let your personality come through. Rhonda Payne, Staff Vice President, Education Certification, said likability is crucial because no one wants to work with someone they dislike. The reverse is true as well. If you have a terrible interview experience, the company may not be a good fit for you.
The ICSC Ladies Luncheon was a huge success for all involved. A miniature NextGen event in itself, the time allowed for a positive exchange of ideas and experience.
New to the city, our interns this year are coming from homes and schools in a variety of states such as: New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and Arizona. The Summer 2014 Female Interns are: Gabby Groh, University of Michigan; Alexandra Bolhack; Vanderbilt University; Nicole Costa, Elon University; Elizabeth Hunziker, University of Gettysburg; Jessica Nossek, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Sara Marron, St. John’s University; Veronica Polonca, Cornell University; Sara Sherwood, University of Philadelphia.