Brenda founded Providing Opportunity for Women in 2015 when her and a group of friends recognized the need for a women’s business organization at SFSU. She graduated in 2017 and worked in Technology Investment Banking at a bulge bracket firm. Brenda is now transitioning into a new career as an investment associate at a mutual fund. She will be researching and investing in companies listed on the stock market.
What was your first real experience like at POW? When did you know this idea was going to be a success?
It was one of the first workshops we did, called the FEAR workshop, led by one of the founders, Jessica Aldus. FEAR stood for “False Expectations of Appearing Real”. It was an exercise about how we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because we think things are going to be a certain way, but it turns out our expectations are usually blown out of proportion.
We passed around a flashcard asking students questions like “What is your biggest fear, professionally or academically?” Then we got into groups and tried to figure out what are other ways to frame this, so that it wouldn’t be a fear. Then everyone shared their “fears”, and it was a huge emotional experience. It became this huge emotionally thing. And we figured out that everyone has the same fears and that you’re not alone. It had a huge impact on everyone, including me.
The room was just packed. There were 30 people, all women - women from business, some from the design school, some liberal arts people. Everyone’s jaws dropped. People were telling us that this was the best workshop they’ve ever been to from a student org, saying “How did you organize something like this?” And we all looked at each other saying, “Ok, this is going to be good.” We’re definitely going to make a positive impact here at SFSU.
What is one goal you accomplished while being in POW?
Aside from building all of the programs from the ground up, we [the founders] put together a list of values that drive the organization forward. Any new or existing initiative that we took on had to pass the value test. If it doesn’t pass this value or that value, why are we doing it? We had a mission, we had a vision, and we had values. We worked hard to establish the right culture. It was quite an accomplishment, and we were adamant about doing the right thing.
What is your ideal lifestyle or end goal?
When I look at people that I aspire to be like, or people that I admire, the thing that I admire most are those who give back. The reason why I’m here today is not because of what I did, but because of the people who helped me along the way.
There’s this person named Chris Haroun who used to teach at SFSU, he was a big Venture Capitalist and investor. He’s done it all in finance. He started his own company, his own venture fund. I met him when I was in college. He will go to the end of the Earth to help someone. I think so fondly about that characteristic, that quality of his. I just think “When I retire, I want someone to think that about me.” And if I were to tell him how many times he’s helped me, he would turn around and tell me, “Is that it? I wish I could have helped you more.” That’s the kind of person he is. That’s the definition of success for me and I hope that I will do that one day.
What was your favorite thing about POW?
Getting to work with some of the smartest women, like my friends, in trying to build this organization. It's a shared common goal that we had. We tried to problem-solve together, basically running a mini company. That’s probably my favorite thing about POW: the people aspect, trying to get to work with people I enjoy spending my time with and being able to understand what it’s like to build an organization.
Some of the professionals that we met - they were incredible. The amount of resources they offered, and the most important one being the resource of time. They gave so much of their time in order to help us.
What was one of your most favorite memories during POW?
The speaker series had a huge impact on me because each speaker taught me something new. The first speaker we had was Dawn Dobras. She’s a rockstar, a businesswoman, she’s worked at huge companies and built a lot of start-ups from the ground up. She is the CEO of an incredible startup called Credo Beauty. I remember her telling us this statistic on women-run businesses. She said that women-run businesses are on the rise because of AWS [Amazon Web Services]. Because AWS makes it so easy and cheap for anyone to build their business on top of AWS. Before AWS, the people who could afford to build large digital businesses were people who had access to a lot of capital. Generally the people who had access to a lot of capital don’t look like you and me [women]. Dawn and all of the other speakers had their own insight on how the world is becoming a better place.
Another favorite thing is becoming really close to the leadership team. We had social events to get to know everyone and attract members. One of the things we did was we went swing dancing - we went into town to a place that had a live band and an instructor that taught the steps for swing dancing. We just went swing dancing all night with 20 women. We bonded and we had a lot of fun.
How do you apply the things that you've learned during the workshops to your job?
I’ve applied the skills I’ve learned from POW basically every day. The Fear Workshop comes in handy because I’m the type of person that will blow everything out of proportion. I try to keep that exercise in mind all the time.
The resume workshops are gold, it’s the reason why I’ve gotten my foot in the door every time.
The Speaker Series, when you get perspective from different people, different parts of the world, different industries, it opens your eyes to look at problems not from a myopic view, but rather try to analyze things from a 360 view. Speaker Series really opens up your world view at how you approach life, business, work, or anything.
What accomplishments are you most proud of while being in POW?
It took a while to realize this, but I am proud of my legacy at POW. When I get emails from someone I never met telling me that POW has impacted their life so much, that they got an internship or dream job because of it. Or if a student from POW says, “Hey, do you want to meet up? I’d love to have some coffee with you and meet you,” those are probably the best accomplishments.
By Felicity Chisom Jika
The saying goes, “It doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know.” The more you go out in the real world to build your career, the more you realize how true it is. In a study of about 3,000 people, done by Lou Adler, CEO of Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems and author of The Essential Guide for Hiring, Adler found that 85% of people got the job through their network. Networking is an essential part of building your career, but it is not as difficult as it may seem. We are human; we socialize to observe the people we are around and networking has the same concept. But if you are still worried, here are three tips to help you get started:
1. Go with Someone for Support
If you are going to your first networking event, it helps to go with someone. Maybe your fellow POW member, since we are here to support each other. Having someone with you could help boost your confidence and makes it easier to walk up to someone new when you are introducing yourself for the first time. They can also help you keep a conversation going smoothly.
2. Prepare for the Event
People can easily talk about themselves so you can use this as a conversation starter. You can also do some research ahead of time. Before going to any networking event, just like preparing for an interview, you can look up the individual, panel, or any organizations that will be attending. You should be able to find information about where they work and pre-plan questions you can ask them during the event. You can also look up who is running the event. This will help you make conversation run smoother. Pro tip: make sure that the questions you ask are thoughtful and not easily found on Google. Look at their LinkedIn page, to learn more about them, through that you could form more informative questions.
3. Have an Elevator Pitch
It is good to have a elevator pitch prepared. This is the introduction about you that you want others to know. If you do not have one, it is easy to make. Start with where you are now, where you have been in prior experience (if possible), and where you plan to take your career. You can think of your pitch as a way of telling your life story. The pitch should not take longer than one minute. Another way your pitch can be used is when an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself. The more you practice your pitch, the easier it will become and it will become second nature to you.
Most people get their job through a recommendation from someone in their network, so make your network strong! If you would like to start networking, please feel free to check out our event page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more networking opportunities! We want help you make networking a part of your DNA!
By Alaysha Riley
Graduating from college comes with a mix of emotions. It can be frightening, motivating, intimidating, or all three. If you are like me, the time leading up to graduation filled me with anxiety about my next steps in life. Luckily, POW helped me grow personally, professionally and provided experiences to make me feel proud about my education. Here are the lessons I learned along the way to help you feel confident about your college journey and graduation.
By Alaysha Riley
This guide includes the best tips, templates, and resources for you to create your own stellar resume. If you still need help, come to our resume workshop Wednesday, March 8, 2017 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. We will be located in room 244 at the J. Paul Leonard Library at SFSU. The following week we will be hosting a workshop where you can apply to jobs with your updated resume. POW wants you to succeed and get your dream job!
By Brenda Ibanescu
Dear Future POW Leaders,
If you are a seeker. If you are eager to learn. Discontent with the status quo, and looking for inspiring and innovative ideas that move the world forward. Then POW is for you.
My name is Brenda Ibanescu. I am a business major, a leader, and a woman. I came to this country when I was five years old after my parents won the Diversity Visa Lottery. Apart from being born to a mother who is one of the greatest people on earth, winning the lottery is when my luck began. Not only was I lucky enough to win the lottery but I won a citizenship to the greatest country on earth. Because in this country women did not have to get married by the time they were 18 and they did not need their husbands to open bank accounts for them. I decided to take my love for my adoptive country and my potential to do great things and I got on with it.