Informative, interactive and inspirational — those are the three words that Pam Rayburn, coordinator for the Women’s and Gender Equity Center and organizer of this year’s Women and Careers Symposium, said best describes the virtual empowerment event.
Starting at 3 p.m. on March 4, the Women and Careers Symposium will take participants through different workshops, focused on best practices to prepare them for a post-COVID-19 workforce.
“We thought the theme of the event was timely because we’ve been shut down from COVID for a year now and people have been thrown into this, as a new freshman, as a graduating senior, and all of this is impacting your career goals,” Rayburn said. “And is that impacting your decision on your career? Will you make changes?”
Design thinking, a concept that will be presented by professor of political science Dr. Amy Cabrera Rasmussen is the main focus of the day’s teachings. A following breakout session implementing the principles of the concept will allow participants to practice design thinking for themselves.
“What are some of the problems, what are some of the solutions and how do you design,” Rayburn said. “You always need more tools for the toolbox and this is just getting students one more set of tools that maybe they hadn’t considered or hadn’t ever practiced or hadn’t ever thought about most of the time.”
The principles of design thinking “include encouraging and enabling students to try things and test out ideas, consider the possibility of multiple paths and explore options such as internships and service learning that can give them useful information about their future professional life,” according to the symposium’s website.
These principles particularly affect women in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dee Hyppolite, coordinator for the Career Development Center and fellow organizer of the symposium.
“We have to recognize that we’re also at a time where women were the primary ones that were hit, whether it was losing their jobs or having to monitor so many different hats in the home, from having to be mom, wife, teacher and the professional,” Hyppolite said. “I think this event brings a light to this and kind of redirects us to a new way of doing things, so we don’t feel so overwhelmed and so challenged by all this. So to have some empowerment and resilience brought forth during this time where so many of us may have lost our jobs and may have to reshift our family lifestyle that we had.”
Workshops will focus on redirecting and design thinking for a post-COVID-19 world, self-care and empowerment. Mindful meditations, led by Ayla Donlan, director of LifeFit and Heidi Girling, coordinator for the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion at Student Health Services, and a friend-making event, sponsored by BeachPride events, will be incorporated into the event to foster an environment of positivity, Rayburn said.
Participants will be welcomed by President Jane Close Conoley and keynote presentations will be made by Dr. Portia Jackson Preston and Dr. Audrey Reille.
A raffle, which includes the chance to win a one-on-one life coaching session with Dr. Preston will be held for participants.
Those who attend will also have the opportunity to receive a free resource guide that Hyppolite said is “another resource that attendees could use to continue that continues on after this event is done, and something they could pull from once this event ends so they have something in between to use to guide them.”
Hyppolite said that she hopes people walk away from this event knowing that “they are not alone.”
“Several of their peers, colleagues, friends have endured some of the same situations and are looking for solutions too and that this event is an opportunity to add a tool or resource to help guide them in this,” Hyppolite said. “I hope they also know that they have a support system within the Career Center, within the Women’s Gender Equity Center, that they have allies there, to help guide them through this situation.”
Rayburn echoed her sentiments.
“We want participants to really know how to customize their life design, really recognize those career challenges and solutions, and recognize the benefits of self care,” Rayburn said. “We want everyone to realize that there is support, even though we are in a virtual world, that there is support on our campus and we can connect them to those resources that they need, whether it’s mental health, housing or food insecurities or it’s career development. We’re here, we have those connections.”
Click here to register for the symposium: http://bit.ly/3j8Djba