Young alumnae share experiences, insight from the workplace

An interdisciplinary panel comprised of young alumnae from Northeastern kicked off the inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference Friday night on Northeastern’s campus, setting the stage for a weekend aimed at inspiring and educating the next generation of women leaders.

In addition to the panel discussion, the two-day event included several featured speakers from a wide breadth of industries and a breakout session titled “Defining your brand.”

The conference was presented by the Women’s Leadership Network, a student organization that cultivates ongoing conversations about the advancement of women in the workplace, and was co-hosted by the university’s Women Who Empower program.

Women's Leadership Conference

Katie Ringer, DMSB’11, a marketing manager at MFS Investment Management speaks during the young alumnae panel. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

“You are not only inspiring but you are empowering,” Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun told the panelists in his welcoming remarks in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

The alumnae, for their part, shared nuggets of wisdom stemming from their work experiences in a diverse range of fields, from finance, to cleantech, to food, to research.

Here are some of their insights:

Co-op: A learning experience

“I learned from co-op what I didn’t want to do…that is just as valuable as learning what you do want to do,” said Elizabeth Barno, SSH’13, community manager at Greentown Labs, the nation’s largest cleantech startup incubator. “It was just a really great experience. I met an incredible array of people.”

How mentorship can help shape your career

“I actually remember a really good piece of advice from one of the Women who Inspire events, which was that you should always be a mentor and have a mentor,” said Jessica Weaver, PhD’15, research assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “You should always be helping people below you, giving advice to them and helping them transition into a new position or learn new skills, while also seeking that out in others.”

Importance of work culture

“It was always hard for me to establish that sense of being a boss,” said Kinesha Goldson, AMD’12, founder and owner of Cameo Macaron. “The girls that work for me are all young Northeastern students, so I always wanted to be the cool boss. But that was obviously the wrong way to go because you have to establish mutual respect. I made sure the girls knew and saw that I held myself to the same standards I hold them to.”

How to ‘work smart’

“Learn to be helpful but also learn how to say no,” said Katie Ringer, DMSB’11, marketing manager at MFS Investment Management. “And you also need to find balance between work and life outside of work. That was something early on I definitely struggled with. But you have to be OK with leaving right at five some days.”

Embracing sustainability in the workplace

“Every person can and needs to do something—that is the call to action,” said Alyssa Caddle, E’07, MS’11, principle program manager at EMC. “When you come to a company, there are resources and people like me looking for people like you. And the number one thing we tell people is that you do not need a degree in sustainability to do meaningful work in sustainability. We leverage everyone who comes to us.”