California State University, Long Beach
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Women and Careers Conference Comes to Campus on March 14

CSULB hosts the 10th annual Women and Careers Conference on Friday, March 14, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Pointe at The Walter Pyramid. Admission is free.

The conference offers Cal State Long Beach students and alumni the opportunity to hear a panel of successful women from various career fields discussing their experiences and the factors that contributed to their success. They will talk about such issues as their personal decision-making process, their challenges and goals, who made a difference in their lives and why, their mentoring experiences, the balance they strike between their personal and professional lives and the glass ceiling.  

“The goal of this conference is to help women learn how other women make decisions, how they take chances and what they perceive as a risk,” said Lynne Coenen of the Women's Resource Center who has helped organize the project together with Ruby Leavell-Hartley of the Career Development Center, Judi Walker of Educational Career Services and Keya Allen Littleton of the University Student Union Program Council.

 “This is an opportunity for young women to learn how to negotiate and how to make the transition from their degree to a profession,” said Coenen. “This conference presents attendees a unique experience in networking and meeting professionals. One of the most important goals of this conference is to bring women students together with successful professional career women to hear and share their experiences of professional women. When they meet someone who started out as a Social Work major but ended up as a professional chef, they can ask how they took that path. Did they know what they would do when they were 16? Did they know when they graduated from college?”

“We want to encourage women to be pro-active in their career planning and see options they may not have thought about previously,” said Leavell-Hartley.

Conference presenters include Louise Solzman, executive chef of Long Beach’s Delius Restaurant; Elahe Amani, director of technology at CSU Fullerton; Katrina De Leon, who performs drug tests for the National Football League; and Nina Yun, artist and curator/director for the Pomona-based Southern California Artists Project Gallery. Also on hand will be Ava Duvernay, a film publicist for such hits as “Dream Girls,” and Martha Garcia, case manager for the Orange County Regional Center.  

The conference begins at 8:45 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast followed by a welcome at 9 a.m. and the first panel at 9:20 a.m. A brief break for networking arrives at 10:40 a.m. before the second panel at 11 a.m. A gala luncheon will be held at noon to mark the conference’s 10th anniversary.  The session concludes at 12:30 p.m. with the opportunity to ask questions of the professional participants and networking at 1:15 p.m. 

Coenen underlines the importance of shared experience. "There is so much pressure on students to find a particular job, preferably in their major field of course," Coenen said. "The conference emphasizes the value of the skills developed and knowledge gained through their education and demonstrates their often transferable nature. It also validates the variety of life experiences students have had to date and encourages them to explore opportunities."

While all genders are welcome, presentations will be from a woman’s point of view. “I’ve noticed that women ask different questions than men, questions that include striking a balance between their professions and their personal lives,” Coenen said. “Men rarely ask how to balance child care and their jobs or what to do if their kids get sick. Our goal is an interactive conference where these kinds of questions can be asked.”

Coenen encourages students, faculty and staff to attend. “It will be a great experience to meet all these women and hear how they realized their dreams,” she said. “No resumes are necessary. Participants can arrive in T-shirts and jeans or professional dress. Some attend between classes and some arrive in the morning and stay all day. There are plenty of business card exchanges and plenty of panelists to talk to individually. One of the most important things we always hear in post-conference evaluations is the impact of professionals sitting and talking with the students.”

The conference represents collaboration between the Women's Resource Center, Educational Career Services and the Career Development Center with support from the Program Council, Associated Students Inc., the President's Commission on the Status of Women and other campus entities.

Pre-registration is recommended to assure conference materials and lunch for everyone, and registration can be done online at www.csulb.edu/women-and-careers.

For more information about the conference, call the Women's Resource Center at 562/985-8576 or the Career Development Center at 562/985-4151.