Imagine a networking session: recruiters from attractive companies intermingled with fellow students, all with the same goal of making connections in a seemingly informal environment. Would you feel comfortable shaking their hand, introducing yourself? When Senior Abby Bradbury entered her sophomore year, the answer was a strong no. With the plan of graduating in three years, her second year held the pressure of bridging the gap between freshman and senior, but she entered it feeling lost, unsure of herself, and like she was not herself every time she attended a professional event. After hearing about WIB from a friend, she applied to the Women’s Business Leadership Academy (WBLA) and got in. From corporate tours to professionalism training, Bradbury felt this community of strong women gave her the confidence to be herself in professional settings, and the encouragement to help others.
“After WBLA, I jumped into WIB feeling more comfortable… I had something to contribute to others.” To keep the momentum going, Bradbury and fellow WBLA members Paula Kyin, Anjana Tummala, Alice Mayoral, and her WBLA mentor Molly Parsons planned a mentorship program for freshmen, capitalizing on the opportunities and community WIB has to offer. On Feb. 21, the Wire sat down with Bradbury to discuss this program.
What is the Entry Engagement Program?
The Entry Engagement Program (EE) is an eight week program for incoming freshmen during fall quarter, and it specifically focuses on personal growth, building community, and academic success. So where WBLA was very focused on professional development, EE took the other route and was a little more social, a little more about helping with transitions into college. The main drivers were WBLA, the community and empowerment I felt in WIB, and the goal of creating a mentorship program for incoming freshmen.
Why did you (all) feel it was necessary?
It came from going through WBLA, and all realizing that we loved the new side of WIB that we got to see. Coming into WIB, it’s a wonderful group, but it can be intimidating… I think we saw it as an environment that we want to join, but sometimes it’s hard to just jump in. Before doing WBLA it was hard to feel like a part of the club sometimes, like if you’re just going to meetings, you feel like you’re missing something, and that’s because you are. WIB is so much more than just monthly meetings. WIB truly is a community, and sometimes you have to take that leap of getting involved or applying for a program, and you find this huge network. WBLA is how I jumped in, and we wanted to pull more people into that because we loved it, and EE became the way we could do that.
What has WIB taught you about mentorship and the importance of having community of support?
I think it’s really easy to forget what you’re capable of, and I think it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re not capable of pretty much anything. Having people like Sara (Chen) and Molly (Parsons) and others in WIB look at me and support and validate me and my core values, they just reminded me to see myself the way they did, as someone capable of following my passions and not lose sight of our own importance and all the good that can come out of pursuing that.
How do you define success?
So something that really impacted me was Shelby Sly, one of the co-founders of WIB, came and talked to us during WBLA, and something she said has always stuck with me since then. She said “success isn’t about money or your position, its how many people you bring with you to the top.” That was so big in my eyes, because that was what WIB was to me; the more I got to know the board and the co-founders, the more I learned that that was their intention for WIB all along, and I really want to further that. As we continue to develop this community and continue to develop all of our programs, they all further this goal of encouraging each other and building each other up. Someone was there for me like that and helped me and that’s something that really impacted my whole experience at Cal Poly, and I love being able to do that in return for others.
What advice would you give younger students who want to be more involved in WIB and the WIB community?
I would encourage them to always apply to programs in WIB, always put yourself out there. But if you don’t have the time or just want to do something else, just find someone and ask them if they’ll go get coffee with you. My involvement has taught me that that is what WIB is about, a community of people who want to share their experiences.
As someone who can see both sides, I don’t think you should ever be afraid to ask someone to coffee. I know in the times where I’ve been able to sit down and help someone, its benefits me and encourages me. It’s like EE, not only did I benefit from great programs within WIB, but I got to turn around and create one so other people could benefit. We’re all really passionate about WIB and to have someone ask us to even just look over a resume, we’d love to pass on the knowledge we have and help you. It makes us feel like the simple and mundane things like writing a resume have so much more meaning and are special. The fact that I can help others benefits me and makes me feel like my life is just a little bit more important.
I had wanted to ask Sara Chen to coffee for a while, but in my mind she is insanely busy and successful and doesn’t have time and is so put together and does a million things and does every single one of them extremely well. I asked her anyway and we met for coffee and it was so great. She reminds me that she sees me as someone who’s put together, and I think it’s really important to have those people in your life, that you look up to and see as really successful and passionate, and to realize that they see you in the same way. Just reach out and see if they can meet, it’s a great opportunity to have people remind you of what you’re passionate about and that you have the potential to do a lot with that. It’s really important to have people in your life who are not necessarily a mentor but a friend who also pushes you and reminds you that you can be successful.
*The above has been lightly edited for style & clarity
Bradbury is currently a senior Business Administration student, graduating in the Spring with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications. She hopes to travel the world after graduation and is still looking for a full-time job, hopefully in the outdoor industry. The WIB Wire is proud to showcase Bradbury’s innovative story and thoughts on what WIB provides to Cal Poly. She is an incredible example of the personal benefit Women in Business provides and we look forward to the legacy she leaves.