CDW Offers ‘Campus to Careers’ Program to CEWiT Students

By Sarah Hunker

Friday, November 11, 2016

As part of the CEWiT Techtober anniversary celebration month, the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT) partnered with CDW for a two-part Campus to Careers event.  In the first part, CDW hosted 20 CEWiT students at their Lincolnshire, IL headquarters. where students discovered a variety of careers within CDW, heard from excellent panelists, and gained a better understanding of the what it is like to work in a professional tech environment.

CEWiT hosted the second part on campus and included sessions on personal branding and interview tactics for the professional world. One student, Julia Juska, was excited to see everything that the event had to offer.  “I came mostly for some of the networking opportunities, but I was also interested in the Building Your Personal Brand workshop,” Juska said. “I hope to hear more about women’s careers in tech since it is typically a male dominated industry and hopefully do some networking or hearing about their career paths.”

Another IU student, Sarah Ewing, also felt that the event would be beneficial to her future career path. “Over the summer I was a physics major, so I am still getting used to the tech world, so I hope to get some great contacts and some internships this summer.”

Aletha Noonan, CDW’s Sales Vice President, presented a workshop on creating a personal brand. Noonan has been working in the tech industry most of her career and feels that having women involved in technology is vital. “I think that it’s critical that women in diverse perspectives are in all of our team professions, technology fuels everything and without women, we will be behind,” she said. “I think we bring a particular point of view with different sets of experiences to the table; so I think we want more women in team leadership roles because the tech industry will thrive with women in it.”

During Noonan’s workshop, she discussed how to ensure an individual’s personal brand stays true to what her values are and to be proud of her strengths and what she has accomplished in her work. “I want to interview somebody who has a strong sense of who they are; some people can often say who they are on paper and it’s not consistent with who they are coming across as,” she said. “I really like when someone has an accurate self-insight and they are able to demonstrate that in the work they have done or the experiences they have had and it aligns to who they say they are. “

Noonan's involvement in technology has shown her what it’s like to be in such a role as a woman.  Her career with tech companies started shortly after her time in college and she worked up the ladder quickly. “I was a senior leader when I was 26 in 1996, and I was the only person of color and only woman in the room most of the time, because of that, there might be biases that might cloud the room and even me,” she says. “So I had to just be aware that I need to show up and deliver but I am always going to walk in the room as a black woman. And in the tech world, that’s still the minority.”

Noonan wants others to know that technology is always changing and it continues to be an interesting field composed of people from diverse backgrounds. She says that going into the professional world relies much on how much you trust your work ethic. “I think that so much about being successful in life is about showing up, just to believe in yourself and aspire two levels up, raise your aspirations and go for it,” she says. “It’s a great world if you give yourself an opportunity to take some risks.”

Taking chances and risks is something that Noonan also says can come with a few mishaps along the way. Failing is more of a lesson to learn and overcome, and not an end in the road of a career. Noonan has experienced difficult decisions in her career, but says that they shouldn’t be considered a positive source for professional growth.

The event also featured a panel discussion from CDW staff and IU campus staff, an interview tactic workshop, and a round table interview practice with CDW staff themselves. Sophomore Bhasi Mehta said the opportunity to meet so many professionals from CDW was something she saw as an important aspect of the workshop. “I thought it was really helpful. I liked the chance to have people part of the company to sit with us at tables.  I got a lot of my questions answered and got a lot of information,” she says.

Freshman Lei-Aysia Brownlee wasn’t sure what to expect, but came out feeling more than ready to take on a tech role in her future. “I was really nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But everyone was really nice and it was very professional and relaxed, I learned a lot,” she says. “The whole building your brand workshop is something I never really thought about before and saw how important a first impression was.”