URI Women’s Council for Development takes ‘next step’

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 14, 2007 – The Women’s Council for Development at the University of Rhode Island held its first event on March 5. Called “The Next Step,” the evening was designed to help current female junior and senior students prepare to enter the workforce. Fourteen alumnae mentors from diverse career backgrounds and 18 Women’s Council members attended.

Janice DiLorenzo, class of 1970, founder of the Women’s Council for Development, was thrilled with the turnout. “The council anticipated 30 to 40 students and had about 50 in attendance. It was fabulous to see students taking advantage of this opportunity.”

Established in 2005, the Women’s Council for Development works to increase and enhance the influence of women at the University. “It is designed to help students socially, professionally, and financially,” said DiLorenzo. The organization has more than 30 active members and is composed of alumnae, faculty, staff, and students.

DiLorenzo, a teacher in Boca Raton, Florida, said the evening was a way to create meaningful and comfortable relationships between alumnae and students and to create a vested interest in the University as a place where growth is nurtured.

“This is the first of many opportunities for students to get a foothold in the professional world,” DiLorenzo told the group. “There are women doing phenomenal things and it is important for students to network and make connections in preparation for the next stage of their lives.”

“Networking is such an important part of your future,” said mentor Marcia Young, class of 1981, director of product development for the Campbell Soup Co. “It may be awkward, but it is a very valuable skill to learn and it is vital in the business world.”

Lisa Ferns, class of 1992, who earned her master’s degree at URI in 1998, is an adviser at Career Services. She spoke of the resources available to students through Career Services.

Ferns also touched upon networking. “It is the most valuable tool in your job search,” she said. “An employer is more likely to hire someone they know or are acquainted with than they are a stranger.”

Jodi Lee Fournier, class of 1982, chief executive officer of Taylor Grey in New York City, a recruitment and consulting firm, spoke about proper etiquette first impressions, appearances, interviews, and business communication. She described etiquette as a fine art of behaving well in front of others.

“The first impression is key,” said Fournier. “You will be sized up within one second of meeting someone and that one second can either set things in motion or stop you dead in your tracks. It is important to remember that you can only make a first impression once.”

Macy’s presented a wardrobe show featuring appropriate business and interview attire. The show focused on how women can buy one or two key pieces and the different ways in which to utilize them.

URI’s Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design Department featured four mannequins with business attire throughout the 20th century.

The Women’s Council for Development has established a scholarship for undergraduate, female students as a way to encourage them to remain in school. In less than a year, the council has raised $15,000 of a $25,000 goal.

“I was impressed by how quickly the Women’s Council established their mission and developed a plan of action,” said Sarah Howard, director of Annual Giving. “The members took the lead in putting this event together. I’m proud to be associated with them.”

Anyone interested in supporting the Women’s Council for Development Scholarship or interested in sponsoring a future event, contact Howard at 401-874-2438.

Pictured above

1. Fashion show

2. URI women students and alumnae listen to a Career Services presentation.

3. URI alumnae mentors Kathryn Gabriel (center), and Joyce Stamp Lilly, both class of 1975, compare notes.

URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis