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Women in STEM Career Fair: ‘Beyond the Glass Ceiling’ Panel Discussion

Published: Sep 13, 2021

Our recent Women in STEM Career Fair featured a panel discussion entitled “Beyond the Glass Ceiling.” The discussion included panelists from Infosys, Instrumental, Trinity Life Sciences, and Holland & Hart, and focused on how to navigate the interview process, negotiating offers, issues in DE&I, and more. The panelists were: Katherine Maloney, Executive Director at Infosys Foundation USA; Alessa Moscoco, Associate Director, DEI at Trinity Life Sciences; Leah Villarreal, Patent Agent at Holland & Hart LLP; and Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, CEO and Founder of Instrumental. Below are three key takeaways from the discussion.

1. How to nail your interviews

Before any job interview, research the company and research whom you’re interviewing with. Check out the job description and get a strong sense of what they’re looking for. During the interview, be yourself. Authenticity is key. Try to avoid canned answers. Bring down those walls and just have a conversation. Don’t forget that interviewing is a two-way street: you’re interviewing the company, too.

Also, come prepared with questions and know your value-add—showcase yourself and what you can add to the company. In addition, ground your answers in an example or an experience. Finally, try not to ramble—and don’t forget to breathe!

2. How to negotiate your compensation

It’s important to negotiate for yourself, and negotiating is something that can be learned, so practice! There are also certain tactics to take. Try not to “anchor” if a company asks you, “How much do you want to make?” Don’t take the bait! A perfectly acceptable response to that question is: “I expect the market rate commensurate with my experience.” Finally, keep in mind that negotiation shouldn’t have a winner and a loser; everyone should come out of the conversation with a sense of satisfaction.

3. How companies should approach DE&I when it comes to recruiting and culture

Companies are starting to recognize that while diversity is important and necessary, they also need to think about equity and inclusion—all three go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the others.

Diversity is about bringing the right people in the door. Equity is about the processes in place that ensure folks who do join the company have the same opportunities as everyone else—companies must provide the resources and tools necessary so that they can succeed. And inclusion ensures that people feel like they can be authentically themselves. 

It’s a hard problem to solve: How does a company change its culture to ensure that every employee comes to work feeling that they can bring all of themselves to work? Much of it comes down to leadership and, of course, long-term systematic changes.

Final thoughts

Your career is an arch. There’s always something to learn from a job, so even if you’re unhappy where you are, try not to focus solely on what’s next. Grow where you’re planted and try not to leave a job until you’ve truly taken advantage of everything you can from the experience. Remind yourself to never stop advocating for who you are and what you need—a negotiation never stops. And, finally, find your people.

Watch the entire “Beyond the Glass Ceiling” panel discussion from the Vault/Firsthand Women in STEM Career Fair here:

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