Scholars Program Panel Reflections: Top Takeaways From Program

More and more women are choosing to pursue careers in what were once known as male-dominated fields. CWRU’s Women in Tech Initiative was created to support and educate females studying careers in technology and engineering by giving them access to a strong community of mentors and peers.

As part of that initiative, the Professional Development Scholars program was launched in 2020 to create a shared learning opportunity for women to develop and achieve their professional goals while maximizing their leadership potential. Areas of focus include networking, negotiating and communications.

Current students and recent graduates of the Scholars program participated in an online discussion moderated by the program’s facilitator, Pooja Khatija. Participants were asked a series of questions about how they’ve benefited from the program, and we're pleased to be sharing excerpts from that discussion here:

Question: What are your top takeaways from the program?

Francesca McDonald commented, “The first takeaway that comes to mind is the conversations we had about confidence. They helped me a lot as I was going into interviews and engaging in negotiations. I discovered that expressing confidence doesn’t have to mean you’re being annoying, or bossy, or overstepping in any way. It’s about balance, and after we talked through different situations with the group, it really helped me figure out how to strike that balance.” 

Anjali Shankar agreed. “Self-confidence was definitely one of my top takeaways, especially after our meeting about negotiating skills. I also learned a lot about what it means to not only think like a prospective employee, but an employer too. I see how it’s important to consider the opposite side through the employer’s perspective, including what they’re thinking and what they could possibly be holding back during negotiations.”

Mohana Venkatapuram added, “A big thing for me was just learning that there are other people out there who are also unsure of themselves and just new to all of this. It was so nice to work though class problems together and have a group of women to do that with.”

Mikayla Henrich-Wong said, “For me, one of the biggest takeaways was learning how to look at all my characteristics and skills as strengths. Everyone might not see them that way, and I need to be open and willing to present myself and say, ‘You may see some of these characteristics or skills as weaknesses, but let me tell you why they’re just the opposite.’
That was really eye-opening for me.”

One of the biggest takeaways for Wonyoung Choi was “learning how to advocate for myself and also the women around me. This program really helped build up my confidence and taught me how to have these conversations more regularly with people within my circle.”

Empowering young women to be strong and confident in their workforce interactions is an overarching goal of the Professional Development Scholars program. With takeaways like these, these four women are definitely on the right track!

Scholars Program Graduates

This program would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors, as well as supporters of the Women in Tech Initiative. Many thanks to:

  • Craig Newmark Philanthropies
  • Individual Donors: Ben Gomes (CWR ’90) and Deborah Weisser