On the first day of the Women Mean Business leadership experience, 50 high school junior and senior women unpacked their bags at Middlebrook Hall for a week of campus exploration, mock lectures, site visits, networking dinners, and a case study presentation. It was a full schedule, but because Women Mean Business’ goal is to show young women all of the opportunities that the Carlson School and the business world hold, they had a lot to pack in.

In its second year running, Women Mean Business received 87 applications, and the program was able to host 12 more attendees than last year. For some, the week would show how STEM skills fit into the business world; for others, it would serve to solidify the interest in business they already had.

“I've wanted to go into this business, but I didn’t have a concrete mindset” says Rithika Muralidharan, a program participant from Maple Grove Senior High, Minn. “I feel like this week has actually been life changing because now I know that this is for me. I am set; I am ready to work hard.”

Jada Lee, another program participant, was already interested in entrepreneurship after working on developing a student-to-student app for her high school in Edina, Minn. After the site visits to Target, Land O’ Lakes, 3M and Alchemy and the insight of their lecturers and guest speakers, her decision hasn’t changed, but she feels more sure of her choice and her ability to thrive.

“This week has been a really great hodge podge of different experiences of businesses and careers,” says Lee. “I think that exposure has really helped me in knowing what type of company or career that I want in the future.”  

On the last day of their week at the Carlson School, the students presented their case studies, enjoyed a closing banquet, and departed, taking with them the new professional, personal, and inspirational connections they forged with each other and other women in the business world.

“It feels so nice to make those connections and create that sense of community with other females,” says Damaris Stroker, a participant from Davenport, Iowa. “It's fun to be around empowering women and learn how to empower other women in the business world.”