“I hope girls walk away from this camp having a greater sense of themselves, feeling empowered, and understanding how their leadership skills can be valuable in the business world.” —Christiane Bartels
For the first time this year, the Carlson School hosted 38 high school girls as they explored the world of opportunities that business can offer. The new Women Mean Business leadership experience guided high-achieving girls entering their junior or senior year of high school interested in science, technology, engineering, and math to imagine how their skills translate to business careers in finance, management information systems, and supply chain and operations fields.
“A lot of high school women can figure out what they would do with a career in engineering or medicine, but I don’t think they necessarily understand how strong math and science skills can apply to the business world, so it’s a great time to introduce those possibilities,” says Christiane Bartels, associate director of the Carlson School Undergraduate Program.
Seven action-packed days
For one week, Women Mean Business participants took part in mock classes at the Carlson School, visited companies like 3M and Target, engaged with women leaders from Twitter and Buffalo Wild Wings, and put their new knowledge to the test by addressing a real-world business challenge presented by fitness company Alchemy.
“This week, I’ve had a lot of experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had—touring companies and taking classes like a college student would—and it helped me narrow down what I want to do in the future,” says Elizabeth Beckman, a student from Plymouth, Minn.
Participants imagine new paths
After connecting with current Carlson School students and getting a sneak peek into the careers of established women leaders, many of the participants can now picture themselves putting their talents to work in a business field.
“Now I understand that business is more than sitting behind a desk, it’s about using strategy, technology, and math to accomplish a goal,” says Isabella Gauvreau, a high school senior from San Diego, Calif.
Regardless of how their futures unfold, Women Mean Business alums can carry forward leadership lessons they developed throughout the week.
“I thought business was a male-dominated field,” says Mia Cazares, a Saint Paul student and Women Mean Business Participant. “This week I’ve met so many women who have been successful, and it’s inspirational.”
What's next for Women Mean Business
The Carlson School intends to offer Women Mean Business again in 2016, and is exploring partnerships with the business community to repeat the success of its pilot year.
Bartels also looks forward to welcoming some of the participants as Carlson School students someday.
“The most powerful moment of the week for me was a conversation I had with a father at the closing banquet. He said that prior to Women Mean Business, his daughter had a list of schools she was interested in, and after this week, Carlson is the only place she wants to be,” says Bartels.