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UMN Women in Business: empowering tomorrow’s female leaders through connection, support and inspiration

WIB provides sample networking and personal development avenues while nurturing a close-knit community among its members.
The+Carlson+School+of+Management+on+Thursday%2C+June+23%2C+2022.
Image by Ray Shehadeh
The Carlson School of Management on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Women in Business (WIB) is an institutional leader in inspiration, support and connection for the University of Minnesota’s next generation of female business leaders. 

One of the largest undergraduate student organizations on campus with about 300 members in 2022, WIB offers opportunities for networking and personal growth through monthly speaker meetings, volunteer events and networking opportunities. 

Sidney Keene, a fourth-year student and the club’s president, said WIB also instills a sense of community and sisterhood amongst its members. Like any student club, WIB allows members to meet new people, although Keene added it is unique in the professional opportunities it provides. 

“There are a lot of members that join because they want to meet more people on campus,” Keene said. “We also have a chunk of our members who are interested in joining our club because they want help with their professional skill set building, and so because we provide all these different initiatives, there’s really an opportunity.”

Although it may seem difficult for new members to make connections in an organization as large as WIB, Lanah Ingebrand, a second-year student and WIB’s co-vice president of member engagement, said the organization’s shared goal to thrive in a corporate arena is enough to bring members together, though they support each other in their varied pursuits.

“We all have the same overall goal,” Ingebrand said. “We want to succeed in the business world, but we know that there are so many different paths within that and we support each and every one and there’s going to be etvents that cater to each and every one.”

Though the professional opportunities within WIB are a distinct pull for some members, Keene said the opportunity to find a smaller circle within such a large campus is what drew many current members to join. 

“We help people network in a professional setting, but this campus is huge,” Keene said. “You can make it smaller by being a part of things that you personally align with, that you enjoy and finding people that share those things with you.”

WIB boasts a flourishing mentorship program, which allows younger club members to connect with an older member who can act as a guide or provide general support during the transition to the University.

“That was one of the big drawing factors for me for WIB was just having that sense of the big sister taking you through your first year,” Ingebrand said. 

WIB has an active network of sponsorships, which include connecting members with companies like Deloitte and General Mills. These sponsorships facilitate members’ relationships with potential employers in meetings every other week.

Co-vice presidents of member engagement, Ingebrand, and fourth-year student Sophie Riewe, organize the club’s community-building events, such as Friendsgiving and “Donut stress,” a stress-relieving event during finals week. These events are all at the request of members and provide a blend of personal and professional spheres. 

“I had both the personal and the professional sides of my college experience being fulfilled through WIB, and I thought that that was a really good match for me,” Riewe said. 

WIB also works in the community with Dress for Success, an organization that offers career and workplace skills development programs for low-income women. According to Riewe, WIB members have the opportunity to volunteer with Dress for Success, an experience she said was incredibly enriching. 

“It can be a huge barrier to not have the professional interview attire or work attire for a lot of different women in the Minneapolis Twin Cities area,” Riewe said. “Our partnership with them is to help with their donation days and categorizing different clothing but also to help even clean the bathrooms for them just to keep their facilities in the greatest condition.”

Ultimately, WIB members come together to not only navigate the adversities of college life and the corporate world but also to create enduring bonds and open doors for their post-college futures. 

“At the end of the day, we are all here to just help each other get through, but also to create lasting friendships and to build opportunities for one another after college as well,” Riewe said.

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