Women in Work Panel Draws Crowd, Provides Insight

Professionals share experience with students at second annual event

Mar. 12, 2013 By Carissa Lehmkuhl

In celebration of National Women’s History Month, Biola hosted the second annual Women in Work event on March 7, providing female students with an opportunity to hear and learn from accomplished, professional Christian women who were once in their shoes.

The panel included Biola nursing professor Donell Campbell, Pricewaterhouse Coopers accountant Richae Kater (‘10), co-founder and president of Latin World Entertainment Licensing Nancy Overfield-Delmar, writer and producer of the TV show Southlands Heather Zuhlke, and founder and owner of Sweet and Saucy shops Melody Brandon.

Sandy Harden, career counselor for Biola’s Center for Career Development, facilitated the event. Starting the evening, she asked a few formal questions of each panelist before an open Q&A time, that offered an open conversation between the women and the 75 students in attendance which filled the university collegium.

Each panelist shared their story and experiences that have shaped their careers.

Overfield-Delmar, who has had more than 25 years of retail, marketing, brand development and licensing experience through her work with companies such as Twentieth Century Fox and Thomas Nelson Publishers, shared the importance of getting to know the secretaries and assistants at internships, referring to them as the “gatekeepers.” She also reflected on her old marketing professor’s habit of calling his front row students his “A” students.

“No matter where I went, I sat in the front row, you never know who you’re going to be noticed by,” said Overfield-Delmar.  

Overfield-Delmar also emphasized “creating a point of difference for yourself.” For her, having retail experience benefited her in Hollywood in ways she wouldn’t have imagined.

Brandon described her transition from dropping out of college to pursue pastry school and then starting to work out of her house while supplementing income with tutoring. She learned how important it is to “take skills that you have right then and mesh them with what you’re going for” when pursuing something new.  

Throughout the night, Harden asked questions that addressed balancing a personal life and a career, as well as aligning expectations of work with reality.  

Biola alumna Kater, who is currently working 85 hours a week, said to have the expectation that “it’s not going to be a cakewalk, a walk in the park — you’re going to have to work.”  

Overfield-Delmar talked about her expectation to be treated as a professional once she had a diploma, but instead experienced discrimination both as a woman and as a Christian.

“Just because you have the degree does not mean you’ll get that respect ... you have to earn that,” she said.

Zuhlke, who worked her way up through different assistant positions over time, has now been with the same boss for 13 years and is doing what she loves.  

“Go into your first job with an open mind ... your first job may not be your dream job, but it’s an opportunity,” said Zuhlke.  

She also said one of the major things she learned from her boss was that you have 30 seconds to impress someone.

Brandon emphasized the importance of internships — she explained that for her own business they didn’t hire anyone who hadn’t interned for them first.

“If you intern for free, and you do it 100 percent, that’s the kind of person someone wants to hire,” said Brandon.

Four of the five women on the panel were wives and mothers, and each panelist had much to say regarding personal and career life balance.

“That superwoman cape just does not fit,” reflected Overfield-Delmar.

Both Brandon and Zuhlke reflected on seasons that were tough for their family and their marriage, but Brandon said “if you do have a passion for it, you can make it work.”

Zuhlke used a screenwriting analogy stating the importance of “figuring out your log line” — a summarized description of yourself that captures all your identities, so that you can stick to that and be content with it, realizing that you cannot do everything.

Campbell discussed the importance of looking at marriage as a partnership and having the mentality that being a part of a family is everybody’s job. She also expressed the benefit of having friends from different backgrounds, such as stay-at-home moms, and being able to learn from each other and encourage one another as women.

The last part of the event allowed for a time of open Q&A. Students had questions relating to the balance of leadership between a wife and a husband when they are both passionate about their careers, and dealing with gender discrimination, “mommy guilt,” and female camaraderie.  

Women in Work was hosted by the Office of Commuter Life, University Communications & Marketing and the Center for Career Development. Upcoming Biola-sponsored events for women’s history month include the National Women’s History Month chapel and luncheon on March 20 and a Dress for Success event at the L.A. Dream Center on March 22.

Written by Carissa Lehmkuhl, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist, at 562.777.4061 or at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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