By Grace Wydeven
Georgetown Women in Leadership is founded on three guiding principles. Yet if you ask people about these principles, their meaning can be surprisingly difficult to pinpoint. What do the words “Career, Connections, Community” really mean? And more specifically, how can GUWIL members and allies alike exemplify these tenets in a meaningful way?
Perhaps the most pressing of the three is “connections.” Connecting with other people- peers, professors, and parents alike- serves as the foundation for any kind of impactful action. In a generation of FitBits and Facebook, we are all guilty of avoiding real life interactions in favor of live-streamed ones. But what does it look like to put down our phones and shut our computers? What happens once we do? How can we connect with people outside of LinkedIn?
Simple connections (not necessarily “networking” if you, like me, find that word terrifying) with the people we surround ourselves with are arguably the most crucial part of the GUWIL mission: to bond with others over common struggle and success, hope and worry. If we are able to open ourselves up to honest dialogue and meaningful conversation, we have already paved the way to a kind of success that has little to do with salary and much to do with personal and professional fulfillment. To attempt to promote community or find a career without first fostering connections would be like tying your shoes before putting them on.
The “Connections” aspect of GUWIL’s mission lays the groundwork for the other two, equally as important pillars. From a myriad of connections comes the opportunity to connect the “connection dots” in order to form a community. Community is something we also have to work to build, not necessarily something that naturally arises around us. Community begins with our ability to connect to others, and then our subsequent work to connect the connections: to weave a web that makes those individual relationships meaningful in a broader context.
Lucky for us, college campuses provide the most community-based setting we may ever find ourselves in. With the opportunity to chat with professors, speak up in roundtables, attend celebrity lectures, and quite literally live with our colleagues, campuses like Georgetown beg, if not demand, community-based living and learning. All we have to do is extend that spirit of connection beyond individual interactions and try to see the relevance of one-on-one relationships on a greater scale.
The final defining concept of GUWIL is one that I purposely left for last, though of course not least. I want to discuss the “Career” aspect of the GUWIL mission last because we so often think of it as the foremost pillar, when in reality it is a natural progression of the first two pillars. The goal of a meaningful college experience is to utilize the connections and community you have cultivated in order to find a career that serves as an outlet for your passion, whatever that may be. The goal of making connections and developing community is ultimately to help, through trial and error, conversation and experience, to guide us toward the career that fulfills the academic and personal desires we have been refining throughout our lives. A career should be more than just a number on a paycheck. A career is a job that demands a personal commitment to excellence based on our individual skills, passions, and experiences. A career is rewarding; a job is merely adequate.
All of these tenants in their abstract forms mean nothing. If we don’t strive to actually live them, work for them, and constantly reevaluate them in the reality of everyday life, they cease to maintain relevance or influence. They cease to be beneficial.
At GUWIL, we strive to help women navigate and ultimately live these tenets in order to forge their own path towards their own definition of success. In a time where women are still combatting pay gaps and gender-based bias, it is of the utmost importance for undergraduate women to approach these concepts sincerely. We want our members to reach their ultimate potential through connection and community that lead to a flourishing career.
If we can begin at the most basic level, of simply being able to connect and interact with the people around us, we have already begun the process that we’ve come to college to realize. Whatever that process and ultimate goal may be is up to us.