For Guelph Women in Leadership, (GWIL) the mission is ‘to think beyond convention.'
The organization provides inspiration, leadership and empowerment for the student community at the University of Guelph.
GWIL offers opportunities to help educate, empower, and inspire through events and initiatives with a focus on gender equity and female empowerment.
The purpose? To build confidence and support for young professionals.
“Our goal is to help young women entering the workforce,” says Guelph Women in Leadership co-president, Teri Patrick.
“We offer a variety of workshops and events and we have geared a lot of content toward women because we want to help build confidence for students and team members.”
GWIL was founded in 2014.
The organization helps students think critically, gain confidence, and learn new skills including networking where students can build professional relationships with peers, faculty, and industry representatives.
“We’ve always reached out to the Guelph community and engaged with female leaders of all types who have shared their experiences. This is important because we want women to be a bigger version of themselves,” says Michaela Mason, co-president of GWIL.
GWIL hosts events each year including networking nights, workshops and trivia nights. With a focus on delivering content and opportunities that inspire young females, especially those pursuing business, the organization strives to create an inclusive and welcoming culture that encourages everyone to ‘think beyond convention.'
And this month, because of the pandemic, the annual International Women’s Day Dinner was held virtually.
“This is our most popular event but this year, it will be different,” Mason said.
“This is our sixth year running the event and we normally host a dinner speaker series. About 200 people come out and it’s a great opportunity for companies to network with students.”
“It’s been a challenge. We usually get together with other student associations once a month and they have all said that engagement has been so hard. Many are feeling isolated. It’s been challenging for all student associations,” Mason said.
“For us, it was such a transition. We had to re-evaluate all events to make them compatible with online platforms. We are all close, so we wanted to continue socials online but ‘Zoom fatigue’ is very real. It’s all about finding a balance,” Patrick said.
Patrick and Mason met through GWIL three years ago.
“We both started as brand ambassadors,” Mason says. “It’s been an awesome journey and now we are best friends.”
Both co-presidents are now in their final year at the university and they encourage others to join the organization.
GWIL hires a full-time team including brand ambassadors throughout the year.
“If you are looking to apply, just come out and be yourself,” Mason says.
Patrick says her university experience would be completely different without GWIL.
“I wish I knew about it in my first year. When I found out about it in my second year, I thought what a jewel,” she says. “We both feel so strongly about it and we’ve grown so much.”
University isn’t just about study. GWIL can offer a whole new university experience.
“The friendships we have, it’s such a community. We support each other and with all of the practical skills we learn, there are so many opportunities,” Mason said.
“Being in Guelph Women in Leadership, we get the full effect. We are seen as leaders and it’s such a rewarding experience for young women. It’s all about them. We want to support them and watch them thrive.”