Panelists discuss entrepreneurship, benefits of social impact work


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (left), Amy Silverstein (center) and Taylor Kinn (right) speak on a Tuesday panel in Harris Hall. The three discussed balancing social impact work as women in a changing industry.

Elizabeth Byrne, Copy Chief

When navigating the career field, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) said it’s important for Northwestern students to be confident in their ideas and roll with the punches, wherever a career might take them.

Rue Simmons spoke on Tuesday’s Women in Social Impact panel with Amy Silverstein — senior manager at the Monitor Institute at Deloitte — and Taylor Kinn, assistant director of student career advising at Northwestern Career Advancement. In front of roughly 30 students in Harris Hall, the three discussed balancing social impact work as women in a changing industry.

The panel was co-hosted by Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development, a student-run nonprofit that aids local entrepreneurs, and Global Engagement Summit.

Silverstein said through her time at Deloitte, she learned the importance of having and seeking mentors, both male and female. Strong mentor relationships, she said, allow young entrepreneurs to increase their relationships with other members of their organizations.

“When you can reframe even the most daunting challenges as opportunities, almost anything is possible,” Silverstein said.

Silverstein added that the role of social impact work in a corporate industry is changing, and that as NU students start to enter the workforce in a few years, they should learn how to adapt to different roles and responsibilities.

Rue Simmons said her work procuring and selling housing for disadvantaged communities in Evanston exposed her to a “white, male-dominated industry.” She experienced challenges in competing with other companies that had greater resources, but that job — as well as her role as an alderman — made her feel lucky.

“I feel like it’s an absolute gift to be able to earn a living while doing service work,” Rue Simmons said. “I would do this work (even) if I could not get paid.”

Kinn addressed the resources NCA has available for students, echoing Silverstein’s advice about finding mentors who can help students enter a workplace that aligns with their personal interests and values.

“It’s really important that you take the time to understand yourself and how you fit in with organizational cultures of different employers or people you may work with in the future,” Kinn said. “Building on the experiences that you already have will help you figure out what you want to do.”

Kinn added that NCA offers pathways for students to make connections, such as OurNorthwestern, the alumni directory and new career platform Handshake.

Weinberg junior Petra Barbu, a member of both LEND and GES, told The Daily she helped organize the event. She said she was inspired to bring these women to NU because of their unifying message of finding a balance between making a living and making an impact.

“While there are definitely challenges, there are so many networks, so many resources and so many mentors that are willing to connect with you and reach out,” Barbu told The Daily. “I hope (people) left inspired and ready to make a change.”

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