Paige Robinson ’10, Caroline Lengyel ’14 and Megan Mulcahy ’16 were on a mission. As the CEO, strategy manager and marketing manager respectively, for Will Reed, a recruiting and consulting boutique for tech companies based in Dallas, they set out to start an internship program to help address a noted problem within their field: the barrier to entry for potential female employees and the overall decline of women working in the technology sector.
Lengyel had served as a Texas A&M Foundation Maroon Coat while in school, representing the university as an ambassador, steward and selfless servant. Knowing the invaluable experience she gained in that role and the quality of students chosen for the program through a rigorous application process, she reached out and recruited two current Maroon Coats, Madison Codney ’18 and Tori Forbess ’19. Robinson, Lengyel and Mulcahy called the new internship program the Women’s Sales Fellowship.
While the technology sector represents one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world, the number of women working in tech is dwindling. Female employees in the field have fallen from 36 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2016, according to a study published by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
In comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that women make up 59 percent of the total work force—a 34 percent difference in relation to the tech sector.
Recruiters, aware of this imbalance, have been pursuing innovative tactics to start to even the playing field. This Fellowship was just such a tactic for Will Reed. The purpose was two-fold: help young women gain exposure to the tech industry and produce a product that would help diminish barriers to entry for women.
Both Codney and Forbess are members of the 10th class of Maroon Coats and became friends during the application process. Codney is a double major, pursuing degrees in both political science and military studies with plans to pursue a master’s degree and later join the U.S. Air Force after graduating in December. She used the internship to grow her relational and communication skills within a male-dominated environment, something that will translate into her career in the military.
For Forbess, the internship was an opportunity to get a preview of the career path she will embark on after graduating next May. As an industrial distribution major, Forbess plans to enter the tech profession and used her time at Will Reed to grow as a professional in the industry. “I learned how to make strategic career moves and that I shouldn’t limit myself when it comes to my vocation,” she said.
On the Job
Throughout the summer, Mulcahy led Codney, Forbess and the other Fellows through an extensive 10-week program where they experienced on-site visits with clients, spent time learning about marketing and relationship building, and heard from inspiring guest speakers. Forbess said her experience with Will Reed gave her a better understanding of what it means to be a careerwoman. “It was an incredibly well-rounded internship,” she said. “My growth as a professional was exponential because we were introduced to so many different facets of business.”
The pair emphasized how helpful it was to have female supervisors like Robinson and Lengyel onsite to encourage them when the job got hard. “Our advisers at Will Reed did a great job of mentoring us,” added Codney. “They were always available to answer any questions and have continued to reach out to us even after the internship ended.”
But Codney and Forbess believe the best part of the experience was getting to tackle a real-world problem and develop a product that continues to contribute to the solution of getting more females in the technology sector.
A major part of their time was spent developing a portfolio of 100 highly qualified collegiate women who are looking to enter technology sales. The list was designed to provide prestigious tech companies with fingertip access to potential female employees. “We condensed the list of 700 individuals down to 100 of the most highly qualified students from around the country,” said Forbess. “We spoke with hundreds of women and examined their educational and work background to ensure that we targeted the best candidates.”
Then Codney and Forbess had to determine how to present The Portfolio to be attractive to hiring tech companies and successfully sold their list to two tech companies—AppDynamics and MongoDB. They have hopes that additional companies will follow suit, and already many Portfolio candidates have been interviewed for positions at these tech companies.
Forbess and Codney are enthusiastic about what they were able to accomplish. “I’m glad we had a small part in helping women break into this industry,” said Codney.
Robinson, Lengyel and Mulcahy are pleased with the success of the Women’s Sales Fellowship in its first year. They plan to keep it going and hope to recruit other capable Maroon Coats in the future. The two hope to get additional students with the kind of attitudes Forbess and Codney brought to their work. “When you have the Maroon Coat on, it’s not about you,” said Codney. “That’s the attitude I took into this Fellowship and will continue to take into my future profession.”