My Female Summer in NYC – Living & Working With Women

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Klaudia Amenábar, COL ’16

KlaudiaMy experiences working in groups of women has never been good. I’m a dancer and an actress, and in those environments it usually turns catty and unsupportive. So when I started my summer internship at MOGUL, a content sharing platform startup for women, and moved to a historic women’s boardinghouse in New York, I was honestly nervous. But on my first day, I went to a yacht party and saw T-Pain live. Welcome to MOGUL! This was going to be awesome.

I should start with living in New York. So far, I have found very few negatives – I feel the happiest I’ve been in a long time here, like I belong, like I have everything that I need around me. Sometimes I take a taxi to work just to stick my head out the window and feel the breeze and the city on my face. Even when I’m alone I feel like I’m in the right place, on the right path. I don’t know if this comes from what I’m doing or where I am, but I’ve always loved the city, and always loved New York. I come from Washington, DC, but the suburbs, and went to Penn because it was in a city. Deep down, I always knew I’d end up in New York after graduation, and this summer has only confirmed how much I want that. It has also given me the confidence to make that dream happen – I was honestly scared of moving straight to the city, but now that I’ve been here for a while in my “summer preview”, I can’t wait.

Despite loving New York so much, most of my time here has been dedicated to MOGUL. I knew going in that working at a small but fast-growing startup would be all-encompassing, but I had no idea what it meant professionally. When I worked on Capitol Hill, my work ended when I left. But at a small company like this, I have been given a lot of responsibility, and entrusted with a lot. Some days I go home and still have hours of work to do, but I remember that THAT is what I’m here for. 

While the work is engrossing and I’ve learned more than I could in a whole semester at school, my favorite part of the experience has been my coworkers. We work in a shared office, 4 employees plus some interns and remote coworkers, so we spend the whole day on our computers together. The conversation in the office flows seamlessly from closing investor deals to someone’s date last night, and we switch from laughing at cat videos to silently pinging each other on GMAIL chat. I feel personally connected to every woman in the office, especially the CEO Tiffany, and my mentor and department boss, Namisha. The women in this office are incredibly busy, and incredibly accomplished, and they take time out of their day that they could be making money to sit with me and teach me about marketing (and about life). I don’t mind staying late to work when I know I’ll have them by my side, simultaneously writing partner proposals and showing me an awesome new website to buy affordable dresses. 

My experience working at a startup, especially one staffed and created by women, has included everything from celebrity retweets and cool events to mountains of work and Chinese takeout. I am so glad they want me to continue working for them part time in the fall, because I would miss these women so much – their expertise, unique personalities and amazing generosity. 

Check out MOGUL at!


Womens’ Wages

This topic came up recently in a workshop I was leading on job offer negotiations.  I wanted to answer a student’s question regarding how to be sure as a woman, you are paid the same as men by an employer making a job offer.  The answer is… you can’t, even though it has been the law since 1963. BUT, there are things you can do to help with the issue of income disparity, including your own.

Be aware of what is systemic:

Research the organizational culture. Are there women in leadership or management positions? Does the organization say they are interested in diversity? Does the organization have policies which support issues that might affect your work if you have family responsibilities?  (such as flex-time, maternity leave).  Are the organization’s policies for promotion clear? For example, you can read a recent article on Goldman Sachs diversity initiatives.

Here is information on how to research potential employers. You can also use these tips from LinkedIn, if you have a profile on the site.

Be aware of your own responsibility:

One reason women may not earn as much as men is they may be less likely to negotiate and advocate for themselves. The best time to negotiate is when you have an offer but before you have accepted a position.  Here is more information on negotiating offers.  Learn strategies to negotiate compensation based on your value to the organization and then try.  Learning how to negotiate well is a skill you can use throughout your career – this is important no matter your gender.  Take credit for your own efforts and results, even as you recognize the contribution of others.

Do what you can do to be informed and make change:

Look outside yourself to mentors in your department or company, and through professional organizations such as Catalyst.  Here is a directory of women’s professional associations:

Be aware of current data and trends. You can read articles or studies, or support organizations that are making sure this issue is in the news and on policymakers’ radars.  This is a good place to start your research on the topic – Wikipedia’s “Male–female income disparity in the United States.”   Learn about current news such as the Lily Ledbetter case or the recent repeal of the Wisconsin equal pay law.

Whether or not you are worried how the “wage gap” or income disparity will affect you, the idea that you stay informed on trends, that you understand your value as an employee, and advocate for yourself is crucial to your success no matter your career path, field or gender.