Is it possible to make a purse out of scraps? For the creative students in the MentHER group, it is.
This semester, MentHER hosted Lansdowne High School at the Sandbox in Hawkins Hall for a “Pitch the Purse” event. Using recycled items such as egg cartons, fabric scraps, and ribbon, students were tasked to construct a purse as well as the contents inside. Students were given an hour to design, construct, and pitch their purse to the group. After the pitch, students received feedback on how to improve their business acumen going forward.
“MentHER provided us a space at “Pitch the Purse to guide and collaborate with women with a fun project but also observe their impressive business knowledge as high school students,” shared project management & business analysis student Sadie Barrett.
The Pitch the Purse event aimed to instill teamwork, innovative thinking, collaboration, and confidence in the students through providing unusual materials and minimal directions. By doing so, students had the opportunity to push themselves in a real-world simulation of the creation and pitching process. Pitch the Purse embraces the idea that failing forward can bring the best innovation.
Lansdowne High School students extended these ideas during the event. Students made quick decisions and bartered for better materials, building business confidence, and overcoming stereotypes of women in business being “bossy” in the workplace by expressing themselves. Students also expressed great teamwork, as they not only worked together on the creation of the purses but opted to all pitch take turns while pitching their ideas, building upon their collaboration and public speaking skills.
MentHER is a “lift as you rise” program that combines networking and mentorship opportunities among women to support the growth, education, and empowerment of College of Business & Economics students and high school students in the Baltimore area. The program works to connect professional businesswomen with 1:1 mentoring relationships with CBE students, who in turn mentor students at Lansdowne High School.
During this event, CBE MentHER members were on hand to give guidance and support to the Lansdowne High School students. MentHER members offered their leadership to the high school students to help them gain the confidence to take on the task themselves, despite the time constraints and minimal direction.
“I feel that the event served as a great opportunity to get a feel for “hands off” leadership as it related to teamwork because, while I played a supporting role in the activity, it was really the high school students who made most of the decisions on how they wanted to design their purse and what they wanted their pitch for it to be” explains Jeannie Rowe, a human resource management student in CBE.
MentHER empowers women by providing mentoring in financial literacy, career planning, and life and workplace skills. The MentHER program also builds college and career readiness by bringing Lansdowne High School students to the TU campus and gives them access to college facilities. “MentHER openly talks about advantages and disadvantages of being a woman in the workplace, so it is important for us to work together, and know that we can support each other,” said Chloe Gladson, a marketing concentration student.
MentHER continues to impact women within multiple stages of their lives to gain the business skills and confidence they will need to further their careers. MentHER gives women a space that they do not normally receive in the business world and allows them to expand their knowledge and future careers in an area where they are not commonly in power. As described by Rowe, “the program not only allows young adult women to inspire women younger than them, but it also allows for young women to be inspired by and develop professional relationships with women in the business world.”