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Women at Smith: Cara Weikel, MBA ’12

Aug 08, 2014
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Roundabout Path

No Role Model, No Excuse 

A business mentor would have been helpful for Cara Weikel, MBA ’12, during her high school or undergraduate studies.

“My skills and my interests were well-aligned with business,” she said. “I just had no idea. Business just was not on the radar because I had no role models at all in business.”

Instead, she gravitated toward something familiar, working for three years as a middle school chemistry teacher before realizing she might have an aptitude for business consulting.

“When I finished my undergraduate degree, I did not even know what business consulting was,” said Weikel, who leveraged her MBA at the Smith School into a senior consulting position at First Annapolis Consulting in Maryland.

Having the right conversations with the right role models can activate someone’s mind to new career possibilities, but such guides do not always to appear. Weikel eventually reached out to a career counselor, who provided tests, tools and other resources to help her find a new path.

“While I did not have traditional role models, I certainly did not go it alone,” she says.

Weikel said women looking for the right path also can benefit from private conversations with trusted sources about issues such as organizational culture. She includes such conversations in her due diligence before taking a new job or considering other career moves.

“It gives you an opportunity to ask some questions that you might not ask in a mixed environment,” she said.

When vetting business schools as a prospective student in 2010, Weikel said the Smith Association of Women MBAs provided the right platform for intimate conversations with female students, faculty and staff. “Hearing from them about their experiences at the Smith School provided a sense of support,” she said.

Once she arrived as a full-time student, Weikel worked to enhance the Smith experience for others as MBA Association President. She also shares her talents as a community-based volunteer.
“Having a support network makes a difference,” she said. “This includes connecting with others and helping them discover their strengths.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.