The professional deck is stacked against women, and it can get pretty overwhelming.
We always hear how the traits we’re socialized to have (reticence, cooperation, empathy) are detrimental in the workplace and that we’re supposed to adopt traditionally masculine traits to be successful in business.
But not too masculine, because then everyone will hate us and it will backfire.
It’s exhausting! And confusing.
Thank goodness for organizations like Levo League, the brainchild of founders Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn, who met while working together at prestigious consulting firm McKinsey and Co. After some drama surrounding its inception, Levo has become an online networking organization to help Gen Y women set themselves up for professional success.
We were lucky enough to speak with the minds behind Levo to find out what it can do for us, how we should use it and what’s next for the company.
LearnVest: We already have networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. What makes Levo so special?
Amanda Pouchot: We’re trying to create a space where it’s the norm to share your advice and experience and help connect women with opportunities. Women don’t have huge networks like men do–theirs are smaller, but deeper. People who join Levo know it’s a place where we celebrate women’s successes, where we want to learn from each other and become better professionals and people. It’s nice to have a place online where everyone is rooting for you to succeed.
LV: Do you need to have any specific credentials to join? Do you have to be a certain age?
AP: The site is aimed at Gen Y women, but there’s no age or education requirement. We’re really just looking for women who want to improve themselves and change the world. The biggest qualification is that you want to make a difference and you’re open to feedback. We want to know why you want to be here and what you want to do for the world.
LV: Part of the site is “office hours,” where successful women open themselves up to questions and conversation from members of the community. Should users take advantage with the aim of developing mentorships?
Caroline Ghosn: People tend to believe that mentors are vertical, but especially in our economic environment, we have to think about other ways to seek out mentorship. Your mentor could be your sounding board and thought partner–really anyone who is helpful and encouraging in your own trajectory.
AP: Levo democratizes the advice–you’re getting mentors from your peers and from women who have more experience. Mentorship is really about sharing experiences and learning, while sponsorship is more about vouching for you and helping you find opportunities. A year ago I wouldn’t have considered myself a mentor to someone, but now Caroline is a mentor to me and I am to her.
LV: As the founders and those who know the site best, where do you recommend a new member start? What shouldn’t she miss?
AP: The first thing you want do to is fill out your profile completely, whether you’re looking for jobs or just connections. If you’re looking for a job, the best thing to do is look through jobs other women have and find someone to reach out to and ask about her career. Look at the advice we have around cover letters, resumes, interviews. Look at the ompanies that have posted jobs on the site and remember that you can reach out to the company or the recruiter. You are no longer in this alone–you have a whole community that wants you to succeed.
CG: Get involved, participate in discussions, show up at office hours–sometimes women will open their actual offices to Levo members to stop by and talk, so go to their environments when they offer. You get what you put into it. It’s just like college—if you show up at office hours prepared and ask the right questions, you’re better equipped to make the most of it. You can meet the person you start a company with, or the person who will be your sounding board for the next big decision in your life. Do it!
LV: What’s next for Levo?
CG: We’re about to make tremendous strides with our product and expansion. We’re encouraging users to get more actively involved while our community is still small enough that everyone kind of knows each other. Because we have an office in New York City, we have our own network of founders, interns and advisors and we have a series of events we host at our office. Amanda does wine Wednesdays and we have founder breakfasts on Friday mornings.
AP: Stay tuned for the things we’re launching this summer: a dynamic conversation platform and a site for women to find resources to set up life post-college, as well as more tools for connecting and for helping identify your passions. We listen to what our community wants, so if you want something, let us know!