She’s been running businesses since before she could walk (OK, not really, but trust us – almost true). She sleeps 3-4 hours a night. She’s an amazing font of knowledge, drive, energy and ambition, and she’s joining us at #ConnectToConfidence! Welcome to The Fit List, Liz Wessel:
What inspired you to start WayUp? What makes it fundamentally different?
Throughout college, and our first years in the “real-world”, my co-founder (JJ) and I realized that there was a huge disconnect in the way that students were looking for jobs and the way that companies were hiring them. I wanted to solve this problem, and I wanted to create a space where all students could find awesome opportunities during the school year, and where businesses wouldn’t lose their minds trying to hire those students.
Our advantage lies in the fact that we’re truly a two-sided marketplace without the school-barrier (we don’t sell into schools, so businesses can reach students at over 3,000 schools with our platform). Furthermore, companies are easily able to set expectations and find quality applicants within a matter of hours. Reversely, students are able to save their information, sort through what looks interesting to them, and apply to jobs that they know they’re qualified for (because you only see jobs that match your profile).
“If you’re not on WayUp, then you’re probably on your way down.” I want to be on the way up, what should I do?
We’re all about connecting students with awesome opportunities. This can mean creating a (free) student account on wayup.com in under 30 seconds and get started on your job search. Or, if you already have a job, finding your WayUp can simply mean checking out our blog content for unique tips, or following our social channels for relatable college inspiration.
I’m a freshman. Internships are tough to come by this summer. What’s your advice?
Expand your search. You never know which companies might be hiring for the field you’re looking to get into. You should also be open to new opportunities, like virtual gigs that you can do from your computer at home. Next, talk to everyone! I’m a strong believer that your connections don’t have to fuel your job search. Email around and see what’s open. The worst someone can say is ‘no’.
And of course, last but not least – employers on WayUp are able to select what graduation year they are looking for. If you’re a Freshman using our site, all the jobs you see are ones that you are actually qualified for.
What are the best things you did in college to prepare you to be a business leader?
In college, I started my first business, PennEats (which later grew to become UniEats), where I learned real people management skills as well as how to pitch an idea to other businesses. That was also the first time I learned both how much I loved being an entrepreneur, and how difficult it was to efficiently hire students without paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to career fairs.
You’re a very successful young woman entrepreneur. How does the “woman” part play into things? Are you ever treated differently because you are a woman?
This is obviously a hot topic- considering it’s a question I get in almost every interview. (I doubt any male entrepreneurs are being asked about their gender.) That being said, I can only speak from my personal experience. I don’t feel that it’s necessarily been harder or easier for me to build a business because I’m a woman. It can definitely be interesting when you walk into an investor meeting or summit, because it can feel like a bit of a boys’ club, but I’ve never felt “less-than” in these situations. However, I have heard horror stories from women entrepreneurs, and you can’t discount that. I’m very aware that the bias against women exists, and I can’t help but shake my head when I hear the stories. But luckily, I haven’t faced this myself.
When you went to work for Google, you told them you were going to leave after two years to start a company. I know “honesty is the best policy,” but I also want to get hired. How honest should I be on my interviews if I’m not planning a long-term career at the place I am interviewing?
It obviously largely depends on the context. If you’re being honest about the fact that you have big aspirations, and plans to make them happen, that’s fine. If you’re telling the company that you like to hop around and might not be interested in 2 years, that’s a different story.
You’ve been running businesses since you were in college! How do you get everything done? How do you make time for friends and family?
I sleep an average of 3-4 hours a night, which allows me an extra chunk of the day to get things done. I’m lucky that this doesn’t affect my ability to do things efficiently — I’ve always been able to run on little sleep, which is an awesome advantage. I make time for the things that I consider top priority: I see my family often, and I still make time to check in on people I care about.
When you’re having a day that you just aren’t feeling it, what do you do to recharge?
Without trying to cop out of this question- I’ve yet to have a day that I’m “not feeling it.” I do have days when I am frustrated or where things don’t go the way they should. However, when you’re solving a problem that you’re passionate about, the positive responses from your customers and users should provide all the motivation you need. Every day, my team members and I wake up to emails from college students who were able to pay off their tuition or get their dream job through our site. Some might say, “Great, the product’s working!” For me, that’s my re-charge where I think, “Great, what can we tackle next?”
Kick ass outfit for interviewing?
Totally depends on where your interview is. Always do your research before going into an interview, right down to the attire. If you’re interviewing at a startup, chances are you shouldn’t wear a suit. One hack for figuring out the culture and dress attire beforehand: look up their social channels and company blog. You definitely don’t want to be underdressed, but coming in a full suit and tie when everyone else is in a t-shirt can be a bit uncomfortable for you.
What makes you feel confident?
Knowing that I’m making a difference- and knowing that ultimately, no one really knows what they’re doing any more than I do. Having now worked at Google and at WayUp with incredibly accomplished people, I can safely say that I think no one in the world (except, perhaps, doctors) knows exactly what they’re doing. Rather, some people are just smart and make educated decisions based on information they have. Once you understand this, you can have the confidence to just go out and DO. Don’t be afraid to break boundaries, and don’t be afraid to try something just because someone else said it wasn’t the “right” way.
What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become Fit to Lead?
Someone can become Fit to Lead when they are a person that others can admire, whether it be because they’re smart, hard-working, trustworthy, and/or ambitious. It’s someone who can rally a team to take risks and be bold.
Last piece of advice?
“Win the war, not just the battle.” The is one of our company’s Core Values and a piece of advice I always try to give myself. When you’ve got big aspirations, it can be easy to make hurried choices because of short-sighted goals. Quick wins and fast growth can be good, but they still have to be thought through.
Learn more about WayUp, scope out job opportunities and meet Liz at #ConnectToConfidence on May 21, 2016 in NYC.