Today is a special day – Iwona’s birthday!!! Please wish her well…we’re excited to feature her on this special day 🙂
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I have been to over 25 countries and lived on three continents, but I spent most of my life in Warsaw, Poland. In Poland, when you apply to college, you have to choose your major straight away. I wasn’t quite sure about what I wanted to major in (I even flirted with the idea of applying to film school). I definitely wanted a liberal arts education to satisfy my curiosity about the world. I ended up choosing Yale University and I moved over 4,000 miles away from home by myself for college.
Although I started out as an engineering major to address my passion for problem solving, I have taken many economics and psychology classes that I loved. It was great being able to branch out like that. A few weeks ago, I graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Science and in Economics. After graduation, I moved to New York City, and I now work full-time at the same company that I interned with the summer before my senior year.
Favorite website / app:
Spotify. I use it all the time, both on my iPhone and my laptop. It makes discovering music so much easier.
What is your favorite time of day?
Very late night/early morning, when most other people are asleep. There is more of the world available for those who are still awake (or up early).
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
There are so many people I admire at my job — it would be impossible to choose just one. I have worked/interned for several great managers and I try to emulate the best qualities of each of them.
If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
*Not* tell anyone that I won.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I know first-hand the many challenges that women face in the workplace. I know that it can be hard, but it’s okay to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks.
In my first semester at Yale, I joined a nanotech lab and it soon turned out that I was the only undergraduate and the only woman on the team. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to gain the respect I deserved as an equal. When you are the only woman in the room, you have to act like you belong; because you do belong and you worked hard to be there. I focused on the job at hand, not on gender gaps. I enjoyed the work so much that I ended up pursuing my individual senior project on one of the nanomaterials that I had researched in the lab. I also got involved in the Society of Women Engineers and I was elected to the Executive Board of the Yale Society of Women Engineers my sophomore year.
No matter what field you are trying to conquer, there will be tough situations and tough people to deal with. None of those things matter if you love what you are doing and want to be where you are. Just remember to keep your chin up, stay committed, and keep moving forward. The journey into the unknown will do you wonders.
Growing up in Poland, I was able to observe many of the challenges facing developing countries. This played a huge role in shaping my career goals. I became naturally interested in the role that technology and financial democratization can play in reducing inequality within and among countries.
I have recently been accepted to the MBA Program at the Yale School of Management, which I deferred to gain more business experience before going back to the classroom. I strongly believe in the alliance between business and society, and as I advance my skills I will become an asset in continuing to bring these groups together. Ten years from now, I want to look back on my career and be proud of my work and its impact on society.