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Meet 3 Great Gals Going Places

Editorial Team | On March 2, 2010

Hannah Seligson

Hannah Seligson, who grew up in Alexandria, Va., says that after she graduated from Brown University with a degree in political science she took a job–then found herself glued to a computer looking at spread sheets.

“I took a job in political consulting, where I was essentially an Excel monkey,” she says. “The job was a bad fit all around, and they beat me to the punch and fired me after nine months.” That inspired her to write a career guide for young women, called New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches (Citadel, $19.95).

“I wrote the book that I wish I had had when I graduated college in 2004,” says Seligson, now a journalist, author, speaker and blogger. “Being a journalist appeals to me because I love finding the story in things, even if it’s something like a dog parade. ‘Why’ is my favorite word.”

“My biggest fear when I entered the workplace was that I would dread going to work every morning,” she says. “That I’d have to endure a case of the Sunday night blues for the next 50 years. I’m very lucky to be doing something that I love now, but even when you land your dream career, stagnation can happen. I try to tackle it by finding ways to keep my career fresh and interesting. I’m always asking myself: ‘How can I avoid falling asleep at my computer today?’”

Allison Pillinger

As the daughter of a Korean mother and an American father, Allison Pillinger had a culturally diverse childhood in South Florida. She attended public and private schools, played competitive tennis and traveled the world. At 18, she entered Harvard, where she was an editor on The Harvard Crimson. After graduation, she joined Goldman Sachs in New York.

“Many people commented that this seems to be an ‘expected’ path,” she says. “Quite the contrary. During my senior year of college, that goal was landing a job. I didn’t need to have a degree in economics to know that the market was quite competitive. The supply of analyst spots on Wall Street was certainly less than the demand. I needed an edge, my personal story that would differentiate me from the pack. My edge came from learning about and being honest with myself. This meant going through many interviews (practice interviews are often undervalued), constructively receiving feedback and having conversations with industry contacts from diverse backgrounds.”

Her advice two years later? “Do not underestimate the challenge, but at the same time do not be intimidated. We all experience it, we all grow with it and we can all have a success story from it.”

Stephanie Argyros

Stephanie Argyros’ family owned a bagel shop. “I literally grew up behind the counter. I’d been serving coffee and working in that environment since I was 13 and eventually managed the store with my older sister.”

Shortly before graduating from New York University in 2006, she registered with the school’s career center. “Within 48 hours, I received an e-mail to attend an interview with a Starbucks recruiter,” she says. “I wanted to find something in social work, but my employer at the time didn’t offer benefits and I thought perhaps I could make more money with Starbucks. The company’s mission statement and guiding principles really resonated with me.”

She left that first meeting with a Starbucks recruiter “on the verge of tears. I felt like I had just made a friend rather than having just been through a job interview. I realized that I didn’t have to be a social worker to make peoples’ lives better.”

She joined the company in March 2006. Fourteen months later she was promoted to store manager, supervising some 40 people. Argyros now manages the highest profile Starbucks location in New York City. “Every day I am faced with hundreds of opportunities to enhance, enrich, inspire and uplift other people whether they are the partners who work with me or the customers I connect with.”

Why is Starbucks the right fit? “I get to see immediate results in the smiles of my customers as they relax in the café. I also get to see long term results when, for example, a partner I hired as a barista gets promoted to shift supervisor. Knowing that I played a role in another human’s development just makes me feel good.”