Career Advice BU Alumni Wish They Knew in College

The Boston University alumni network is an expansive resource for current students to utilize as they work through their 4 years of college. Thanks to our generous alumni, here is some advice they have for Terriers that they wish they knew while in school.

Want more career advice? Connect with alumni in BU Connects, BU’s first social network just for alumni and students!

Julia Nassar (CAS/GRS ’19) Senior Analyst, The Cadmus Group @juliaanassar

“I wish I better understood the importance of connecting with staff from an organization I was interested in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to ask for an information interview. This shows them you’re interested in learning more and are passionate about their mission, and will make you a lot more memorable than just another resume in the pile. Personal anecdote: my resume was actually screened out from my current position, but I had an informational interview with someone who advocated for me and made sure my resume was thoroughly reviewed.”

Lauren Backus (CGS 2015, COM 2017, Wheelock 2022) Peer Engagement Coordinator, Boston University Center for Career Development & Educational Resource Center @laurenbackus

“I wish I had realized how to network sooner, and how it is much easier to cast a wider net for your network than I had realized (it also does not have to be scary!) You can go beyond talking just to your classmates and employers, also talk to your professors, mentors, advisors, and coworkers, and the people that they can then connect you with! Meeting acquaintances through other acquaintances can be easier than it seems, and more often than not, people are happy to help or introduce you to someone else.”

Ann-Lyssa Asare (Pardee ’20) Policy Specialist, Google

“I always used to make the joke that there should have been an adulting 101 course for juniors and seniors. I had help along the way, but it was so hard to understand at first how to properly file my taxes, 401K, my benefits, and etc. after graduating. I felt like I was thrown into things without a crash course and wish I spent more time enhancing my financial literacy as an upperclassman before graduating. The easiest things to do while still in college to get a jump start would be #1, Get a credit card and work on your credit score. #2 Open a high-yield savings account. #3 Create a budget and track your spending.”

Mindy Hicks (CAS 2017, SPH 2021) Undergraduate Program Administrator, Boston University Biomedical Engineering @100percentthathicks

“I wish I knew not to take the first job offer you get post-grad just because it is the first—make sure it’s a good fit and sets you on your right career path!”

Zachary Tanimoto (Pardee ’19) @zacharaaaye

” #1, Network! Doesn’t have to be formal or involve handing out business cards, just be a likable person in general and make a friend or two in different circles. If you like a professor a lot just get to know them and have them get to know you better. I literally got carried by connections. I was surprised by how helpful a lot of connections I didn’t realize I made throughout college turned out to be. #2, don’t be afraid to drop a class if it’s too hard, if I recall correctly it won’t show up on your transcript as necessarily bad if you do drop a class early in the semester. There is no shame in retaking a class or two. #3, explore the city while you can! Spend a summer in Boston if you can afford to too, it’s great. #4, if you haven’t figured out how to do laundry or cook, now is a good time to do it. But at the same time, a lot of adult stuff can wait, so take advantage of having fun when you can before you’re chained to a 9-5 25 to life.

Craig Strauss (CAS’11) User Experience Researcher, Stripe

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable when it comes to your own knowledge and growth. Our modern workforce is constantly changing and evolving. The best way to meet this challenge is by being a continuously learner. Pushing those uncomfortable boundaries you might have inadvertently have set on yourself can help you try something new. This could be a new technology or even as simple as a new way to phrase something to a colleague. Our next jobs haven’t even been invented yet, so don’t assume what worked in the past, will always apply!”

Sarah Bickford (CAS’20) College Advisor, College Advising Corps @sarahrbickford

“My advice would be don’t be afraid to try something new. BU is full of so many wonderful opportunities and it is never too late to try one! Also, be sure to appreciate the lessons that you are learning through your on-campus clubs, organizations, and employment. I have been surprised by how many skills I learned planning a club event or working in an on-campus office that translate really well into my current job.”

Yanchi Yeung (CAS’ 20, MSW’22) Graduate Student, Boston University School of Social Work @yanchiyeung

“If your classes involve a lot of readings, figure out ahead of time whether you will need to write about it or be tested on it; that way, you can better delegate your time—take notes if you need it later on and skim if it’s mainly for class discussion. This will give you a lot more time for you to spend taking care of yourself! Don’t use that extra time to overload your courses unless you absolutely need it, and make sure to get some extra sleep, it’s worth the FOMO sometimes! If, however, you find yourself studying outside until late, make sure you walk home with a friend or at least share your location to ensure your own safety.”

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