By: Emelyn Theriault
As a BU student majoring in public relations, I am constantly reminded of the importance of communication. How you present yourself as a PR practitioner and interact with journalists via the media or in person can make or break a pitch. Similarly, in everyday life, it is crucial to be intentional about how you show up when engaging with peers, coworkers, managers, and recruiters. Possessing the skills of a qualified candidate is important, but you must also have the confidence to advocate for yourself and be willing to take the initiative to connect with others. If reading these first four sentences has set you into a panic, fret not because the following story may help you realize that opportunities to network for your career might be right around the corner.
In the fall of 2021, I ran a 10K race in Boston with my mom. While exploring the post-race expo booths, we were each offered a free pair of running sneakers by a man named Fred. A few months later, after having run several times with the pair of sneakers I had received, I was contacted by an organization looking to see if the BU Running Club would be interested in volunteering at a cheer station along the race course of the upcoming Boston Marathon. As the social chair of the BU Running Club, I replied with a resounding “yes” and was connected with Fred – yes, the same Fred who gave my mom and I the sneakers. Fred helped me figure out the logistics of the cheering station and made sure we had all the necessary supplies.
About six months after having cheered over 20,000 runners on at the April 2022 Boston Marathon, I was reunited with Fred. I had been applying to internships for a few months at this point but hadn’t had much luck finding a hiring organization to which I truly felt connected. Remembering Fred and the positive interactions I had had with him in the past, I decided to look into what he actually did for a living. My research made me want to explore an opportunity to intern with his company. I drafted an email that expressed my interest and demonstrated how I would be able to impact Fred’s firm in a meaningful way. I secured an interview and am happy to announce that I will be interning at the firm this summer.
Networking does not always have to occur at a professional conference; it can also be a fortuitous process. The key is that you must be willing to reach out and take action. Also, since you never know when you might randomly cross paths with someone or intentionally want to reconnect with a person, it is important to be mindful of your reputation. For instance, since I had had such positive recollections associated with Fred, he was someone I remembered and made the effort to reach out to for an internship. And since I demonstrated my responsible, hard-working attitude and strong communication skills each time I interacted with Fred, he felt confident offering me an interview and a position to intern on his team.
At a time when the job market is incredibly saturated and employees are increasingly seen as replaceable parts in a system, it is more important than ever to demonstrate your value and constantly build your career readiness. Career readiness is a term used to encompass the transferable skills, experience, and personal attributes that each of us possesses.
The Center for Career Development has a number of workshops throughout the semester that can help you learn more tools, tips, and tricks to gain the confidence to take action and be a change-maker. There are also a number of identity-centered resources so you can explore and pursue your career journey. The Career Development Cycle can help you understand where you are along your personal and professional path as well as recommend profitable actions you may take at any stage. Networking platforms like BU Connects and LinkedIn can assist you in connecting with other professionals and put your foot in the door.
Cultivating, keeping, and capitalizing on your connections can set you apart and help you succeed.