Female undergraduates at Boston College have more resources than ever in their career search, thanks to the Council of Women at Boston College (CWBC). Founded in 2002, the CWBC is made up of more than 140 alumnae and works to increase the involvement and influence of women at BC.
“[The CWBC] is a great way for women alumnae to stay involved with the University and give back to a school they love and to the students,” said Diane Green, CWBC member and BC ’82. “In turn the students will want to give back to the Unversity after they graduate.”
One of the ways in which the CWBC supports young women is through the Preparing for the Journey program. The CWBC also has other programs, including Beginning the Journey, Continuing the Journey, and Refining the Journey.
As a part of these programs, the CWBC organized an event, called “Preparing for the Journey: What’s Your Brand?” Over 100 female undergraduates from all four years registered for event, held last Tuesday night at the Cadigan Alumni Center.
“The goal of this event is to help current students think about how they enter the job market, help them with interviewing-what are the skills that they can bring to an organization-and help them develop their network. We focus on interview skills and what students should do while at BC to facilitate the transition to the workforce,” said Kathleen Gallanar, CWBC member and BC ’86.
Green and Gallanar co-hosted and moderated the event, which was attended by students and alumni, as well as 16 members from the CWBC student advisory board, the liaison through which the CWBC connects with BC students.
“The Student Advisory Board members helped promote the event for us,” Green said. “In addition, they helped tailor the event so that it met their needs. For example, the students told me that the past panels have focused solely on business majors. For this event, our panelists were a chemist, a nurse, a law student, and a businesswoman. It is important for us to listen to the students and address their needs.”
When the Preparing for the Journey program first started, it was directed toward upperclassmen, but now the CWBC encourages underclassmen to attend its events.
“We found freshmen coming and really getting a lot out of [Preparing for the Journey] and thinking about it, because our topics such as personal brand apply throughout your college experience, so now we’re targeting any undergraduate women,” Gallanar said.
The event began with an introduction by Janet Costa Bates, associate director at the Career Center.
“When you’re starting out the process, or if you’ve started the process but didn’t start at this point, here’s what I want: I want you to start first with yourself,” Bates said.
Stating the three questions mentioned in Rev. Himes’ famous talk, she said, “What do I love? What do I do well? And what does the world need? If you idn’t start there when you started thinking about your career plans, that’s where I want you to start.”
Students then had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of four BC alumnae-Erin Barrett BC ’11, Melanie Toner BC ’11, Minela Gacanovic BC ’11, and Amy Calhoun BC ’10-who advised students on how to make the most of the college experience to prepare for a career.
“The point of this-the journey-is that we’re trying to allow people to gain the skills now, so that when they are a part of the alumni network, they are contributing members in whatever profession they do, which is why we have these representatives [at the event] from not just certain business professions, but also careers that apply to A&S, education, nursing-all of the careers that eventually Boston College students will take on,” said Erin Cullen, vice chair of the student advisory board and CSOM ’15.
The main focus of the event was the presentation by Alesia Latson of The Personal Brand Company. Latson, who is an expert on leadership and organizational development and a coauthor of More Time for You, spoke to students and alumni about “Managing Your Personal Brand.”
Latson emphasized that everyone has a personal brand, which is what comes to mind when a person’s name comes up. The personal brand has two parts-the brand within and the brand without. Latson taught students how to manage personal brands with intentional outcomes through examples and demonstrations.
“The brand within is who you say you are,” Latson said. “It’s how you constitute yourself to be. It’s your personal constitution, so it includes your values, your vision, your personal energy and style, your sense of authenticity-all of that is who you say you are.
“And you get to say what that is. The brand without is how you are actually experienced by others. It’s how you land in the hearts and minds of others.
“What managing your brand is all about it is-it’s about creating alignment between how your intending to show up and how you’re actually showing up,” she said.
Latson’s presentation was followed by a quick lesson on transferrable skills by Gallanar. Students then practiced what they had just learned about the personal brand and transferrable skills by networking with alumni and peers at the event.
Students were able to put the ideas of Gallanar and Green into action while making connections with several prominent alumnae. Perhaps just as importantly, students were able to connect with fellow students they may not have met otherwise.
“The CWBC is a huge advantage for all female students to know about, because it’s a great opportunity to network once you leave BC,” Cullen said.
“We want people to be aware of the council and the work that they’re doing, so that once they are eligible to be members, they are ready to go-ready to put forth their own ideas and own energy and kind of invest back into the school, and that’s what we’re hoping that-as you learn about it more as students-you’re ready to do that when you’re alumni.”
An upcoming CWBC event in April will feature Career Exploration Days. On these trips, 12 to 15 female undergraduates will travel to companies in the greater Boston area where executives will provide advice and discuss “career opportunities and what they’re looking for in recent grads,” Gallanar said.
“Your goal isn’t to go there and apply for a job. It is to learn more about the company and the industry,” Green said.
“It’s a great way to get a group of students into a business, versus being here at BC,” Gallanar said. “Being at the company location provides a richer experience to see the employees in action in their own environment.”