More than 50 Boston College female undergraduates had the chance to network and gain insight on furthering their career interests on Saturday at the Boston College Women’s Summit, organized by UGBC’s Division of Student Initiatives.
A leadership development seminar with expert Katie Kelley, BC ’97, opened the event, teaching participants about formulating a career vision and finding fulfillment both professionally and personally. Roundtable discussions followed to consider Kelley’s key questions about career clarity, confidence, and entrepreneurial mindset, among other themes.
Time for networking with fellow students and alumnae was spread throughout the day, which was centered on a panel with four female BC graduates who have thrived in varying facets of the business world. All based in New York City, the women shared experiences about transitioning out of BC into the work environment, learning to find their own unique and influential voice, and designing meaningful lives outside of the office.
Jessica Ann Morris, a strategic communications expert and BC ’97, emphasized the role networking played in establishing her career.
“The biggest thing I could say in terms of how I got my first opportunity was networking, so if anyone is afraid of that word, get over it now,” Morris said. “Every opportunity that I had in my career came out of networking, not a job board, not a recruiter, but using the people that I knew.”
The other panelists also pointed to finding a connection or mentor, perhaps within the BC alumni network, and building a close relationship as an important part to career development.
“This idea of the energy you feel from someone else as a driving force to make decisions when you have no other historical data to help you decide, it’s a hugely powerful thing to tap into when you graduate from college, because you’re not going to have a whole lot else to go with,” said Jocelyn Walters, director of law programs at the Fullbridge Program and BC ’01.
Walters also described how moments of failure in her career provided a sense of clarity, and allowed her to realize which elements of her situation she had control over.
“There was a point in my career where I hated my job, I felt like they didn’t care about me, I wanted to move, I wanted more money,” Walters said. “Some of the things I took away from all the hardship was being reliable, being accountable, and being positive. I had control over being positive and reaching out to my network.”
Julie Tucker Rollauer, the head of industry for consumer packaged goods at Google and BC ’97, talked about the importance of building your own brand. When she interviews candidates, she said she is not considering only how smart they are, but also if they are reliable, self-aware, and able to work well with others.
Allison McEnerney Sletteland, BC ’97, who works in the financial services industry for the Zurich Insurance Group’s Global Corporate in North America, encouraged participants to pursue new activities or interests in college to make themselves more unique in the eyes of potential employers.
In its first year, the summit sought to facilitate a place for BC female undergraduates to learn from alumnae and improve their confidence about future endeavors.
“We’re trying to get women in a place where they feel empowered by having alums who have very similar stories to where they are at this point talk about their challenges and tribulations, as well as their successes,” said Emily Kaiser, UGBC vice president of student initiatives and CSOM ’14.
Sloan Renfro, director of women’s issues and empowerment in student initiatives and A&S ’16, said they hope to make the summit an annual event, pulling in more alumnae from more varied backgrounds in the future and creating a larger-scale BC female community.
“I think that having one central event year after year creates tradition and creates a very important message that people look forward to, people get excited about, and people start talking about,” Renfro said. “Hopefully something tangible like this will spark other initiatives on campus.”