Alumni Reflect on Workplace Experiences at Diversity Networking Night

The Boston College Career Center and the Division of Student Affairs hosted a networking event titled “Because We Are: Diversity Networking Night” on March 19, which hosted alumni who identify as AHANA+, LGBTQ+, first-generation college students, or financially in need to network with students in the Heights Room.

A panel of four alumni spoke generally about their experiences in the workplace and how they pertain to their diverse identities. The panel was made up of Ilyitch Nahiely Tabora, BC ’03, John Scola, BC ’11,  Alessandra Brown, BC ’08, and Tim Lee, BC ’18.

Jabril Robinson, assistant director of Career Education and Diversity Initiatives for the Career Center, introduced the panel and talked about the need for empowerment among marginalized communities in terms of career discernment.

“Despite the storms, despite the daily insults, harmful prejudices, racism, microaggressions, and acts of violence, we have a decision,” he said. “That decision is to show up, a decision to be our best and use our ultimate resource, which is our resourcefulness, like the people around us here [tonight].”

The four panelists fielded questions from Fatoumata Sall, the panel’s moderator and MCAS ’21.

Nahiely Tabora asked both the students and alumni in the audience if they had struggled to find a space in which they felt comfortable embracing their identities, something she said she has sought in both her education and workplace. The question prompted nearly all in attendance to raise their hands.

“What [my time at BC] helped me to do was find a space even when it didn’t feel welcoming,” she said. “It allowed me to figure out how to be authentically ‘me,’ with my very Latina, very urban identity—who is still a scholar—and allowed me to find a space to reconcile all that and use that as an asset for getting ahead and for making my education actually real and valuable to me.”

Scola said that as a former first-generation Montserrat student, he often took a self-sufficient approach to his education, and that attitude has in part carried over to his time in the workforce.

“Over the last eight years, since I’ve been in the workforce, I think I have a greater appreciation for not always relying on myself, and being humble enough to ask for help,” he said, with numerous attendees snapping in response.

Sall agreed with his sentiment, saying that the concept of asking for help in the face of pride is one she struggles with herself.

“I think of an analogy,” said Lee. “[It’s] like how in class, the teachers are like, ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question because odds are someone else has the same question.’ And I think that’s really applicable.”

In response to a question asking for tips for students seeking internships in the summer or otherwise, Brown encouraged students to know what they are looking for in whatever position they seek. She said that people must seek growth in what they do, and she relayed her story of switching from the nonprofit world to the for-profit one.

Lee spoke to the importance of hard work, saying that a competitive mentality is the key to getting ahead in the workplace even if it means putting in long hours and sacrificing comfort, a notion with which Brown took issue.

“I live by airplane rules now, primarily because I’m always on one,” Brown said. “But they tell you that when the [air masks] drop from the ceiling, make sure that you put yours on before you put someone else’s on. And that’s the most important information I have probably ever gotten in my whole entire life.”

The panel was followed by dessert and roundtable discussions, in which students could network with the many alumni in attendance.

Featured Image by Danny Flynn / Heights Editor

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Danny Flynn is The Heights' own Copy Chief. Firm in his belief that New Haven, Conn. is home to the world's best pizza, Danny is an avid Liverpool FC fan, Weezer apologist, and fully commits to his subpar humor. Email him at [email protected], or follow his twitter, @dannygflynn.