Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The one phrase heard around the Heights more than “all I want is some Chobani” may be the infamous and impersonal false promise of “let’s catch up sometime!” Networking at Boston College is an art, a legitimate major, and an arduous skill that must be mastered. It can be seen in the way clubs solicit members, retreat groups plead for meal plan money, and how seniors grovel at the career fairs. With freshman CSOMers already making personalized business cards (which, mind you, simply say “John Smith, Boston College Student”), it’s hard not to feel as though you need to be throwing your own name, in some form or fashion, at everyone who walks by. What if that’s your future boss, or the person who will land you that life-changing internship at Deloitte? Honestly, I hope you have your running shoes on, because it’ll take all you’ve got to restrain your urges to chase them down.
While we are in no way as viciously competitive as The Big Red (rumor has it those are the kids ripping out the pages of each others’ books), there certainly is a competitive vibe here on campus, especially when it comes to networking. We need to be the most-known, have the best reputation, and be seen as the student with the most potential. Sure, it’s a known fact that BC is full of type-A students, but do we all need to be A plus students, all the time? BC professors don’t even give out A-pluses, no matter how many times you go to Professors and Pastries to “butter them up” [pun intended]. And in reality, our peers are just that—peers. So why do we feel the need to suck up to every being that passes through the Quad?
What happened to real relationships at BC? Hillside is crammed with people, just like you, making small talk to keep up that relationship with the girl you had Spanish with freshman year, because after all, she’s in CSOM and bound to make double whatever job you land with your inferior non-pre-professional degree. We become too busy grabbing lunch, dinner, and meals we make up (which then we have to go Plex off) to fit in everyone we have to meet with that day. What is the real pay off of this networking? Connections to mod parties, or more importantly, internships and jobs? Are these connections really worth sacrificing the intimate relationships that we are supposed to be forming here? I love a good night on Foster as much as the next BC biddie, but I also like to be able to watch Batman on a Tuesday night with people I know won’t hate me for quoting every line.
Don’t get me wrong: I do not underestimate or intend to undermine the importance of networking. I realize it has benefits and can help us advance in our social lives and careers. I’m not saying that ignoring people is better than saying hello, but what are our motivations in just saying hello? I just ask that we, as a student body, step back and question what are we doing—and if it is in excess. Are we pretending to care about people for selfish reasons? Are we asking our history professor how she is because we care about her, or the grade we are going to get on the next paper? Are we grabbing lunch with the girl down the hall because she’s simply fantastic, or because she has connections in 4Boston?
This quality of a BC student is as permanent as the Mods—and though I am not complaining, lets be real, those things are here for life. I have more hope in the football team winning against Notre Dame than in people giving up their hyper-networking ways. We need it, we thrive off it, and it’s as simple as that.
Much like the Mods, I feel that people want this quality to be permanent. It’s easy and comfortable. How much effort does it take to shoot out a friendly Facebook message every two or three weeks just to keep your name floating in someone’s head? We love to put on the facade of being best friends with everyone that walks by, but in reality you text them less than you text your mom, who doesn’t even know what texting is. It’s easier to keep surface relationships than to put the effort into forming five or six close bonds. We all feel great when we are able to say “hi” to 20 people when walking from Devlin to Mac. It makes us feel good, popular, and liked. But there is something special about those close relationships. These are the people who want you to succeed, who are really willing to help, and who will write you that kickass recommendation. They know you for both your strengths and your weaknesses, and they care. They are the ones you can count on to grab you late night when you are writing an English paper, to hold your hand (and your body) as you stumble back to Vanderslice Hall, and to give you that warm hug when you are homesick. So next time you are booking your iCal for lunch in Eagle’s Nest three weeks down the road with that kid who sits two rows behind you in math, pause and remember a bit of wisdom from both me and my ancient friend Plautus: “Nothing but Heaven is better than having a friend, who is really a friend.”