On Tuesday evening, the Council for Women of Boston College (CWBC) hosted “Preparing for the Journey: What’s Your Brand,” an event aimed at assisting undergraduate students with career development.
As an initiative started by CWBC several years ago, “Preparing for the Journey” is an annual program that includes career and networking presentations for undergraduate women. The series features opportunities for students to network with accomplished alumnae from a variety of career fields.
Through panels and discussion, the alumnae provide career advice on interviewing, networking, and future internship and career opportunities, offering knowledge and experience as a resource as a resource for young undergraduates seeking to make connections in various career fields.
This year’s program focused on the importance of identifying and establishing a personal brand, and it included counsel from the BC Career Center, an alumni panel, and guest speaker Alesia Latson.
Janet Costa Bates, associate director of the BC Career Center, commenced the program with a discussion of on-campus, career-related resources available to students. The Career Center offers services such as workshops and career fairs, career counseling, and self-assessment tools. The newest addition is an online resource called CareerEdge, which informs students of various internship and career opportunities.
“The entire process of developing a career plan is hard work, and the Career Center is here to prepare students for that process,” Costa Bates said. “In addition to the Career Center, there are numerous resources and programs, such as this one, available to students-it is important to utilize the faculty, administrators, and alumni.”
The panel featured four alumnae who spoke on the transition between graduation and entering the job market, with specific focus on the importance of networking. The panelists included Erin Barrett, BC ’11; Melanie Toner, BC ’11; Minela Gacanovic, BC ’11; and Amy Calhoun, BC ’10.
Barrett, after deciding to pursue medicine and transferring from A&S to CSON, currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Stepdown Unit. Toner, a communications major with a pre-law focus, is completing her third year of study at Suffolk Law School, while also interning at the Attorney General’s Office in the consumer protection division.
Gacanovic, a finance and marketing major, recently left her job in foreign exchange trading at Barclays to work in foreign exchange trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Calhoun, with a degree in chemistry, currently works for Novartis, specializing in the area of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The featured speaker, Alesia Latson, discussed the importance of maintaining and managing a personal brand. Latson received her M.A. in training and development from Lesley University, and she has previously held management and organizational development roles in financial services organizations, healt care, and government.
As an expert in leadership and organizational development, Latson works with organizations to help expand their management and leadership effectiveness, using concepts and strategies such as personal branding.
Latson spoke on the importance of conscious personal branding in business and in the marketplace. “The concept of personal branding is simple-it’s your operative reputation,” Latson said. “Strong brands are managed well, with intentional outcomes.”
According to Latson, in any career field, personal distinction can be achieved through attentiveness to personal branding. “This notion of personal branding is a strategy, and the end goal is a heightened sense of self-awareness and self-ownership, with intentionality in every interaction,” she said. “Successful personal branding is achieved through persona, product, packaging, promotion, and permission.
“It is important, especially in the work environment, that one seeks to create partnerships with your colleagues, so that working relationships are healthy and productive,” Latson said. “Branding is about cultivating a genuine interest in others and being aware of other’s emotional responses.”
Latson’s message of self-assuredness in the workplace was especially relevant for the audience of future young professionals. “For women, oftentimes we are hesitant to grant ourselves legitimacy-we are preoccupied with this concept of inadequacy,” she said. “It is important to believe in one’s own capability and competence in order to validate one’s rightful position in the work environment.”
Beyond the panelists, numerous other alumnae and members of CWBC were in attendance. The alumnae spoke and networked personally with the undergraduate students following the program.
“BC alumni are a phenomenal resource to the students,” Costa Bates said. “I have never seen a group of people so willing to engage with their undergraduates and give back, and this program is proof of that.”