6 Jun 2013

All posts from 6 Jun 2013


Getting to Know You: Make Connections While Making the Grade

You must pound the pavement and the keyboard to make a career happen.

Pounding the pavement and the keyboard makes careers happen. (Illustration by Jessica Esch.)

Walking home from the grocery store this past Sunday, I listened with interest to an NPR radio piece on relationship between the chosen majors of recent college graduates and their employability. The piece highlighted the need for more thoughtful career counseling—Would you major is Communication Studies if you knew graduates of that field faced an unemployment rate of 8%?

That line of thinking is missing the point of a career. It’s not just a numbers game. It should be what you love to do.

You should major in what makes you feel your most curious and your most creative, then make it your mission to meet everyone who is anyone during your four years as an undergraduate—offline and online.

Career counseling should be thought of as relationship counseling, and you shouldn’t feel limited by their campus, city, or country. Vital relationship building matters as much, if not more, than what you study.  You must pound the pavement and the keyboard to make a career happen.

As Nathan Heller writes for The New Yorker in his piece, Laptop U, “Bill Clinton, a lower-middle-class kid out of Arkansas, might have received an equally distinguished education if he hadn’t gone to Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale, but he wouldn’t have been President.”

It’s not just what you study, it’s who you know. This isn’t news. No Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale for Bill, no network of the rich and the connected.

But you don’t have to go to Yale to know the right people: you just have to prioritize building relationships over four years in college as much as you prioritize making the grade.

Case in point: Professor Burt Swersy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute teaches an undergraduate course called Inventor’s Studio. As Ian Frazier writes in Form and Fungus in the same issue of The New Yorker mentioned above, Swersy compels his students seek out people as they vet their ideas and refine them for the course: “Getting out there and talking to people is absolutely critical,” he said. “If you don’t get out and talk to people, your grade is going to suffer.”

Talking to people forms relationships. Relationships open doors. Open doors lead to jobs.

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Getting to Know You: Make Connections While Making the Grade


It’s that time of year again- GRADUATION. The students of Cohorts past are getting ready to head for the door and a new group of bright-eyed, idea filled cohort 13 members is on it’s way in, change is in the air.

But, before we let the grads head for the exit, there is one more CommLead (The program formally known as MCDM) event not to be missed. We have all heard the rumors & it is true: SUMMIT IS COMING.


What can you expect from this event? Well, I’m glad you asked! The Screen Summit started in 2011, it is an end of year networking event where students could show their work from the previous year on the screen of their choice. Be it big screen, small screen, iPad, iPhone etc… This is an event at which it is encouraged for students to use their work to say “look at what I did!”

In it’s first year, the event was held at Portage Bay Café in South Lake Union. Then, for round two, last year, the Screen Summit was held at the Institute for Systems Biology – South Lake Union location, this year we are shaking things up with another new location & bringing this fantastical networking & toot-your-own-horn event to the recently remodeled Museum of History & Industry aka MOHAI.

There are so many innovative, original ideas born from the minds of CommLead Students and the Screen Summit provides a place and time for us to show off just how awesome the work we do is. Some of the projects previously presented have run the gambit from mobile apps that match up digital pen-pals to an ultimate Frisbee team documentary to a YouTube channel for incoming, current and prospective students. If the years past are at all indicative of what we can expect this year (I think they are), I can’t wait to see what this year’s event has in store.

If you haven’t made it down to MOHAI since the Dec. 29th grand re-opening, this is the perfect opportunity to check out the new digs, see some awesome student work and, as with all CommLead events, do some hardcore networking. You can RSVP and find directions via Brown Paper Tickets.

Did I mention that there would be wine? Oh and food too…

See ya there!

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