Show Your Face” and Other Lessons from Psych Alum Samantha

Sam Collage for blog

This post was written by 2009 psy­chology alum, Samantha Bracy. She is cur­rently a spe­cial edu­ca­tion teach in Newton, MA

It wasn’t until my good friend Kelly so kindly asked me to write for this blog that I even became con­sciously aware of how long I’ve been out of col­lege.  As we approach the anniver­sary of our grad­u­a­tion, of course all the good mem­o­ries flood my mind – cel­e­brating grad­u­a­tion with my friends, living in an apart­ment on Sym­phony Rd., late nights at Punter’s.  Five whole years ago we were walking up and down Hunt­ington Ave. in the freezing depths of winter (OK, let’s be real – any­thing below 40 degrees and class wasn’t hap­pening); picking up over­priced gro­ceries at “The Wo” (Wollaston’s for all of you who don’t speak solely in abbre­vi­a­tions); and last but not least, nav­i­gating what in the world we were going to do after grad­u­a­tion (OK, I sup­pose that might be the most impor­tant one).

I always con­sid­ered myself one of those rare, lucky stu­dents who always knew what I’d do with my pro­fes­sional life.  My mother tells me that ever since I was a little girl, she knew I’d be a teacher (read: I was really bossy as a child) and as I made my way through NU, I knew it too.  I studied psy­chology and ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion, coming out of col­lege with a plethora of co-​​op and field­work expe­ri­ences to add to my resume.  I felt for­tu­nate to have spent time working in Boston Public Schools, at var­ious com­mu­nity cen­ters across the city, and at a pri­vate spe­cial edu­ca­tion school.  My expe­ri­ence was – in every sense of the word – “well-​​rounded” and I had NU to thank for that edge.  What I didn’t realize at the time was the impor­tance of net­working.  I know, I know…such a buzz­word these days.  But when people tell you “it’s all who you know”, they’re being com­pletely honest with you.

Make a good impres­sion at your co-​​op.  Do not show up looking like you were out all night (hun­gover or oth­er­wise).  These people may be your future, long-​​term employers (I have friends who are cur­rently employed at one of their co-op’s, years later).  This orga­ni­za­tion may be a jumping off point for your career.  And you prob­ably want to be able to ask your super­visor for a rec­om­men­da­tion one day.  I know you all took Intro to Col­lege or got a lec­ture from your co-​​op advisor about being pro­fes­sional, but let’s be real – when it’s Marathon Monday and you called out of co-​​op because you were the only one who didn’t have it off, do not post selfies on one of the var­ious social media plat­forms.  Lesson learned.  Make a pos­i­tive, lasting impres­sion and you will always have that orga­ni­za­tion sup­porting you, be it by way of an actual job or kind words for a dif­ferent employer.

If your employer asks you to stay on after your co-​​op, you do it.  Even if they say it’s unpaid, even if it’s full-​​time, even if you have to take the T at 5:30 am.  I com­pleted my stu­dent teaching at an amazing Boston Public School, a school that I still dream of working at.  After my semester ended, I was asked to stay on as an unpaid aide and I turned it down because I needed to work full-​​time and actu­ally earn money.  A girl who was in the same boat as me took an unpaid aide job and now has her own class­room at said school.  I doubt if I went back there today anyone would even remember me.  If you have a way to take an intern­ship, an expe­ri­ence, a co-​​op, any­thing and make it into some­thing more, an oppor­tu­nity for you to shine and for people to truly remember you, do it.

Show your face.  In col­lege, my friends and I (count us: 1, 2, 3, 4) kept to our­selves.  We cer­tainly weren’t home­bodies by any means – we went out, had fun, lived it up Husky style.  But we weren’t really involved in any groups, clubs, net­working events, or any­thing of that nature.  We didn’t go to sporting events or for­mals.  We didn’t really branch out beyond each other and some satel­lite friends we hung out with on occa­sion.  Now, with things like Face­book, Insta­gram and LinkedIn, it’s so easy to recon­nect with people you went to school with.  People who may have plush corner offices that can hook you up with an inter­view at that firm you’ve been eyeing (see where I’m going with this?).  But guess what?  If you don’t actu­ally talk to anyone, you don’t really have a lot of people to net­work with years later.  So even if you aren’t a social but­terfly, it wouldn’t kill you to attend a few events, make some new friends, or even sit with a stranger in Snell.  You never know who your new friends will turn out to be down the road so don’t be afraid to branch out.

Samantha Bracy is a spe­cial edu­ca­tion teacher in the Newton Public Schools.  She received her BS and MEd from North­eastern.  She is the proud mother of a little girl with another baby on the way and enjoys trying to main­tain her sanity as she bal­ances life and work.  Feel free to con­tact her at samantha4​1​6​@​gmail.​com.