The Setting Sail Series is a collection of blog posts from graduating Career Captains that include their favorite Brandeis International Business School memories, as well as advice for incoming and returning students. In this blog post, Stephanie Borr ‘22, MA’23, Senior CSE Career Captain and valued member of the CSE News Crew, gives her expert advice on networking strategies, managing workloads, and student leadership.
Stephanie Borr ‘22, MA’23 | Setting Sail with Graduating Career Captains
After working at the CSE for almost three years, it is finally time for me to “set sail” onto my next chapter. As I say my bittersweet goodbyes, here are some final thoughts I have to share with you all.
How did you balance school, work, and your extracurriculars, and what strategies have you found to be most effective?
Throughout my time at Brandeis, the three things that consumed most of my time were my classes, the CSE, and extracurriculars (in my case, this was volleyball). When I first started working, studying, and playing a sport at the same time, I had very high expectations of myself, and wanted to perform well in all of these areas all of the time.
I quickly realized that I had put A LOT on my plate. When I factored in spending time with my friends, eating, sleeping, my schedule was often packed. There was nothing more daunting than a day that started with 6am volleyball practice, followed by a CSE shift, followed by class, followed by a group project meeting, followed by a CSE event. Not to mention the unexpected hiccups: a torn achilles, a concussion, getting sick, family emergencies. I quickly realized that prioritizing school, work, and my sport at the same time was not sustainable.
My biggest piece of advice for Brandeis students who are involved in various clubs, jobs, and leadership roles on campus is to set realistic expectations for yourself and learn to say “no”.
This can be very challenging when we have a finite amount of time at Brandeis, and there are so many opportunities for involvement and growth while we’re here. However, I’ve realized that in times when I said yes to everything and I filled my schedule to max capacity, I felt like I was stretched too thin and I was not proud of the work I was submitting in my classes, the work I was doing for the CSE, or my performance on the volleyball court. Even though we want to be as involved as possible all the time, learning to balance your life and being honest with yourself about your limits will help you be the best version of yourself and succeed in areas that are most important to you.
What advice would you give to students who desire to grow their professional network and improve their networking skills?
Don’t be afraid of failure! Networking is a skill, and just like anything else it takes practice. At the beginning of my career journey, networking experiences often felt uncomfortable and nerve racking. Working on my confidence and internal dialogue was extremely important for improving my conversational and professional skills.
Meet yourself where you’re at, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Something that held me back at the beginning of my journey was being afraid to say something wrong. It’s important to prepare for networking experiences, but it’s also important to be authentic. Even though “I don’t know” feels so wrong to say sometimes, give yourself grace and remember that you’re not expected to be flawless.
How did you build strong relationships with your coworkers?
People will often mirror the energy you give them, so putting effort into getting to know the people you work with will help you build strong relationships. When I first started at the CSE, I was often quiet and only spoke to people when the conversation was initiated by someone else. CSE staff members often have their doors open, so don’t be afraid to say hello and ask questions. This can be work related or a simple “how was your weekend?”.
What are the key qualities and competencies one needs to possess in order to become an effective and valuable student leader?
Something I’ve learned from being a member of so many group projects, both in academic and professional settings, is that being a valuable team member has less to do with your prior knowledge and more to do with your work ethic, willingness to learn, and attitude. I think what’s helped me succeed in all work environments, including the CSE, is being an active listener.
This has helped me identify what my gaps in knowledge/understanding are and ask the right questions. Be patient with yourself and those around you, and treat every experience as an opportunity for growth.
Thank you to all of my professors, advisors, and fellow students for making my time at the business school so memorable. I am so lucky to be a part of such a passionate, special community.
I would also like to thank everyone at the Career Strategies and Engagement Center for playing such an influential role in my growth for the past 3 years. It is hard to put my gratitude into words, and even harder to say goodbye. My time as a Career Captain has helped me develop my confidence and lay a strong foundation for my career. Thank you to everyone at the CSE for believing in me and helping me get to where I am today.