Connecting with New Teammates and Growing Confidence with Victoria Tran
In my most recent interview, I sat down with Victoria Tran ’17, the Career Strategies and Engagement Coordinator at Brandeis International Business School. With her extensive background in education and a passion for building connections, Victoria shares her rewarding experiences and valuable insights on joining a new team, navigating the world of career development, and how much she enjoys learning about people’s hobbies and interests. Enjoy!
As a Brandeis University alumna who has now returned to work at the business school, what has it been like returning to your alma mater in a professional capacity, and how has your experience as a former Brandeis student informed your work with current students?
I really enjoyed my experience as an undergraduate at Brandeis. I felt that I had stronger connections with my professors and the staff here compared to friends who went to larger universities. Being able to connect with professors and peers was something I really enjoyed. I’m glad to be back and as a former student, it’s easy for me to empathize with current students and understand what they are going through. I take that into consideration when working with them.
Djounia: I completely agree with you. One of the strengths of our business school is the close-knit community we have. It creates an environment where everyone can connect and learn from one another. It’s truly a unique aspect of our school that I also love.
As a new Career Strategies and Engagement team member, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your role so far?
The most rewarding aspect has been getting to meet new people. Everyone on the team has been warm and welcoming. It’s a place where I feel comfortable asking for help, and I enjoy meeting student workers, students, and employers. It’s a new experience for me, as I didn’t have much interaction with employers in my previous role. It’s been really nice to meet all these different types of very strong, motivated, and successful individuals in different parts of their careers. Some of them are really high-profile individuals like CEOs, and they’re always a pleasure to speak to and work with.
Djounia: That’s wonderful to hear! Building connections and engaging with a diverse range of individuals can indeed enrich our professional journeys. It also helps build lifelong friendships and networks that can be beneficial for future endeavors. Now, I’d like to ask about any advice you might have for students who are about to join a new team, similar to your recent experience.
In addition, given your recent experience joining a new team, do you have any advice or best practices you would recommend to students who are starting a new role or joining a new organization?
One piece of advice is to not be afraid to ask questions and focus on building connections with others rather than always having a specific goal in mind. People want to get to know you and hear your story, and they are more open to sharing about themselves when they know you better. I also really love the philosophy of “fake it till you make it.” It’s common to feel unsure and inexperienced when starting something new, but giving your best and playing the part can help you gain confidence and grow.
You have previously worked as a teacher, teaching assistant, and facilitator in the education sector. How is your experience in education helping you in your current role?
I really loved my experience teaching and being a facilitator. Some skills I’ve developed during my years in education are multitasking, time management, as well as my ability to break down complex information for others. It has also taught me the importance of building relationships, making people feel heard, and providing support when needed. Furthermore, my background in teaching has allowed me to incorporate creativity into my work, such as through arts and crafts activities.
As Coordinator, you’ve had the opportunity to attend some of the events and guest speaker sessions organized by the team. Is there a particular event or speaker that has stood out to you, and what lessons or insights you gained from that experience that you think would be valuable to share with students?
Absolutely! I haven’t attended many events yet, but the ones I did attend were insightful and enjoyable in their own unique ways. One event that stood out to me, and I believe many students would agree, was the Boston Merrill Lynch Industry Trek. I really loved how Ari Weber ’09 and Ben Rotstein ’09 emphasized the importance of bringing your excitement and passion into your work, as well as sharing it with others to build connections and expand your network.
I’ve also been enjoying the Alumni Speaker series, which provides a more intimate setting for staff and students to interact with alumni one-on-one and seek their insights and feedback. One particular speaker that left an impression on me was Mirtha Kastrapeli, MBA’07. She was personable, knowledgeable, and shared valuable insights, particularly on topics like climate change, sustainability, and human equity. Her commitment to helping others through her work was evident, and it left a lasting impression on me.
Djounia: Certainly! Whenever I attend events, I find that the alumni are incredibly welcoming and eager to share what they’re working on. They offer valuable advice and insights. The mentorship sessions are my favorite because I get to interact with 4 or 5 mentors individually, and they each possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Now, let’s move on to our final question.
What’s your favorite small talk topic? Basically, if a student wanted to initiate a really fun conversation with you, what should they talk about?
I enjoy learning about people’s hobbies and interests, as well as how they spend their free time for fun. It helps me paint a better picture of them and makes our conversation more personal. Personally, I enjoy roller skating and rock climbing. I’ve also recently started collecting indoor plants. It’s these small details that really excites me when getting to know someone.
Djounia: It has been fascinating to learn about your career journey and passion for connecting with others. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us. Wishing you all the best in your new role!