The Contact Person
Few graduates manage to accrue such worthwhile work experience while in college as Grace Boyle ’08. By the time the Public Relations major from Fairfield, Iowa, was donning cap and gown, she had done internships or paid work with several of Burlington’s leading companies and organizations: marketing firms KSV and Marketing Partners, Seventh Generation, and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
Problem was, she had her post-Champlain job sights set on Boulder, Colorado, a city where she knew almost no one.
The solution: social networking media
Boyle began using Twitter and email to develop a list of contacts. She also reached out to professors, alumni (through Career Services), family, and friends for names of anyone they knew in Boulder. “Someone on that list is why I’m at my job today,” she says.
Next, she began targeting her Twitter “tweets,” or 140-character-or-less messages, to Boulder marketing businesses, letting them know that she was looking for work.
One key facet of Boyle’s job search was her blog where she had been discussing her upcoming move to Boulder. She received an email from the marketing manager of the technology firm Lijit, a startup specializing in blog tools, some of which Boyle had already been using. She had not known that Lijit was based in Boulder.
Once she arrived in Colorado, Boyle looked up her contacts for coffee dates and information interviews. She asked everyone she met for the names of other contacts. “That was a really good strategy,” she says, noting that one contact was the Lijit vice president of business development. “Because I was using their product and walking the talk, they were really impressed.” During her chat with the VP, the CEO came by, and the encounter became an interview.
Boyle knew that heading West without a job was a gamble, but she had been planning the move for months, researching the Boulder job scene and gathering contacts, and she had set aside funds to sustain the transition. Add to this her social networking acumen, and she seems to have been destined to succeed. “My passion, following what I wanted, was so important,” she says. “I didn’t want to settle. I recognize that the economy is very weak … but there are ways of being practical about it by leveraging the people you know and using the tools.”