Looking for fresh, unedited perspectives from your fellow alumni? You've come to the right place. These blogs are written by members of the BPA Alumni Division in an effort to share their experience, advice and insights with you on varying topics of interest. Whether you're curious about the best ways to network, update your LinkedIn profile or just want to know some basic Dos and Don'ts, BPA Alumni from across the country are here to share their perspective.
WHAT BPA HAS TAUGHT ME (1/10/2017) by Luke Fairman, Massachusetts Alumni Member
My first encounter with BPA was as a sophomore in high school. Being from a rural county it was exciting to take a trip to Boston-area and meet students from across Massachusetts. At BPA events, I would make friendships that lasted over the years. After graduation, I began to volunteer with MA BPA and soon found that the group of volunteers running MA BPA are like a family unit.
What BPA taught me comes broadly into:
As member in BPA I gained experience being a representative of my school, speaking in front of crowds and networking or making small-talk with strangers with a view to making contacts.
As an adult volunteer, I learned how to keep calm while ‘putting out fires’, present a professional face to the membership even as I’m scrambling to get a program off the ground and how to jump-in for ad hoc projects. Most of all, I learned to always volunteer. Never doubt that you can make an impact.
The skills BPA taught me, the insights provided through experience and the perspective I’ve gained from the people I’ve met all developed me into a well-rounded professional and given me an edge over my peers. Of this I have zero doubt.
I was once invited to a house party at which were two candidates for Vermont governor, four candidates for state senate and several other political candidates. Unintimidated, I could mingle with each and grill them on policy issues. Working for American Express I found myself able to quickly build relationships with clients, some of whom were members of the Hollywood and corporate elite. I credit BPA with having first introduced me to the concept of networking. Before I left high school, I was already more at ease in what can otherwise be awkward social situations.
One of the greatest fears many have is public speaking. BPA forced me to overcome this, the result of certain competitions. Thus, I could comfortably give my high school commencement speech, speak at a Naturalization Ceremony and before members of the public and attendees at various events I’ve participated in over the years.
Perhaps the greatest asset imparted to me by BPA is the knee-jerk reaction I now have: to volunteer whenever the opportunity arises. I’ve joined employee associations, served as union steward, been a part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), ambassador of the Vermont Federal Executive Association and within my office I’ve served on steering committees, working groups and strategic planning workshops.
In every position I’ve held, both in government and the corporate sector, I’ve always come to the notice of senior management as one of the employees making an outsized impact. I owe that recognition and the rapid advance of my career in large part to the advantages provided by BPA.
Life is what you make of it. BPA gives you an extra set of tools to craft a better life, if only you teach yourself to use these tools.
Read past BPA Alumni Blog Posts in the Alumni Blog Archive
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BPA Alumni members interested in sharing your experience with today's students, are invited to contribute to the BPA Alumni Division Blog. For more information or to send in your submission, please contact Paige Loew at email@example.com.