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Bridgette Boody

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’17 Political Science, Women’s Studies | Associate Policy Analyst and Records Officer, Middle States Commission on Higher Education | Conshohocken, PA
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Bridgette Boody

Liberal Arts Majors: Political Science, Women’s Studies

Liberal Arts Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Middletown, DE

Current Location: Conshohocken, PA

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

I tried a little bit of everything when I was a student at Penn State. Among my extracurricular involvements, I was a Lion Ambassador, I worked as an RA in McElwain Hall for two and a half years, and I worked as a student caller for Lion Line. My love for the community at Penn State drove me to do as much on campus as I could. In the classroom, I was really intrigued (and passionate about) the intersections of gender and institutions of power, specifically in the workplace. Because of this (and some incredibly helpful advice from the head of the Department of Women’s Studies), I wrote my senior capstone paper on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Focusing on a policy issue gave me more concrete academic credibility when I was trying to land my first policy job. Finally, although I couldnt bear to leave State College for a full semester because I loved Penn State so much, I did do a five-week summer program in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. It was an amazing way to become more comfortable with my Spanish-speaking skills, and although the class I took (Mediterranean Cooking and Wine Tasting) was not directly related to my major, I learned so much about myself, the culture of Catalonia, and using Spanish in everyday life.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

After a post-college service year with AmeriCorps as a reading interventionist in an elementary school, I took on a role at a small K-12 education policy and advocacy nonprofit based in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. My job as a policy associate was my first "adult" office job, and I was able to parlay my experiences at Penn State (namely my senior capstone policy research) and my time with AmeriCorps into the education policy career I had always dreamed of. I am grateful for that role because it helped me to break into my chosen field of education policy, and it also taught me a lot about the workplace.

What was your favorite class and who was your favorite faculty member?

My favorite classes were the ones that combined my majors of Political Science and Women’s Studies and focused on the intersections of sex and gender with institutions of power. Specifically, I can recall Dr. Erin Heidt-Forsythe as my favorite professor, and she taught two of my favorite courses: PLSC/WMNST 495A Gender, Public Policy, and Constitutional Law and PLSC/WMNST 420 Gender and Politics. To this day, I use the frameworks learned in those courses to add a dimension of understanding to how I consume media related to political campaigns, processes, and judicial decisions.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

My liberal arts education gave me the soft skills to excel in a wider array of fields, so long as I could explain my versatility as a job candidate and was willing to work hard. I feel grateful that these skills are transferable across fields. For my role in public policy, my background in liberal arts gave me the research and writing skills to excel and the communication skills to explain my story to employers for why I could excel in different roles.

What networking advice would you share with current students?

Networking has expanded my view of career options for myself and helped me to meet people who are doing incredible work that inspires me in my own career. My advice to current students about networking would be this: Don’t be afraid to follow up when you meet someone who could be a connection. Networking isn’t about only communicating when you need someone or something that they have access to; it is about forming relationships to help yourself grow and advance in your careers. If someone gives you a business card, use it! Send them an email, tell them who you are, check in with them periodically about their role and opportunities they might have, or an interesting industry article that you want to share. It’s really important to make the leap from fear into action with networking.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

I was a first-generation college student and the first person in my family to have a traditional 9:00 a.m–5:00 p.m. office job, so I really had to learn a lot on the go when I entered the workforce. I am incredibly lucky to have had a cadre of strong women who have really helped me to understand how to navigate the workplace and develop my skills professionally. In my first office job out of college, my mentors were only a few years older than me, yet they advocated for me to attend my first solo conference and take on more responsibilities that would help me to grow my skill set. They also reminded me to take care of myself and understand that it is okay to take a vacation day to preserve your health and avoid burnout. Since leaving that first job out of college, I remain in touch with those mentors and have been fortunate enough to gain another mentor from a different role, who has advised me on what it is like to be a high-ranking woman, mid-career in the workplace, which has really helped me continue to hone my policy and professional skill set.

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