Networking for a Career in Research
It took Linh Anh Le’20 just two months after graduation to land her first professional job as the inaugural evaluation analyst at the Morgridge Family Foundation.
“Thanks to my twin majors in education and economics, I had both the qualitative and quantitative research skills the Foundation was seeking. But evaluation was new to me. Thankfully, Beloit College faculty were there to give me both guidance by suggesting readings (David Segura, Diep Phan, Jermaine Moulton) and moral support (Jingjing Lou).”
Working at the Morgridge Family Foundation was a great first landing, but when the opportunity came to do educational research and evaluation, Linh Anh jumped at the chance to connect her two majors. Now the Director of Research and Analysis at WAICU (the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities), professional networks not only helped make Linh Anh a successful applicant, but are positively influencing her work today.
“As I’d presented my research on determinants of test scores in the School District of Beloit at a WAICU-sponsored event at Lawrence University, I was already familiar with WAICU’s work. And now that I’m at WAICU, I’m in communication with Ellie Anderbyrne’05. She’s Beloit College’s institutional researcher, and I met her when I participated in a Career Accelerator panel discussion on careers in data analysis organized by economics professor Diep Phan. It’s been great to expand my Beloit network to include someone at the college who shares my professional interests, and to exchange ideas and experiences with Ellie.”
Beloit College’s Integrated Learning Outcomes make complete sense to Linh Anh, as she uses their associated skills everyday.
“My courses at Beloit helped me improve my verbal and written communication skills, and to adjust my language to target audiences. As a Resident Assistant in my senior year, I learned how to not only communicate with fellow RAs and residents, but also with professional staff.”
“Economics professor Jermaine Moulton pushed us to make quantitative research data understandable to audiences unfamiliar with technical terminology. And as a co-founder of Beloit International Student Career Services (now renamed Global Career Services) and a Sustained Dialogue participant and facilitator, I learned to create a welcoming and receptive environment, and to always assume that everyone has good intentions, no matter their differing perspectives and experiences.”
“I use the communication skills I honed at Beloit everyday in my job, including when I facilitate meetings for WAICU registrars and institutional researchers.”
Beloit also taught Linh Anh resilience. “It is so important to become a good learner. None of us can know everything. Everyday, I’m faced with the challenge of not knowing anything about a new project. So I have to set about learning everyday, and that learning process includes reaching out to people with relevant experience and expertise. Luckily, to launch BISCS I had to reach out to alumni I’d never met and even to Beloit College president Scott Bierman, who was kind enough when I landed the WAICU job to congratulate me. How many college presidents do that?”
If Beloit International Student Career Services taught Linh Anh to not to be shy about asking for help, the environment at Beloit also taught her to look for gaps and opportunities, and to ask for support in filling those gaps. That’s how BISCS came about.
“After attending a Beloit Econ Day, I looked for something similar for international students. But there wasn’t anything. So two other students and I came up with the idea for BISCS. Jessica Fox-Wilson and Shannon Jolly both supported our efforts, including by connecting us to other students and alumni. The initial BISCS events attracted so much interest that our organizing group quickly expanded to more than 20 students.”
Linh Anh’s advice for current and future Beloiters?
“Explore all opportunities, but also be intentional. Think about the alignment with your career interests. Ask for advice when you’re selecting courses. With so many options, why not ask someone who knows more than you to help you make informed decisions?. You’ll be grateful you did not only while at Beloit, but when launching your career.”