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Discovering the value of networking

When Molly Heffernan ’11 met Gabrielle Raymond McGee ’06 in graduate school, she didn’t know how important that connection was going to be for her career.

The two alumnae found their Elon connection by chance when they were assigned to a yearlong consulting project while pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

“We never met on campus, but we had our Elon experience in common,” Heffernan says. “We spent a year working on that project and developed a really strong friendship.”

As the program came to a close, McGee, who was senior managing director at Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation at the time, offered Heffernan a job as fundraising manager. “I couldn’t help but say yes,” Heffernan says.

Prior to that position, Heffernan had worked at the Chinatown YMCA as an afterschool program director. “I wanted to be in fundraising and development and Gabrielle really helped me launch my career,” Heffernan says.

That initial opportunity has now translated into a new position for Heffernan, who this month became the director of special events for the YMCA of Greater New York. She says she owes it all to McGee’s mentorship. “Her being in my life and taking me under her wing has transformed my career,” Heffernan says.

While other industries place much emphasis on networking for career success, Heffernan says those in the nonprofit world tend to forget about the power of networking. “An industry trend is to forget about your own professional development, because you’re so focused on doing good for others,” she says. “Networking is not only important to move forward in your career but also to leverage others to do good. Without that, you are doing a disservice to your cause, because nonprofit is an industry of people.”

She says the Elon network is a valuable resource that is often underused. Whether for career advancement, expanding their social circle or exploring new philanthropic opportunities, Heffernan and McGee often relied on their Elon connections in the New York area in their professional life.

“The Elon network has so much more power than people realize,” Heffernan says. “Even if you are out of touch or it’s alumni who you’ve never met, you have a shared connection. Elon is a shared platform that can bring people into your professional world.”

This story is the first on a series highlighting the power of the Elon network. Don’t miss the opportunity to reconnect with alumni in your area during the 2014 National Networking Event Series. For more information or to register, visit www.elon.edu/alumninetworking.

Keren Rivas,
1/6/2014 3:20 PM