Beyond BYU gives students a head start in nation’s capital

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Beyond BYU participants stand in front of a statue of Brigham Young with host Joseph Johnston, Office of the Secretary of the State, Legislative Group. (Kellie Daniels/Beyond BYU Event Planner)

The Washington, D.C. job market is far away from BYU students both geographically and professionally; but Beyond BYU closes the distance by taking students to the nation’s capital for networking each year.

Approximately 85 political science and Kennedy Center students traveled to Washington, D.C. on May 5-6 to attend the seventh annual Beyond BYU conference hosted by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the BYU Political Affairs Society.

BYU students and recent graduates met with various D.C. Chapter members to learn about career opportunities and network with professionals in their fields of interest.

A lot of students have received job offers from networking at Beyond BYU in past years. Paul Johnson, a second-time attendee and recent graduate, owes his success to the contacts he made at Beyond BYU.

“Had it not been for the people that I met during Beyond BYU encouraging me to make a short-term sacrifice for a long-term opportunity, I would have not been accepted into the internship, and it would not have turned into a full-time job offer,” Johnson said.

At the end of Johnson’s internship, Congressman Chaffetz’s Chief of Staff offered him a full-time job as Congressman Chaffetz’s Legislative Correspondent. “(The Chief of Staff said my) networking skills and sacrifice to fill in for a month between intern groups were some of the reasons why they wanted to pull (me) on full-time,” Johnson said.

Event planner Kellie Daniels believes Beyond BYU provides a way for students to see what jobs are out there. “Law is not just about working at a law firm,” Daniels said.

The two-day event commenced Thursday night when students had the opportunity to network with various VIPs and hear from keynote speaker Nathan Sheets, the U.S. Treasury Department Under Secretary for International Affairs.

On Friday afternoon, students separated and visited different work sites. The onsite visits included trade organizations, law firms, political consulting boutiques, international relations groups and many more, according to Beyond BYU’s online agenda.

A few worksite hosts consisted of Beyond BYU alumni. These relatable contacts created a “safe place for students to talk to strangers and hone their skills to approach someone they don’t know and introduce themselves,” Daniels said.

After Johnson attended Beyond BYU in 2015, his network grew from a few people to more than 50. Johnson spent six to eight months reaching out and remaining in contact with the professionals in his network.

Students commonly attend Beyond BYU twice after seeing the success and opportunities it leads them to. Elizabeth Garces, a first-time Beyond BYU participant, hopes to attend again next year because it put her “in contact with people that (she) probably wouldn’t have had the chance to get to know and learn from.”

Johnson was impressed with the people at the events and “their willingness to help review resume, answer questions and provide (him) with more contacts.” Johnson believes Beyond BYU provided him with a foundation of skills he continues to develop.

“I learned that the best networking involves fostering and growing real relationships,” Johnson said.

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