At a networking event in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Office of Alumni and Career Services (OACS), University of Richmond junior Michelle Shuman, ’16, approached alumnae Jessica Goodman, ’12.

Shuman introduced herself to Goodman and the two chatted during the event. Goodman was immediately impressed by Shuman’s maturity and confidence. After the event, the two kept in touch, which later led to Goodman offering Shuman an internship at the 2014 General Assembly Session.

Goodman and Shuman are examples and advocates of networking. On their initial meeting, Goodman said, “never underestimate the power of taking initiative.” She suggests that students “find someone who has your dream job, or a job in a field that interests you, and reach out to them. Engage in the conversation by asking specific questions about their background and connect with them by relating your experiences that would make you an asset to their company or industry. You never know, that person may very well be a valuable connection for you in the future. Also, don’t forget to follow-up with them by sending a hand-written thank you note.”

During her time at Richmond, Goodman majored in Political Science and Leadership Studies. She is currently a Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November. While working at the Virginia House of Delegates, she had the opportunity to come back to Richmond each January for the General Assembly Legislative Session when the House of Delegates and Senate convene for 45-60 days as the lawmaking body of the Commonwealth. 

During Shuman’s internship, she spent her time meeting with government affairs professionals, composing summaries for Delegate Comstock’s website, attending events, and tracking the status of bills.

Although she was entrusted with a lot of responsibility, the part she enjoyed most about her job was being a fly on the wall of the office.

“There is a constant energy in the General Assembly building” she said, “The [General Assembly] is its own microcosm that I know I have only scratched the surface of during my time there.”

When asked what advice Shuman would give to other students searching for opportunities, she said, “spiders spin their own webs, they don’t move into one that’s already been made. I can already see Richmond's alumni network at work, but it's up to me to access it and find the threads that are most beneficial for my life.”

In the words of the American poet, Adrienne Rich, Shuman advises students to, “claim your education.” She is doing just that.

Written By: Katie Mogul, '15