By: Tess Harkin
When I attended CT HOBY as an ambassador in May 2013, I had no idea that the skills I learned, people I met, and memories I made would lead me to meet President Barack Obama a mere year and a half later.
If there’s one thing CT HOBY and WLC taught me, it was the value of networking. We never sat through a seminar on the subject specifically, but I got the impression that making connections, professional and personal, were the core of the HOBY message. I tried my hardest at both seminar and WLC to introduce myself to speakers, exchange contact information, and seem genuine in the process. Throughout my experience as an ambassador, and as a volunteer in 2014, I was able to learn what approaches worked, what messages seemed honest, and what networking truly is.
I carried the skills first fostered with my own peers in a sweaty room at the University of Bridgeport with me through the years. I brought them (and my business cards) to events like TEDxTeen and a journalism conference in Washington, D.C. I was able to foster serious connections and real internships through people I had met because of HOBY, and the way HOBY shaped me.
So how exactly does all this networking business tie into me meeting the president? I met the president because of networking, because of those connections fostered, because of HOBY.
I had been blogging for HuffPost Teen for about 6 months when I received an email from the Editor asking me if I’d be interested in representing them at an event. As I scrolled through the email, my eyes widened. I had been asked to represent The Huffington Post at a White House Event, one where I would meet head policy developers and even the president. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I remember running down to tell my dad, my voice shaking with excitement. But above all else, I knew the professionalism I derived from HOBY and tried to communicate daily was what lead me to this opportunity. Without the skills I had learned just a summer ago, I’m not sure I would have been truste with such an opportunity.
My HOBY story started with CT HOBY in May of 2013, and is still unfolding to this day. I work hard to Empower, Lead and Excel in everyday life, and considering the experiences that have resulted from that philosophy, I can’t see myself, or my future, without HOBY.