Ryan Dougherty stood in front of a panel of 10 Boise State Housing department employees, took a deep breath, and began his presentation. He spent hours of analysis, brainstorming, and skill building leading up to this presentation to pitch ideas on how to improve Housing’s newsletters based on data he collected from the last year.
Ryan’s younger self, who hated being put on the spot, didn’t think he would ever get to the point where he could give presentations and do interviews with ease and professionalism. The Work U program helped him get there. Here’s what he learned.
It starts with communication
Ryan grew up with a speech impediment which caused him to feel insecure. Simple communication skills that came easily to his peers were harder for him. In elementary school, he got caught up on the letters S and C, even though he knew what he was trying to say. “With my stutter, I knew there was a word I wanted to say, but I just couldn’t get it out.”
He had to go to a certain class during the day to help him with his speech and that diminished his confidence, but he did end up having long-term improvement. He continued to work on his speech with a therapist to overcome the frustration and insecurity that came with speaking.
Fast forward to college, Ryan’s stutter isn’t as prominent, but one of his doubts coming into the Work U program was, “How can I efficiently communicate what I know?” Once Ryan realized, “Even though I have a stutter, that happens to everyone when they’re being put on the spot,” it relieved some of the pressure he was putting on himself. If he gets hung up on a word, he just has to stop talking, take a deep breath, and then keep going.
Going into his senior year of college, the marketing major with a minor in entrepreneurship was under the impression that he only needed to take 12 credits each semester, but found out right before his final spring semester that he actually needed an additional 2 credits to graduate. That’s when he found the Work U program.
Ryan submitted his resume to apply for the Work U program, which awards three credits for attending weekly classes while working. After getting accepted, he was given a list of a variety of local companies in different fields that coordinated with Work U.
He explained Work U as “one super long interview”. He gets one semester to prove what he can do, then hopefully continue working in the Student Communications and Marketing department after graduation, while he waits for bigger opportunities to unfold. He enjoys the work environment at Boise State and sees room for growth as he builds up his skill in marketing and data analysis.
Teamwork makes the dream work
In the spring, he joined Work U as a marketing assistant in Boise State’s Student Communications and Marketing department where he does marketing and data analysis for Admissions. He analyzes trends in student engagement on the Housing department’s social media and newsletters. He collects data on the click rates and open rates from 2022 newsletters, compiles them into a spreadsheet, and compares it with data from 2021 newsletters to see how the format of the newsletters you see in your inbox could be improved.
“[At work] My actions are represented through a bigger picture,” Ryan said. “With school, my effort represents my grade, but with work if I don’t get that social media post submitted until later, then our whole social media campaign is off a little bit.”
“Work U is a hands-on career service, is the best way to put it.” Ryan’s grateful for the skills that the Work U program has equipped him with, such as: resume building, using LinkedIn, interview etiquette, and team management. The classwork consists of some individual reflections, group projects, and interviews with people in the fields students want to work in, in addition to working.
But Student Communications and Marketing isn’t the only job Ryan has. Last year, he was hired as an intern by a local startup, Blue Planet Optics, which sells sustainable and cruelty-free eyecare. He works on digital marketing and dabbled in content production, but quickly learned that he, “is not a social media guy” after attempting to create a TikTok.
“I think also why internships are so important, is because you can try stuff out and you can realize, ‘this works for me and this does not’.”
He volunteers 10 hours of his week to this internship to get some experience and boost his resume. Being one of the first three employees at Blue Planet Optics, he gets to see growth on the marketing side of the business.
Be adaptable to new things
“I think Boise State did a really good job with implementing this program,” Ryan said. “It’s a great way to apply what the textbook says (for the most part) and actually see what happens on a daily basis for certain majors. I think that’s a super cool experience”
Every week looks different, but the busy senior loves to approach new things head on in a relaxed, flexible manner. He has to be adaptable when he has as much on his plate as he does now.
Ryan is open to whatever opportunities come his way and has been looking at jobs all over in Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee, Hawaii and California. “Definitely okay with going anywhere, because I think the idea of being young is you get the beauty of just getting to go out and explore different states, different cities, do different jobs, meet different people.” He’s grateful for the connections he’s made that ended up setting job opportunities right in front of him.
Even though it’s nerve-wracking for him to not be sure where he’ll be next year, he’s more excited about the multitude of possibilities than anything.
To enjoy life, use your time wisely
“Time management is the biggest thing.” Ryan said it’s beneficial for him to have his day scheduled out to the hour. He enjoys the rhythm of his day: class, gym, internship, work, homework, relax, repeat.
The hard worker has to make time for the things he enjoys so he doesn’t get lost in the responsibilities of work. Originally from the Bay Area, California, Ryan visited Idaho on a trip and fell in love with Boise and the recreation it has to offer, such as: fishing, mountain biking, and spending time on the river. He enjoys anything that allows him to be active and get outside to take a break and have fun.
“I’m glad I was able to find this small class that I feel like not a whole lot of people know about.” Ryan encourages students to look into the Work U program because, while the class brings more responsibility, it’s more impactful than he realized it would be.
“A lot of my professors understand that I have other requirements and obligations to do now and all of them are in the mindset of preparing us, senior students, for the next step.”
As Ryan prepares for his next step, he’s less worried about his potential impediments. Instead, he feels confident that he’s got a head start on his future career