A B.I.G. Connection

by Heidi Ravis 


Anna is a PhD engineer who was born in Russia and educated in Moscow and Germany. She began working with her REA consultant after relocating to the Westchester County, New York area from Providence, Rhode Island. In Providence, she had worked as an adjunct lecturer at a university, and was hoping to find work in engineering or academia in her new location. Because she already had a green card, she would not need to obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) or sponsorship in order to work. As a highly educated and accomplished professional who spoke three languages, she was optimistic about her chances of finding employment.

Client Objective/Challenge

After several months of searching, Anna expressed frustration with her lack of success in the job hunt. She worked closely with her REA consultant and applied for numerous positions with no luck. A reserved young woman by nature, Anna was reluctant to seek out networking opportunities or attend events on her own.

REA Approach

Anna‘s consultant, Heidi, was involved in planning a “What About Me?” networking event for expat spouses/partners in the New York metropolitan area. Anna readily accepted the invitation to attend this event and interacted comfortably with the other REA clients. During group discussion, she raised an important issue. “It‘s great that we‘re able to network with other REA expat spouses here, but how do we meet people who actually live in the area and can help us find jobs?”

Soon after this event, REA entered into a partnership with B.I.G. (Believe, Inspire, Grow), the women‘s support, education and networking group. In June 2011, while the relationship between these two organizations was still in its early stages, Heidi invited Anna to accompany her to a B.I.G. “pod” meeting in Westchester. Anna agreed to go, and the two arranged to meet another REA consultant, Janet Gray, and one of her domestic clients.

The four members of the REA contingent arrived early and got acquainted before the start of the meeting. They were joined by Peter, the husband of Janet‘s client. Anna was interested in learning more about Peter‘s job at a large company in the area, and they had a productive conversation.

At the ―pod‖ meeting, Anna had the opportunity to meet women from a range of professional backgrounds. Other members were clearly impressed when she introduced herself and described her history and accomplishments. Several women made suggestions for additional networking opportunities. At the end of the evening, Anna left with a smile on her face and contact information for several new people. She felt that the meeting had been a very positive experience for her.


After the summer, Anna emailed Heidi with good news. Peter, the husband of consultant Janet Gray‘s client, had circulated her resume at his company. These efforts led to an interview, which resulted in a job offer at the company. Anna reported that she was hired on a temporary basis, but she was encouraged to have a “foot in the door” at a prestigious company and was hopeful that it could lead to a permanent position. It is highly unlikely that Anna and Peter would have met had it not been for this partnership between REA and B.I.G. that allowed them to make a valuable professional connection. Now Anna truly believes in the power of networking!