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  • What To Do About the Just-a-Job?

    April 11th, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Last semester, I had the good fortune to attend a panel discussion with four young SFS alumni now working full-time.

    Of the topics that came up, one of the most interesting was the question of what to do with what I’m going to call the just-a-job. The just-a-job is the cashier job you took because you needed gas money over the summer. Or the receptionist job you took in a student affairs office on campus to have a little spending money during the school year. The just-a-job is the kind of job that is not, in any obvious way, preparing you for a career. It’s just a job.

    I review resumes all the time and many students treat these kinds of jobs as afterthoughts or ask if they should take them off their resumes altogether. They suspect the job is not relevant or, worse, that employers will look down on it. Not so, based on the experiences of our SFS alumni.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Six Simple Suggestions for Winter Break

    December 21st, 2011, 3:34 pm

    Take stock of where you are.

    Our career counselors have designed six brief activities to help you think about who you are, what’s important to you, and where you’re headed. Download a few activities from our Web site and consider talking through your answers with folks at home or discussing them during a counseling appointment next semester.

    Update your resume.

    Visit our Web site for resume tips and examples. Sign up for an account with Optimal Resume. Create resumes from templates and breeze through formatting issues using this interactive and Georgetown-customized website.

    Create or update your LinkedIn profile.

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about? Visit LinkedIn’s student guide to get started. While you’re on the site, join relevant groups (affiliated with Georgetown or an industry of interest) and search for companies to get the inside scoop on current trends, connections and job openings.

    Learn about different industries.

    Vault is a great resource for learning about industry trends. Click the “guides” button, then “industry guides” to browse downloadable guides from industries such as screenwriting, consulting, government, and fashion. Our Web site also has links to our favorite career Web sites, organized by industry.


    Search LinkedIn or the Alumni Career Network for relevant contacts. Don’t forget to talk with friends and family while you’re home for ideas or to learn about the work they are doing (visit our Informational Interviewing page for sample questions to ask).

    Participate in one of our Winter Break Tours. Georgetown alumni will be gathering in nine major cities over winter break to offer their insight and expertise on a variety of industries. Learn more and RSVP on our Web site.


    Know that regardless of where you are in your career development process, you’re allowed to take some time to rest during Winter Break.  Come visit us when you return to campus!

    Avoid this Mistake and Make a Good First Impression at a Career Fair

    September 29th, 2011, 1:44 pm

    Our Career Fair is happening this Friday. Online registration is now closed, but if you have not registered, don’t worry. You can still come to the fair and register on-site. As long as you are a Georgetown student or alumnus, of course.

    You know that there’s a career fair happening. What should you do to get ready for it? I am going to give you my best piece of advice. Don’t approach an employer and ask, “What do you do?” I have spoken with employers over the years at our career fairs about what impresses them when they meet students in this kind of wholesale setting. Again and again, employers tell me that the behavior that leaves them with the most negative impression is a student asking the employer what their organization does.

    When you speak with an employer, you need to be conversant in the work their organization does.

    How do you do that when there are 101 employers at one event? Read the rest of this entry »

    How to Handle the Weakness Question

    July 7th, 2011, 1:45 pm

    I am meeting with several students interested in interview preparation. They are applying for jobs, preparing for internships, or hoping for a leadership role in a student organization.  There is one interview question that is universally dreaded and gives students pause: “What’s your biggest weakness?”

    Students handle this question successfully when they are able to show that they are both self-aware and proactive – they understand themselves enough to identify a weakness, and they also take initiative to improve themselves.

    So what does a good answer to this question look like?

    One way to structure your answer is to use a 20-80 rule.  No, I’m not talking about the Pareto principle.

    Spend 20% of your answer describing a legitimate and honest weakness.  “I work too hard” won’t cut it!  But don’t stop there, leaving the employer to wonder how this will negatively impact your work.  Spend the majority of your answer, or 80%, giving the interviewer concrete examples of your efforts to overcome or compensate.  An example might be as follows:

    “I have often struggled in environments where I don’t have a lot of structure – I lose focus or scramble to meet deadlines because they sneak up on me.”

    That’s your 20. It’s an honest answer, but not a complete one.  Read on:

    “So, if you were to look in my briefcase, you would find a remarkably color-coded and earmarked DayPlanner. I have found that if I can structure my time on paper, my life will follow.

    Additionally, I have learned to ask for structure if I need it. When completing a major research paper last semester, I scheduled two extra meetings with my professor to discuss drafts. I made measured progress throughout the semester and submitted an excellent paper for which I received an ‘A.’

    I have learned to structure my own time, and am confident that this will help me as an intern with your organization, given that I will be completing self-driven and independent projects for your PR department.”A great answer! If you can acknowledge a weakness, show how you are working on it, and even connect your learned skills to the job for which you are interviewing, you’ll be in good shape.

    For additional interviewing resources and practice,

    • – Read general interviewing tips and view practice questions on our Web site
    • – Use our Optimal Resume portal to create customized practice interviews online
    • – Stop by to schedule a mock interview with one of our career counselors.  You’ll practice questions geared for your industry and work with your counselor to improve your approach to interviewing.

    Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

    May 5th, 2011, 4:10 pm

    In early April, six Georgetown seniors conducted a panel discussion with helpful tips on how to make the most of your summer internship. Here are some of their best suggestions:

    On how to dress

    1. Always dress nicer than you think you need to.
    2. Observe some of the junior professionals at your office for clues on how you should dress.
    3. Even if you are allowed to wear what you want, err on the conservative side.

    On projects and presentations

    1. Figure out ways to go above and beyond the call of duty with any small project they give you.
    2. Practice your presentation in front of as many people as possible before  you deliver it.
    3. Remember that you are responsible for everything in your presentation: any mistakes, knowing where every detail and every number comes from.
    4. Your projects will be a great way to impress important people who might not otherwise know you.

    On receiving feedback

    1. Be proactive about seeking feedback. It shows you want to improve.
    2. Ask junior co-workers for informal and honest feedback.
    3. If you are told to change something about your work or your work style, make sure you do.

    On social events

    1. Don’t be the drunk intern!
    2. Social events are great places to make personal connections.
    3. If you go out with co-workers, even if you are not at an office social event, remember that these are still people you work with.
    4. If you’re invited to go somewhere with co-workers, go, even if you are tired.
    5. Social events are a great way to get to know people from across your organization. The more people you know, the more people will miss you when you’re gone.

    On networking and mentors

    1. Seek out an informal mentor.
    2. Always be prepared. Always have five questions.
    3. Network with other interns. People like to see that you get along with others.
    4. Seek out Georgetown alumni.
    5. Be real, not fake.

    On preparing for your internship

    1. Reach out to people at the company so you know people before you start.
    2. Get your life together before starting (e.g. finding an apartment, knowing where your nearest grocery store is, etc.)
    3. Leave yourself a lot of time to get to work on your first day.

    On evaluating full-time offers

    1. Talk to different people you trust to get advice.
    2. Think about the culture and location. Being happy is more important than the money.
    3. Make a list of pros and cons, bus also consider how you feel about it emotionally.

    On general dos and don’ts

    1. Do always be the first one in and the last one out.
    2. Do ask a lot of questions, but don’t ask the same questions.
    3. Do get involved.
    4. Do know what your job would be like if you get an offer to return full-time.
    5. Do find a balance between being annoying and being proactive. Know when to approach people.

    Dressing for Success

    April 6th, 2011, 4:32 pm

    This is an excerpt from our Senior Handbook, a guide we have written to help seniors prepare for life after graduation. These tips are applicable to all students who are in the midst of the interviewing process for jobs or internships. The Senior Handbook is now available for download on our Web site.

    Interview Dress

    The most basic rule of thumb to use when deciding what to wear for an interview is this: the simpler, the better. Think vanilla. Contrary to what some students may think, this is not an early sign of submission to The Man. Loud, revealing, or unusual clothing is a distraction during an interview. It will serve you well if your statements and your personality are the most memorable thing about you (as opposed to your flashy tie or those heels that you usually wear to Rhino). Even if your preferred industry is highly creative or known to be informal, be careful. It’s always better to convey your serious interest in the position by overdressing. So what does that look like?

    Here are some general tips:

    • Research the preferred dress at the office you will be visiting. Many workplaces prefer a professional dark business suit (black, dark blue, grey), but some offices may prefer less traditional dress. When in doubt, ask someone at the company or in the industry for suggestions.
    • Skip the aftershave, cologne, or perfume; because some people are allergic to various scents, the safest route is to refrain from using them altogether.
    • Bring a briefcase or portfolio for your extra résumés, note paper, breath mints, etc.


    • Wear a conservative tie.
    • Arrive clean shaven.
    • Wear polished shoes that match or complement your suit. Don’t be afraid to ask for an opinion from a roommate.
    • Limit jewelry to a watch, ring, and cufflinks.


    • Wear conservative jewelry (i.e., small earrings, one ring instead of three, small necklace).
    • Wear stockings or pantyhose with a skirt.
    • Keep your hair away from your face, if possible.
    • Wear conservative makeup and nail polish. Again, we’re not trying to cramp your style – we just want your personality to shine thanks to your words, not thanks to the new nail color from OPI.
    • Don’t wear a low-cut blouse. Blouses need to be buttoned to the top or second-to-top button.
    • Don’t wear open-toe shoes or shoes with heels higher than two inches. It’s worth it to invest in a simple pair of black or brown flats or low heels. If you need to buy them for the interview, chances are you’ll need to buy them for the job a few weeks later anyway.

    Be sure to try on your outfit well in advance of your interview to make sure everything fits and looks professional.

    You might be thinking, “In that case, I have nothing to wear!” Borrow a roommate’s things if you need to. Additionally, take advantage of local thrift stores or secondhand shops to help build your professional wardrobe. Because there are so many affluent neighborhoods in close proximity to Georgetown, it’s often easy to find some nicely appointed items for a fraction of what you’d pay shopping on M Street. Below are some examples; call or visit the Web site to get a sense of price points and current offerings.

    Frugalista (thrift shop for men and women)
    3069 Mt. Pleasant
    Washington, DC
    Mon – Sat: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

    Mustard Seed (secondhand shop for women)
    7349 Wisconsin Avenue
    Bethesda, MD 20814

    Current Boutique (secondhand shop for women)
    Arlington location:
    2529 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22201
    Alexandria location:
    1009 King Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314

    Mint Condition (secondhand shop for women)
    114 S. Royal Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314

    The Elevator Speech

    March 23rd, 2011, 5:07 pm

    This is an excerpt from our Senior Handbook, a guide we have written to help seniors prepare for life after graduation. The Senior Handbook is now available for download on our Web site.

    Not every networking opportunity has the structure of an informational interview.  For less formal situations, such as a conversation at a conference, you can prepare by drafting and practicing an elevator speech.  An elevator speech is a commercial of sorts that concisely describes your relevant qualifications, accomplishments, and goals as you move forward.  Preparing a personal pitch helps you control your first impression, convey confidence, and articulate what you’re seeking.

    An example might be as follows:

    “Hello, Dr. Smith.  I attended your session this morning and appreciated your insights regarding BCM theory.  My name is Jack Walter, and I hope to be a future colleague someday.  As a sophomore at Georgetown University, I have been taking coursework in biology and neuroscience as well as working in a lab at the Georgetown Medical Center.  I plan to matriculate directly into a masters program so that I can participate in neural network research.   I am particularly interested in your work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  May I e-mail you next week to ask some questions about your research there and how I can position myself for work like yours?”

    Essentially, an elevator speech should follow the format below.  Of course, there is room for flexibility depending on your goals and context:

    1. Who I am.
    2. What I want (short-term, long-term).
    3. My academic and experiential background (as it relates to what I want).
    4. What I can contribute to your organization (not necessary for informational interview).
    5. What I’m hoping you’ll do for me.

    Government & Nonprofit EXPO – Feb. 18, 2011

    February 17th, 2011, 10:44 am

    Our annual Government and Nonprofit Career EXPO is happening on Friday, February 18. The primary difference between EXPO and our fall career fair is that almost all of the employers who recruit at EXPO are government agencies and nonprofit organizations, whereas the fall career fair is open to for-profit and nonprofit employers. EXPO is also different from our fall career fair because we host the event as part of a consortium of universities. So if you are interested in a career in the government or nonprofit sectors, we hope you come on Friday. Just don’t be surprised if you bump into students from NYU or UVA (two of our five partners in putting on this event).

    When it comes to making the most of EXPO, the process is the same as it is for any other career fair. Preparation is key. Below you will find some resources to help you prepare.

    On Hoya Career Connection, our jobs and internships database, we have a list of the 84 employers who will be at EXPO. Employers like it when you show up at their table and demonstrate some understanding of and interest in what their organization does. Look at this list before EXPO to see who’s coming and, if necessary, do a little research on organizations’ Web sites, Hoya Career Connection, Idealist, or LinkedIn.

    Here is some advice on how to succeed at a career fair from an employer who has recruited at Georgetown.

    Last fall, Christine Cruzvergara, our Manager of Special Programs, wrote a series of posts about the myths and realities of career fairs. The posts were written for our fall career fair, but the lessons are applicable for EXPO too.

    • Career Fair Myths 1 & 2 – Why career fairs aren’t just for business students and why its not necessarily a bad thing that some employers may not be able to accept your resume.
    • Career Fair Myths 3 & 4 – About the importance of preparing for a career fair and why our career fairs aren’t just for people looking for full-time jobs.
    • Career Fair Myths 5 & 6 – On managing expectations for career fairs and how to make employers remember you.
    • Career Fair Myth 7 – How to dress appropriately for a career fair.

    This Week at the Career Education Center, Nov. 29 – Dec. 3 Edition

    December 1st, 2010, 4:51 pm
    • Senior Celebration – Thursday, December 2 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in the Career Education Center – Seniors, join us for an informal gathering to celebrate your last holiday season on the Hilltop! Enjoy seasonal snacks and a holiday movie (hint: “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.”). Plus, Career Education Center staff will be on hand to answer your burning career questions. We hope to see you there!
    • This one isn’t at the Career Education Center, but its a great opportunity for those of you interested in entrepreneurship. Professor Will Finnerty and the McDonough School of Business Entrepreneurship Initiative present Entrepreneurship Speaker Series featuring Michael Saylor, co-founder and CEO of MicroStrategy. Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the McDonough School of Business, Hariri Building, Room 140. There is No RSVP required and all Georgetown students are welcome to attend.
    • On-Campus Interviewing Workshop – Thursday, December 2 at 1:00 PM. This is the last on-campus interviewing workshop of the semester. The on-campus interviewing workshop is an orientation to the on-campus interviewing process. What is on-campus interviewing? Some employers interview Georgetown candidates for their jobs and internships here in the Career Education Center. When we refer to “on-campus interviewing” or “on-campus interviewing positions,” we’re referring to those jobs for which employers will interview here in our office. If you plan to apply for any of these on-campus interviewing positions, you must first attend the on-campus interviewing workshop. You only have to do this once during your time at Georgetown.  You’ll know whether a job is an on-campus interviewing position when you view the position description in Hoya Career Connection, our online jobs and internships database.

    If you have any questions about any of these events, send them to us at careercenter@georgetown.edu.

    A Call to Adventure

    November 10th, 2010, 4:05 pm

    In my office, on a shelf near the chair where students usually sit when they come in for career counseling, I have a framed photograph that I took while backpacking through Europe a few years ago. The picture is of a wall in a hostel in Prague, on which was written, “We ache for places we haven’t gone, for voices we haven’t heard, and smells that linger in a future memory.”

    I keep this picture close by for a few reasons. First, I like to think about the trip that I took with my friend, and the memories we made. Second, I like to think about the unknown in my own life, and how it may play out (which is, of course, impossible to imagine!). And finally, I keep it there because I want students to feel free, within my office walls and far beyond them, to explore the idea of adventure. Sometimes, as I walk through our crowded interview lounge and hear the anxiety that students justifiably experience, I wonder how remote the idea of joy seems. I worry that for some students, it is a distant thought. Read the rest of this entry »