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    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!

    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.

    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.

    Maintaining Your Professional Network

    September 15th, 2010, 3:51 pm

    “Take my card and stay in touch,” says the woman in 27D, following a mid-flight conversation about her business and your major.

    “Take my card and stay in touch,” says your internship supervisor on your last day of work for his non-profit organization.

    “Take my card and stay in touch,” says your favorite professor after an hour of coffee and talk of your thesis.

    “Thanks,” you say to your contacts, while wondering what in the world you’ll do with a pile of business cards.

    Students often tell me that while it’s been easy for them to make connections with others while taking classes, working on or off campus, or attending social functions, they’re not sure how to utilize or maintain the network they’ve built as they consider career options and apply for positions.

    Below you’ll find five simple ideas for maintaining your network throughout the school year and even after you graduate:
    Read the rest of this entry »