What We’re Reading This Week

Fixing This One Big Problem Helped Turn Around Struggling Furniture Retailer West Elm
I always find stories about how companies reinvent themselves fascinating and, while we may not all be CEO’s, there are definitely lessons about thinking outside the box, reexamining strategy, and creating opportunity where there were once obstacles.

The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In Design
More corporate companies that inspire with their innovation and creativity: Nest, Dyson, Warby Parker, and more. This will inspire you to rethink your work and invest in your personal and professional brand.

How You Will Find Your Next Job on Twitter
140 characters of relationship building, access, and expertise sharing. If you find your next job on Twitter we want to know!

Is Gossip Holding Back Your Employee Engagement Efforts?
Gossip: it’s not just for high schoolers anymore. Is your staff spending more time talking about each other than to each other?  It may be time for a “culture reboot.”

12 Habits of Highly Productive People
Highly effective people are conscientious but not not too conscientious, just anxious enough to fuel their fire, and they don’t get wrapped up in being productive.  The CEO of Zappo’s handles yesterday’s emails today. Who knew?

Aya Takes New York

Aya Takes NY

Today we have a guest post from our lovely and talented student intern Aya, a Senior in the College who was selected to participate in this year’s Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance (GEMA) Externship during her spring break.  Aya is the kind of Senior who you just get so excited for as graduation nears, since you have a feeling they are going to make a big impact in the professional world.  We hope you will feel as inspired as we were to hear about her experiences in New York City and remember that the power of the Hoya Network is yours to leverage!

While most college students spend their spring breaks jet skiing in Puerto Rico or tanning on South Beach, I traveled up to New York City for a once in a life time opportunity. For the past few years, the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance (GEMA) has held a week long externship for 12 senior and graduate students in Los Angeles and New York City.  The externship “gives students an opportunity to meet experienced professionals in the fields of entertainment and media, and get a first-hand look at day-to-day operations in the industry”. For some time, I struggled with the idea of not pursuing a traditional post graduate plan. While so many of my friends received offers from consulting firms and graduate school acceptance letters, I wondered whether or not I made the right decision to decline an offer from Teach for America last fall. The GEMA externship revealed that I not only had I made the right decision, but also the best decision for me.

My experience during the externship truly reaffirmed my love for media, advocacy and music. On the first day, I met with two amazing Georgetown alumni, Teddy Zambetti (COL’80) Senior Director of Music Production and In-house Composer at Sirius XM Radio and Allison Gilbert (COL ‘92) Television and Digital News Producer at CNN.  I was overwhelmed by their passion, charisma and willingness to help fellow Hoyas. At both Sirius and CNN the externs received tours of the studio and given opportunities to speak to the alumni about their career paths. I learned the value of following your heart. As someone who has always aspired to be on television, channeling the thoughtfulness and success of women like Oprah Winfrey and Melissa Harris-Perry, I found the wisdom shared by the various alumni to be not only insightful, but also encouraging.

After considering extending my trip a few extra days, I left New York feeling bold. I met amazing women in magazine publishing, television production and correspondence, marketing and music and digital strategy from companies ranging from the Ad Council, CNN, NBC, ABC, Warner Music Group and People Magazine just to name a few.  Though the job titles each woman held were different, each woman shared their love for media and entertainment and possessed one key trait, tenacity.

As I continue my journey to be “Oprah with a PhD”, I am reminded of the importance of a strong network. Thankfully, Georgetown has revealed that a Hoya can be encountered anywhere—even in a small Indian café around 30 Rock during lunchtime. I am reminded how a simple thank you email can lead to a long road of opportunities. In the words of Georgetown alum John Hodges (COL ’00), Partner at A24 Films, networking is more than who you know or what you know, but also “how you play your cards”.  The GEMA Externship helped me realize the amazing hand of cards that I have been dealt and exposed me to the various venues where they could be played.

GU@SXSW: In Photos

Georgetown had a distinctive presences at SXSW this year! Whitney Pezza, Associate Director of Alumni Career Services moved her office to Austin that week and met a ton of Hoyas along the way. Here are a few highlights.

SXSW 3 (2)

On Wednesday evening (3/5), Provost Robert Groves, CIO Lisa Davis, and Vice Provost Randall Bass met with alumni at Hoya-owned restaurant La Condesa in downtown Austin to share some remarks from their panel earlier in the day on Designing the Future(s) of the University. 


On Friday afternoon, alumni met with Randy Bass at the first ever co-working space in Austin, Conjunctured, to participate in a Design Lab, an exercise in unbundling higher education and taking a close look into where education ends and begins. For example, does it start in high school and you can take credits towards your degree so in 4 years on campus you wind up with a BA/MA? Or is it less traditional? There was also discussion about alumni life-long learners, and integrating more technology into the classroom and using it so we can see where a student’s mastery is and isn’t.


  • On Saturday, alumni met at Little Woodrow’s on 6th Street to hang out and watch the Hoyas play against Villanova, which was a welcome respite against the rain and constant action happening at SXSW.

85% of Jobs Are Found Through Weak Ties

… In other words,  connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching.   LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.

We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist.  A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee.  In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work.  Here are just a few of his insights:

  • Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
  • It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
  • Your resume is currently your job search currency.  John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
  • Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
  • Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.

The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:

1.  Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox.  There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly.  So, why do they matter?   They matter because they tell you (and others)  about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.

2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.”  What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields.  Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard!  Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.

3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn.  Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.

4.  Follow Georgetown University Page Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.

5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research.  See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.

6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network.  New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email.  It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network.  Use them.

7.  Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though.  Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.

8.  Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase).  While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).

7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!

8.  Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile.  Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t.   You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance.  Thanks, LinkedIn!

9.  Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.

So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network.  And do it now.  People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Thank you, John Hill!

What We’re Reading This Week

How to Weigh the Benefits of Job Hopping
It used to be considered a mark of loyalty to stay with one employer until you retire. In today’s business environment nobody expects you to work in one position for 10 years, but that doesn’t mean you should change jobs after every six months. [FastCompany]

Why Google Wants New Hires Who are Humble & Argue
Sounding at least at little bit like a Jedi master, Bock says that if you don’t have humility–intellectual humility, to be specific–then you’ll never be able to learn. But the problem with people attracted to the Googles of the world is that they’re probably insanely successful; Friedman says that “many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau.” Since they rarely get the experience of failure, they don’t know what to do with it. [FastCompany]

Recline. Don’t Lean In. (Why I Hate Sheryl Sandberg)
Long ago, before Sandberg’s book “Lean In” convinced me to change my ways, I had a life. I had friends, family, children. I had hobbies. I had a job, too, of course, but I also took occasional vacations, knocked off work at a sensible hour and got eight hours of sleep each night. Then I read “Lean In” and realized that I was self-sabotaging slacker. [Washington Post]

22 Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You
With this checklist in hand, you can make your LinkedIn profile your best personal branding tool. These little-known, often-overlooked and seemingly counterintuitive tips deliver big results with minimal effort. [Forbes]