May 21, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following accounts of State Department Operations Center and State Department Panel provided by guest bloggers Melanie Gilbert and Ben Kenzer, respectively.
May 14, 2013
We visited the Department of State the same day we went to Health and Human Services; but I didn’t write about them in the same blog because I have absolutely no concept of space and time. Just kidding! Actually, the following information had to be approved by State Department officials, which took a while; but makes this blog even cooler, in my opinion. Prepare yourselves for a state-approved, internationally-accepted piece of writing … if you can.
At the State Department, we had the incredible opportunity to learn first-hand about how the Operations Center of the Department of State functions thanks to Alexis Sullivan ‘04 and James Jay. A 2011 video made for the Operation Center’s 50th anniversary showed us footage of how employees handle calls on a daily basis, which could be from US citizens, foreign leaders, U2’s Bono, or the Secretary of State himself. When a crisis hits, this 24/7 team is there to gather and disperse information to the necessary people as quickly as possible. This team is pulled from the best and brightest in the Department and its members are from a variety of backgrounds. After this site visit, it was obvious that working for the Operations Center is definitely challenging, but important because this unit is crucial to the State Department and allows the United States to enact necessary national security policies. Alexis even shared that she was in the “quarterback” seat of running the Ops Center when several important events have occurred.
After learning about the Operations Center, we experienced a wonderful presentation from a State Department panel organized by the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Sarah King with Adnan Kifayat, Deputy Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Heather Lanigan, Office of Middle East Transitions, and Jason Starr ’06, Iran Officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Around the Secretary of State’s conference table, the panel discussed the impressive cultural exchange programs organized through the Department of State that include nearly 100,000 participants each year, as well as the important global connections the US fosters via public diplomacy. We at the W&M DCSI were particularly interested in State Department policies on the “frontier” of public diplomacy—programs that seek to engage with the public in nations such as Iran and Venezuela. The panel was candid, enlightening, and extremely insightful towards the W&M DCSI’s goal to elucidate the complex inner workings of US security policy.
I’ve wanted to work at the State Department since I graduated high school. Unfortunately, the competition is proving a bit too competitive and I have yet to be an intern there. However, visiting the site actually made me feel better, as I felt as though I have something to aspire to. Maybe one day I’ll be running around the Operations Center, struggling to give assistance to a distressed diplomat – or maybe I’ll be meeting with fellow State Department officials, procuring some kind of plan to reduce the Iranian threat. Even if I never end up at State, I can at least say I’ve been behind-the-scenes and greatly respect the work that this institution does. It’s extremely important that we emphasize culture, language, and history when dealing with others – and I can say for sure that the Department of State incorporates all three factors (and more) in the context of their foreign relations. All the better for us!
May 21, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following Account of HHS visit provided by guest blogger: Darice Xue
May 14, 2013
The second day of the Institute was geared toward a discussion of how epidemics affect national security concerns. We visited the Department of Health and Human Services’ Operations Center, where there were employees from various departments (including the CIA and the Department of Defense), contributing to the efforts of tracking disease and ensuring the well-being of American citizens. The room was equipped with countless computers and a wall made up entirely of television screens (think of a highly-sophisticated version of Hollywood Squares). An emergency briefing cut our visit a bit short – but I have to admit, it was cool to be in the midst of the fray.
We really got to see the Operations Center at work; I was impressed by the amount of precision exhibited by the Health and Human Services’ team: every news station was featured on the myriad of screens – and I could see that employees were covering multiple countries, making sure no health concern went unnoticed. Basically, this team makes it extremely difficult for the U.S. to be surprised or unprepared for most anything. From our discussion, we were able to explore the roles of both civilian and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps analysts working within the department and see how HHS coordinated information between departments to send in fast and efficient responses to global health crises.
Washington D.C. is not all about epidemics, however – it’s about the contacts! In the midst of our travels between site visits, we experienced classic D.C. in that you’re likely to have chance run-ins with people who are from your past and doing great things, today. For example, as we were walking to HHS, we had the great fortune to bump into a friend of Professor Floyd: Jamie (Bay) Nishi ’04, now with Devex. On the spot, she briefed the class about her current job and offered to serve as a resource for us in the future. William & Mary friends are everywhere! And luckily for us students, those friends double as valuable contacts.
May 6, 2013 by Kylee Ponder
I have three magical days left of student teaching. Three days left to get in all of the hugs that I can. Three days left to gaze over the shoulders of second graders as they complete their morning handwriting practice. Three days left to see their eyes light up when they walk in the room and I greet them with a “Good Morning” and a smile. Three days left of excited whispers in the hallway when I walk by on my way to observe other teachers. Three days left to beg, borrow and steal all of the incredible ideas from other teachers at my school. And most importantly, three days left to watch my sweet 20 kiddos sit on the edge of their seats as I sit in my director’s chair with a class microphone around my neck reading the last 50 pages of Charlotte’s Web.
I didn’t plan it this way – to be finishing Charlotte’s Web on the last day of student teaching. I started the book and hoped we’d be finished with it already. But with standardized benchmark testing, PALS testing, Spring Break and an incredibly rigid Reading/Language Arts schedule, it’s been hard to work it in. In fact, I’m almost dreading finishing it. I have a feeling my voice will be quivering and tears will be streaming down my face on Wednesday. In preparation, I was flipping through the book and immediately was drawn to turn to the back, remembering fondly the voice of my parents as they read this to me as a child. I stopped when I read this excerpt –
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Powerful words written by a powerful author. These words helped me realize how incredibly grateful I am for so many different interactions that I have had over my undergraduate and graduate career – the ways in which people continually go out of their ways to help me or to make my life better or easier. There’s just something about William & Mary people. Something in the water we drink. Something in the green and gold blood we bleed. Something in the cobblestones that are under our feet. Something in our love of ampersands. Something powerful. Something that draws us together.
In this last week of my graduate school career, I happily am sitting back, embracing the incredible challenges and successes that this beautiful place has brought me, and remembering all of those people who have helped me along the way. Those people who brought me a coffee when I really needed one. Who took a drive with me on the Colonial Parkway when they knew I’d had a bad day. Who took initiative on a project because they knew I didn’t have time then, but that I would soon. Who motivated me to run and finish my first 5k. Who gave me a hug every single morning when they walked into their second grade classroom. Who forwarded along kind words to help me get further in the job application process. Who have had me over for dinner and wine. Who have met me for coffee and breakfast and chit chat. Who have nurtured me and loved me for the past 5 years.
I am so grateful for those people. I am so grateful for William & Mary. I don’t feel like I deserve it. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything exceptional for it. But just like Wilbur, I realize that sometimes, friends are what gets you through things. They push you farther and make you believe in yourself and achieve your dreams, whether those dreams are not getting turned into bacon by the Zuckermans or finding a teaching job.
Hark upon the gale,
April 29, 2013 by Sarah Nicholas
This week, I sat in on and conducted interviews for the first time. One common trend: dead silences. I was shocked at the number of people who ran out of things to say, or the people who seemingly had no personalities, or the people who wanted the job so badly they embarrassed themselves. It’s okay to be excited about getting a job, and it’s okay to show that excitement in the interview.
I honestly think that people stress too much before interviews. I have friends who have studied for hours, done copious amounts of research, or bought a new suit. They put so much energy and focus into the company they want to work for and “saying the right things” that they forget about themselves. You are the one with the interview. The company genuinely wants to hire you, if for no other reason than being able to stop the hiring process (trust me, it’s a tedious and frustrating process).
The whole point of an interview is to successfully market yourself to an organization, from a business to a school or even a social club. Certainly, you want to make a point of what you can contribute and how hard you will work and how dedicated you are, but you also want to be a real person. I would never want to hire a machine; if I wanted one, I would buy another computer. Managers look for team players, people capable of getting along with each other without stirring the waters. 40 hours a week is a long time, so it’s best to be amicable and happy.
There was more than a handful of irrelevant questions – just because you “ask a question” doesn’t mean you’re getting the job. Certainly, you should always have questions prepared. Correction. You should always have relevant questions prepared. Asking about money, hours, or logistical issues should not count as your questions. Asking about your interviewer’s background is always a good start, or ask for suggestions on “what you can do to improve”. Be prepared to elaborate on your past experiences; that’s expected. Be capable of relating your resume to the position you are applying for, establish yourself as a real person and not just a piece of paper.
And please, please I beg of you, please, have a personality. Do not retreat into your shell. Do not sit in silence. Act like you want the job, even if you don’t. Smile. Make them laugh. Tell them something interesting about yourself. Have a conversation in a foreign language. Dress appropriately – you don’t have to wear black and grey in every office setting. Make it personal.
April 11, 2013 by Bailey Thomson
Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa, where fall has officially begun! While the College is getting warmer and the Sunken Garden is filling up with sun-soaked students, I am turning on my space heater and bundling up in my cottage. I often wish I could just move from place to place following summer on its annual journey across the globe.
Since I last posted, we opened a school! On January 14, Spark Ferndale Primary School opened its doors, and three months later, we are going strong! The school serves 161 students and their families and employs 9 incredible educators. Our students hail from across Johannesburg; they are eager to learn, absolutely hilarious, and so kind. Our teachers are hard working, mission driven, do-what-it-takes educators committed to their students. I continue to be grateful to serve on the eAdvance team, a visionary crew with a no-excuses attitude. The second school term (of four) began this week, and we are in the midst of celebrating our students’ academic and personal progress from last term. That’s a very short way of saying much has happened since I posted in October, and I have much to be proud of and thankful for.
During school term holidays, I had the opportunity to return to the United States for about ten days. I spent half the time in California, where I visited friends in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Oakland, and San Jose. I also got to see and teach my former students at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary School during two afternoons. Then, I flew to Richmond, Virginia for the last half of the trip. There, in addition to spending time with family, I had the privilege of speaking at TedxCollegeofWilliamandMary, an independently organized TED event at the College.
Let me give you a peak inside my brain for a moment: I got to return to the place I love the most (the College) to speak at a conference licensed by my favorite “ideas organization” (TED) about the cause I am most passionate about (education reform) alongside the people I most respect (William & Mary students, alumni and professors). I was absolutely thrilled—and also seriously nervous.
What I should have anticipated was that my talk was not even close to the highlight of my Tedx experience. My talk was the last in a 4 hours series of thought-provoking talks on innovation in storytelling, data-driven international aid, myth in religion, community engagement, gender equity and more. By the time my talk about education reform and habits of innovation came around, I felt like much of what I had to say had been expressed over the course of the afternoon by the other speakers. It’s a beautiful thing to feel like the essence of your ideas is also encompassed in the ideas of others. This community conscience – one that simultaneously values tradition and newness, and in all things, seeks to serve others – may be the William & Mary-est thing about William & Mary.
March 19, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
Hey, class of 2013! This week’s post is for you. At the start of the semester, I posed a few questions to the College of William & Mary Alumni Network on LinkedIn: Do you love your job? How did you get it? How did you decide it was right for you? We got a number of responses, but one in particular stood out from Madeline Chessman ’12, Major Gifts Assistant at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:
Hang in there seniors! I wish I had been told the following my senior year:
1) The job description is not the job.
Don’t be too bummed if you don’t get an interview for that “perfect” job. Job descriptions are rarely 100% complete – that’s why the interview process exists. You get to ask the organization questions, and they get to ask you questions (because resumes, like job descriptions, rarely tell the whole story).
2) Talk to people who have careers that interest you.
Say you see a marketing position open up at a cool organization. You’ve never done marketing before, but you think you might like it. Find someone who has a marketing job, and ask for an informational interview (or phone/email/LinkedIn exchange). Each field is different (e.g. sometimes you have to intern, sometimes you need a master’s degree) and the best way to learn about a field is to talk to people in it.
3) Talk to people at organizations you might like to work for.
Companies aren’t their mission statements or annual reports. They are made of real people, and the only way to learn about those people and their organizational culture is by talking to employees. It’s like the college search process – each college has a personality, where do you “fit in” the best? And like the college search process, I recommend coming up with a prioritized list of potential employers – “reach” companies, “safety” companies, etc.
4) Just pick something!
Your major may or may not translate into an obvious first career step – and even if it does, entry-level positions may be scarce. My film major and business minor did not directly translate into working as a Major Gifts Assistant at the Kennedy Center, but it makes sense and I absolutely love my job. You may have lots of ideas for jobs, or none. That’s okay. But the worst thing to do is wallow in painful soul-searching and indecision. TWAMPs are smart, successful, and have lots of post-grad choices. Being decisive, brave, and making concrete goals for yourself will make your job search much more feasible. You also will receive much better advice when you ask more specific questions.
Thus: just pick something! It is definitely easier to break into your “chosen field” once you’ve chosen something, even if the choice is quasi-arbitrary. You have to start somewhere.
Best of luck, seniors – it gets better!
For help in your job or graduate school, please call 757-221-3231 for an appointment with a career adviser.
March 13, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
As the coordinator for freshman and sophomore initiatives at the Career Center, I constantly encourage underclassmen to take the leap into the world of internships and experiential learning, and to do so early. My rationale? The earlier you gain career experience, the more information you’ll have when faced with career decisions after graduation. But, don’t take my word for it. Sophomore Akshay Deverakonda, our guest blogger this week, did what few students have done before: he applied to the W&M in Washington D.C. semester program immediately following his freshman year. Through the program, Akshay interned at the Environmental Protection Agency while taking classes in D.C. I hope his story encourages you to take a leap of faith and try a new career experience this year!
Eager for Environmentalism – how an internship changed everything
One of the great aspects of a liberal arts education, especially the one we have here at William & Mary, is that you are exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints. For me, my time in the Sharpe Community Scholars Program during my freshman year helped me discover a passion for all things green. However, I was hesitant about switching my major to environmental science. Moreover, would I want to be in a research lab forever? Or could I actually be the one writing the policy based on the science?
My roommate told me that the upcoming fall theme for the William & Mary in Washington Program was “The Ethics of Sustainability”. It seemed like the perfect opportunity at the perfect time—a chance to explore my new found environmental interests by interning in the nation’s capital for a semester. It would push me outside of my comfort zone—who did a semester away/abroad right after their freshman year? However, I felt that this was a special chance, so I applied and was the only freshman that was accepted to the fall 2012 class.
And this huge leap that I took turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
During the semester, I interned for the Environmental Protection Agency—my office helps communities manage growth from an interdisciplinary perspective, so I was able to examine sustainability from different viewpoints (environmental, economic, public health, etc.). I also made sure to talk to as many people as possible in my office, at the EPA, and in the federal government at large just to see how people with science backgrounds could do policy work, particularly in environmental areas. It was an amazing and truly humbling experience to hear people’s stories of how they got to where they currently were. My time in D.C. helped me see that my own calling was in science policy—there are not that many scientists who do policy work, and I realized that I wanted to be the one translating the science for the policymakers.
So be sure to keep an eye on the opportunities out there—an internship or a single class can change your life completely, as they did with mine. The staff at the Career Center can help immensely with pointing the way, but it’s up to you to try something new.
Want to learn more about how you can still get an internship or other career experience this summer? Make an appointment with a career adviser today!
February 19, 2013 by Laura Manzano
Many are familiar with the crippling, chronic illness known as Senioritis – in which an individual at the senior level in academia endures tremendous bouts of apathy to the most extreme degree. It’s a thing, trust me. I looked it up on Web M.D. But sadly, many more are unfamiliar with a rare and equally crippling strain of Senioritis – it is one that plagues juniors, typically in their second semester, and is, more simply, the fear of becoming a senior.
I finally watched the pilot episode of HBO’s Girls, and I hate the show already. No, that’s not true. Of course I loved it – it’s funny and smart and real and everything all my twenty-something female friends (and obligatory gay male friend) told me it would be. But I want to hate it, because watching Girls is like looking in the mirror. I graduate William & Mary in about 18 months (no, I’m not counting [yes, I obviously am]) and I am already hyperventilating every hour, on the hour. I worry about getting a job that I’ll like, but at the same time one that will allow me to survive on more than tortilla chips and Dr. Pepper. I worry about being able to support myself, wherever the heck I’ll be living. Virginia? Back in Florida in my parents’ basement? (Well, I at least know the latter won’t be true, since Florida is at sea level and doesn’t have basements. AHA!) Mostly, though, more than anything else, I’m worried about making the four years that will have preceded me count for something, and not simply flopping on my face with only an expensive paper diploma to cushion me.
In watching one episode of Girls, a long-repressed thought of mine has been confirmed: I’m scared to graduate. I don’t wanna do it. Hi, my name is Laura Marina Elena Manzano, and I have Type Two Senioritis. For me, the first month of this semester has been so full of rejection and disappointment and setbacks – some of which I’m still getting over, weeks later. Junior year has taught me, more than anything else, that the more you put yourself out there, the greater chance you have of getting hurt. A big part of me can’t shake the fear that here, now, in college, where I’m supposed to be building my resumé and gaining all this experience – if so many of my attempts have been unsuccessful, what’s to say that the infamous “real world” will be any different?
I’ve decided I’m not going to watch Girls anymore, for at least right now, because it makes me think about all those things at four in the morning, when the whole point in watching is to submerge myself in that mindless, animal-cracker-crumbs-on-your-shirt kind of TV-watching experience that you take part in when you’re trying to forget about reality. I sometimes think about what all the people I know who watch the show have in common. I suppose a lot with each other, and a lot with Lena Dunham. Typically female, English/American studies/LCST majors, maybe a tattoo or two or seven, social smokers, coffee drinkers, Woody Allen lovers. Budding Lena Dunhams, essentially. The same principle applies to the question of why my mom is into Parenthood right now. She’s a parent. It’s relatable. (Pure entertainment value will explain why my thirteen-year-old sister watches Cake Boss on Netflix like it’s her summer job.)
Last fall in my film class, we read an essay by Laura Mulvey which said that for a long time, women faced some difficulty identifying with the characters present on screen. The protagonist was almost always male, and the female character was almost always used primarily for visual, sexual appeal. Women watching movies were rendered immobile. They couldn’t relate to the main dude, of course, and Lauren Bacall was just too sexy and mysterious for the average American woman to think, “she’s just like me!” I’m certainly not claiming she’s the first to do so, but Lena Dunham is a great example of recent success in re-energizing that young female demographic which has been slowly defrosting since the days of which Mulvey writes. My collegiate friends watch with an excited intrigue (or in my case – an equal mix of intrigue and terror), as they see themselves in Dunham and her friends in cleverly written 30-minute episodes. For me, Girls is everything I don’t want to watch right now, because it’s also everything I don’t want to confront right now. Granted, I’ve only watched one episode. I had a friend tell me that as the series progresses, you find yourself feeling proud about the quality of your life, because it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, anything is better than doing cocaine in a nightclub bathroom while wearing a mesh tank top. Or something like that.
At William & Mary – or any college, really – it can be hard sometimes to look up. To look outside of the bubble we’re in: of classes and problem sets and tests and essays and readings and internships and resumés, resumés, resumés. It’s natural, I think, or at least has become second nature at this point in our lives, considering the entirety of them thus far has been a series of schools – first pre-school, elementary school, then middle school, then high school, and finally college. Sometimes even grad school. Academia is like climbing a set of stairs. You walk confidently, knowing exactly where your foot will land next until you reach the top, and you’ve exited the bubble, at which point you find that open ground is ahead, and your options are seemingly limitless. It’s the freedom that scares me so much, I believe. It’s that terrifying moment when your professor says, “write a paper on anything we’ve covered so far,” and you sit at your laptop for forty-five minutes, forgetting how to use the joints in your fingers. I’ve never really thought of myself as a particularly structured person, but right now, in the (distant) face of graduation, I realize that structure is what has been holding me together all these years.
I have a very clear memory of when I was in fifth grade, during winter break. I was sitting beneath the Christmas tree, crying to my mom because I was nervous about starting 6th grade – it was a whole different building in my school, the teachers were intimidating and had large mustaches, and changing classes was going to be way too much to handle, for sure. She said to me, very matter of factly, as I’ve always loved my mom to be: “Laura, fifth grade isn’t even over yet. Relax. When you get there, you’ll be ready.” Who’s to say I won’t fall on my face when I get to the top of this proverbial staircase I just made up? I guess the lesson in all of this is that I just have to believe that by the time I finally get there, I’ll be ready. Or something like that.
February 11, 2013 by Christian Dutilh
I’m sitting here writing a blog post and realized that in the several months that I’ve been working at my first (real) job, I have never written a post about it. Alas, since this is the purpose of having an alumni blog, here goes nothing.
I work as an analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate services company. Never heard of it? Join the club. Real estate, although it plays an enormous role in the business sphere, is a world within itself.
Jones Lang LaSalle, and other large real estate companies like it, cover everything commercial and beyond. We don’t sell residential homes, though. We help companies and corporations large and small find and lease space and help landlords by finding tenants to fill their vacancies. This sector, called brokerage, is by and large the biggest cash cow for the commercial real estate world. To be a broker, one must be well-spoken, extremely driven, and able to hob-knob with CEO’s. As many joke, one must also be an excellent golfer (or at least a member of a great club). It’s commission-based mega-sales at its finest and it’s unquestionably the most competitive sector of real estate. However, I’m not a broker.
Jones Lang LaSalle also provides international real estate advisory services. Imagine you’ve gotten together some investors and you’d like to buy an office building in Shanghai. We have offices all around the world to provide local expertise. Imagine you’re in charge of a large hotel conglomerate and you need someone to facilitate the construction process of your new location in Rio. We can help. Imagine you’re a branch of the military and you need a company to manage all of your privatized military housing across the country. Check. Anything you can conceive of that takes up space, we can be of service and locate the best team across the globe to help with whatever challenges arise.
My little niche in the real estate world right now is on the EUL/Federal/Non-DoD Team (a mouthful, huh?) and we help federal clients with their real estate needs, which are vast indeed. Just think—who owns the most real estate in America? Wal-Mart? McDonald’s? Target? The federal government is definitely included in that list.
Real estate, the biggest cost for any company or agency, involves much strategy. Where should we construct a new building in this emerging market? Will the market support it once it’s been constructed? Could this aging building in Kansas City be somehow re-purposed? How could we save taxpayer dollars by consolidating our agency-wide real estate portfolio? How do we plan for the future of our assets in a sustainable way? Our team works to answer these crucial, far-reaching questions for our federal clients. And it’s pretty cool.
My next blog post is going to be about how to get into the commercial real estate industry. It’s fraught with challenges, so I believe it will make for an informative post. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
Happy belated birthday, W&M and keep harkin’.
February 1, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
Last week, I had the chance to meet Charlotte Bartter ’11, who represented Green Corps at our Spring Career Fair. Afterward, she wrote to me with a message she hoped to convey to other organizations like hers about why coming to William & Mary is always worth the trip:
Dear Fellow Employers from the world of Non-Profits:
I recently attended the William & Mary Career Fair and I missed seeing you! As a William & Mary alumna I know that there are many students who are looking for opportunities to change or better our world; and, as a member of your professional field, I know that we are looking for just these students.
I am currently the Development Associate and a recruiter for Green Corps.
Green Corps works to recruit and train organizers, provide field support for today’s critical environmental campaigns, and graduate activists who possess the skills, temperament and commitment needed to fight and win tomorrow’s environmental battles. We run a one-year, full-time, paid Field School for Environmental Organizing which includes intensive classroom training, hands-on field experience running urgent environmental campaigns, and career placement in positions with leading environmental groups.
We are looking for bright, dedicated, hard working, and passionate college graduates who want to work to protect our environment and change the world we live in. How do we find them? One way is by dedicating our time and resources (for five years in a row) to find those students at William & Mary. In that time we have recruited 3 people for the program who have gone on to do incredible things – and we’re not about to miss out on the next Tribe member to join Green Corps!
By investing your time recruiting for your job openings at the College – I guarantee you will find not only a plethora of qualified candidates, but also your future employee.
William & Mary class of 2011
Green Corps class of 2012