Dedicating oneself to a strong mentoring relationship can prove to be the most valuable step in the career trajectory of graduate school students and young professionals. Many of the ISH-DC residents, who bring impressive academic or professional backgrounds to the table, are at the crucial juncture of finding the next stepping stone in advancing their careers in DC and beyond.
The Career Roundtable event on the 27th of September, 2018 gave ten of us the opportunity to learn more about what we can be doing now to enhance our job search in DC. We were joined by Cynthia Bunton, President of ISH-DC’s Board of Directors and President of CRBi, LLC, a strategic consulting firm, and Eric Melby, the Second Vice President of ISH-DC’s Board and Founding Principal and Partner of The Scowcroft Group, an international advisory firm in Washington, DC. Amidst a relaxing setting in the study room and treated to delicious cookies and brownies baked by Cynthia herself (Thanks a lot, Cynthia!), each of us put forward the different career-related questions we find ourselves asking at this stage.
I, for one, have recently started a graduate program in international development, and amidst a constellation of academic and community activities I had several questions on my mind – “How diversified or specialized should an internship or entry-level job be? What kind of skills does the job search process require? What are some top tips on networking?” As it turns out, a majority of the residents in attendance also shared similar questions and concerns. Cynthia and Eric enthusiastically provided us insights into the job-seeking scenario, giving us an added perspective drawn from their own experiences as career leaders. Their ideas on approaching and communicating with potential employers, building a professional network, and developing essential soft skills will certainly be helpful to us.
Rose Twagirumukiza, a current ISH-DC resident, moderated the discussion and shared with us her story of finding an effective balance between academics and actively looking for jobs. My favorite part of the conversation was Cynthia and Eric’s encouraging words on dealing with initial setbacks in the job search process. “Rejection is redirection!” – I remember affirming aloud as this section of the discussion drew to a close.
Sometimes we just need a little push in the right direction, and the rest is history. I am thankful that this Career Roundtable event not only made us feel better-equipped to take on a fruitful job search process, but also gave us that little “push” to continue working hard in pursuit of our dream jobs.