Inside Look: Networking the Carey Way

Caitlin Magidson

Caitlin works with students and alumni in Washington DC as a transformational Career Coach. She provides guidance around self-exploration, job search strategy, and networking through individualized coaching and professional development courses.

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As a follow-up to Alumni Career Week, we thought we’d pull back the curtain and give you a peak into great networking happening between alumni and students. Last July, when international students came to campus for a summer intensive experience, they had the opportunity to engage in a competition called the “U.S. Culture Challenge” and immerse themselves in U.S. culture by completing a number of experiential activities. This challenge charted a course to help students expand 9 core competencies to be marketable in today’s global job market. After a one month challenge of completing various activities, participants were invited to present their experiences to the Carey community of faculty, staff, and students and compete to win a sponsored dinner with an alum in their field. At our Washington DC campus, Jia (Lisa) Liu, a MS Finance student, won the competition and reached out to Sheela Cao, a 2014 MS Marketing alum who currently works as a Consultant at The World Bank.

They enjoyed a meal on us and got to network in the context of an informational interview. We asked them about their experience and received the following feedback:

US Culture Challenge Dinner

Sheela, how was your experience as an alum sharing insights with a current student?
The experience to share my insights with a current student is great! I feel honored to share my working experience with her. I can see the importance of sharing experience in terms of thoughts on living overseas, job hunting and so on. We had a good dinner and exchanged ideas on how to better connect with people, ways to utilize the resources in and out of school. We went to the 14th street to have dinner in a French restaurant– nice talk and nice food.

As an alum of JHU Carey and former international student, what advice would you give to current students about networking?
I feel it is essential to network with people to land a job you really want. Before, I doubted the networking effectiveness because it seems you just have coffee with people and don’t know what it will really lead to. However, I landed my current marketing job via recommendation of a friend’s friend. Sometimes networking is like a little thing you invest in and will eventually harvest.

What does it mean to “give back to Carey” as an alum, and how do you feel you got to do this through talking with Lisa?
I believe in give and take. I learned a lot from Carey in terms of knowledge and people. I feel honored to give back to Carey as an alum as what I am doing with Lisa. I even offered potentially to be a guest speaker in their club. In my opinion, it’s important to network with people who are relevant in your field. In terms of talking with Lisa, I got an idea of what she is looking for and will keep an eye on her about things coming up.

Lisa, what was it like to do an informational interview over dinner?
It is always better to have a nice talk with nice people and great food. We had a good time talking about Sheela’s experience at The World Bank.

What advice would you give to other students as they network with alumni?
I think before you do an information interview, it’s important to do your homework and try to know your “interviewee” as much as possible.

What was most helpful about your experience doing the US Culture Challenge?
I think the most important lesson I learned from it is that you should get outside your comfort zone and push yourself to do things that take some effort and courage. Although the process might be difficult, you will feel bolder and more confident after all the trials and errors. I say, “Embrace the mistakes and be a better me.” And lastly, use the Career Development Office. I really do appreciate CDO giving me this opportunity.

And there you have it! The opportunities for alumni and students to connect and serve one another are limitless. Our office was happy to sponsor this dinner and impressed to learn it was beneficial for both parties. At this time of year when students are changing their status from “Student” to “Alum,” it’s important to remember that both have something to offer. As you share insights, connect, and care about others’ personal and professional development, the Carey community grows stronger, more unified, and ultimately flourishes. Thanks Lisa and Sheela for sharing your experience!

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