looking for a job? cultivate your network

Entering the workforce in May? Looking for a beneficial internship? Cultivate your network! According to research, about 60% of jobs are filled through networking and informal contacts, not advertising or applications sent to “info@blank.com” addresses.

Asking friends, professors, and mentors for help with your job search allows you to call upon their expertise and connections in a meaningful, personal way. Here are a few tips for asking effectively:

  • Acknowledge that you are asking for their help because you trust their judgment and value their opinions (who wouldn’t be flattered?!)
  • Follow up!  Failing to follow up with someone who helped you can sour a relationship if they feel like they are being used.
  • Use discretion when asking individuals for their help; don’t ask for help from someone you wouldn’t be willing to help in return
  • Make it easy on them: send your resume & areas of interest. I even included a list of companies I was interested in and asked 1) if they knew anyone there and 2) if they knew of similar companies (see screenshot below for my email template!)
  • Use the “Get Introduced” feature on LinkedIn. I happened to know of a girl who worked at a company I wanted to join, so I searched for her on LinkedIn. I saw that we had a friend in common, so I asked him to connect us. Voila- instant connection!

All of this being said, don’t be afraid to take a shot in the dark. You never know unless you ask! When I was a freshmen, I saw a Washington Diplomat golf tournament flyer in an office. I called them and asked if they needed volunteers for the event. The man on the phone asked if I was looking to “rub elbows with ambassadors.” I laughingly admitted that I was. That man became my boss for the year that I interned at the newspaper; in fact, on May 6, I will be working my 4th consecutive golf tournament for them!

Addendum: check out BranchOut, an application that allows you to capitalize on your network of Facebook friend during your job search!


shift series recap

This Saturday, I attended Compass Partners’ Shift Series, a two-day conference on “New Approaches to Social Issues.”

I’ve been out of the networking/conference/event mode for a bit, but being back in it was fantastic. I realized how at ease and in my comfort zone I feel mingling, chatting about people’s ventures and ideas, and sharing my own.


I chose the “Future Innovators” track over the “Educators” track because I thought it would be more pertinent to my interests. We were joined by representatives from some great local organizations.

  • Chat moderated by Philippe Chetrit of Affinity Lab, a “shared office space meets incubator meets entrepreneurial club-house.” Check out their upcoming events page if you’re interested in stopping by!
  • Social innovation session led by two staff members from Community Wealth Ventures, “a management consulting firm that emboldens and equips leadership teams to innovate, grow and sustain organizations that build a better world.” Seeing them reminded me how a presentation that I did sophomore year on founder Bill Shore sparked my interest in social enterprise!
  • Seminar with Christine Schiweitz of Georgetown on building your online identity. This interactive session was both enlightening and slightly scary, given the reality of our omnipresent digital footprints. Being in this dynamic discussion also sparked more ideas for GW Bites and my new blog, Harmonized Living! My biggest takeaway was the importance of being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to establishing a clean online identity. When I was babysitting on Saturday night, the dad made a joke about Googling me (they actually did!) and it made me appreciative that I have been proactive in the past in regards to keeping my online presence clean.
  • Chat with Live in Rhythm founder Kerrie Martin on, well, living in rhythm! It was a great conversation about balanced lifestyles; she provided insightful answers to participants’ nutrition questions. Her use of the phrase “honoring your body wisdom” stuck with me. Through this, she emphasized listening to your mind and body instead of following fad diets or “expert” opinions.

I think it was a tremendously successful conference and I commend the Compass team on their excellent execution!

P.S. Check out this awesome Washington Post article featuring William Huster and Neil Shah!

“good to be me”

The Uncle Kracker song “Good to be Me” just happened to play on Pandora, and it goes incredibly well with my current mood! This weekend was great, and I’m excited to share!
  • Created new blog, made initial posts, & emailed several people about featuring their photography work [P.S. Interested in submitting food and/or home decor photos? Tweet me or post a comment]
  • Decided on my photography final project [a unique spin on “Spring in DC”]
  • Had a glorious brunch at Bread & Chocolate with my “former not ex” roommate, who is still one of my very very best friends
  • Sat in a cafe [okay, okay, it was Starbucks!] in Dupont Circle…people watched and talked about our life plans
  • Babysat the adorable 13 month old I’ve babysat before
  • Had a fun and low key night out with a friend in Georgetown
  • Had a fantastic time at Shift Series [blog post to come]; met some great people, including several folks from NC! Yes, I just said folks haha
  • Loved the food at Ping Pong Dim Sum…it can pricey but if you’re careful, it’s not too bad
  • Enjoyed a night out in a little local dive bar full of a unique cast of characters
  • Bought several things at Target…a large pot for soup [finally!], several shirts on clearance, and coconut macaroon coffee [also finally!]
  • Bought a blender for delicious spring smoothies

Remember how I tweeted about receiving great news? I can officially announce it! My sister-in-law is having another baby! I can’t believe that I get a whole ‘nother baby to love! Being an aunt has completely surpassed all of my expectations and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for my family!

week recap & weekend to come

photo credit: tiny white daisies

Week in review:

  • Extended apartment lease until the end of June
  • Working full-time after graduation until the end of June
  • Night out at Saint Ex & Churchkey [love it!]
  • Dinner at Mandu [glad I went but probably wouldn’t go back]
  • TWO new website ideas! Excited to get these launched

To come:

  • Friend’s birthday dinner at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown
  • Rugby party in Adams Morgan
  • Shift Series [put on by Compass Partners]
  • Starting Arganica Farm Club membership; cooking with the ingredients we get in our produce box!
  • Seeing Lincoln Lawyer
  • Cafe-sitting and life-pondering with a friend
  • Planning my summer travels [hopefully booking tickets to Norway & Rwanda!!!]
  • Keeping fingers crossed for nicer and warmer weather!

tip of the week: feedback cues

Learn the value of feedback cues– using positive body language, making eye contact, nodding, smiling, laughing, even frowning, etc to demonstrate that you are engaged during a social interaction.

These techniques benefit both you and others. How? Let’s use the example of a Compass module (15 freshmen Fellows are being spoken to by a prominent social entrepreneur or business owner).

Them: the speaker benefits because they can see that their ideas are being received (ie they are not talking to a wall).

You: it is highly likely that you will be picked out of the crowd by the speaker because they see that you are an active listener. This can provide an easy opening to initiate a conversation with said speaker after the event.

In addition to providing benefits for both parties, it’s simply a good social practice!

Cristina’s Tip of the Week

As a Compass Mentor, I have a small group of four freshmen who I meet with weekly. Specifically, my role is to guide them through the process of learning about social entrepreneurship, but we also chat about classes, social lives, cooking, etc.

We decided recently that I would give them a weekly tip- on anything from what fun places to check out in DC to how to avoid stress to healthy eating habits.

I figured I’d share my tips here!

  • Add some ZEST to your lifecheck out the Washington Post Going Out Guide for fun events throughout the city. You can even save your favorites on your own life and share it with friends! [This tip was accompanied by a slice of homemade coconut lemon zest bread- get the pun?]
  • Take initiative in the Compass Fellowship and beyond. Think we should all volunteer as a group? Set up an event with DC Central Kitchen. Is there another Fellow you haven’t had a chance to connect with? Invite them for coffee!
  • When you’re in a working relationship with an “elder,” learn to “manage up” [this tip was passed on to me by my professor, Kathy Korman Frey]. What does this mean? Take control of the relationship- you suggest a date, you confirm meetings, you send a thank-you email. Taking charge shows you know what you’re doing but it also eases the pressure on the other person- especially if they’re a busy executive director, like my mentor!  [P.S. Right after posting this, I got the following gchat from a friend: “great blog post! followed up with supervisors i met in a meeting today b/c of it!”]

Do you have any tips I could share with my Fellows?

4 Days of TAD

Whew, amazing how quickly the days got away! It’s been few days since I’ve done my TAD, so I thought I’d just combine the highlights of the last few days. SO much wonderful things have been happening.

  • Our #SocEntChat at work went well
  • Met the family I’ll be working for next week- adorable 3-month-old girl
  • Had a mid-week dinner with a friend- which never happens anymore because our schedules conflict
  • Got a high grade on an exam I thought I didn’t do well on
  • Met an inspiring speaker at a Compass event
  • Submitted the first part of my application for a fellowship in India
  • Went out for the first time in a few weeks and had a BLAST- met new interesting people & talked about real things (not just superficial bar conversations)
  • Met some fun neighbors
  • Met a guy who does international development consulting; he offered to help me in any way he can
  • Applied for a blogging scholarship- here’s hoping!

And the BEST part of the past few days: I finally announced GW Bites (home-cooked meals for students, as well as “Meals in a Jar”). As of right now, I’ve had 882 hits on the website today alone- I am thrilled and shocked by the level of interest. In addition, I had an exciting meeting with a friend, who offered to host a launch party for me at her apartment. AND three people contacted me about becoming part of the GW Bites cooking/baking team. I was a giddy mess all day because I’m SOO excited about the potential for GW Bites.

And I have a fun day-date planned with one of my best friends who I never see anymore. Yay!