By Lorena Tapias De Pombo, GW ’17
Being a student at GWU has been an incredible adventure for me because of all the opportunities and things that I have been able to do. For me, the first year was all about getting used to classes and enjoying DC as much as I could. It was during sophomore year that I actually started to worry about my professional future and what I should do during the remaining years of college. GW is a very competitive university, where everyone has many internships on Capitol Hill or in other prestigious companies, which was something that worried me. I felt that I did not have much experience and I had no idea how to be able to get an internship that would accept me. Furthermore, doing things like resumes, cover letters or even networking intimidated me because I had no idea how to do any of that. Fortunately for me, I took a career management class for Elliott School Students, which honestly changed the way I saw the rest of my two years in college.
This class helped me not only learn how to build resumes, but also how to recognize my strengths and how to use all the skills that I had already acquired. Throughout the semester I started to see which aspects of my academic life needed improving and also the importance of getting involved in good organizations on campus that would enrich my resume. This led me to get involved in the organization of Women In International Security and in Sigma Iota Rho, which both gave me great opportunities to connect with people that are already employed on the field were I want to work in the future. The course had also a very important goal, which was to guide the students on how to get an internship.
One thing that was hard for me was to find an internship in the security field of international relations where I would be able to work, given that I am a permanent resident but not yet a citizen. This was challenging and frustrating because the majority of places where I wanted to go required American citizenship. After researching for a while and using the tools that the Career Center gave me, I was able to find one that I actually liked and that was also in my field of study. I reviewed my cover letter and resume and sometimes I felt that I was under qualified or that there were students with resumes a thousand times more interesting than mine. This time, I had to put effort into not comparing myself with other undergraduates. It was not an easy task. I thought, “How can you convince someone to hire you when you do not really believe in yourself?”
I realized that it was important to believe in my capabilities and that my diversity could actually bring many valuable things to a workplace environment. After all of my hard work, I managed to get the internship that I wanted. It made me incredibly happy and I felt that I started to shape my career in the direction that I wanted.
College life is definitely a time where I have been able to grow thanks to all my trials and errors. I cannot express how grateful I am for everything that the Career Center has taught me. All of the skills I developed and things that learned in the course have also been implemented this Spring semester while studying abroad in Tel Aviv. I am currently interning in a private security intelligence firm, and I feel that this time the whole process has been somewhat easier because I already had an idea of what to expect. All I can say is that I recommend every student Elliott student to take this class at the Career Center because it teaches the tools that are essential in our professional lives.