Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Job Interview Reveals Georgetown’s Best Aspects

By Mark Himmelsbach

My dad told me early on that when interviewing for a job, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the interviewer wants to see if the company is a good fit for the candidate, but more importantly, if the candidate is a good fit for the company. In order to create a top-quality work environment, interviewers must be convinced that the candidate has the proper skills in order to be an asset to the company.

As most Georgetown seniors can attest, corporate recruiting is the least enjoyable part of senior year. Instead of shrugging off working on a paper and going with friends to The Tombs on a random Tuesday, many of us had to limit our weekday drinking in order to prepare for the dreaded interview. Waking up at 7:30 a.m., wearing a suit and talking about oneself for 30 minutes is no one’s favorite way to begin any day. Unfortunately, it marks the daunting transition into the real world and therefore, must be endured.

During these interviews, I have found that I must negotiate the thin line between confidence and cockiness. It is important to talk about what companies want to hear: how you work well in groups, have excellent communication skills and are well organized. It is equally important to not sound pretentious and to reveal, in the words of Socrates, that you know what you don’t know. But stressing what you have learned at Georgetown, and what you still need to learn, is the way to win any interviewer’s heart (and hopefully, a high-paying job).

From experience, you learn that there are a few inevitabilities in interviewing. My favorite: “Tell me about an time when you experienced a problem and how did you work through it.”

As the well-trained interviewer, I had a few responses that sufficed as answers. More important than simple promotional sound bites though, my replies revealed why I love Georgetown so much.

The first anecdote is from my junior year. As I explain to the interviewer that I have seen roughly 25 sunrises in four years, I always receive a questionable look. Explaining that these all-nighters are not due to lack of motivation or procrastination, I relay my favorite story from The Georgetown Independent.

One Friday in February, 1999, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee decided to hold a sit-in against Nike sweatshops in Fr. O’Donovan’s office. After explaining the exploitation of the Vietnamese workers to the interviewer, I began to explain how difficult the story was to cover. With a small staff and limited resources, it was difficult to have a reporter with the protesters 24 hours a day and publish an issue on time the following Monday. As I wrap up and tell the interviewer about the newspapers’ success during the weekend, noting of course what I learned from the experience, I can anticipate the next question.

“Why was this so difficult?”

Motivation. Teamwork. Dedication. All of these answers would suffice for a response, but I turn the question around. I always say that everyone who worked hard on the sit-in story made the weekend of no sleep that much easier. It is only by working with other people that you can realize your true weaknesses and attempt to better yourself. This answer seems to pacify the interviewer, but I sense that something else is needed.

I explain that after I finished my tenure as editor in chief, I needed something to do with my newfound free time. I applied to the Corp’s board of directors because I thought that it would be a good resume-builder for the future. I knew that the Corp included a grocery store, a travel agency and a coffee shop, but that was about it. I then explained that when I finished my year with the Corp I realized how impressive it is that a $3 million organization is wholly student-run. The difficulties of organizing over 200 “Corpies” is not an easy task and one that I do not envy. I mention to the interviewer the business skills that I developed, the organization necessary in order to do the job, as well as every other self-complimentary tidbit I can think of.

As the interview proceeds and I begin to fade, I realize that I have learned how to answer these questions without much thinking involved. I know what the interviewer wants to hear, so that is what I say. I am genuine, but it is only by thinking later what stories I chose to share that I realize how much pride I have in Georgetown.

Being up at the crack of dawn working on the Independent or for the Corp has provided the best education that I have received at Georgetown. Granted, I have learned about game theory in my icroeconomics Theory class and about the symbolism of a Matisse painting in my art history class, but these hardly teach the real world lessons that I have picked up from my extracurricular activities. It is working with people outside of the classroom that has made my Georgetown experience so precious and so memorable. I have learned more from my peers with whom I have worked than from a professor with a Ph.D. behind his or her name.

Looking back on it all, the interview process wasn’t that bad – I do have a job. To me, that just says that all of the sunrises over the Esplanade were more than worthwhile.

Mark Himmelsbach is a senior in the College.

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