EVENT REPORT: GMU Career Fair and S-CAR Proseminar, 2/10/20

Mondays are my days at George Mason University/Arlington to teach. Yesterday (2/10/20) besides teaching, I attended two career events that were noteworthy.

The first was the Arlington Campus Graduate Career and Internship Fair. It was sponsored by the Schar School of Policy and Government, School of Business, and School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University. The employers were a mix of for profits, not for profits, government, and corporate entities. Here is the list of the groups attending (with links). I chatted with a number of employers, but was especially glad to talk with Justin Fogata (an S-CAR alum) at CASA, an important group advocating for young people.

Justin Fogata from CASA

Afterwards, I attended the S-CAR Proseminar organized by the S-CAR Student Association and Dean’s Office. It featured a panel of three alum: Sarah R. Rose-Jensen, David Alpher and Alma Abdul Hadi Jadallah, all PhD graduates from S-CAR.

All panelists provided the group with some important “pearls” of wisdom in looking for work and launching one’s career.

Alma Abdul Hadi Jadallah sharing her experiences

Alma Abdul Hadi Jahallah shared about her journey, including early on getting rejected from S-CAR as a master’s applicant, then later receiving an alum award from S-CAR years later! She recommended among other things that graduates take time to “interpret nuances” to make personal and professional changes. Sell your strengths. She felt that the S-CAR community was an important one to depend on in dealing with the ups and downs of seeking work. Rely on the friendships that you develop with other students and faculty. As an international, she often felt at a disadvantage in understanding networks. Take time to determine how American networks operate. She felt that alum contributions were vital to the success of S-CAR (which she reminded us was as good if not better than a Harvard degree!). She urged S-CAR to provide a platform for alum to advance work in the field. And whenever you go on an information interview, send a thank you note!

David Alpher shared his experiences overseas with various groups including with Saferworld. Currently, he is with USAID in the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. He urged students to look at the overlap between areas such as humanitarian and military and offer their knowledge in those spaces. Be open and flexible to pathways. He shared advice that the late Wallace Warfield (an S-CAR faculty member) provided him: if you come into S-CAR and leave thinking about your work in the same way, you’ve done something wrong. Let S-CAR have an impact on your thinking. Finally, he emphasized the need for an entrepreneurial approach to finding work.

Sarah Rose-Jensen

Finally, Sarah Rose-Jensen is a recent PhD graduate from S-CAR. She found the transition after defending her dissertation to be difficult. She also felt that it’s a challenge to explain what the field is about, even though S-CAR grads are working throughout the government and DMV area. She credits the S-CAR community for helping her from “losing her mind” working on her PhD and looking for work. Looking for work is daunting and the four months it took her she felt was a long period of time.

David Alpher making a point

The panel was welcomed by Sofiyat Ibrahim, an S-CAR grad student, and Alpaslan Özerdem, S-CAR’s dean. He focused on the importance of breaking down silos with S-CAR students, the strength of over 2,000 (including some 500 in the DMV area) alum, and focusing on the needs of students seeking employment.

Consider reading my other “Event Reports. ” Recently I have visited CSIS, World Bank, Johns Hopkins University/SAIS and other career fairs.

David J. Smith is a career coach, speaker and consultant based in Rockville, Maryland, USA. He is the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace(IAP 2016). He is an official member of Forbes Coaches Council and member of career advisory board  PCDN Global.  David is also the president of the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, Inc. and teaches at School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and the School of Education at Drexel University. He can be reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.


Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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