Isom Uses Career Development Center as Springboard to Success
Alicia Isom (MALAS ’09) – in her first year as the Mexico Desk Officer with the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – is a School of Foreign Service alumna who has quickly and effectively launched her career. She’s also an example of someone who is contributing to the cycle of success fostered by the SFS Graduate Career Development Center (CDC).
“It didn’t take Alicia long to give back to SFS,” says Lisa Keathley, Assistant Dean and Director of the CDC. Keathley credits Isom with doing everything she can as a recent graduate to help other Hoyas connect to opportunities.
Isom had the benefit of some specific experience when she began to apply for jobs; in a self-designed summer research project, she spent several weeks in Brazil studying sugar exports, traveling to different regions of that country to learn more about production and price differences. “I ended up deciding that agricultural trade was something that really interested me,” she says.
But her pre-SFS background was in teaching English overseas, not agriculture. So she turned to the CDC, which serves SFS graduate students and graduate alums, for advice on how to market her experiences, receiving help from Keathley and CDC Assistant Director Anne Steen. Isom said some of her friends sent out 100 resumes without a call. She applied for 30 jobs and secured 10 interviews.
“She set herself apart with a specialized interest,” says Keathley, who credits Isom with reaching out to the CDC early during her two-year graduate program. “It’s harder for students to get a job if they don’t take advantage of their time at Georgetown to explore options and network with potential job leads. We teach them how to connect with the people they should meet,” she says.
Keathley says 11,000 jobs had been added to the CDC’s Symplicity job database by May. Employers in Washington and around the world ask for their jobs to be posted on the site because they are particularly interested in finding talent among the SFS graduate student and alumni population. An increasing number of employers search the database looking through posted resumes.
Isom says she enjoys working in international trade. She’s also happy to offer advice and assistance to other SFS graduates – something for which Keathley is grateful. “I’ve sent a number of people to her, Keathley says. Isom also came to campus with two FAS colleagues to talk to a group of students about careers in the Foreign Agricultural Service, and she’s sent several job leads to be posted on the Symplicity database.
The Symplicity database and the rest of the CDC’s tools are open both to current SFS graduate students and all SFS graduate alumni – jobseekers as well as potential employers. For more information, visit http://www1.georgetown.edu/sfs/careers/graduate/.