School of Management students have the opportunity to ask top professionals questions and network with them in the Ask the Professionals series, organized by the school's Career Management Team. Ask the Professionals is held during fall and spring semesters and provides students with the opportunity to learn from working professionals in the financial services, accounting, consulting and government sectors. Each event features five to six panelists from the featured industry.
The spring 2012 series kicked off with a five person panel centered on the consulting industry with representatives from Deloitte Consulting, Dynamic Pro, Inc., Coverent, Capstone Strategic, and KPMG. Three of the panelists were also Mason alumni working to continue their relationship with their alma mater by passing along valuable career advice to current Mason graduate and undergraduate students.
The second event of the spring series featured six professionals from government agencies including the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of the Treasury, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. MBA student, Colin Walsh, served as the panel moderator.
"I am interested in obtaining a government job after I graduate. I thought it would be informative and give me a chance to network with some of the decision makers in the public sector," says Walsh. "I have always heard, 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' and I feel that by attending these events, students will be able to get a leg up on the competition."
Over 90 students, staff and faculty have attended the series this semester. Panelists shared insights with students on the hiring process and the importance of monitoring their online presence on social media sites. Some have also shared firsthand accounts of what it is like to work in the consulting and government fields. Kiersten Hitchcock, an FBI agent, recounted her role in helping catch online predators. Another panelist, a CIA contracting officer identifying himself only as Doug M., shared the challenge of keeping his work private to all, even his family.
Elizabeth Johnson, assistant director of Career Services at the School of Management, encourages students to keep an eye out for more information on the fall installment of the series. "I find all of the Ask the Professionals panels so interesting! I learn something new each time and find that there are some very exciting opportunities out there for our students," she says. "Panelists often serve as informal mentors and friendly gatekeepers. They help open doors so that students can get their resumes in front of hiring managers and decision makers."