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Career Services at Georgetown’s McDonough School: Q&A with Doreen Amorosa

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Five years ago Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business convinced Doreen Amorosa to take over as associate dean and managing director of career services, despite the fact that she lived in New Jersey, not Washington, DC, and didn’t plan to move. She did commute for the first few years, returning to central Jersey to spend weekends with her husband. But they’ve since sold that home and divide their time between DC and Cape May. “The center of the universe has shifted a little bit,” she says with a laugh.

Amorosa had spent all of her career working in New York City, including the first 22 years with Merrill Lynch. In her later years at Merrill, she migrated into running recruiting and retention for the firm, discovering that was what she really loved. She went on to head recruiting for a range of other firms, including American Express, traveling to the McDonough campus in that capacity to recruit MBA students. That’s how the school recognized her talents and eventually wooed her to its side of the fence.

In the interview that follows, Amorosa reveals some of the latest techniques and technology she and her team have deployed to prepare McDonough MBAs for success whatever their chosen career path. Read on to learn more about the jump start McDonough students get on the job search process. (Hint: Things get rolling in McDonough’s MBA Career Center long before classes start.) And don’t miss the the new online community tool that connects current McDonough students with alumni around the globe in a truly innovative way.

A proud Hoya who earned her own B.S. in management at Georgetown, Amorosa also shares how the Jesuit ideal of “men and women for others” shapes not only the school, its students and its alumni, but even McDonough’s career services offerings.

Clear Admit:
What’s new at McDonough’s MBA Career Center since we spoke last?

Doreen Amorosa: A lot. We have rolled out several innovations in career services recently that I would love to talk about. First, we have put a set of protocols in place that begin as soon as a student accepts our offer. As soon as students say they are coming to McDonough in the fall, we invite them to take part in our MBA Career Ignition Summer Webinar series, which is designed to set them up for success in their eventual job search process.

Doreen Amorosa, associate dean and managing director of the McDonough MBA Career Center
Doreen Amorosa, associate dean and managing director of the McDonough MBA Career Center

As part of this series, incoming students are tasked with a number of different deliverables. While not mandatory, taking advantage of them is definitely going to be in the students’ best interests.

Essentially, there are four deliverables on incoming students’ plates between June and July. First, we ask them to complete an accomplishments record, which becomes the basis for the stories they are going to tell as they talk about their experiences and begin their elevator pitch development. The second deliverable is a value proposition. We want them to be able to formulate an answer for the question of “Why am I going to get an MBA and what am I going to do with it?”

Third—and this was entirely new this past fall—we have asked students to create an MBA career inventory. More and more there is a need by incoming students for what we call “career clarification.” They come in the door, and they are not really sure what they want to do or how to get clear on that. At the same time, employers want access to students earlier and earlier and earlier. So the sooner students can get clear about what they want to do, the more successful they are going to be in terms of their internship search. To this end, we have created an in-house self-assessment tool that helps students assess 21 different functional roles. We have to help them think multi-dimensionally—they should be thinking about not only an industry focus but also a functional focus. The tool is designed to help them make an informed choice about what direction they will pursue.

The tool provides a one-page questionnaire about each of the 21 functions. Where do you have experience? What are your interests? What’s your prior background, your temperament? Say a student has an interest in consumer behavior. Using the tool, he or she can help determine some developmental goals and gauge how they will mesh with the position. Students can take as many or as few of these functional inventories as they want. What do I know about private equity? IT consulting? CPG marketing? Universally, the feedback we have received is that these new tools prove really helpful because they open up a window for students of what’s possible.

Everyone knows about consulting, finance, marketing—but often they don’t realize all of these other functional specialty areas, many of which present possibilities they never thought of before. It’s been a really big win for us in terms of helping incoming students get a sense of what’s possible and create the tools needed to take it to the next step.

The final deliverable happens in July with the creation of their résumé. So when they start school at the beginning of August, they have done all of that self-reflection already. All of that work is done before they even get to campus. We have run the Summer Webinar series beginning in June for the past four years and found it to be very useful—students tell us they are so happy to have the opportunity to do this work ahead of time when they could really focus on it.

That’s a best practice I brought with me to McDonough from the corporate world. Between when you give someone a job offer and they start employment, you have great mind share. And with students, since they haven’t started school yet, we actually find we get better mind share now than we do when they hit the campus in August.