By Claire Hogan ’22
Last week, William & Mary’s Global Research Institute hosted a virtual career panel, with students calling in via Zoom to receive advice about networking, research, and jobs. The panel included Rodney Faraon, Partner at Crumpton Group LLC and former CIA Senior Intelligence Officer; Shanda Cooper ’06, international development consultant; and Venu Katta ’16, MA ’17, law student at Georgetown and former Presidential Management Fellow.
The speakers started off by discussing which factors contributed the most to their career success. Faraon began by stressing the importance of knowing your strengths.
“First of all, of course you have to have the talent for the jobs that you want to be a part of,” Faraon said. “It’s fine for me to aspire to be a Hollywood actor, but I definitely don’t have the talent for that, no matter how passionate I am about the subject matter. But I do know that I am a good analyst, I have good writing capabilities, and I’m a good critical thinker. So recognizing what you’re good at is really important.”
Faraon also emphasized the role of passion.
“I find that if you’re passionate about something, then you’ll have fun doing it, and if you have fun doing it, you don’t want to stop doing it,” Faraon said.
Katta echoed this sentiment, noting that your values should align with your work.
“When you’re putting in long hours at the office, and you’re there late at night, and you’re banging your head against the wall, being able to actually reflect that you understand and appreciate the mission of wherever you’re at is important,” Katta said.
Cooper, who graduated from William & Mary in 2006, highlighted the value of the liberal arts.
“Having a liberal arts education is really helpful,” Cooper said. “You take a lot of different classes, and you may think it’s a hodgepodge of different things, but it helps you to be able to go into different environments, because you’ve taken an economics class, and a French class, and an art history class. Those tools, you can always pull from them and apply them in various sectors. You aren’t restricted to just international relations, per se: I’ve been able to work in agriculture and all these different sectors, given the skills that I learned at a liberal arts university.”
Following these opening remarks, students moved into breakout groups and submitted questions to each of the panelists, ranging from queries about graduate programs to general advice for working online.
“I attended the career panel to engage with the GRI community and professionals in the international realm during this crazy time in order to gain insight and network,” Margaret Manson ’22 said. “During the breakout session, Venu Katta gave us some really great information on the presidential management fellows program and gave the excellent advice to develop data analysis skills and take advantage of research opportunities while in undergrad.”
Though the job market remains tenuous due to COVID-19, the panelists urged students to persevere through the tough times.
“Know your worth and don’t be deterred by ‘no’s’ right now, as you try to figure out what you want to do,” Cooper said. “The right opportunity will come – just push through. Be your own advocate.”