Alix Fraser, ESIA MA ’11, recently wrote The Networking Manifesto, an e-book filled with tips and tricks relating to networking and finding a job. We asked him a few questions about his time at GW and to share some insight for alumni and students alike.
What does being a GW alumnus mean to you?
Being a GW alumnus means a lot to me. GW has a strong tradition of public service and an incredible alumni network with people doing all kinds of amazing things. I hope to honor that tradition and make a significant impact on the world and leave it a little better off than I found it.
How did your time at GW influence your career path?
I came to GW with a passion for international affairs, but GW gave direction to that passion. My exposure to GW’s outstanding faculty—both practitioners and academics—gave me a real sense of what kind of opportunities were out there, what issues resonated most deeply with me, and how I could get best apply myself in international affairs. The skills classes and career center at the Elliott School also gave me some really practical tools to use once I got into the workforce. Finally, GW had a major impact on me finding a job at the State Department after graduate school. I tapped into GW’s massive alumni network and was overwhelmed with the response I received. Nearly everyone was willing to go out of their way to help me because of our shared connection to GW and commitment to public service.
What advice do you have for current GW students?
There are a few things that come to mind. Firstly, try everything. You are in the center of the universe in Washington, D.C. Take advantage of that! Intern, volunteer, go to events, reach out and ask people to have coffee with you and ask them questions about their journey and career. Make the most out of every moment you have here. You’ll be amazed what you will discover. Never stop following your heart no matter what. Even when the odds are stacked against you, fight for what you want and don’t give up until you get it. It took me a long time to get my job after I finished grad school, and I could have taken other opportunities, but I waited until I found exactly what I was looking for. Lastly, never stop challenging yourself, ever. Continually push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is the only way to grow. When you do this, you’ll be shocked by how much you can achieve and you’ll discover all kinds of new opportunities you never knew existed or you never imagined you would enjoy.
Do you have any specific networking or general career advice for GW students?
— The 70/30 Rule: People love to talk about themselves, so let them. This is especially true when you’re networking. Never speak more than 30 percent of the time in any informational interview. If you do, you could literally be talking yourself out of a job.
— There are three keys to having a successful informational interview: Build a rapport, show your value, and ensure follow-up actions.
— Be sincere. People will smell a phony a mile away. Even though there is some gamesmanship to networking, if you are genuinely interested in the people you are meeting with, and ask questions sincerely, you will be much more successful.
Tell me about your networking e-book.
The Networking Manifesto is a practical toolkit full of networking advice and a narrative about how I found my dream post-grad school job at the State Department. It is meant to serve as a guidebook for anyone trying to find a job, move up in their organization, or use networking to achieve any goal. It is most relevant for people looking for a job after college or graduate school.
Why did you decide to write your book?
After I finished at GW, I did over 150 informational interviews to get my job at the State Department. In the process, I learned a ton about networking. The Elliott School career center kept asking me to speak to students about my experience and I soon realized that I had a lot more advice to share than I realized. After I got a little nudge from a close friend, I decided to write it all down with the hope that it could be useful to current students and others.
For more of Alix’s networking tips, listen to his GWebinar, “Networking Strategies to Find Your Dream Job in Today’s Economy.”
— Veronica Brown