DC Career Trek 2018

Author: John Henry Hobgood, Class of '20

Day One | Sunday, October 14, 2018

Today was our first day. We all flew into D.C., checked into the hotel in Arlington, and had an informal meeting with ND alumni from different industries. The first day made us feel a bit nervous and unfamiliar, yet we felt comfortable towards the end because of the genuine kindness of the alumni. Hearing the stories of alumni and how Notre Dame prepared them for success in D.C. was inspiring.

The alumni gave advice from the minutia of work in D.C. to the broader questions concerning industries. In a particular area, our experience from the outside was confirmed by their comments: switching jobs within short periods of time in D.C. is common. One question that reappeared throughout the evening concerned the difficulty of such transitions.

The answer to our question was distinct and specific. One alumna made a distinction between industry and function: industry is defined by the specific field (consulting vs. Capitol Hill, etc) whereas function concerns the job that spans all fields (i.e. communications). So one could transition with less difficulty from one industry to another if the function stays the same (doing communications on Capitol Hill after doing it at a nonprofit). But switching functions is more difficult, and switching both function and industry at the same time is even more so.

- John Henry Hobgood, Class of '20
  Program of Liberal Studies

Day Two | Monday, October 15, 2018

Today we visited Search for Common Ground, American Enterprise Institute, and Avascent Group. We had the opportunity to meet with Notre Dame alumni at each organization. We learned invaluable advice for their respective organizations and industries as well as career prospects in general. 

Coming in, we had conceptions of each of the industries and the specific organizations. But our minds were changed and conceptions made more accurate. 

Many people conceive NGOs, such as Search for Common Ground, as stripping local communities abroad of autonomy. However, we discovered that was a misguided assumption. Search for Common Ground operates from the ground up, with their local piece keeping missions involving people from those communities. 

We were surprised at the intellectual diversity at American Enterprise Institute. Many people assume it and other think tanks are closed minded and ideological. We saw that was not accurate. AEI told us of programming events they do with Brookings on current public policy topics. They also showed us examples of opposite policy proposals reached by different scholars within AEI. 

Finally, some of us came in with a mal-nourished understanding of consulting. Some of us thought it was an industry composed of a "collection of nonsense buzzwords" that adds little substantive value to the economy and society. However, Avascent taught us that was not the case. Through hands on exercises, we saw the real value and data they provide for their clients and the US society. 

The Trek so far has been amazing because we have been able to more closely explore our preconceived notions and change them when necessary. Realizing the magnitude and effect of the ND degree and alumni network has also been rewarding. 

- John Henry Hobgood, Class of '20
Program of Liberal Studies