Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unleash Your Inner Animal, Part 1

Having Trouble Finding Your Path in Life?
: Let Your Inner Guide-dog Lead the Way

You know, I’m not at all sure what I want to do after I graduate …”
I’ve heard this often in the past few weeks, always from a student slouched down in the side chair on the other side of my desk. Usually, it's accompanied by a look of sheer misery.

SMILE! Help is at hand.

I have the seeds of an answer, thanks to a random email blast from my sister. She asked me the timeless question, "What kind of dog are you?"

Don’t yap back at me as though this is some kind silly off-color joke. I mean, really – what breed are you?

This turns out to be an important question, because almost nobody below the age of sixty can look at his or her image in the mirror and see, with any clarity, what kind of person looks back. That said, any one of us can watch a dog in action and see instantly the personality traits that make a dog of that breed perfectly adapted to what it was what born to do. Human have spent more than ten thousand years carefully engineering wolf genetics to produce more than 200 unique breeds, each crafted to exalt some traits and submerge others, making it perfectly fit for one particular job in one particular kind of place.

For example, America’s most popular breed, the Labrador Retriever, was made to be imperturbable under gunfire, strong enough to withstand icy waters and riptides, and loyal enough to fetch a duck without eating it first.
In contrast, the Pekingese was bred to warm the silk slippered toes and loose-sleeved arms of the Chinese royal family. As such, it is small and sturdy, hairy and warm - and able to lie motionless for hours at a time.

Just look at the difference to see how perfectly crafted each breed is for its job and environment!

So what are YOU made for? Take the Dogster quiz and discover you inner canine: href="">

Can you guess what I was?

Okay, since I’m a breed with little patience, Ill tell you. A Jack Russell Terrier. Just like my good buddy from the MuchLove Animal Rescue, Luke Duke:

There was a time in my life when I would have utterly rejected the idea, insisting that I must be one of the “nice” breeds like the always lovable Cocker. Not so – I have serious “Jack” genes. If I don’t have enough useful work to do, I’ll dig until I find it. Have you noticed how I track you down? I'm not good at routine and I don’t run in a pack. That said, I’ll defend my clan to the death. All you SPP Waves are my family and you know you can always count on me.

To understand the Jack in action, check out this hilarious, and hugely popular, YouTube video of Jesse the Jack.

Thankfully, not everyone is a Jack. When my husband took the quiz, he sat up sputtering: “I am not!”

“What aren't you?” I inquired, my head cocked like a curious Jack.

“I am not a poodle!”

“Sure, you are, Sweetie,” I replied with equanimity, “A Standard Poodle.”

And he is. Highly intelligent – almost to a fault, a very quick study, witty and outgoing, but a bit aloof with strangers. He has a huge heart and he always opens our home to strangers in need, yet he will defend it against intruders without a hockey stick.

Like the poodle in its origin – pudle, or water dog, in Germany - , he’s a fearless and powerful athlete on the water, excelling at two Olympic sports. And, like the poodle, he wears his hair a little long and, maybe, he's a little vain, but he’s so lovable, that like the poodle, any faults are easy to overlook. Oh, and did I mention he doesn’t shed?

Is it any surprise that my husband did well as an Intelligence officer in the US Navy, but after a few years, chose to leave for a more liberating environment where he could stretch his legs, and his influence. Today, he’s a finance executive for a successful, mid-sized non-profit.

So, tell me, who are you? Take the quiz and let me know what it says. If you don't, my inner terrier will hunt you down until we find out. You can shoot me an email if you want to keep it quiet, but it's more fun for everyone if you leave it as a comment.

I guarantee that you’ll find some aspect of your inner self that will give you strong hints at the kind of job you really should be doing after you graduate. And, what you should not.

Happy Holiday!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


One of the joys of working with public policy students is that every single person came to Pepperdine because he or she wants to make a significant contribution somewhere in the world. Sometimes, it’s a mission to Mexico; others, it’s simply getting the vote out in Ventura, but whatever moves them, our master’s degree candidates get themslves off campus and dig right into the trenches of public service.

That is as it should be. After all, Pepperdine was founded on the principle of “giving back”. The university’s motto is “strengthening lives for purpose, service and leadership". In 1937, our founder, George Pepperdine expressed his view succinctly at the first graduation when he directed the new graduates to: “Go forth and be useful!”

So it is that every year, shortly after school resumes in the fall, the entire university participates in STEP FORWARD DAY, a single day of volunteer service to the community. Imagine it - 8,000 people going forth to be useful!

This year, the event falls on Saturday, September 11th. As we have every year since 2008, Pepperdine will commemorate the date by setting up hundreds of flags in a memorial grid on Pepperdine’s sweeping front lawn. Each of the more than 3,000 flags honors someone who died on 9/11 – and students begin two weeks in advance, laying out the grid, erecting the poles and raising the flags. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. Come at sunset. Don't just drive by - stop, get out of your car and walk among the flags. Just stroll through as they tower over you and flutter in the breeze, a silent reminder of the day that you’ll remember for a very, very long time.

Although School of Public Policy students are welcome to participate in the flag raising, the project is usually over-subscribed by the time school starts. Don’t despair – there’s loads to do to be useful in LA.

For me, I spend a few hours almost every weekend working with Much-Love Animal Rescue (, a ten-year old non-profit that has taken more than 5,000 dogs from the highest kill shelters and found them “forever homes”. We have about a dozen, huggable, mostly mutts every week – and it makes my heart soar to make a match. After all, who wouldn’t love a goofball like this over-grown puppy we call “Ronaldo”? Mostly Plott Hound, a breed known for its courage, loyalty, eagerness to please and downright indomitable nature, he’s thrilled every moment to be alive.

Or take little “Luke Duke”. He’s a Jack Russell-Poodle mix with wiry-soft curls and one blue eye; the other brown, as though he’s winking at some great joke. Luke’s happy, high-spirited and a total one-family/ one-dog lover. Interested in fetch? Frisbee? Flyball? Luke’s your guy.

But enough about me and my personal, giving-back passion. What about our students? Some have done policy work at a related organization, the Found Animals Foundation ( They’re a grant-making body dedicated to the same cause – minimizing the number of shelter “kills”. I was interested to find out whether all our hours were making an impact so I spoke with Dr. Jeremy Prupas, the City of Los Angeles Chief Veterinarian. He told me they’d seen a sharp decrease in euthanized pets over the past 12-18 months, almost entirely because healthy pets are now being adopted – half by individuals who come into the shelters and the rest by rescue groups like ours.

One of the most interesting success stories might be called the “Flight of the Chihuahuas”. These tiny dogs were clogging the shelter system a year ago – 30-40% of the dogs were not Pit mixes, as you might think, but Chihuahuas. Thanks to Katherine Heigl who personally paid to fly 68 dogs to New Hampshire where there are waiting lists for tiny dogs, the number left behind is manageable. If you’re interested, here’s a sample story: You might want to contact Virgin Air; they’ve been offering half-price fares to the east coast for volunteers who will travel with a shelter pet.

Helping the homeless is not all about pets; most students work with people. Virtually every year, the School of Public Policy has a course covering homeless policy and Pepperdine students are frequent volunteers at the Union Rescue Mission ( and at PATH – People Assisting the Homeless ( There, they do everything from legal casework to doing everything cooking and serving meals to helping plan new PATH facilities for abused women and children or homeless vets. The president of Women in Public Policy, Miriam Keim, is looking at spearheading a September 11th project for all SPP students at PATH – look for news to follow.

Something else to thing about is a non-profit that one of our recent alums, Alison Tolladay, helped found last year: Just Like You ( They teach schoolchildren to understand children from other lands by playing games and sports from other cultures. Alison organized the 2009 SPP Step Forward Day project, an elementary school outing. She tells me she’s planning a similar project this year – watch for more news.

Finally, if you’re still looking for something to do, check out the Pepperdine Volunteer Center, where hundreds of opportunities are posted: You can work alone or in teams, but either way – go forth and be useful!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What did YOU do on your summer vacation?

Summer vacation? You're kidding, right? We're all here working.

Ah, don't I wish I were a kid again?! Not really.

But I do wish I could go back in time and become one of our public policy students, especialy those who are summering overseas at fabulous internships from Poland to Palau and a dozen points in between. For weeks now, I've been so engrossed in reading their blogs that I haven't tended to mine. Their reports have been fun, fascinating and inspiring. I thought I should share their news with the rest of you.

For those of you who aren't aware of where our first-years scattered when school let out in April, one out of five went abroad. Here's a list of international travelers:

Edwin Afriyie RWANDA

Edwin's working for the Rwandan Ministry of Local Governance (MINALOC) doing internal and external audits of infrastructure projects contracted to private and foreign firms.

Asmaa Ahmed JORDAN

Asmaa has a highly sensitive position with the United Nations RWA - Relief and Works Agency for Palestninian Refugees. Asmaa's research is zeroing in on issues of alleged criminal misconduct and the general administration of the UN's refugee camps.


Ryan works for another UN agency, the World Health Organization, or WHO, on a new initiative that reaches out to youth across social media. Called the UN Health Academy, it's an online center for health education - and Ryan was hired as chief advocate for the summer.

Jose Fonseca DUBAI

Jose is the Research Associate for Dr. Susan Grotty at the Dubai School of Government. They are working on a study to assess hierarchies at work in Arab and multi-cultural teams.

Megan Garth DUBAI

Megan also works as a researcher at the Dubai School of Government, for Dr. Khalid Al Yahya, a consultant in governance reform.

Jeremy Grunert ISRAEL

Jeremy works in Jerusalem for an NGO looking at humanitarian issues in Israel and the Middle East.

Keyla Herrera INDONESIA

Keyla is with HOPE International, a humanitarian non-profit that has undertaken an anti HIV/AIDS initiative targeting youth in impoverished regions of the country. She is studying the issue sand producing education programs.

Chad Higgins PALAU No blog; shoot him an email.

Chad has just returned from working with the Ministry of State as an historical researcher assessing political and diplomatic pacts in the past and making policy recommendations for future foreign policy.


As most of you know, Tom was supposed to work for the President of Poland this summer, but the tragedies of last spring caused the government to revise his assignment. Tom has been researching Polish foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly focusing on Israel and Iran.

Miriam Keim ISRAEL personal: and public - the same as Jeremy's. Miriam works in Jerusalem with Jeremy at the same NGO. Due to the sensitive nature of their work, their blog tells much about their travels, but does not disclose much about the internship.

Jillian Kissee INDONESIA

LIke Keyla, she is working at HOPE, but her work is analytical. She is conducting quantiative and qualitative research into the sexual and drug practices of Indonisia urban high school students.

Nikhil Mathur JORDAN

Nikhil is another UN employee this summer, although his work is very different. He is working for the United Nations Development Programme on environmental sustainability projects.

Katie McAfee RWANDA

Katie is working in the same government agency as Edwin, but her projects require a lot more work in the villages themselves. She has been conducting a very interesting series of program assessments, looking at the work done by community collectives.

Grant Tang TAIWAN No blog yet.

It turns out the city of Taipei has grown so large, it is being redistricted this summer. Grant is in his home town, helping manage a mayoral campaign.

Janet Valencia ISRAEL Same blog as Jeremy Grunert.

Janet is in Tel Aviv, the nation's capital, working at the Shimon Peres Peace Center to develop and produce multicultural tolerance and peace education programs.

Charlotte van Heurck HOLLAND

Charlotte is working for the Dutch Ministry of Finance, although with all eyes focused on the World Cup, it's unclear how much work is taking place in the Netherlands. Just joking - Charlotte is doing legislative research regarding post-recessionary financial reforms and EU recommendations.

In addition, Bohdan Kosenko left for COSTA RICA after he wrapped up his campaign internship and rumor has it he is working there with an NGO or a non-profit. Artem Zastoupailo chose a trade internship with a wine importer, Megawine, Inc. He's on a business trip to RUSSIA. Hope he blogs.

With another quarter of the class in Washington DC and all the LA-based students hard at work on internsips (or, so they tell me), it's been very quiet around here. Stop by if you're in town!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ALUMNI TIPS - How to Land a Federal Job

I’ve written several blogs about Federal jobs. Lately, the only folks seriously hiring MPPs seem to be the Feds – and, yet, these are the trickiest jobs to land. I doubt that the government intended making the process difficult; it’s just that in being fair to all applicant, they have bent so far backwards that the process has become twisted beyond repair. There are guides and resume templates posted on Pepperdine proprietary career database, EPPIC, and if you’re a student or alum, go check them out. They’re proven to work.

But you might not believe me, so I asked alums who have successfully navigated the Federal hiring labyrinth to share their experiences.

Here’s what they had to say:

[From a 2008 grad who wants to stay anonymous]

Hi Jody,

I've applied for several Federal jobs and the hiring process is still very, very long. I can tell you about my most recent experiences. I've had two interviews with the Government Accountability Office in the last 10 months. I just had an interview last week which came 4 months after the job posting closed, and it will be 2 more months before I hear about the outcome. Everything I've learned so far has been that it is almost arbitrary in how people are selected for Federal jobs, but there are some things that can be helpful.

1. It is beneficial to go to job fairs and meet with recruiters and get a rapport going, because that is how two of my friends received their Federal positions.
2. Try out on-site government contracting, often that is a good way to get your foot in the door and can lead to the position being converted from a contract one to a Federal one. Also, even if they don't convert you to a Fed the experience you gain in a Federal job setting is extremely valuable when applying for those jobs
3. .When applying for Federal jobs, it is vital that all keywords from the job announcement appear on the resume and in any KSAs that have to be answered or your resume will not make the CERT.
4. Networking is also vital when applying for Federal jobs, this is because when you are applying for a specific job it helps a lot if you can find someone in the office in which you are applying to have HR pull your resume out of the pile and take a second look.

Hope this helps!

[From Kim LaGree Ross (2001) who worked at the White House Office of Faith-based Policy]

… I have applied for and received federal job offers and was an appointee. I actually took a class in how to write KSAs which are the Knowledge Skill Ability sections for government hiring forms. The key is to be very thorough and very repetitive and not rush these sections because the computer screens (and score) the individuals. In addition, it is important to apply for a position that one would be able to qualify at the highest skill on all questions and then explain how their skills/abilities apply...

[From Todd Silverstein (2007) who had civilian positions with the Department of Defense]

Hey Jody -

I'm not sure how accurate my perceptions are for what worked and what didn't, as the Federal Government is notorious for not providing feedback to applicants (which is understandable given the amount of applicants they receive). That said, here are my thoughts on what I felt helped me, and what hurt me, as well as what most frustrated me:

What helped:- Reading the position positing from start to end, researching the agency and position (online), and tailoring the application to hit as many keywords as possible (while remaining truthful)
- Submitting lots of applications. Lots and lots and lots of applications.
- Trolling websites and applying for positions up to 12 hours each day, every day
- Using friends, classmates, former instructors and staff as both sounding boards and placement advocates (i.e. I asked them to help me if they were willing/able)

What hurt:

- Not having an address in or near the city where the position was being offered
- Lack of knowledge about the process
- Lack of significant relevant non-academic experience

What was the most frustrating part of the process:
- Not knowing what it was about my application that fell short
- The feeling (unknown, if true) that I was a very strong candidate but unable to get in the door b/c I didn't know the right keywords to use
- The lag time between application and decision

Hope this helps!


P.S. None of the above applies to NCIS. Had I not had a medical condition which precluded me from applying for the position of NCIS Special Agent, I feel confident my experience with the Federal Hiring Process would have been much different. From what I recall, former NCIS interns are guaranteed an interview, in addition to the on-the-job experience and contacts they gain from their time volunteering for the agency.

[From Kodie Sue Ruzicka (2003) who has held jobs with several Federal agencies, including a White House appointment]


Hope this helps...

Federal Hiring Process
I have been hired for three federal jobs and the most important thing to getting an interview is understanding how the process works. There are several layers of screening you need to make it through in order to get an interview, the first being an electronic scan of your application looking for certain buzz words in order to find the best matches for the position. When filling out an application and answering the KSAs, remember to use the exact words and phrases used in the announcement in order to increase your chances of making it through the initial screening.

After making it through the initial screening, your application is scored and those with the highest scores get interviews, so make sure that you are answering every point in the vacancy announcement. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get an interview.

In my experience, if you make it to the interview level, you are part of a pretty short list and it is likely that your interview will last only 30-60 minutes. I have never had a second interview for a government job because they always hired after the first interview so bring your A-game.

While you cannot usually negotiate for a different grade level than the one you applied under, there are 10 steps (salary levels) in each grade and that makes your salary negotiable (sometimes). Just make sure that if you are promised one salary and then get an offer letter with less than you were expecting that you do not sign anything until you get the offer letter reflecting the correct salary.

It is not uncommon to be offered a job with very little information about it. The person contacting you with the job offer is usually not in the office you will work in and therefore cannot give you a lot of information. Make sure to ask as many questions about your position as possible during the interview. Also realize that it is not unusual to report for your first day of work only to learn that you have been reassigned to another position.

Write all of your KSAs in a word document and keep them for future applications. Most positions ask the same basic questions and your previous answers can be tailored for each application.

Be aware of the length of time the announcement is open. Because of the laws governing how positions are filled in the government, many jobs are posted as open positions, but in fact, the office already knows who it is going to hire. If a job announcement is only open for one week that may be an indication that they already know who they are going to hire and are only posting the position in order to satisfy statutory requirements. If you suspect this is true, you may want to consider whether or not it is worth your time and effort to apply.

Kodie Sue

Recipe of the Week --


What food embodies America? The punsters among you might point to burgers and fries as the meal that embodies us and pushes us up the scales, but old-fashioned apple pie has been the perennial American favorite since before the United States had states. Sure, there are versions from France, Holland, England – the colonists’ home lands – but the classic double-crusted version served all over the country is unique to US.

Here’s a quick, simple and delicious version for home-baking as we approach the flag-waving holidays of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

American Apple Pie
Refrigerated pie crust is so good that I only use scratch ingredients for the holidays or fresh fruit tarts. This recipe is adapted from one I found on the web that also has a nice how-to on pie crust: It’s the closest one I’ve found to my mother’s south-of-the-border trick of maximizing the volume of apples in the pie – cook them first. She often added walnuts and/or raisins to the mix.

One package pie crusts
10 – 12 Granny Smith or Pippin apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1 – 2 T. lemon juice
2 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup white sugar
¼ - ½ cup brown sugar, depends on acidity of the apples
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. butter

1. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients for the filling. Toss apples in the mix until well-coated. Stir in the lemon juice.
3. Simmer in a heavy pan until the apples are just fork tender – no more or they’ll be mushy about 15 – 20 minutes.
4. Center the lower crust in a 9” pie pan and pierce it several times with a fork. Mound the apple mixture and dot with the butter. Use it all in little chunks.
5. If the top crust seems a little thick, and some are, roll it out until it’s thin as shirt cardboard. Drape it over the top, trim and crimp the edges. Score the top in long slices on all four sides.
6. Crumple aluminum file around the edges so they don’t burn. Put pie on a cookie sheet and set in the oven.
7. After 15 minutes, remove the foil and lower heat to 350-degrees. Bake another 30 – 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
8. I think it’s best served with premium vanilla or caramel ice cream, but that’s piggy me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


How to Bring Your Blog to Life with Pictures

Today, when everybody with a cell-phone is a shutterbug and more serious souls have digital cameras that do all the work, you’d think we’d have reduced the number of words we need to tell a story. After all, Confuscius says "a picture says a thousand words". Unfortunately, most photos are mute.

Scan the Facebook pages of your friends. What do the photos really tell you? For example, what does this one of graduation tell you? Do you think you can do a better job than the average blogger? You betcha!

Years ago, I took a class at UCLA Extension taught by Albert Moldavy who worked for National Geographic. Collaborating with Erika Fabian, he published beautiful coffee-table travel books that told evocative stories about the world, primarily in photos.

I looked around the web for some images that might help me illustrate the best tips I learned from him, and I borrowed a few from Getty Images. They're watermarked, but I think you’ll get the idea from the compositions. Because uploading onto blogger is a little tricky - use Wordpress if you're photo-happy - I'll be posting tips on photography in multiple blogs. Here's the first one - on the most important aspect of photography: light.

LIGHT: One thing Moldavy said that stuck with me was the derivation of the word, photography: it's Greek for "drawing with light". Too often, when we shoot a photo, we take light for granted; there’s either enough or there's not. But paying attention to light makes all the difference in the emotions evoked by your picture.

What’s your light source? Is it behind, in front, or beside you? What’s its quality? Bright, fading or artificial? Each creates a different feeling in the viewer.

Front light, where the light is over your shoulder, produces the brightest colors, but the least depth. It can make for a very dull image, but it will help you tell a straight-forward story.

Check out this candid photo from Israel of an Arab woman walking past T-shirts proclaiming the celebration of 40 years of peace. It needs no interesting angles or tricks of the light to make an impact - to tell the story. Note that the woman is walking off the frame – that’s an intentional part of what the photographer chose to say.

Side light is different, it brings out the texture and form. That’s why many of the most beautiful photos are filmed early in the morning or late in the day.

This Indonesian child looks all the more poignant for the shadows falling over his shoulder and obscuring his home – a refugee tent.
Backlight yields silhouettes – it’s dramatic! If you want to identify people in the foreground, you’ll need to supplement with artificial lighting in front of them. Use fill-flash or ambient artificial light (as below).
This photo shows a demonstration bonfire in a Geneva street protesting the G8 conference. The story is effectively told by silhouetting the young protestor and centering him in the frame.

[Note for you in the tropics: noon produces a bright, harsh light – wait until later in the day if you can or find shade.]

Artificial light. When you're indoors, your pictures can be as flat as though you were using front-light - since often, you are: flash. Most point-and-shoot cameras have flashes with a short throw range – the light is bright, but only for a few feet. Usually, you’ll need to fill with ambient side light to get a decent photo.
In this photo of Queen Rania of Jordan, there is flash bouncing off the front of the table and the side of her face, but plenty of light in the room so the story is clear.
There are --

1. THINK ALIVE. Things that are alive draw the eye – people and animals. If you have a big mass like a building or a landscape, try to have something living in the foreground to create a more interesting composition.
2. THINK IN THIRDS. The center of interest shouldn’t be the center of your composition

3. PLAN AHEAD. To shoot a moving subject, focus on a spot ahead of it (making sure the focal point is correct; for example, focus on the pavement right in front of where your subject will be) and wait until the subject enters the frame – click.

4. SHOOT A LOT. Shoot the HECK out of every scene – shoot from multiple angles; go high; go low; zoom in; zoom out. Never settle for one shot and walk away. What do you think “Delete” is for?

5. REMEMBER - PEOPLE RULE. No matter what, people pictures are your most important travel photos – and the hardest to take well. The most boring – and least evocative – are the stiff, smiling, mid-frame at the camera. You have to make a conscious effort to take good shots of people – and, in foreign countries especially – they may be loathe to cooperate. Watch for the blogs telling you how to do this well.

And a sixth - DON’T WORRY – BE HAPPY!

, go to National Geographic:

You, too, can takes photos like this – Mount Sahyinyo in Rwanda

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It’s three weeks and counting until graduationat SPP. The question of the hour has been coming at me from two directions: those soon-to-be alums and hopeful prospective students:


The simple answer is:”yes”. Last year, the answer was more like “maybe” or “it depends where you’re looking.” It some cases, it was even, “maybe you should take the summer off." But this year, the job climate is getting measurably warmer and our whole school and alumni cohort is getting smarter about navigating the marketplace.

It turns out the rules of the road are simple:

1. You’re faster off the mark if you’ve got one toe on the line before the gun goes off: get an internship before you graduate.
More than half the graduating class who already have jobs got them either as a continuation of an internship or an enthusiastic referral from an internship employer. That’s why we encourage students to sign up for an internship during their second year OR continue an international or DC internship via the Internet once they return.

I can hear you nay-sayers now: “But those internships don’t pay!” Maybe not, but look at the economics. The most that most of you could earn during the last three months of school would be about $2,500 working part-time at a retailer or a restaurant. Your starting salary as an MPP is likely to be at least $48,000. Assuming you converted your internship into a full-time job, you’d start immediately. In less than three weeks, you would have made up that $2500 you “lost” from not working.

In today’s market, you can expect it will take 90 – 120 days to land a good job. Every day you’re not working is $132 that’s not lining your pocket. Every month, four thousand dollars. Ponder that.

2. The very worst thing you can do is nothing – even if you need to temp or intern after graduation, DO it. This rule is a corollary to rule 1. Think of it as traction – you’re honing your skills, gaining momentum, building your resume (and by the way, your network), and proving your worth. Just as with rule 1, many of these less-than-real-jobs will convert. This is particularly true in Washington DC where “try before you buy” is a respected way of life.

There’s one more factor to consider. When employers look at your resume, do they see a person who takes initiative, works hard and has workplace-proven skills? Is there a growing gap between your last employment or internship and where you are now? After typos, gaps are the worst resume offenses; don’t let them collect.

3. If you might want a Federal job, apply the year before you graduate. I know that sounds crazy, but you can file up to a year before you're available. If you are called up, you can defer until graduation. In many cases, it will take the Federal government a year for the basic hiring process, especially if you need clearances. When you wait until the filing cycle that begins in February of your graduation year, you'll start working the following fall at the earliest. Not all bad, if you want a summer break, but you can do better.

There’s another reason to apply for a Federal job a year early – it takes awhile to master the Federal resume. Starting a year in advance gives you time to figure out what will pop your resume to the top of the lists. I teach three or four workshops a year in getting a Federal job, and some of you have attended; still, practice makes perfect.

4. Work your network. Some of you are cringing. I have heard every excuse not to network. “I don’t want to beg.” “It’s cheating.” “It’s abusing the relationship.” Wrong. How would you feel if someone you knew and liked came up to you and said, “I know you have a lot more experience working in this field than I do and I’ve always admired your business sense. I’ll be graduating in a few months and I wonder if you could give me some advice.”

Would you say “no” and walk away? Of course not. You’d ask the all-important follow-up question: “What can I do for you?”

Several member of the Class of 2010 have already tapped into their networks and found jobs. People are basically kind and they like the feeling of being regarded as an expert. Networking is a simple quid pro quo with an implied pay-back. Your network friend expects that you will be just as supportive of someone else in a year or two when you are in position to offer expert advice. This brings me to a twin of number 3:

5. Work Pepperdine’s network. The School of Public Policy is young, but we’re 385 strong in alumni. Most would not hesitate to help you. Every week, they email four or five strong job leads. Those are “hot” – don’t let them cool. If I send you an email or drop a notice in your box, often it’s from an alum who is holding open a slot for an SPP student or alum.

In the last two years, alumni have shepherded students into Booz Allen Hamilton, the Library of Congress, the Federal Election Commission, the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Human Rights Watch, Cerrell Associates, the State Auditor, Capitol Hill plus a wide variety of less well-known entities.

Maybe none of those employers appeal to you. Okay, cast your net wider: check out the online Pepperdine Alumni Network and search for university alums who are working, or have worked, at places that interest you. Check the Pepperdine Groups on LinkedIn. Look at the MPA-MPP Group on LinkedIn or Facebook set up by NASPAA, the trade association of schools like ours.

When you reach a contact, remember - you're not asking for a job; you're seeking advice. If the two of you click when you talk, request one or two leads.

6. Treat your job search like the most-important job you’ve ever had. It just might be that. Although your first job after graduate school probably won’t last more than a year or two, where you start your career is the place you learn to be a professional. Make it one you love and you’ll do a great job. You’ll be promoted and sought after by other departments and employers. Settle for "just a job" and you might get stuck.

So, make it a habit to check EPPIC every couple of days and search the archives and Seaver listings. Look up the employers and click through to the websites of those that interest you.

Whenever you’re ready to apply, I’ll be happy to check your cover letters and review your resumes. If I think we might have a lead that could help you, I’ll connect you to that person. So will anyone on the faculty or staff. Just ask.


This is so simple I’m embarrassed to include it, but it’s so good Sheryl Kelo has been begging for it. I make it every couple of weeks when I’ve got a chicken carcass that needs to be turned into broth, but it’s even easier and almost as tasty with a low-sodium package.

2 yellow onions, peeled and chunked
2 T. olive oil (or one each of butter and oil)
2 T. honey
Knuckle of fresh ginger, peeled
1 medium package of peeled baby carrots (or peel your own)
1 seet potato, peeled and chunked (optional)
2+ cups of chicken broth (amount varies – see below)
Pinch of nutmeg and a dash of red pepper flakes
Half-teaspoons of herbs – your choice (thyme, basil, tarragon)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the oil and cook the onions over medium heat, stirring until transparent. Add the honey and continue stirring until the onions turn golden – maybe 10-15 minutes. Add the ginger and cook to coat.

2. Dump in the carrots and pour in chicken broth to cover. Bring to a boil.

3. Add spices and herbs and lower heat. Simmer 30-45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
4. Using either a blender or a food processor, puree the soup in batches until it is as smooth as you want it. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

It's equally good hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Looking Good on LinkedIn

Will you be my friend?

Every day, I get emails from students and alums asking me to be their “friend” on Facebook, LinkedIn or Plaxo. And, almost every day, I am found by a friend I’ve almost forgotten I had, people from a long-distant workplace or neighbors I knew “back when”.
Then, once or twice a week, someone I don’t know contacts me to connect . Usually, this is someone looking for someone to hire or wanting a reference for someone on my list.

Welcome to the brave new world of online social networking!

If you’re not already on a site, you’re either a recluse or a misanthrope. What’s wrong - are you hiding out from your colleagues? Or, perhaps you’re a throwback to some, ancient pre-mechanized past: a Luddite. Do you handwrite your lecture notes and pass on a mobile phone?
Seriously, the web is where your future lies.

Simply canvassing the major sites proves my point. Only a very few alums – maybe 10% - are not on Facebook, and more join every day. Fewer SPP Waves have discovered the virtues of LinkedIn, but that list is also growing fast. Of our 385 alums, 200 are among LinkedIn’s 43 million registered users. And, did you know there were 130,000 people registered on the site as recruiters?

If you’re in the market for a job or a project, LINK-IN. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for working professionals. Sure, Facebook boasts more users, but that site is truly social, a space for brags about weekends and co-misery about right-brained feelings.

LinkedIn is a left-brain domain specifically crafted to make you a standout in your field.

So how can YOU look good on LinkedIn?

You need a PROFILE – your definitive professional image. One perfect for today, that you can tweak any time you feel it’s not pulling for you.

It can be as long as you like – and lard it generously with keywords that you think might be search terms used by somebody trying to find you. The system allows you to cut and paste your standard resume – and that’s okay for the experience section, but be more creative in the “blue”, that space at the top of the profile, highlighted in pale azure. That heavenly shade is the only section accessible outside the LinkedIn firewall so every keyword there can boost you high on a Google search, as well as any searches within LinkedIn itself.

There are Four Main Sections:

I. Headline Lets the world know what you’re doing right now
“The Blue” –a slogan for your personal brand: in a nutshell, who are you?

1) Job Title: for many students, this is a descriptor rather than a job title: “Policy Analyst”, “Program Manager”, “Team Leader”, “Community Organizer”
Or, it might say, “Master’s degree candidate 2010” … at [employer or university – since this might be a search term]

2) Location: “Southern California” may yield more matches than “Malibu”; but “Los Angeles area” is a strong option. If you’re open to relocation, mention that here

3) Industry/ Sector: Think keywords: Use this to highlight sector expertise or particular skills such as “public affairs” or “environmental sustainability”.

4) Photo: Although many people leave this out, a friendly professional-looking photo makes you seem more approachable – and remember, a professional web photo can be taken by a cell phone. Digital reproduction on the web negates any need for a professional shot.

II. Summary Your “elevator pitch”.
Write the best 140-character “tweet” of your life and paste it here

Specialties – list the unique qualities that make you most valuable as an employee or contractor. People search on these terms.
List and then search-test your keywords. The summary is the only searchable section outside the LinkedIn firewall; exploit it.

HOT TIP: Link to your LinkedIn profile in your regular email signature line to improve your visibility and at the end of your blogs
HOT TIP: If you’re job-searching, enable Google access by selecting “Full View”

III. Experience The work and/or internships or volunteer experience that qualifies you

1) Organization/ Employer: For students, the employer is often more impressive than your job title; leverage the “halo effect” of major entities

2) Organization line two: If the employer is not well done, explain what it does; give it scope and mission. Include the industry or sector.

3) Title: If you’ve been interning, give yourself your functional title and put (intern, (paid or not) in parens) as in “Research Assistant (Paid Intern)”.

4) Dates: Include the months with the years since it gives you more time in service when recruiters .

5) Resume summary: Briefly summarize your duties, but make sure you showcase your accomplishments.

HOT TIP: Don’t forget to include non-profit board and advisory positions; leadership positions in volunteer work

IV. Education Degrees, sure, but add whatever helps you sell yourself

· Areas of academic excellence – majors and specializations; honors and awards – GPA if over 3.4; relevant coursework
· Publications – theses and capstones, major research projects, team projects, formal presentations, editorial, blogs, professional writing
· Activities – especially those where you were held a leadership role
· Credentials and licenses; continuing education units

HOT TIP: Join all your collegiate affinity groups – your school has one; your fraternity or sorority does. Look around LinkedIn for connectors

ABOUT Recommendations
· Collect them – from employers and faculty, absolutely; from peers on project teams and colleagues who know you work
· Screen them before posting – you need never be dinged on LinkedIn

HOT TIP: Recommendations dramatically boost your search rankings

ABOUT Connections
· Collect them – but only from people you know and trust
· The more connections you have, the more you are assumed to be an authority
· Like recommendations, connections boost your rankings in the search algorithm – people with 20 connections are 34 times as likely to be reached as people with 5

Additional Information
· Public Profile: Use your linked-in URL and replace the number with your name
· Add website links - if you have a blog, look at the LinkedIn section entitled “Applications”; you can dynamically update snippets from your blog.
· Add activities and interests

HOT TIP: Use your public profile URL as a tag to your regular email address – it allows people to link directly to your credentials
HOT TIP: Include mini-reviews of professional books you’re reading or conferences you’ve attended
HOT TIP: LinkedIn Mobile – There’s an iPhone app so you can access your LinkedIn network anywhere

Contact Settings Customize why you want to be reached.
· Be specific – you can change this at any time
· A Word about Contact Information: use your good judgment on posting phone number, email address and personal information

Groups and Associations

HOW TO JOIN A GROUP: Your school has a group – look for it and ask to join.
· Find an alum to act as a mentor
· Post news and updates regularly to the group – it keeps you “top of mind”
Note: In your Profile, Groups are LinkedIn Groups. This list is automatically generated whenever you join one. Keep that in mind when you want to look professional.
Affinity Group. You can create your own for any professional purpose. For example, share job search tips or review resumes.

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS Become the expert – or find one
· Ask - under a group, in “Discussions” – enter a topic or question
· Link to a news article, and start a discussion about it
· Post jobs on the job board – notices will go out to your group
· Answer a question – the initiator may choose yours as “best” and boost your search ranking

For further tips:
· Guy Kawasaki’s “Ten Ways to Use Linked In” and then see his own “Extreme Makeover”
· The yellow book primer: “LinkedIn for Dummies” by Joel Elod
· A networking’s pro’s free download: by Jan Vermeiren. He also has a book for $17.
· A savvy site for business users:
· Profile Tutorial:
· LinkedIn for Dummies:


Thinking about links to me straight to sausages. Thinking about quick results took me to straight to this fast and easy mid-week supper – it’s a favorite at my house, even better the next day, if there’s any left. It’s a classic Tuscan dish, perfect for a rainy day, since most of the ingredients are pantry or freezer staples.

Serves 4

¾ pound fusilli (dried corkscrew pasta – or use penne)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 T. olive oil
½ pound kielbasa sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2” thick pieces
3 t. minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 package fresh spinach or kale, sliced
1 small can chopped tomatoes or chicken broth (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts (optional garnish)

1) Cook pasta in large pot of lightly salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain and lightly rinse pasta in a colander.
2) In a heavy frying pan, caramelize onions in the oil by cooking over medium heat until they’re transparent and then covering the pan until golden and sweet. Don’t let them burn because it will make the whole dish bitter. Add a pinch of sugar if the onions are still too sharp.
3) Toss the kielbasa in the oil to coat and cook 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess oil.
4) Add garlic and cook another minute. Deglaze with wine, if desired – boil off the liquid.
5) Stir in spinach with ½ cup cooking water, chicken broth or canned tomatoes. Simmer partially covered until greens are tender.
6) Toss with the pasta and cheese. If it’s too dry, add more pasta water or a splash of cream. We never make enough.