Helping Gonzaga University Students and Alumni Clarify and Achieve Their Academic and Professional Goals

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Graduate School Resources with Katherine Brackmann

This week, our goal here at Career and Professional Development is to help students learn how to prepare them for the career goals and allow for them to learn and decide if graduate school is the right path for you. For guidance, we interviewed ​Katherine Brackmann ​who is the ​Assistant Director, Graduate & Professional School Engagement.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your job at Career and Professional Development

Katherine: Since graduating from Gonzaga in 2010, I am excited to be back here and helping students here in CPD! I work with students who are interested in pursuing graduate programs, and how they can fit that into their career paths. Some specific things that I help with include helping students understand the ins and outs of applying, perfecting their resume, help with writing personal statements, understanding the interview process, and how to search for schools that will be a perfect fit.

How can students who are interested in a graduate school start preparing now?

Katherine: It is important to think about whether grad school fits into your career plans. To help with your decisions or start preparing now, you can network with other professionals in your industry of choice and learn about their career paths and see how they got to where they are today. Not only that but you can also connect with mentors and other faculty members here at Gonzaga as well!

What are the benefits of attending graduate school?

Katherine: Oftentimes attending graduate school is mandatory to pursue a specific career, but also it can deepen your knowledge on a specific field. This will enhance your job prospects, give you the opportunity to gain more experience, and increase the potential of gaining an increased salary because of the increase in positions available to you. Not only that, but attending graduate school can open the door to a change in career path as well.

How can CPD help jumpstart students who are interested in this path?

Katherine: To start, we will discuss how graduate school fits into a student’s ideal career goals. From there, we will look into the application process depending on where they want to go. It is important to discuss application timelines, and also we will help them connect with industry professionals as well as Zag Alum! In our meetings we can offer feedback on applications, interview tips, and help you search for which schools will be the perfect fit for each individual student. Set up a meeting with us on ZagsIgnite, and let’s chat!

Given that our entire world has gone digital, it is so much easier for students to connect with admission reps all over the country.

Katherine BRackmann

How can students still get involved and start exploring, despite the COVID restrictions?

Katherine: Given that our entire world has gone digital, it is so much easier for students to connect with admission reps all over the country. Remember this! Don’t be afraid to get in contact with the school. Get out there and talk about you, and your goals, and learn about what each school can offer you. Especially in a time like this, graduate programs may be offering incentives for people to apply!

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking into graduate school?

Katherine: The most important thing for students when looking into graduate school is to know your why. Why is this the path for you? How will this better you? Not only that, but staying organized and knowing deadlines is extremely important during the application process. This will help you avoid the stress! Lastly, know your resources. Career and Professional Development is always here to help, faculty is here to answer questions, and know your options financially as well.

What is the best piece of advice for students applying to grad school?

Katherine: Timing is everything. Giving yourself time and grace with everything during the process because it varies with each person. This might be taking time to work and grow professionally and personally which is very beneficial before you further your education. It is vital to remember that everyone is on their own timeline and allowing yourself to reflect on your own timing and finding what you need to do to reach your goals.

Getting Involved, Building Experience, and Giving Back

This week, our goal here at Career and Professional Development is to help students learn new ways to get involved in their communities to prepare them for the career goals and allow for them to start learning skills while still in school.  

For guidance, we interviewed Anthony Medina who is the Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement at Gonzaga.  

How does CCE help students get involved?

Anthony: The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) coordinates community and public service programs, including community engaged learning courses, community-based volunteer and outreach programs, and volunteer/advocacy projects. We offer a variety of opportunities to support causes that matter in our world, and serve to develop valuable leadership skills and carry out Gonzaga’s Jesuit mission of working in and with communities. 

Where are the service opportunities located? 

Anthony: In typical times, we offer opportunities to engage in many different locations. From volunteering locally with one of our many non-profit partners, to mentoring youth in our public schools and here on campus, to engaging deeply with communities across the country through our immersion programs, our programs provide students with the opportunity to engage in meaningful community engagement and transformative work. 

When should students start looking for service opportunities? 

Anthony: We offer opportunities to engage in the community year-round. For those students taking a community-engaged learning (CEL) class, we recommend starting your search early at the beginning of each semester. Additionally, most of our CCE programs require at least a semester-long commitment, so connecting at the beginning of each semester is also recommended. Throughout the semester, we can help connect you to one-time service opportunities and opportunities out in the community. Our current context has placed restrictions on one-time and group opportunities to serve. Reach out to find out more about individual programs and partners! 

How can students still get involved, despite the COVID restrictions? 

Anthony: While our current context has placed many barriers to in-person community engagement activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a great need and opportunity to collaborate with our community partners in positive and meaningful ways through hybrid, remote, and virtual community engagement activities. 
These altered ways of engagement are new to many of us, but with flexibility, patience, and in a spirit of solidarity we have still been able meet our goals of addressing community-identified needs and provide meaningful experiences for our students. 

Although our opportunities to connect in-person may be limited, we know from our community partners, that meaningful connection and engagement in our communities are more important than ever. 

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking for ways to get involved in the community?  

Anthony: There are so many important things to consider when looking for ways to get involved in our community. For students looking to get involved, holding a spirit of reciprocity is extremely important. Reciprocity involves building mutually beneficial relationships that benefit you, as a student, and our community partners, meeting community-identified needs. Our student have this great energy and a wonderful passion for engaging with our community. But this is slow work that requires relationship and developing partnerships built on trust and mutual respect, with shared vision, voice, and power. A good place to start is to participate in programs that are already established instead of trying to start a new initiative. I would also say, let the community lead. We all have great ideas for programs and ways we can “help”. But the work shouldn’t center us and our desire to help. That can lead to “saviorism” which is harmful to our community and is the opposite of responsible engagement. Reciprocity means that we value our community partner’s expertise, recognizing them as sources of perspective and wisdom. Holding reciprocity at the center of our engagement sets us up for a successful partnership. 

How can students who didn’t return to campus still get involved? 

Anthony: For students who did not return to campus, there are still plenty of ways to be involved this year. Some of our programming has been reimagined to include virtual engagement. Our Youth Programs and Initiatives have shifted to include virtual mentoring opportunities. Our Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice program has also shifted to be delivered virtually and engage our students in advocacy no matter where they are situated this year. Many of our community partners in Spokane have also had to reimagine engagement and have begun to offer ways for students to engage remotely. Remote students can also join us for our monthly online Zoom show “Community Chat” which is designed to share the good work happening in our community and introduce our students to critical issues and topics in the Spokane community. Finally, we have partnered with university partners across Spokane to offer Learning Together Spokane, a public, virtual learning environment, bringing Spokane professionals alongside college and university students for shared, weekly reflection. For more information about these offerings and other alterations to our service opportunities, please go to and view “All Service Opportunities.” 

How can CCE pair with Career and Professional Development to help students find the opportunities they are looking for? 

Anthony: The CCE and CPD have some established programs that can help students find ways to engage in their communities. The CCE works closely with Career and Professional Development to host a Post-Graduate Service Fair in the Fall and a Careers in Social Justice Panel in the Spring with the aim of helping student connect their passion for serving community with their career aspirations. Serving with a public or nonprofit agency full-time after graduation is a great way to explore a career, pursue a passion, and develop skills and knowledge. 

How can performing service benefit the lives of students, but also their communities? 

Anthony: Wow! There are so many benefits to engaging with our communities. Both for students and for our community partners and neighbors. For our students, engaging with service through the CCE provides them with the opportunity to better know their own communities, to explore critical social justice issues more deeply, to connect their academic learning with community knowledge, and to make meaningful connections with peers and community members. For our communities, partnering with Gonzaga helps build capacity for the work they’re already doing, allows them to tap into students’ energy, and can help solve issues facing the community in collaboration with the academic knowledge present at a university. When we develop authentic relationships with one another, the outcomes are transformative for both the student and our communities. 

Former CIA and Recruiter-in-Residence, Patty Hetu-Tkacik Chats About Careers in Government

This week in Career and Professional Development, we are talking about how students who are interested in working in the government can get started in the career journey. To help provide some advice, we interviewed Patty Hetu-Tkacik, Recruiter in Residence, on how students can start to explore careers in government.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your job at Career and Professional Development

Patty: I started working for the government as a part of the CIA, which then developed into my career as a recruiter for the CIA. I would travel to the west coast, and visit Gonzaga and University of Washington and recruit students who were interested in working for the United States Government. After deciding to retire here in Spokane, I came back to Gonzaga and offered my help to the CPD team to help students to discover where they can apply their knowledge and skills to government positions.

How can students who are interested in a career in government start preparing now?

Patty: For students who are interested in Government, to start the process they should discover where they feel most called to. Sometimes, government jobs require one to give more than they receive, and the best thing to do is pursue something that you have a true passion for. For example, if you have a passion for the environment look into positions where you can make a change and add your input to make an impact. From there, you can look into internship positions where you can explore these passions on a deeper level, and actually take advantage of them.

How can CPD help jumpstart students who are interested in this path?

Patty: Set up a meeting with me! That is my job here at CPD, and together we can discuss all of the difference between the types of government, where you want to help and feel most called for. Based on this, we will point you into the direction of an internship. I will ask you a variety of questions to help navigate what is the best for you.

How early should students start building their resume if they are looking for a career in government?

Patty: Honestly, the earlier the better. Many people start as early as high school, navigating where their passions lead them, but are open to learning with internships, volunteer opportunities. Pursue opportunities that fit your interests and passions early on.

How can students still get involved and start exploring, despite the COVID restrictions?

Patty: Looking at it from a big picture, when the economy is in a decline, the government is still hiring and internships tend to be wide open. Use this time as an opportunity to do some research to see, and they are always looking for students to help in different majors or skills.

Bonus! After the inauguration in January, be on the lookout for new internships because there tends to be a spike after the election year.

What is the most important thing for students to remember when looking for a job in government?

Patty: The key for students and recent graduates to remember is to have patience when looking for a job in government. This is an extremely rewarding career but the process of hiring can be quite extensive at times. It might take a couple of tries to find the perfect position for you, but with patience, dedication, and a driving passion it is almost identical as if you were to be hired by a private company.

Who is the Armed Services Panel for, and what can students learn if they attend?

Patty: The Armed Services Panel is for all students in all majors. Whether you have an interest in the armed services, or interested in looking at what else they have to offer then this is for you! A lot of the services have internships for current students! Things are always changing in the military, and you will have the chance to talk to the recruiters and learn where you can add your expertise in the Armed Services.

If you are interested in attending the Armed Services Panel, it is Monday, Nov 09, 2020 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. RSVP here on ZagsIgnite!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Patty here at Career and Professional Development. She is here to help you. Set up an appointment on ZagsIgnite as well.

Writing Thank You Cards to Employers

Career Month is ending at Career & Professional Development, and now is the perfect time for students to build upon the connections that they have made throughout our various career fairs and digital treks.

A great way to maintain these professional relationships is to practice writing and sending thank you cards to those you have interviewed with, sought guidance from, or networked with. To strengthen these communications and ensure a great future contact, here are some steps you can take and tips to lead you to success:  

  1. When do I Send It?  

Once you WOW an employer after an interview, you want to make sure your great first impression remains fresh in their minds. It is generally recommended to send a thank you message within 24- 48 hours of your interaction, but for events taking place near the end of the week, messages the following week are okay, too.

Directly after your interview or meeting, write down a few takeaways that you can include which will then assist you later when writing the thank you message. 

  1. What do I Include?  

There are some key things you should cover to make a strong impression. 

  1. Clearly express your thanks!  Although this may seem obvious, demonstrating this message will be meaningful to employers. 
  1. Show Interest: Explain why you applied for this position, reached out during the career fair, or completed an interview, and why it is relevant to you. 
  1. Highlight Experiences and Top Traits: Share again why you would be right for the company or job and how your past and abilities will assist you to be the perfect candidate 
  1. Mention specifics from the Interview: In doing this, the interviewers will be reminded of how the interview went and demonstrate your attentiveness to what was discussed. 
  1. How long should it be?  

To keep the recipient interested in what you are discussing, it’s a good idea to keep the thank you message to a maximum of 250-300 words. The subject line should also be concise, e.g., ““Thank you – Sales Marketing Associate interview” 

  1. Proofread! 

When sharing your message, a thank you note that is free of errors will further confirm your professionalism and ability to be detail oriented.  

  1. How do I end my message? 

Finally, ensure your message has been well received by ending it with a simple and polite closing statement along with any further contact information so they can continue the dialogue.  

By following these tips and tricks, whether your Thank-You note is sent following an interview, interaction at a career fair, or following another connection, your professional network will be positively impacted and will lead to your success even after Career Month is over.  

Career Fair Etiquette

Career fairs are a great resource for navigating the process of searching for jobs and internships. Not only are participants able to connect with potential employers, but they also provide an environment to practice interpersonal skills, networking habits, and witness how your resume and cover letters will be received.

This October is Career Month at Career and Professional Development, and many career fairs will be occurring starting on October 14th. One skill essential to all students entering the workforce is demonstrating etiquette when attending these events, and so listed below are some tips to help ensure the best experience possible! 

  1. Research those attending: Career & Professional Developments provides attendees with lists of the companies that will be participating at their events, by looking at the event in ZagsIgnite. It is extremely beneficial to take a look at this beforehand, as it will enable you to look closely at what the companies stand for and what services they provide. This tactic will allow you more information on how to connect when networking.  
  1. Pick your top choices of those you want to talk to: When attending, it is important to not only research employers beforehand but also decide based on that information what jobs you think would best fit you and your needs. This will ensure the strongest interactions in a limited time frame. 
  1. Go the extra mile and show your style! Many times professional career events and employers like to see participants engage in business casual and business professional attire. By dressing appropriately, this will ensure you give off a good first impression and show employers that you are serious about your search.  This is true even for virtual fairs, where video chat is the primary method of communication, such as those taking place this month.
  1. Prepare what you want to say: Go in with an idea of the important things you are wanting to share. Often referred to as an elevator pitch, this will be a short description of your strengths, educational and personal interests, and experiences. By knowing this ahead of time, you will be able to express your preparedness along with providing employers a better understanding of who you are. If you need help clarifying your elevator pitch, check out our how-to guide.
  1. Bring a resume! Look at the theme of the career fair and tailor your resume around that. When talking to employers, be sure to begin the conversation by sharing this document with them, as they will be able to reference it throughout your conversation and provide them with extra information they can ask about. 
  1. Follow up: Ending your discussions, make sure to request either a business card or contact information from those you felt a strong connection with. This way, you can reach out and request either further information regarding the position or enquire about any questions you may have. This will reaffirm your interests in the company and remind employers of who you are.  

By reading this article and educating yourself on the etiquette required, you have already taken the steps needed to find greater success in this process, wow potential bosses and build connections to ensure a great outcome. 

If you have any questions or are interested in additional career fair prep materials, make sure to check out ZagsIgnite. You can book an appointment to review your resume, build your pitch, and get additional tips for networking. Don’t forget to check out all the resources on our downloadable resources page.

Tips for Keeping Your Social Media Professional

Have you ever wondered what an employer might find if they decided to “Google” you? Social media has become a regular part of our digital reality, and what many students forget is that it can be a powerful tool for hiring managers to learn more about their potential candidates. To help you navigate what works and what doesn’t, here are some tips and tricks to help you stay smart on social media, and
show your best self to the world:

1. Review your privacy settings
Become the gatekeeper to your social media content by adding privacy settings to your account. This will let you decide who is allowed to see your posts, follow you, become friends with you, etc. Facebook and Instagram make it super easy to protect your content, and it is only the people in your immediate circles who are allowed to interact with it. Privacy settings vary by platform, though, so when in doubt, maybe skip that post.

2. Allow your accounts to be a form of expression
Social media can be a tool that actually helps you in the hiring process, if you post about things that interest you and show off a little bit of your personality. This will help employers learn more about you and your life outside of the workplace. Creating a positive personal brand for yourself will make you more appealing as opposed to your other competitors.

A hand holds up a cell phone with an Instagram image pulled up. The image shows two people laughing in a grove of neatly trimmed pine trees.
Don’t be afraid to post about your life and interests! Just remember the audience might include potential employers.

3. Keep your photos G-Rated
Avoid posting content with any form of substance or nudity to make a good first digital impression with your potential employers. Remember this! Even if your post is set to private, don’t put all of your trust into the hands of these social platforms.

4. Grammar is key
Use proper grammar when posting on social media. It can be tempting to be informal when talking with friends, but your social media is one of the first things employers see and having good grammar will help boost your credibility online, and demonstrate that you are a well educated candidate.

5. Don’t bully others
This might seem obvious, but avoid posting content that is hateful or offensive. The best thing you can do is post about topics that bring happiness to one’s feed, rather than negativity.

In conclusion, the power of social media can truly benefit you as you progress into your professional life, and if you keep track of these tips when it comes time to post you will be well on your way to success.

Career Development and Virtual Services – an Interview with Ray Angle

This week, as we enter Fall both on campus and virtually, Career and Professional Development aims to help our Zags prepare for a successful semester considering the new virtual environment. To help provide some guidance in tackling this, we talked with O. Ray Angle, Assistant Vice President for Career & Professional Development, who gave us some advice and suggestions for utilizing the CPD this semester. 

Portrait Photo of Ray Angle

Hi Ray! To start off, what is some background on your experience and what led you down this career path? 

I’ve been working in college career services for about 30 years now, and what really led me down the path was when I was in college, I changed majors quite a bit, and went to two different schools. It took me 5 years to get through college, and in my third year of college, my advisor suggested I go see if I could get a job in the Career Center. For three years I worked in the Career Center and realized that it was the kind of work that I wanted to do. I’ve done college career services across the nation in the Midwest, the East and the West, California, North Carolina, all over, and have worked for Gonzaga for five years.  

How would you describe your position within CPD? 

My role is to make sure that we are living out the mission of our office, which is to help students clarify and attain their educational and career goals. I make sure that everybody on the team that I work with has the resources, the information, and the support that they need to do that.  

No day-to-day is ever the same, [and] I’m oftentimes in meetings talking about programmatic and logistical issues, budget one moment, a student who’s dealing with a challenging issue related to their current development, a weekly one on one meeting with a staff member, or interacting with professionals from across the nation who do this work in our professional associations and different collaborative efforts. 

What are some of the ways in which you have seen your position shift in response to COVID-19? 

It’s similar to what the entire University has experienced. What’s unique about us is that since we’re supporting students in their career development, pretty much everything we can do online. Our major things are on campus recruiting, job postings, and Treks. We made the transition fairly seamlessly and are also in the process of moving our career services management platform from Handshake to ZagsIgnite. We also launched a new platform that allows us to do all our career fairs online.  

For returning students, what are the ways in which the CPD has changed in the services they provide this semester in comparison to previous semesters? 

One of the big concerns we’ve had is for the graduating class of 2020. With the previous class [2019] we witnessed one of the best employment markets ever, and so now we’re trying to do extra things to help the class of 2020. Continuing to serve them and alums for as long as they want to use our services and making sure that all the other services that we moved online are working well with the technology. 

We did volunteer this year to teach a couple of classes: One on the job search, and one on getting into Graduate School, and that’s new for us. We may end up teaching it again next semester, and each is a one credit course. I’m teaching one of them, University 420, Section 1, and it is basically a next step in the job search process if you’re getting ready to graduate.  

The number one service that I think we provide is the one on one career coaching experience because that helps students individually figure out what their next steps are, and I have really enjoyed being able to deliver that service online because I can show technology platforms more easily.  

How would a student go about setting up a one-on-one career coaching experience? 

All they really need to do is to go into ZagsIgnite, and there is a place where you can make an appointment with a career coach based upon the topic that you’re interested in. 

Log in to ZagsIgnite for appointments, career fairs, workshops and more!
Go to

New students on campus this year are already experiencing many firsts simultaneously with the new policies the rest of us are undergoing. What is your biggest piece of career and networking advice for these individuals? 

Don’t be afraid to think about and start taking steps toward what your career path is. I always tell people; you start looking for a job the day you start college. I would say meet people who do the work you’d like to do, talk to them about that work, make sure you’re getting experience in that field, and that you’re that you have a plan for moving forward with that. We’re here to help with that. 

For students who didn’t return to campus this semester, how can they still take advantage of CPD’s resources? 

Pretty much every resource we have is available online.  Make a conscious effort to connect with all the friends that you would have connected with while you were here via zoom, or whatever platform works best for you. 

From our perspective, you can have access to everything that you need. Maybe not the building that we work in, but we’re not even in it. Try to stay connected in other ways and certainly stay connected with us. We’re happy to chat with people anytime they want to talk by making an appointment with us. 

We do have a platform called ZagsConnect, which is kind of our own LinkedIn platform. Log into ZagsConnect, make a profile and start looking at some of the alums and friends of the University who are on there and start reaching out. Maybe they even live in an area close to you and you could meet for coffee, and you can always reach out to Erin Shields in our office as well and see if she can locate an alum in the area where you’re living that you could develop a Mentor- mentee relationship with. 

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about CPD? 

Make sure that you’re following us on social media, looking in ZagsIgnite for the things that are coming up, and just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t participate in them. You can come to our career fairs, attend our tracks, and meet with a staff member. We’re just really a warm group of caring individuals who want to make sure that you are successful. 

If you are interested more in Ray, ZagsIgnite, ZagsConnect, or any other resources provided by the CPD, feel free to check out any of the following links. Thanks so much to Ray for giving an insight as to how this semester is working at the CPD! 


Networking with Erin Shields

This week, Career & Professional Development is looking at online networking. We are all familiar with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but when we think of professional networking, we don’t always think of it in terms of online components. To tackle how to network well – in person and online – we chatted with Erin Shields, Director of Alumni Engagement in Alumni Relations and CPD. 

Portrait of Erin ShieldsHi Erin! Let’s start with a brief summary of what you do in Career & Professional Development. 

Erin: As Director of Alumni and Employer Engagement, I have the opportunity to serve as a bridge between Career & Professional Development and Alumni Relations, University Advancement. I work with all of our alumni and friends who want to be involved in the career development process for our students and other alumni as they are some of the best endorsers of our students and partners in this process. Their involvement can be through mentoring, through our online platform, ZagsConnect, hosting us at regional Treks, or recruiting Zags for internships and full time opportunities at their organizations.   

This week we are focusing specifically on networking, and since a big part of your role is facilitating connections between students and alumni, it is great you had time to chat with us about it. The word “networking” has some specific connotations for students, but what do you think of when you consider “networking”? 

Erin: Networking is accessing the community around you to assist and support you in your goals. We all have networks around us, even if we don’t recognize them as networks. It is about building and cultivating relationships with people who can make recommendations, speak to your skills and your talents, and introduce you to opportunities. 

Who should be networking and why? 

Erin: Students should start as early as possible because not only does it means you are building relationships in a natural, authentic way, but it also gives you more time to practice the skill. This way, by the time you are seriously seeking a job or internship, you have an existing network and the skills to continue to build on it effectively.  

If you delay until your junior or senior year, you will have the pressure to accomplish your end goal rather than the space to build more authentic connections. 

That’s a really good point, but let’s say that you meet with a junior or senior who, for whatever reason, did not start networking early. What can they do to mitigate that pressure and still network effectively now that they have a compressed timeline? 

Erin: I will say that it’s never too late! In an ideal world, you want to start early, but don’t get discouraged and think you’ve missed the opportunity. We have an incredible Gonzaga community of mentors who have volunteered to help you with this exact thing. They are going to be an extra supportive group– they were in your shoes and understand where you are at.  

In fact, over the several weeks, we have had great outreach from alumni asking “how can we support the class of 2020?” and “how can we support students and other alumni with their careers in this challenging time?” So they are out there and they want to assist you. 

How can students tap into these alumni? 

Erin: We have 2,800 alumni mentors who are part of the Gonzaga Alumni Mentor Program. They are all over the country in a wide variety of career fields and some are working abroad. Of these mentors, we have about 600 who are available on our online platform, ZagsConnect. It’s like LinkedIn, but exclusively for the Gonzaga community, so the first step is to join ZagsConnect. Take a little time to build your profile, and then you can explore the mentors in that system. You can search by keyword, major, location, etc. You can message anyone in the system you are interested in you and even schedule a meeting. In addition to ZagsConnect, I can assist students with additional mentors who are not yet on the new platform.  

We also have Alumni Chapters in areas all over the country and internationally These are alumni and friends who gather in their location for service projects, spirituality programming, game watches and networking events. They are a fantastic resource if you are interested in opportunities in a specific city, or if you are home during the summer. 

A lot of the networking right now is going to be focused online because of COVID-19. What are some of the differences and similarities between online vs. In person networking? 

Erin: Without the opportunity to have the face-to-face interactions at socials or networking events, you want to make sure that your online profiles are up to date. I recommend students have a LinkedIn profile and a ZagsConnect profile. You want to make sure your most recent coursework, internship, job or volunteer and leadership experience is on that profile. Think about things you did in your classes, clubs, organizations and keep that updated just like you would with a resume because people will likely be looking at that first before interacting with you. You will also use bullets and the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Results) to detail your accomplishments in each experience just like you would with a resume. You can have anyone from Career & Professional Development review your online profiles before you start making online connections. 

You also want to make sure you are familiar with the digital resources you will be using to meet with people. Practice using Zoom, Skype, whatever platform you will be using prior to your meeting. Make sure you can share screens, and use the technology effectively and comfortably. 

If you are having an interface with an employer or alumni, be thoughtful about your environment as well—whether it’s over a video call or regular phone call. You want to be somewhere quiet with a non-distracting background in a well-lit area. Make sure you have a good internet connection. 

What other tips do you have for students who have never networked before and are not sure where to start? 

Erin: Think about your elevator pitch. They call it an elevator pitch based on the idea that if you found yourself in an elevator with the CEO of your dream company, and you have 30 seconds, what would you say to them? How would you present yourself? It’s going to include your educational background, your experience, your key strengths, and where you are at and what you are looking for. So, a little about you, what you bring to the table, and your goals.  

It’s a good idea to write the elevator pitch down and practice it in front of the mirror and with people. You want to get very comfortable with it, so it is not robotic but conversational. Once you are comfortable with this, it is something you will use to initiate conversations, but also in interviews, introductory emails, and cover letters.  

I will also emphasize how important it is to listen and be fully engaged, rather than waiting for your turn to speak. Eye contact, smiling and nodding are important. It’s okay to take pauses before answering a question. You should be prepared to answer why you are interested in your major, a specific job, specific company, etc. Take time to reflect on those questions and your answers so you have ideas ready when these questions come up. 

What else should students know about CPD and/or Alumni Relations? 

Erin: I think the most important thing they should know, and I’ve been asked this a lot in the last few weeks, is that everything we offer—including our alumni network, CPD services, etc.– are still available after you graduate. This is one of the many great things that sets Gonzaga apart. When we say Zags for Life, we mean it. You are a part of this community forever—a community in which generosity and the spirit of giving back is ingrained. If you are struggling, if you feel stuck, frustrated, alone—you’re not. We’re here to help. We are available to serve you in any way we can now, just as if we were all on campus together. If you are a student, an alum, we are here—please engage with us. 

Thanks to Erin for sharing her knowledge and helping us untangle the how-to of networking. If you want to learn more about Erin, Alumni Relations, or any of the resources mentioned in our interview, check out the links below!

Ready to try your hand at online networking? Sign up for the 2020 Los Angeles Treks- taking place on May 19 via Zoom. Pre-registration is open at

Los Angeles Trek promo image. States date of May 19, 2020 from 9am-4pm via Zoom.

Working from Home – Shelby

This week we wrap up our series on working from home with an interview from Gonzaga University alum and former Career & Professional Development team member, Shelby Wells. Shelby is a Peer to Peer Fundraising Manager for Children’s Miracle Network in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Children’s Miracle Network is a North American non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals, medical research, and community awareness of children’s health issues. 

Portrait of Shelby Wells, smiling for the camera.How long have you been working from home?    

Shelby: 1 year as of March 1 

What are the biggest benefits to working from home?    

Shelby: There are many. I find that I am more productive. I don’t have to dress up, there is less commute and less environmental impact. It taught me a new way to work in that I learned how to communicate well, be more comfortable with new ways of communication (zoom, phone, etc.), and learn how to connect with people in a different way when you don’t see them in person every day. Working from home makes me appreciate time at home, and helps you stay on task because you want to get it done and have free time in the evenings. Plus, I get to be with my dog. 

What are the most challenging aspects of working from home?    

Shelby: No water cooler banter – you have to work harder to form relationships with colleagues and work harder to maintain because you aren’t in same place. Easy to take work home because it is always there. Her job allows her to travel with helps her to occasionally see her colleagues in person. Sometimes you have to justify what you are doing from home – ex. Weekly report to keep track of what you are working on and hold self more accountable so don’t get questioned about what you are doing. Learning all the technology very well and checking all of them (slack, zoom, email, etc) 

What three tips do you have for individuals who are new to working from home?

Shelby: I actually have five. First, take a break in the middle of the day (figure out when your most successful hours are and plan breaks around that). Second, Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone (or zoom) to feel connected to your team that you might not have otherwise. Third, separate your work (have a place where you do your work and don’t leak it into the rest of the house). Fourth, have a transparent conversation with your boss about what working from home looks like. Set clear expectations.  Fifth, set a reminder at the end of the day to wrap up work so that you are ready to be done working 

What technology platform(s) do you find especially helpful to as you work from home?    

Shelby: Zoom and Slack. Also use dropbox to manage all shared documents internally and with external audiences.  

How do you create community with your work colleagues without actually being in the same location?    

Portrait of Wally, a french bulldog with brown fur and black ears and nose. He wears a red bow tie with white polka dots.

Wally is an excellent co-worker.

Shelby: Pick up phone and call. Video is a huge asset because you can see people, and I prefer that because it helps to remember their faces. So much happens in the office when you spontaneously connect, but when you work from home you have to be intentional about creating those moments. Check in on people who you might not always connect with (not just your best friends). Slack channels help because you can create channels for fun stuff (dogs, etc.).  

Do you find it helpful to create a dedicated office space to use as you work from home or do you change your work locations throughout the house through the day?

Shelby: I find it beneficial to stay in the same spot, but some days I need to move around depending on the type of work I’m doing. Some people find that really important, but you may not always have the space to do so. If you do go to a coffee shop or something, be cognizant of sound.  

Do you usually dress for work or comfort?  

Shelby: Comfort – sometimes I will dress nicer if there is a meeting with high levels, but otherwise I dress for comfort. 


We really enjoyed catching up with Shelby, and hearing all about her experiences as a remote worker. This wraps up our series on Zags Working Remotely, but rest assured that Fired Up Fridays will continue for the rest of the semester. Check out our previous Fired Up Friday features by visiting our webpage (, and stay tuned next week when we focus on digital networking.

Zags Working from Home – David

Keeping up with our series on Zags working remotely, we pick up with David Machado ‘10.  David and his wife, Christine (you probably remember her from our first week of Fired Up Friday) are fellow Spokane dwellers, where they’ve lived for about seven years. David works at Automattic as a Business Analytics Engineer, helping transform data into information that can be used as input in decision-making scenarios. Automattic is the parent company of familiar brands like, WooCommerce, and Tumblr, and has embraced distributed work since its founding, 15 years ago. David studied Accounting and Finance at Gonzaga and earned a master’s degree in Data Science through Lewis University. He is also a Certified Public Accountant. 

How long have you been working from home?    

David: I’ve been working from home since I started my current job with Automattic in May 2018. I also completed my master’s degree via an online program. So, all-told I’ve studied or been working from home for about 4 years. 

What are the biggest benefits to working from home?    

David: Broadly speaking, I’d say that the greatest benefit to distributed (remote/work-from-home) work is that it expands the realm of possible job opportunities that are available—it democratizes opportunity.  Narrowing the focus to the day-to-day realities of working from home, I find great benefit in the ability to focus more deeply than I could in an office. Other things like no longer having to commute, not having to worry about planning for lunch, and having my own coffee readily available are certainly positives in their own right, as well. 

What are the most challenging aspects of working from home?    

David: The most challenging part of working from home is probably the added layer of friction to communication. Without the ability to just swing by someone’s desk (or room, in the case of residence halls), bump into colleagues in the hallway, or hop into a conference room to brainstorm on a whiteboard together, some of those serendipitous solutions to problems are a bit harder to find.  

What three tips do you have for individuals who are new to working from home?  

David:  First, make sure to take breaks, as needed; but also protect blocks of focused time. Because you’re at home, there are generally fewer natural breaks and, where there are natural breaks, they’re shorter than normal. As some examples, your kitchen is closer than the dining hall and your bathroom is probably closer than the one in your residence hall or academic building. It’s easy to not take enough time for your brain to recharge. The flip side of taking breaks as needed is to avoid distractions when you are focusing on work/class. Because there’s less socially-enforced etiquette at home, it’s easy to have your phone out and distract yourself. Sometimes I’ll leave my phone in another room to avoid distraction and help direct my focus on the task at hand. 

Second, find a routine that works for you, and use that routine to your advantage. I’ve found there are certain parts of the day where I’m more or less productive. For example, mornings are my most productive time for work that requires a lot of heavy thinking, so I try to tackle my really complex tasks before lunch. Mid-afternoon is my least productive time, so I use that time to catch up on communication/messages from around the company. Depending on the day, the end of my day either comes with a second-wind of focus or continues that mid-afternoon slump, so I’ll react accordingly.  

 Third: Communicate, communicate, communicate— even to the point of over-communicating. Communication is challenging in a distributed work or learning environment. All the extra cues we get from being face-to-face—things like body language and tone—are absent in text, and only partially apparent on video.  Thinking about a classroom environment, in normal circumstances, your professor can “read the room” and see cues that students might be experiencing confusion. In a distributed classroom experience, that extra data for the instructor disappears. Definitely ask questions or provide feedback more frequently than you otherwise would normally.

What technology platform(s) do you find especially helpful to as you work from home?    

David: I’m a big fan of both Slack and Zoom. We use these pretty heavily throughout the week, particularly Slack. Slack is great for quick text-based communication or 1:1 calls. Zoom is great for video chat, particularly for groups of three or more. I haven’t used it, but I believe Microsoft Teams offers similar functionality to Slack.  

How do you create community with your work colleagues without actually being in the same location? 

David: My company recognizes the importance of bonding with colleagues, so over the course of a given year, we meet up with our teams in person two to three times per year (obviously, we’re not doing this at the current moment). Because of those times we’ve spent together in person, I’m able to regularly joke around with my colleagues in Slack and Zoom. GIFs and emojis do wonders for making text chat fun and creating inside jokes and deepening the feeling of community. At its core, the maintenance of community ties back to that mantra of “communicate, communicate, communicate.”   

David's workspace shows a small table with a monitor, laptop on a stand, several novelty mugs and other small trinkets.Do you find it helpful to create a dedicated office space to use as you work from home or do you change your work locations throughout the house through the day?    

David: I do find having a dedicated work space in my house (just a table in a corner of a room, not anything super fancy) helpful. It is beneficial to be able to treat a particular space as “the place where I do my work.” That way, I can feel like I’m away from work when I’m not in that space, as opposed to feeling like there’s no separation between work and everything else at home. With that said, sometimes I feel the need for a change of pace, so I’ll periodically work from my kitchen dining-counter or, when the sun’s out, my back patio.  

Do you usually dress for work or comfort?  

David: I’m going to cop-out and say both. I dress in clothes that are comfortable, but not what I’d necessarily call “traditional” work clothes. Usually something like jeans and a flannel or shorts and a polo. Sometimes a bit more casual. With that said, I do always get dressed for the day (no rolling from bed to work in pajamas). That’s part of my routine that helps me prepare for a productive day.  

Do you have any funny stories related to your work from home experience?    

David:  I don’t think I necessarily have anything laugh-out-loud funny. But I have experienced a lot of joy with my colleagues as a result of the way that working distributed gives you a window into each other’s lives beyond work. My coworker on my immediate team works from his backyard shed (and accidentally ruined his WiFi connectivity once when he tried to insulate the shed). Another coworker lives and works from a 400 square foot apartment with her partner, who is a professional alpine climber—there are Patagonia coats everywhere in that apartment. You see colleagues’ office setups change as they move house or give up their old office to be a nursery for a new baby. 

I wish all the current GU students the best. The current situation is certainly not ideal, but I hope that it can still be a time of productive learning and living in community. 

We, hope so, too, David! Stay tuned next week when we talk with Gonzaga and Career & Professional Development alum, Shelby Wells.

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