Career coaches and advisors in WashU Olin’s Weston Career Center understand it’s a tough time to emerge into the workforce, thanks to a global pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on the economy and cast uncertainty into the outlook for many companies.
Their advice: Don’t despair. Check out these resources for ideas, direction and inspiration.
HIRING REALLY HASN’T STOPPED. Just because the overall economy has slowed let’s not assume hiring opportunities have disappeared. In fact, check out this article from The Muse regarding companies that are still hiring. The Muse
GET YOUR NETWORKING GOING. Although your approach may be different, now is definitely the right time to build or enhance your network during COVID-19. Just ask…KornFerry.
EVEN IN THE ERA OF SOCIAL DISTANCING. Fortune Magazine also offers suggestions on networking in the era of social distancing: Fortune Magazine.
PREP FOR A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW. For the next few months, look for all recruiting activities to be virtual. How ready are you to meet the challenge of a virtual interview? Indeed.com has some ideas for you to consider: Indeed.com.
BUT BRUSH UP FIRST. This is an extremely competitive time in the job market. You have an opportunity now to brush up on your interview skills, so please make this a priority. Here is an article from The Muse that may help: The Muse Interview Guide.
Over the past several weeks, I have heard powerfully and candidly from many in our alumni and student community about the need for a clear message—backed by action—concerning the shameful record of racial inequity in our community and beyond. I hear them and want to be clear about my response: I stand in solidarity with the Black members of our community and the community at large. Further, we state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.
Serious issues of racial inequity—brought again to the fore by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and many others—are deeply painful and there is urgency in putting action behind our conviction.
At Olin, we say we are better than this. We are committed to being a community of diversity, equity and inclusion. We will foster an environment where our staff, faculty, students and alumni uphold these principles. Our conviction is real. Conviction alone, however, is not enough. We must put action behind those convictions.
I am appointing a task force—which I will chair and which will include representatives from within Olin and across WashU—to guide us toward identifying unjust systems and practices, and offer sustainable strategies to infuse solutions throughout Olin, from recruiting students and faculty, to curriculum improvements, to research.
At the same time, I have appointed a team to begin work immediately with the Olin Diversity and Inclusion Team to develop a robust plan, with goals and measurable performance indicators, focused on strategies to uproot systems of racism within our community. This team has my direct support.
I am committed to following through on this work, communicating regularly about our progress and consulting with all members of our community. I am grateful for the valuable insights and strong counsel I have already received. I am also grateful for the ongoing work by our faculty, staff and students toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Olin. I recognize there is far more work to do.
I will share further updates soon as our work begins to yield specific action steps.
Pictured above: May 30, 2020: Protestors raise their hands in solidarity outside of the Fifth Police Precinct in Minneapolis in response to the death of George Floyd. (David Brickner/Shutterstock)
Dr. Linda X. Wu is a clinical instructor with the WashU School of Medicine. In addition to working at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as a pediatrician and teaching medical students and residents, she’s finished her second semester as a member of Olin’s Professional MBA Class 48, concentrating in healthcare and entrepreneurship.
We caught up with Linda to learn more about what it’s like to work and study at WashU.
Why did you decide to pursue your MBA?
My background is in engineering, so I have a natural tendency for problem solving. I would like to design medical solutions, from creating new devices to solving workflow issues. I hoped to gain the business knowledge for entrepreneurship and establish new startups.
How has the pandemic changed your day-to-day work?
I’m a general pediatrician within the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and its community sites within the hospitalist division, meaning I work only in the hospital and not in the outpatient clinic. I spend about 50% of my time in the emergency room taking care of anything that walks in—from difficulty breathing such as asthma, to a broken arm from falling off the monkey bars.
I also spend a good deal of time with patients admitted to the hospital, taking care of newborn babies that were just delivered, helping the neonatologist out in the neonatal intensive care unit, providing sedation for procedures and circumcisions. There’s no “typical” day, and that’s what makes this job so much fun! I’m also faculty at the School of Medicine and enjoy teaching medical students and residents.
These days, many things have changed and not much has changed. We have daily updated protocols on how to treat COVID-19 patients and what we need to do to protect ourselves. As for the actual medicine, the fundamentals are the same. Kids still show up in the ER with cuts and belly aches, and babies are still being born—so life at work keeps rolling. I do miss seeing everyone’s bright smiles, but I can tell they’re smiling underneath their masks by the sparkle in their eyes.
What are you most proud of as a pediatrician right now?
I get to work daily alongside such a wonderful group of compassionate, dedicated and giving healthcare staff. The hospital is a scary place to be these days, yet people still consistently show up to work and put in 100%. It takes a lot to run a hospital and it truly is the definition of teamwork. I am grateful for everyone’s hard work during this pandemic.
The hospital is a scary place to be these days, yet people still consistently show up to work and put in 100%. It takes a lot to run a hospital and it truly is the definition of teamwork.
What’s it like working on your MBA during this time?
I have an excellent PMBA small team. They have been flexible and accommodating with my changing work schedule as this pandemic has unfolded, and we have worked well on Zoom. We already had good team dynamics and ground rules established from previous semesters working together, so it was easy to translate that into the virtual space.
What should people to know right now?
Please listen to your healthcare professionals—and news and people with established credentials. There are many rumors and fake news spreading out there that’s worsening everyone’s anxiety and fears. Social distancing works and is our best bet in protecting ourselves right now, so please stay strong!
My heart goes out to all of those affected by the pandemic—from people who have lost a loved one, to worried nights of being sick, to financial hardships we’re all struggling through.
And thank you to the volunteers who have donated so much of the little they had to help us within the hospitals. We cannot appreciate you enough!
How are you and your colleagues making values-based, data-driven decisions?
Just like business, medicine is a very data-driven and evidence-based profession. Even though there are still many unknowns and even more moving parts, the leadership within Washington University School of Medicine and BJH has been impressive, providing us with timely and reliable medical facts, situational awareness of what is going on within our hospitals and innovative solutions (such as solutions to the shortage of personal protective equipment). I know each decision was meticulously calculated based on data and thoroughly thought out for its broad and sustained impact.
This was written by the current Olin/United Way Board Fellows Program students who agreed to share their feedback anonymously from a recent survey. It was compiled by Amy VanEssendelft, CEL Senior Program Manager.
The Center for Experiential Learning provides an opportunity for MBA, PMBA and EMBA students to serve for a full year as a voting member of a local United Way member organization’s board through the Olin/United Way Board Fellows Program. Al Kent serves as the program director for this opportunity. Al has been a member of over a dozen nonprofit boards throughout his life.
Every year, he outlines goals (highlighted below) for the students who participate in this program. Under each goal are comments from current students who are participating in the program. These comments demonstrate how each goal is in the process of being achieved, especially with, and in spite of, the current COVID-19 challenges.
Work to define and solve an ambiguous problem
“I really appreciate the support and autonomy I’ve been given for my project. I have built an understanding of the board dynamic and have gained support from key stakeholders.”
“As I go forward, I have continued to learn to be agile and adaptive and look at creative ways to develop the advocacy campaign within (my agency) despite the limitations the current environment has placed on us.”
“The president of my board said something in my first meeting which I remember vividly: If an organization succeeds, everyone is responsible for that success. However, if an organization fails, it is the board’s fault.”
Deepen understanding of leadership
“This has given me a different perspective on the leadership role boards play, and is particularly poignant right now during this crisis as our board is faced with incredibly difficult decisions.”
“Watching how the executive director navigates the board and rallies them to action has been an incredible learning opportunity for me.”
“In the most recent board meeting, I was able to witness in real time how an organization’s leadership communicates about and responds to a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I’ve observed how people bring their diverse backgrounds to the table and how interactions proceed when experienced leaders have a common goal.”
Understand how nonprofits work and learn board governance
“They are mission-driven and conscious about their budget/strategy/customer services just like any other entity.”
“I’m very surprised that a nonprofit could do such an amazing job and run like a corporation.”
“Now, I see the crucial role they play in setting budgets, hiring directors, and truly deciding the direction of their organization.”
“Participating in all the board committee meetings helps me understand how everything comes together.”
Develop a professional network and build passion
“I have had the opportunity to interact with very high-impact individuals who are passionate about their mission and vision.”
“It is clear that the board members are not just there because they are high dollar donors, but instead because they are incredibly engaged and passionate about the mission.”
“Their positivity is infectious and this motivates me to go forward.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down campus and
eliminated the possibility of in-person celebrations, WashU Olin still plans to
recognize all our graduating students this year.
Washington University’s Chancellor
Andrew Martin announced his creation of an Alternate Commencement Committee
on April 17. That committee will examine the best way to honor the class of
2020 throughout WashU when it becomes safe to do so. While no formal
announcements have been made, the committee plans to have more information
In the meantime, WashU Olin will move forward with virtual
graduation recognition ceremonies that supplement, but do not replace, the
university-wide celebration. On May 8 and May 15, Olin will release virtual
graduation videos for each planned ceremony at the time of the original event.
Each video celebration will include remarks from Dean Mark
P. Taylor and Chancellor Andrew Martin, student speakers, announcements of
student award recipients and remarks from the Reid Teaching Award winners. Though
the degree candidates will not be able to “walk” during the ceremonies, their
names will scroll on the screen during the presentations.
Executive Education: EMBA & WashU at
Brookings master of science in leadership, 10:30 a.m.
Friday, May 15
BSBA, 11:30 a.m.
Graduate programs, 3 p.m.
We welcome any photos or reflections from your participation
in our graduation ceremonies. Please share any images or videos with us
@wustlbusiness and use #WashU20. Though this isn’t the ceremony any of us
expected, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020.