Finding Your Place in the Professional World: Career Boot Camp Fall 2013

Finding Your Place in the Professional World: Career Boot Camp Fall 2013

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Maha Neouchy
September 18, 2013

Almost every aspiring professional who has ever stepped foot in Washington, D.C. has been where Eric Woodard first found himself 16 years ago upon arriving to the nation's capital. Woodard spoke as the keynote speaker at the fall 2013 Career Boot Camp, on Monday, September 16th,where he discussed his unconventional background and spoke about his path to becoming the Director for Fellowships and Internships at the Smithsonian.


Woodard grew up in Thailand and journeyed to the U.S. for college. Unfortunately, his transition was not as smooth as other undergraduates attending four-year institutions. Woodard transferred seven times before finally graduating from the University of Missouri. He then found his way to Guam where he worked as a scuba instructor for four years and logged in 1,500 hours underwater. Then, he decided to apply for an internship with the White House and found out only a few days before his placement began that he had been offered a spot in the Office of the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Woodard first served as the Special Assistant and Scheduler to the First Lady and then as Office Manager during the Clinton Administration. After his time in the White House, he transitioned over as Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, a Federal Advisory Committee charged with providing expert advice to the U.S. Government in the areas of natural science, social science, information, education, and culture.


TWC asked Woodard to provide the keynote speech to our interns not only because of his popular blog and his work co-hosting a weekly internet radio show about internships, but also because of his book Your Last Day of School: 56 Ways You Can Be a Great Intern and Turn Your Internship into a Job. Woodard provided expert advice to students about the way to professionally conduct themselves during their internships and how to reap the benefits of their experiential education opportunities.


"Interns for the Win"


Woodward is a huge proponent of college-age students being able to test-drive potential careers they are interested in. He believes that internships are the " way to get a job and successfully network" all while making sure their "...expectations are tuned correctly."


He then discussed a common belief held of the last few generations of recent grads. Most recent graduates leaving school and entering the workforce today are perceived differently than previous generations. It is important to understand the varying perceptions, " you enter the working world and set your expectations." He pointed out that every student's purpose during their college years is to "...graduate, learn and excel." It is different in the workplace, where a working professional's purpose " to be effective and get results."


What to Expect During Your Internship


Advice provided by Woodard included various approaches of moving forward with positive experiences and dealing head on with the negative. Words of wisdom included tips on how to best communicate in a professional environment and how to deal with being "the new guy."


  • Don't be sloppy with your communication: when you are clear with communication, it is very telling about your organizational skills and how seriously you take your internship
  • Always be yourself and you will always win
  • Before you ask a question, think about if you have already been told the answer
  • Be very diligent about your communication
  • Be punctual
  • Put together a contact list; you never know when you will need a favor
  • When you mess up, apologize and say you're sorry
  • Take care of business and be authentic

A Special Thanks


TWC would like to thank Woodard for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak and answer questions from fall interns. His keynote was the perfect way to kick off the third week of the semester before fall interns continued their day filled with workshops geared towards building resumes, prepping for graduate school, and identifying emotional intelligence levels, just to name a few.


[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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