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I’ve often thought that if Dante had spent more time in the Inferno, he would’ve found another circle where people are forced to read financial statements and write budgets. For me, creating budgets or calculating the depreciation for long-term assets used to sound like a punishment (maybe the latter still is). When I heard the phrase “let’s talk about the budget,” I looked like a deer in headlights. But as much as I didn’t like accounting or the general idea of numbers, I also didn’t like that I had no clue what was happening with the money at my organization. Will we be able to pay our bills next year? Is there room to ask for money to start a project I want to work on? As a communicator, I take pride in my ability to reach audiences, but it was incredibly frustrating that I didn’t know how to talk to my own finance team. And the worst part was I didn’t even know where to begin. All I could think was that I just had to avoid saying something stupid so I wouldn’t get “caught” for being financially illiterate and thrown in financial jail by the financial police. How could anyone take me seriously when I didn’t understand my budget or know how we were performing financially? I don’t have an MBA and I use my calculator for more basic math than I should. I was stuck in my Inferno. I was trying to avoid the reality that if you want to have a seat at the executive table and be a key-decision maker of an organization, you have to understand the financial statements. 

Thanks to the business and financial skills I learned at George Washington University’s business and financial boot camp, I now have the confidence to sit at the table where decisions are made and contribute value to those conversations. When it’s time to discuss the budget or review financial statements, it’s no longer a punishment. It’s an opportunity for me to demonstrate to leaders of my organization that I understand the obstacles they face and that I know our business.

The business and financial boot camp was presented by George Washington University and Ragan Communications. Industry leaders taught me how to read financial statements, develop and plan budgets, and use financial tools to evaluate organizational trends. The camp was taught in a non-threatening way where I felt safe to ask questions about finance reports I didn’t understand. The presenters patiently explained key business tools to me and how those tools impact organizational decisions. Lots of people can tell you what an income statement is or how to advocate for more budget, but these presenters live their teachings in the communications world. They are all seasoned industry leaders and had been in my shoes before. The caliber and diverse range of presenters included Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz, to professors from George Washington University’s Strategic Public Relations program- Director Larry Parnell, Marie Lerch, and Karen Vahouny. They showed us how to read financial statements, how to deal with business obstacles, and how to apply financial and business tools in strategic plans. Porter Novelli’s Joe Farren shared global business trends with us and how to communicate sensitive business issues with internal and external publics. And we even heard from Michelle Russo, Chief Communications Officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Robert Lee, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the American Society of Association Executives. Russo and Lee shared their knowledge and experience earning a seat at the executive table as communicators. Their experiences overcoming obstacles taught us how to influence and gain the trust of leadership at organizations and how to offer leadership solutions to business problems. This all-star lineup of presenters knows what it’s like in the real world fighting for a communication budget. They have all mastered the ability to create strategic plans that deliver profit and demonstrate value to executives. The boot camp provided me the opportunity to ask them questions and receive honest answers that will help me grow professionally and personally.

During the camp, we broke into teams where we applied the presentations in a real communications plan. We were responsible for creating strategies, goals, tactics, and budgets in the plan. Practicing this process with help from the experts in the room sharpened my talents in a way nothing else can. The teams were also a great way to build relationships with other attendees. I met professionals who work across the country and formed some professional relationships I never would have if I didn’t attend the boot camp. 

Because of the boot camp, I’m trained for the business and financial problems that communication professionals face. I’m prepared to walk into a boardroom, look at an income statement, understand what’s on it, and ask the right questions. I’m confident that I can apply the business tactics I practiced and make good decisions. I’m ready for the next time I’m given a budget and told that I need to find a way to save $250,000 in our forecast and the budget is due in two hours. I’m equipped to present a new project to executives with accurate financials, increasing the likelihood my project is approved. The boot camp empowered me to speak C-suite, so I not only have a seat at the table but thrive there. With a seat at the table and the trust of the board, I can communicate the needs and wants of my department and be trusted to understand how my actions impact the whole organization. 

The world is more connected than ever before and it’s essential to know the basics of business and finance to succeed in this environment. The boot camp is a great opportunity for communications professionals, at any level, to build or refresh their confidence as a decision maker. Perhaps you know more about finances and are better at discussing business than I am, but for me, the boot camp was valuable for my growth and confidence. I still don’t find working on a budget or income statement an exciting way to spend my time, but because of the boot camp, I can understand financial statements and know what I’m talking about. I’m prepared to sit at the executive table.

David Overy is a GSPM Student Ambassador currently in the Strategic Public Relations master's program. He is a manager of state advocacy and government affairs at the American Academy of Opthamology.

Many career experts report that January and February are the best months to find new jobs. So, what should you do to get ready to job search in the New Year? Job searching can be treated like a diet. Make a New Year’s resolution to get ready and put your best foot forward. Just as dieters often have the most success when they keep a “diet journal”, job seekers should keep a “job search journal” and jot down all of the things they are doing to find a job. Breaking down the steps one takes in looking for a new job will make things easier.

  1. Use an online or hardcover journal to keep track of your job search.
  2. Dust off your resume – make sure to have a few different resume drafts for the different types of jobs you are going to be applying to. Have resume drafts handy on your computer and also make sure to have some version of your work history on Linkedin. It may sound simplistic or obvious, but work to ensure the resumes you store on your computer/phone match the information you list on your Linkedin profile.
  3. Prepare cover letter drafts and make sure to personalize each and every cover letter for the various job openings you apply to.
  4. Update your list of contacts and reach out to them for informational meetings.
  5. Utilize career resources available to you at your university and library.
  6. Buy some thank you cards and stamps to ensure you send out “hard copy” thank you notes to everyone you meet. Yes, email thank you messages are fine, but if you want to stand out, write a thank you on a card or notepaper.
  7. Take suits/clothes into the dry cleaner for mending/cleaning and ensure you have nice/clean shoes.
  8. Focus on updating your grooming – hair, shoes, makeup, etc.
  9. Practice interviewing with friends/professors/job search experts
  10. Exercise, eat healthy foods and try to enjoy at least one thing during your day
  11. Let everyone in your circle know you are looking for a job. You never know who might be helpful!
  12. Keep going until you find success.
  13. Good luck to you!

There is a thin line between success and failure. Too many people give up just as they are “getting into gear” with their job searches. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure to give help to others who are looking as well. Job searching is hard work. Prepare for it as though you are preparing for a marathon or the fight of your life. Keep going and going until you yield results.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn or via email at

Does anyone land a job in Government Relations/Public Affairs from a job posting site? If so, what job posting sites should I visit?

As I always tell people, the best way to get a job in DC is through informational meetings with people who have jobs you are interested in. And, you can find many folks on Linkedin who are alumni from your university who you might want to connect with. At GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, (GSPM), we encourage students to reach out to fellow students and alums by connecting with them on Linkedin.

A job search should include a balance of informational meetings and research. Some people do in fact land their jobs from finding a job posting. It is estimated that about  15-20% of jobs are posted, and the rest are spread through word of mouth. But, it is good to spend a little time, (especially early in your career), on looking at job postings.

Here are some links that should be helpful in looking for jobs in government relations/legislation/lobbying/public affairs/public relations and policy  and then there is a daily jobs blog for jobs both on the Hill and with trade associations/corporate DC Offices --

Other good resources -

To explore jobs on Capitol Hill -

US Senate Placement Office --

US House of Representatives -

Additionally, there are some other government relations specific job postings sites that are available for a small fee such as Brad Traverse - and Tom Manatos - For jobs with trade associations, the American Society of Association Executives, (ASAE), has an excellent career job bank that is available for free -

There is a good networking group for millennials called Government Affairs Information Network (GAIN). Here is the link – They have a lot of great events for minimal cost. I know a lot of young people who have landed their jobs on and off the Hill by meeting people at their networking events.

For mid-career or higher-level government relations/public affairs folks, there is a great job posting site that is available for an annual fee called CEO Update -

At the GSPM, students and alumni also have access to Handshake, a job posting and career resources platform. In addition to some great some postings, there are resources including information about upcoming events and career fairs. Additionally, students have access to the Brad Traverse job site which has great openings in government relations.

There are other job sites as well. The ones listed here are a great starting point for anyone interested in government relations/legislative/public affairs type jobs. And, as always, make sure to blend your search with informational meetings with people who already work in the field.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at or via email at

Importance of Sending a “thank you” note/email after a job or informational interview

Yes, moms (and dads) are usually right. It may seem “old school”  when they tell you to send a thank you after a job or informational interview. But, sometimes “old school” still what works.

A recent Career Builder survey showed that about 57% of applicants do not send thank you cards/emails. In the survey, 22% of employers said they were less likely to hire a candidate who did not send a thank you note. And, 16% of employers said flat out they would NOT hire someone who did not send a thank you note.

Email or Snail Mail?

Time is of the essence in the hiring process, so make sure to send at least an email thank you within 24 hours of your interview or meeting. I like for people to send a quick email thank you and to write that a formal thank you will follow (i.e. a handwritten card). And, if you’ve applied for a job on Capitol Hill, snail mail is usually “scrubbed” somewhere outside of D.C. before it can be delivered there, so email is the best way to express one’s thanks after interviewing for Hill jobs.

What Should a “thank you” include?

Make sure to thank the person you met with and to re-state your interest in the job. You can include things you forgot to mention in your interview as well. Send separate emails and/or cards to the people you met with (no one likes the chain email thank you).

Good luck to you!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at or via email at

What the heck is “networking”  and why should I do it?

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines networking as:

“…the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions -- the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”…

I know, I know – I hate the term “networking” as much as you do!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate the term as much as you do. To me, when people talk about “networking” --  it sounds to me as though they are using people to get what they want without having any regard for the individual providing the help/assistance. So, take a deep breath. I don’t use the term “networking”.  Instead,  I like and advise people to have real/meaningful interactions with people and to be “straight up” and just ask for help.  Instead of saying “networking”, let’s take the pressure off.  We’ll talk about “connecting” with people instead. Let’s agree to go out and meet/interact with people and follow-up with them. When you go to meetings, classes, conferences and wherever else you meet people --  collect their business cards and send a follow-up email to say something like “it was good to meet you” or “thank you”.

Did you know that it’s estimated that only about 15% of job openings are posted?

Yes, indeed! That means in order to find a job, one really should “connect” with as many people as possible. If only 15% of jobs are posted – that means that about 85% of jobs are not posted. You will hear of these jobs by doing individual informational meetings with people, going to career fairs and expos, going to the supermarket, classes, asking to meet people, etc. You never know who might know of a job opening. Yes, someone might tell you about a great job while you are a host at a restaurant (it’s happened to some of our students).

What if you’re shy?

I know everyone is not a born extrovert. Have no fear … you can just request as many one-on-one meetings with people as possible. Make sure to do your research about people you are meeting with by “Googling” and/or looking for contacts on Linkedin.  By just meeting with one person at a time, you don’t need to be the life of the party. Show your interest and appreciation. People appreciate sincerity and honesty. If you need help …yes, just ask. Don’t be too prideful to let people know you could use some advice.

Good luck! Go out there and be yourself. Show your appreciation when other people help you. You’ll be surprised how far you can go in life by just showing your appreciation to others. It is rare when people take the time to thank others for their help. The Harvard Business Review did a good article about “networking,” or what we’re calling “connecting” --

Good luck to all! As with everything in life --- practice does make perfect!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at or via email at

An informational interview is usually a “one-on-one” meeting to learn about someone’s experience working in a field or organization that interests you. It's not a job interview, so it's important to listen to get information, not a job offer. You can send someone an email asking for a 10 or 15-minute informational meeting. Make sure to respect someone’s time and offer to leave the meeting after 15 minutes.

Too many job seekers focus on just answering job postings. While it feels good to answer job ads, it is estimated that job postings represent only about 15% of all job openings. The other 85% of openings can be found through “hidden networks”. By doing as many informational interviews as you can, you will learn of job openings and movements within your field of interest. Make sure to ask people to keep their ears/eyes open for you in case they learn of something that might interest you. Be polite and not too aggressive. If you are likable/polite/appreciative, people will want to help you.

Some questions you might want to ask during an informational interview:

  1. How did you get your job?
  2. What advice do you have for me?
  3. Are there other people you think I should be talking to?
  4. What type of skills are important to be successful in the field of politics, public affairs, government relations et al?
  5. What kind of person do you enjoy working with?

*You can find further information about informational interviews online. YouTube has some good examples -

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at or via email at

GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) prides itself on its reach and influence  around the globe. GSPM students and alumni are viewed as some of the best “connectors” of people and coalitions. Each year, at least one new student, (aka new member of the “GSPM fold”), spends more time arguing about not wanting to connect on LinkedIn than it would take to just connect.  So, why not just be a good team player and work to make your connections?

Where do I start?

One of my mottos is “never reinvent the wheel”. You’ll learn in politics that you need to know a lot of information and you’ll need to learn quickly. So, don’t spend time doing something that’s already been done. LinkedIn has some excellent online information as to how to set up a LinkedIn profile. You can read the information here -- .

Why do I need 500+ connections anyway?

If you want to work in the political/legislative/public affairs world, you need to know people. And, you need to “know people… who know people”. LinkedIn makes it easy for you. From your desktop computer or phone while you’re at the beach, you can start increasing your connections.

Many employers won’t even interview a candidate before scoping out their LinkedIn connections and making sure the job candidate has at least 500+ connections.  An employer looks much more positively on a well-connected candidate than one who doesn’t appear to know anybody.

Also, many employers hire right off of LinkedIn by reviewing candidates in any given field. Too, many organizations post job leads on LinkedIn before they post on their own organization’s website.

How the heck do I get 500+ connections?

Every year at least one person asks this question and says … “I don’t know 500 people”. Yes, you do. You’ll find by joining groups on LinkedIn that you can connect easily with people who belong to the LinkedIn groups that you belong to and that you’re interested in joining. Connect with friends, family, schoolmates, teachers, professors, people you grew up with, people from your schools, etc. You will get there. It doesn’t even take that much time.

Isn’t quality better than quantity?

When it comes to LinkedIn, it is good to have both quality and quantity. No, I don’t want you to connect with strangers. Just take a little time to explore all of your different circles you know. You’ll surprise yourself by really digging through names of people you do know and connecting with them. LinkedIn has over 500 million users. Why not be part of the big world out there?

Any parting words for me?

Trust me on this one … you may not enjoy it now, but you will enjoy being part of the LinkedIn community. No, LinkedIn doesn’t pay me a penny to say that, but I have been a LinkedIn devotee from day one, and when I was invited to be a “LinkedIn Advisor”, I gladly accepted because I want to be a part of a group who continues to connect like-minded people and to see that people can find other people who can help them with their career goals and job search needs.

Good luck to you! You can connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know in a message how you might know me. Example: ”I’m coming to D.C. and I’m joining GSPM”. Hope so!

***Every year, at least one new student works in the Intelligence Community. If someone’s job prevents them from using social media, the student needs to discuss that privately with us. Or, if you’ve been stalked or something like that, we certainly wouldn’t force the use of social media. We aren’t completely inflexible.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at

Hey everyone! I’m Josh Kim and I am the President of the GSPM Student Association. The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) is an extraordinary program. In fact, there is no other graduate program like GSPM. You may have heard the saying, “Only at GSPM.” It’s a common hashtag on GSPM social media pages. However, “Only at GSPM” transcends hashtags. It captures the essence of our remarkable graduate program. On a regular basis, I am often left saying or thinking, “Only at GSPM.” 

This summer, I am taking two classes including “Running for Office” with The Honorable Connie Mack IV. Every “Running for Office” class exemplifies the “Only at GSPM” experience. “Only at GSPM” do you get a hands-on experience of how to run for office with a former United States congressman. Learning from Congressman Connie Mack IV has been an invaluable experience. He has incredible knowledge and equips his students with the tools they need to succeed if they run for public office. “Running for Office” is not just for students seeking to run for public office. We have many bright and talented students that will be successful politicians in the future. However, this class is also beneficial for a wide range of future careers including campaign management and political consulting. I don’t see myself running for office in the future, but I am grateful to have garnered critical tools that will help me succeed in my professional endeavors. In the “Running for Office” class, Professor Mack has brought in terrific guest speakers including Jo Anne Barnhart, Tony Fabrizio, and Larry Weitzner. Jo Anne Barnhart served as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Tony Fabrizio was a pollster for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Larry Weitzner’s firm created television advertisements for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. At GSPM, you get to hear from the best of the best. What is even more remarkable is that each of these guest speakers have been nice enough to stay in touch with students from the class after their respective visits. Congressman Mack exemplifies the outstanding devotion professors at GSPM give their students. Despite his busy professional schedule, Professor Mack makes time to meet with students outside of class. He wants to see his students succeed and offers wonderful guidance and insight. Professor Mack has an innate ability to pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses and offer feedback that ultimately leads to a student’s exponential growth and development. 

It’s amazing how accessible professors are to their students at GSPM. If you reach out to one of your professors at GSPM about meeting outside of class, I can assure you that they’ll be more than happy to do so. Sometimes, professors even reach out to students about meeting outside of class. I’ve had professors reach out to me to provide professional guidance and insight. At GSPM, you have a team of professors that will guide you to professional success. 

GSPM is the world’s first and foremost school of applied politics, communications, and advocacy. To top it all off, it’s in the heart of the nation’s capital. Some of our classes take place less than a block away from The White House. You won’t find any other graduate program like that. As a prospective graduate student, you may have looked at other graduate programs. You may even think these other programs are like GSPM. However, that is not the case. At GSPM, your classes will be taught by practitioners in the field who specialize in the subject matter of the course. You have small class sizes and will develop strong professional and personal relationships with your professors and classmates. 

I really appreciate how each class at GSPM is a unique experience. My other class this summer is “Digital Content Creation.” For one of my class projects, a classmate and I filmed a video at the Lincoln Memorial. (By the way, how awesome is it that all these incredible monuments and museums are just a quick walk from GW’s Foggy Bottom campus?) Unique experiences are not the exception at GSPM, they are the norm. While, I was walking around the monuments with my classmate, we met someone I cited in a paper for one of my previous classes at GSPM. It was yet another “Only at GSPM” moment. I’ve had so many “Only at GSPM” moments that, as cheesy as it sounds, I could honestly write a book about it. However, this is supposed to be a blog post, and not a novel (by the way I’ve never written a blog before, so my apologies if this reads more like a term paper than a blog). 

While, I expected to learn a great deal from my professors at GSPM, I never imagined I would learn so much from fellow students in the program. As someone who moved to Washington, D.C. last fall to start the GSPM program, it was a bit daunting to be in a new city and no prior experience working in the nation’s capital. If you’re a prospective GSPM student and have never lived in D.C. or are interested in starting the program right after undergrad, you have no reason to worry. GSPM is an amazing community and you’ll meet so many great people. GSPM has provided me great friends and classmates. During my time at GSPM, I have been really blessed to have a phenomenal mentor. This mentor has been a classmate and fantastic friend. He’s unbelievably accomplished, but his humility is even more remarkable. He’s been a great role model for me and has always been there for me. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet a student like this at GSPM. He’s shown me the ropes and has taught me a great deal. He’s helped me with class presentations, given me great advice, and has inspired me to keep believing in myself. “Only at GSPM” will you have classmates that will become extraordinary mentors to you. 

Another great part of my experience at GSPM has been the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. This past spring, GSPM Student Association Executive Board elections were held. I had many friends at GSPM that encouraged me to run, but I wasn’t sure that I should do it. Luckily my friends and classmates at GSPM were incredibly supportive and I was compelled to give back to a program that has provided me so much. Running for GSPM Student Association President was an experience I will always be grateful for. It allowed me to branch out and meet with students in the other GSPM programs. It made me feel even closer to the program, which I didn’t think was possible, and it allowed me to showcase my zealous passion for the program. I was deeply humbled to be elected to the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. I am extremely excited to work with the new executive board. So far, we’ve been doing weekly conference calls and are preparing for a great school year. 

GSPM has been more than classroom and extracurricular experiences. It’s also about the moments in between classes. After class, I am often grabbing food with classmates. We always have great conversations and we often talk about how awesome class was earlier that evening. To me, that’s a part of the GSPM experience as well. It’s going to baseball game with friends from GSPM on a Friday. It’s going to The Palm because you and your classmates aced your class presentations the night before and chicken parmigiana sounds like a nice reward. It’s walking around the monuments with your friends from GSPM late at night to talk about your hopes and dreams. Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, new to D.C. or have worked in D.C. for years, you’re going to meet amazing people at GSPM and share unforgettable experiences with them. 

As I am writing this blog post, I cannot help but feel tremendous gratitude for the experiences I’ve had at GSPM. When I began my journey at GSPM last fall, I never imagined I would be where I am today. Enrolling in GSPM is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The lessons you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet, and the experience you’ll have will make an indelible impression on your life. You can tailor this degree to fit your professional needs. You don’t have to be managing a campaign or working as a legislative aide to make use of a degree from GSPM. The versatility of a degree from GSPM can be beneficial for a variety of professional careers. 

I am going to miss GSPM when I graduate from the program. However, I will always be grateful for the experiences and relationships I’ve made at GSPM. The people I have met at GSPM will always be important to me. I am also confident that GSPM has prepared me for a successful career. With my journey at GSPM nearly over, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for my classmates and me.

Joshua Kim is a student in GSPM's Political Management master's program and is the president of the GSPM Student Association.

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