About Conversations on Careers and Professional Life

On each episode, I speak with guests about topics related to the job searches, professional development, public speaking, resilience and mindfulness. Guests include current MBA candidates and past students, faculty and staff, and outside experts.


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Recent Episodes

Behavioral Interviewing with Career Coach Elaine Newtson

Foster MBA Career Coach Elaine Newtson and I have a quick discussion about strategic approaches to crafting behavior interview answers.

Three Perspectives on the National Black MBA Career Expo and Other MBA Career Conferences

Three conversations about national MBA career conferences including National Black MBA Career Expo, Prospanica and National Association of Women MBA’s Career Conference with Foster 2019 MBAs Jamie Young and Johnathan Duong and MBA Career Management’s Bronica Sam. For more information about national career conferences, Foster students can visit you Foundations of Professional Development course on Canvas.

Coaches’ Tips For Informational Interviews

On this episode I sit down separately with Foster 2nd year MBA Career Coach Elaine Newtson and 1st year/evening MBA Career Coach Stacy Duhon to talk about tips and best practices for informational interviews. Students and job seekers can use informational interviews — sometimes called “coffee chats” or “expert interviews” or “prototyping conversations” — to learn about companies and roles. The object of these conversations is twofold:

  • Gather information that will help you understand the company or role better so that you can ultimately interview better
  • Build your professional network so that you might learn about opportunities before they are publicly listed, or in the best case, get a valuable internal referral to a job opening.

To achieve the first goal, you need to go into the interview prepared having done your research on the company and the individual so that you can ask good questions that both elicit the valuable information and demonstrate that you are serious and professional.  Both Elaine and Stacy concur that you should not ask overly general questions or questions that you could answer with a Google search or by reading the company’s website.

You also need to take good notes from your conversation. You might do this during or after the conversation. Since most of these informational interviews will be held virtually, it may be easier to take notes contemporaneously, but you should let the person you are talking to know that if they hear typing, it is because you are going to be taking notes. As you prepare for an interview with that company, or for that role at another company, it is a good idea to review all your relevant notes.

To achieve the second goal of building your professional network, you need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, from the first reach-out on LinkedIn or by email, to the reminder message you send a day or two before, to the actual conversation and then the immediate and longer term followup.

  • After the meeting, be sure to followup with a thank you note. Since most people are working from home, it is probably not practical to thank the person with a physical card, but an email that thanks them for their time and might highlight 1 or two key messages you took way from the conversation is sufficient.
  • If you felt a strong connection to the person, you might add that you’d like to followup with them later in the year, or if/when you are preparing for an interview at their company. 
  • If not already, you should connect to them on LinkedIn
  • If the person suggested an article, podcast, book, class, or other activities that they thought would be valuable to you, after you have read, listened to, attended, you should drop them a note thanking them for the valuable suggestion.
  • If you come across a book, article, podcast, event or similar that you think would be valuable to them, a good way to strengthen the relationship over time is to share these suggestions by email or LinkedIn message.

As always, I hope you enjoy the episode and find something valuable in it. Please consider sharing this episode with a friend, or rating or reviewing the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Foster MBA Career Management Coaches on Informational Interviews

I talk with Coach Elaine Newtson and Stacy Duhon about tips for informational interviews. Learn more at http://conversationsoncareers.com

Check out this episode!

Peter Boyd on The Hunt: Charting The Path to your next career move

Peter Boyd, lecturer at the Yale School of the Environment and Yale School of Management, and Resident Fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment joins me to discuss his webinar, “The Hunt: Charting The Path to your next career move.

Peter explains what he calls the Connected Leadership Framework’s four Ps:

  • Purpose
  • Priorities
  • Potential
  • Performance

And how these factor into, and influence, the career search. I particularly like the way he talks about clarifying and personalizing your hunt with the “Two Triangles” visualization that identifies what is crucial to you about an opportunity, and what about you is crucial to the company.

To learn more about The Hunt, view the slides and access other resources including a short workbook that guides you through a variety of exercises, visit the Yale Center For Business and the Environment website.

Adam Schmidt Talks About His Career Pivot

This episode features part two of my conversation with Adam Schmidt, Foster MBA class of 2020 and Liaison to Career Management for the MBAA. We recorded this episode in the early winter of 2020 before the Coronavirus Pandemic upended in-person education and career search activities. In this second part, Adam and I talk about how he executed his career pivot from one focused on primary education, first as a teacher and then staff member at Teach For America, then working to build a school management organization to an internship with HP and a full time role in strategy consulting after graduation.

Adam highlighted some of the considerations that students need to make when they are creating their career plan, especially if they intend to pivot careers.  From considering whether to pivot function or industry first, to the value of getting a name-brand on your resume.

Links/Resources from the episode:

Check out this episode!

Adam Schmidt on Credibility

On this episode Adam Schmidt (Foster MBA 2020) talks about the importance of credibility as an MBA candidate. He breaks it down with 5 stakeholder groups: fellow students, faculty & staff, alumni and employers. We recorded this episode in the early winter of 2020 before the Coronavirus Pandemic upended in-person education and career search activities, but I believe that his advice about credibility is even more important during this period of social distancing and remote meetings. In this first part, Adam shares the message of a presentation he made to the incoming MBA class of 2021 about the importance of building credibility. This is Part 1 of 2. In the second episode, Adam talks about his career pivot.

Check out this episode!

Author Nikki Pava On Her Book, Green Wisdom and Career in Sustainability

On this episode, I speak with author, speaker, consultant and friend, Nikki Pava. Nikki and I met through a mutual friend many years ago and worked together on EcoTuesday, which you will hear about in the interview. We talk about her career experiences, MBA and book, Green Wisdom: A Guide for Anyone to Start, Engage and Energize a Sustainability Team which profiles initiatives at a variety of companies. Nikki founded AlegriaPartners to help businesses engage employees around sustainability.

The central message I took away from my conversation with Nikki is that anyone who is motivated can help make a difference in their company. If you are passionate about conservation and the environment and that is not part of your job description, you can work together with others in your organization to start, run or expand sustainability activities.

Books and other references:

Prof. Ryan Fehr on Gratitude and Appreciation

Ryan Fehr‘s work focuses on building more positive organizations – organizations that leverage things like gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness to make work more fulfilling and enjoyable. In this conversation we talk about his research into gratitude, how and why you might want to work to increase your gratitude through interventions like journaling, the gratitude letter and acts of appreciation. We also talk about the relationship between gratitude and stress and gratitude and mindfulness.

Ryan also introduced me to the idea of designing a gratitude “boot camp” which comes from a leading researcher on the subject, Robert Emmons.  Both Ryan and I talked about keeping Thank You notes we’ve received as well as emails in place where they can be easily referenced when you need a little pick-me-up. The episode is full of great ideas for boosting your own gratitude and introducing more gratitude into your organization.

A great resource to learn more about gratitude is Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley. Their website provides detailed instructions for many of the practices Ryan and I discussed like the gratitude letter and gratitude journaling. You can learn more on their website or podcast, The Science of Happiness.


MBArk2Boulder and MBArk at Expo West

On this episode, I speak with Class of 2019 MBA candidates Austin Morton and Alli Green about their experiences at MBArk2Boulder (Jan 2019) and MBArk at Expo West in 2018.

MBA candidates can apply now for the MBArk core program at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim (March 5-7) at https://MBArk.com.  Also see details, attached.

Students can apply online anytime until January 26 (priority deadline) or February 5 (final deadline). 

Gregory Heller

Gregory Heller

Meet The Host

I’m the Senior Associate Director of MBA Career Management at the Foster School of Business at the University Of Washington and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I work with MBA candidates to achieve their career objectives through one-on-one coaching, and trainings on presentation skills, public speaking, and executive presence. 

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New Episodes Periodically

I publish new episodes approximately
twice a month



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