Thursday, October 29, 2015

Meet Franklin Eneh, New Program Coordinator at the HNC Washington Office

The HNC Washington Office is pleased to welcome Franklin Eneh to the HNC team! Franklin will be visiting schools this fall and assisting students throughout the application process.  
A native of southwest Connecticut, Franklin graduated from Clark University with a double major in Psychology & Asian Studies in 2013 and then with a Masters in Public Administration in 2014. During his first semester of undergrad he literally took Chinese 101 on a whim and quickly developed a strong passion for Chinese culture. In 2012 he spent one year in China, studying for eight months with CET Intensive Chinese language programs in Beijing and Harbin, followed by 4 months as an exchange student at the Shandong University of Science and Technology in Qingdao.  

 Franklin’s China interests have led him to several notable experiences such as receiving a Boren Scholarship in 2011 for one year of intensive language study in China and earning 2nd place in the UMASS Boston Collegiate Chinese speaking competition in 2013. He once served as a teaching assistant and then co-instructor for both beginner and intermediate Chinese courses at Clark University. While completing degree requirements for his masters, Franklin worked part-time at an adult day health care center as an interpreter for over 100 Chinese senior citizens in the greater Boston area. Most recently, he completed one year working as resident adviser to the CET Harbin program.
In his spare time Franklin enjoys reading Classical Chinese texts and learning Chinese idioms. But don’t let this bookworm fool you; he is secretly a 麦霸(mài bà) known to sing at KTV bars and once participated in a local singing competition in Harbin.

Franklin is excited to join the HNC Washington Office and the much larger HNC family. He looks forward to meeting prospective students while on the road this fall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lecture by Richard Brubaker, Founder of Collective Responsibility

The HNC regularly hosts guest lectures in English and Chinese on a variety of different topics. This past week, Professor Richard Brubaker, Founder of Collective Responsibility, gave a lecture on China’s changing economy and the implications for the environment and sustainability. 

Professor Richard Brubaker, who is the Founder of Collective Responsibility, a Shanghai-based sustainability consultancy, gave a lecture titled, “Sustainability, Leadership and Innovation in China.” Professor Brubaker is a Visiting Professor of Sustainability at China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS). He was joined by Chuli Duan, Business Development Manager in Corporate Strategy and SAIS DC graduate. 

The lecture focused on the transition that China’s economy is undergoing and implications that this has for environmental and other sustainability concerns in China and across Asia. Professor Brubaker also focused on entrepreneurial activities in Asian cities that are using new technologies, such as urban aquaculture, to address sustainability concerns, and the numerous opportunities that on-going technological change is creating. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

HNC Alumni Update: Annie Twombly

Annie Twombly, 2014 HNC Certificate alum, shares an update from Kumasi, Ghana! She is now working for as the Communications Manager for Exponential Education. Read on to hear more her experiences working in Ghana. 

Exponential Education is a nonprofit based in Kumasi, Ghana. Its aim is to make education more accessible to Ghanaian middle school and high school students, particularly those who are struggling with the coursework or who are unable to pay tuition fees. Expo (as it is fondly referred to around the office) addresses this with a double-edged sword: by partnering with the administrators and teachers of schools in the communities surrounding Kumasi, the organization is able to identify junior high students who would benefit from after-school tutoring. Then moving to the high schools, Expo again works with the administration to identify the top performing students with financial needs. With these two student groups identified by school administrations, Expo pairs them together in a program known as Peer-to-Peer Tutoring: the identified high school students become paid tutors for the middle school students who are struggling to maintain high academic performance.

This is the heart behind Exponential Education: that students are empowered and enabled to help themselves succeed and continue with their education. Expo staff is present as support for each Peer-to-Peer Program, with each Program Associate facilitating the work of 5 tutors and approximately 30 middle school students. Other staff includes general facilitators for Programs, Operations, Communications, and Donor Relations.

I have been on the ground here in Ghana for a week, and already have seen Exponential Education reach a milestone: October 17th was the first Girls Leadership Conference, a product of Expo’s pilot Girls LEAP Program. For one Saturday, the participating girls from three different high schools all met together for a day of teambuilding, question and answer time with women in leadership positions in their field (a head nurse, a headmistress, a career-woman with children), and brainstorming ways to build confidence and develop leadership skills. All this was centered on the theme “No Single Story” in reference to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s piece The Danger of a Single Story. The significance of this theme lies in allowing girls – and all people – to understand that they are not defined by one identity (such as being a girl) but are a complicated person that is made up of multiple identities (such as a girl, a sister, a dancer, an aspiring pilot, a leader). This idea had a powerful impact on the participants, culminating with each girl writing and performing poems that declared their confidence, rejected the opposition they might face, and most often ended with a smile and a laugh of joy. I couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring welcome to the work Exponential Education is doing, and very much look forward to the work of this next year.

Annie Twombly, 2014 HNC Certificate Alum

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

5 Dos and 5 Don’ts of Resume Writing

Your resume is an important piece of your HNC application. The HNC's own Career Counselor, Robbie Shields, shares his 5 Dos and Don'ts of resume writing. 

Hello. My name is Robbie Shields and I’m the Career Counselor at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. In this post I’d like to briefly discuss resumes. For most, resume writing is hardly an exciting topic. You’d probably rather be reading about the 9-Dash Line, Baidu’s investment in Uber, or how governments, businesses, and NGOs are working to solve environmental challenges. But in order to position yourself to work in these capacities you need to know how to write a resume. Virtually every job, internship, fellowship, scholarship, or degree program (the HNC included) will require you to submit a resume. Therefore, let’s take a few minutes and discuss 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts of resume writing. 

Before we get started let me offer this disclaimer; there are many different resume formats for many different regions. Additionally, different industries have different preferred styles. So the likelihood that you’ll be able to write one resume and use it for all applications is slim. But the recommendations I’ll present are fairly universal and will hopefully help you regardless of your region or industry of interest.   

1.      Understand the Purpose of Your Resume
a.       Before you begin writing it’s important to understand the purpose of a resume. Prior to writing you should ask yourself, “What do I want my resume to accomplish?” Almost certainly the answer will be to convey to the reader that your skills, experiences, and personality make you well-suited for the position you’re applying. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to understand this aspect, as it will influence your resume’s content.  

2.      Choose a Balanced Format
a.       When deciding on a resume format, you want to make sure that the information you put on the page is balanced, meaning that there aren’t parts of the page that are blank while others are cluttered with information. For example, resume writers often clutter the information on the left side of the page while the right side remains largely blank. You want to make sure that your information is balanced to ensure that the person reviewing your resume can efficiently find pertinent information. 

3.      Be Specific About Dates
a.       Resume writers are often overly vague or generic in the information they include on their resume. There is no area that more commonly illustrates this than dates. For example, when writing about a previous job someone might put that they were in the position from 2013-2014. If I was reviewing this resume I don’t know if this means the person was in the position for nearly two years (January 2013 through December 2014) or for only two months (December 2013 through January 2014). Specifying dates is an important part of conveying to employers your previous experience. Consequently, you should put the actual months and years you were in a position. This is true not just for internships and jobs but also for educational experiences, such as study abroad semesters.   

4.      Personalize Your Bullet Points
a.       Resumes are very personal documents. The content that you put on a resume should be your experience and your skills. Despite the personal nature of resumes, most resumes writers write bullets that are generic and don’t show what the writer did in a position. For example, look at the following bullet point under an internship:
                                                               i.      “Assisted in the marketing of organizational services to clients.”
This bullet, while accurate, doesn’t tell the reader what the writer did in that role. A good test would be to ask if the bullet listed could have been copied and pasted from the duties section of the job description. If the answer is yes, then it’s probably not as strong a bullet point as it could be. Look at the bullet point below:
                                                               i.            “Used graphic design tools, social media platforms, and presentation skills to assist in the development of marketing plans for 12 multinational clients and 4 Chinese clients looking to enter China’s second tier city market.”
Notice that the actions completed by these two bullets could be identical, but the second individual has done a much better job of personalizing it. When possible, try to personalize your bullet points. 

5.      Proofread
a.       Resumes are usually the first example of your work product that an employer will receive. If your resume has mistakes in it you can rest assured that the employer won’t be calling you for an interview. Understand that spell-check is not a sufficient method of proofreading. I have recently seen job seekers submit resumes that had mistakes such as:
                                                               i.      Curses included Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Tax, and Audit”
                                                             ii.      “Translated documents from Chinese and English to asset supervising professor in his research”
Taking time to thoroughly review and proofread your resume can help ensure that the work you’re submitting is mistake free. 

1.      Exceed 1 Page
a.       Resumes are not biographies. They are a marketing tool designed to communicate your relevant skills and experiences to an employer. Consequently, you’ll need to omit some of your experiences. I find this is something that is especially difficult for SAIS and HNC students, as you probably have accomplished a great deal in your life. But when writing your resume, remember to consider the perspective of the reader. Most positions you’re applying to will value people who can efficiently and concisely communicate thoughts and ideas. Someone who can’t limit their relevant skills and experiences to one-page is probably illustrating that they lack the ability to identify what’s important and communicate it efficiently. So if you currently have a resume longer than one page, take time and think about what can be omitted. 

2.      Use Font Smaller Than 11 
a.       After reading the previous “don’t,” you might have thought that you could pack more information on your resume by changing the font to a smaller font. Don’t do this. When writing your resume you shouldn’t use a font that is smaller than 11 point font. You want to make it easy on the reader to review your resume and if they have to squint to read your information it’s too small. 

3.      Assume Knowledge of Others
a.       A good practice to get into when writing your resume is to always consider your audience. If you put information on your resume you need to ask yourself “will the reader likely know what I’m talking about?” For example, if you were the recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship or an Olympic gold medal you can be certain that the overwhelming majority of readers will know these awards. But if you indicate on your resume that you were awarded the Whittle Scholarship but include nothing else, you leave the reader wondering what this scholarship means. Rather than leave them wondering, parenthetically qualify/quantify the criteria of the award. Don’t just do this for scholarships, think about acronyms (you probably wouldn’t need to do it for the FBI but if you were applying for a job with a US company and you interned at the African Development Fund, you shouldn’t assume most readers would know ADF) and other instances.  

4.      Aggrandize
a.       It’s not uncommon to hear of stories of individuals who get caught making claims on their resume that are gross exaggerations of their actual abilities or experience. For example, individuals who may put they have advanced Microsoft Excel skills but during an interview are unable to create a pivot table when asked. Don’t inflate your skills/experience. Ultimately, you do yourself a disservice because when you’re caught doing it calls into question the credibility of everything else on your resume.   

5.      Email Your Resume in Word Format
a.       Formatting of a resume is incredibly important. When you submit a resume to a potential employer you want to make sure that the information is presented to the reader exactly as you intended. Different versions of Word can affect the formatting of the resume and consequently distort the information as you presented it. So when you’re applying for positions, make sure you submit a pdf version of your resume.

Hopefully, these tips will help you in getting started writing an English language resume. Remember that writing an effective resume takes time so don’t get frustrated if you find it difficult. Like most things, it gets easier with practice. 

Written by Robbie Shields, Career Counselor at the HNC