Going Beyond the A Grade



“Are you in the game?”  I’ve been asking myself that in my Doctor of Business Administration program.  Like many of my doctoral student peers, I’m working full-time, taking care of life’s usual responsibilities, and trying to find time to exercise and socialize.  The “game” is challenging – lots of balls in the air!

One thing I know for sure – when I’m up at midnight on Sunday nights uploading research papers for the 1 am deadline, I am one competitive player!

I’m in the game.  Why?  I’m challenging myself to “go beyond the A.”

“Going beyond the A” is researching articles on General Motors and then, after several hours of reading,  switching gears to write my ethics paper on Target instead.  The more I read about GM, the more I could understand Target’s failure to heed malware warnings much more easily than GM’s failure to find faulty ignition switches.

I have spent considerable time thinking about how hard it must be for CEOs like Gregg Steinhafel and Mary Barra to track such huge mistakes happening at the lower levels of their large bureaucratic companies.  Is “ignorance at the top” an excuse from one’s duty to provide ethical leadership and avoid harm to customers?  It’s a question worth pondering well after getting my grade.

In going beyond the “A,” I often make assignments harder than necessary.  When I had to select a newsworthy CEO for a paper on leadership styles, I decided to pick a female CEO.  It was much tougher to research Marissa Mayer than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  Why?  Women make up only 4% of S&P 500 Chief Executive Officers.  Information on their leadership styles is sparse.  I hope that women studying business all over the world go beyond their A’s to change that.

I’m creating new learning opportunities and pathways of thinking.

Are you in the game?  Go beyond the “A.”

 Lisa Cook, Aspiring DBA Student and Senior Director of Career Services

 Originally published on LinkedIn, April 15, 2016

Webinar Setup photo Lisa

Making Positive Social Change through Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse


Ramona has a master’s degree in Psychology from Walden and is now pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology.  She has a background in the helping professions, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Service Administration and worked as a correctional nurse and in drug and alcohol treatment programs for many years.  Her long-term goal is to become a licensed psychologist.

Six years ago, Ramona started helping victims of domestic abuse when she offered shelter in her home to a woman, who had been battered by her spouse, and her child. That sparked her to lay the foundation to build a non-profit organization called Brighter Horizon.  Its mission is, “No woman left behind.”  Ramona states that Brighter Horizon “will strive to make sure that women get the help that they need to be stable mothers and not to be faced with domestic violence in the home while raising their children. Our goals are to provide shelter, counseling, healthcare, childcare, and permanent housing placement.  I would also like to address these issues not only in the state of New Jersey but I have future plans to build at least one program in each state.”

Two of the Board members for her non-profit have passion and experience working with victims of domestic abuse.  For the past three years, Ramona has worked with a team to develop her business plan.  Her current focus is to raise funds to buy a residential shelter that will offer transitional housing, childcare, counseling services, medical, and dental for up to five families. As a mother of five children ages 2 to 15 and a domestic violence survivor, Ramona aims to support mothers with proper resources so they can raise their children in healthy homes.

For more information, please visit the Brighter Horizon website at: http://www.brighterhorizonnj.org and email Ramona at: brighterhorizonnj@yahoo.com.

We thank Ramona for sharing her story of social change and wish her the best with expanding her evolving non-profit organization.

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services


Feeling Complacent and Boxed In?

Cat in a box

Gracie prefers a cardboard box as her bed of choice.  It may be hard and cold, but it’s familiar and smells of interesting foods from Costco.  Meanwhile, the furry warm cat bed remains brand new and unused.

The start of our State Fair here in Minnesota, branded as “Minnesota’s Great Get-Together,” signals the end of summer.  Yet, each year, there’s something about fall that signals promise and new beginnings.  It could be the start of the new school year or my September birthday.  September somehow feels like a “Plan B New Year” for getting things done.

What’s on your 2016 “to do” list?  The year is nearly 3/4 over.  You might regroup by asking these questions:

  • What support is available to help you reach your goals?  If you haven’t accomplished goals on your own, some help could be just what you need.  We often worry about burdening others when asking for help actually strengthens relationships and friendships.  Take the risk and ask.
  • What is not working well for you?  Do your goals need a tune-up?  If you’ve been chasing the same train for years and it always leaves the station before you get there, is it time to catch a plane instead?
  • What new stories can you build about who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re headed?   As the saying goes, “What we focus on, we become.”  If you want to develop in new areas, you need to celebrate your progress along the way.  Are you playing to your strengths?  Are you sharing your talents to help others?

I hope your fall season holds a world of new possibilities – outside the box!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Career Services Director and DBA Student


Originally posted on LinkedIn, August 15, 2016


Social Change and Professional Growth Through Volunteering


During the Walden Social Change Networking event on July 21, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Ebony Cray, a Walden student in the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. During our online chat, I learned that Ebony is an active volunteer in her community. She is on the Board of Directors for OMEP-USA, an “organization dedicated to advocating for children’s rights and high-quality education for children.” She also started World Advocates for Children and Families, LLC, (WAFCAF),  where she offers free resources and guidance for families in need, and she has been a Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) volunteer for three years. Her volunteer work is in addition to her full-time position as a teacher and program coordinator for a child development center. Our conversation focused on her work with CASA.

As a CASA volunteer, Ebony’s role is to guide, support, and advocate for abused and neglected children who are involved in the court system. To become a CASA volunteer, Ebony submitted an application and went through an interview process. Once accepted, she received extensive training on how to navigate the court system, collaborate with attorneys and social service agencies, and most important ― “advocate for children’s best interests.”

After completing the CASA training, Ebony was assigned to a case involving two young brothers. She has been with their case for three years. She meets with the brothers monthly, attends court hearings, communicates with the children’s attorney, writes reports, and advocates for the brothers before the judge. As their advocate, Ebony has built a bond of trust with the brothers. She described her relationship as one that will “tug at your heart strings.” In 2015, Ebony was awarded a CASA scholarship to attend the National CASA conference where she connected with other CASA volunteers and learned more about family law and advocacy. She also attended her state’s annual CASA Day at the Capitol event to learn more about current and proposed legislation that affects children in foster care and CASA programs.

Ebony is a CASA volunteer because she both believes in positive social change and she wants to take an active role in making change happen. Through volunteering, she is strengthening her professional skills, learning about the “plight of others” in her community, making connections, and becoming an adept and persuasive leader for families.

The Career Services Center thanks Ebony for sharing her story, and we wish her continued success in her academic program and career!

To explore the positive impact volunteering can have on your career, view the Career Services Center archived webinar: Maximizing Career Success Through Strategic Volunteering

Written by Denise Pranke, Senior Career Services Advisor



Game-changing Tips to Boost Your Higher Ed Job Search

What does it take to land your first higher ed teaching job?  Bridgette, a Walden DBA student and business professional who recently landed two adjunct teaching positions, would tell you to get the right information before starting your search.  She shares how she shifted her mindset to tackle the higher ed hiring process:

Change Your Game Plan

Bridgette initially approached her job search by hiring a resume service to create a generic CV.  This strategy did not yield results.  She became frustrated and discouraged due to the lack of response from employers until she visited Chronicle Vitae, a powerful networking site for academics and researchers.  On this site, she watched a webinar on CV writing and realized her document required substantial improvements.  She contacted Walden Career Services and scheduled an appointment for a CV review to help strengthen her format, condense her experience, and emphasize skills attractive to employers.

Get Informed

As a defined benefits analyst and client coordinator working in a HR Consulting business environment, Bridgette was unfamiliar with the recruiting, selection, and hiring process in higher education.  Working with Career Services, she revised her CV and learned tips to navigate the job search process.  She also tapped into Career Services’ website resources, including the Doctoral Resources page, CV Guide, and OptimalResume’s CV Samples.

Navigate the Hiring Process

Her tailored CV and diligent preparation attracted employers.  When an online university expressed interest in hiring her as a business school instructor, she reached out to Career Services for advice on salary negotiation and what to expect during new instructor training.  A couple of weeks later, a local college asked her to stop by to complete her human resources paperwork, take a tour, and get her syllabi and books for the two courses she will be teaching this fall.  The advice she received from Career Services helped her build confidence and avoid unnecessary mishaps during the hiring process.

Bridgette encourages Walden students who are seeking higher ed positions to save time and effort by reaching out to Career Services.  She states, “Regardless of whether you are advancing your current career or changing careers, Walden Career Services should be your first point of contact.  Walden Career Services provides ‘game-changing’ advice and current industry information.”  We wish Bridgette success as she starts her teaching career.

Need to boost your higher ed job search?  Visit our “one-stop” Doctoral Resources page to get started.

 Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services

Dina Bergren

Virtual Interviewing Tips to Get the Job

Woman interviewing on screen

Virtual interviews add extra challenges to the interview process such as managing video technology and conveying a positive image through a virtual space.  How can you conquer technology, exude confidence, and make a lasting impression on your interviewers?

Consider the following tips:

Technology and Environment

  • Familiarize yourself with the virtual platform. Whether your interviewer asks you to use Skype, ooVoo, Zoom, or another system, test it before your interview.  Do you need to install new software on your computer?  Make sure to test system functions before the interview.  Ask a tech savvy friend or family member to practice with you if possible.
  • Check your computer and internet connectivity.  A reliable internet connection, working microphone and speakers, and functioning webcam will help you avoid technology glitches. If you are using a headset, make sure it is plugged in and working properly.  Finally, close all other computer applications during your interview.Organized desk
  • Set your stage.  Position your webcam toward a neutral background and add extra
    lighting to brighten your video image.  Unclutter your desk, organize your notes, and choose a quiet space to minimize distractions.

Presentation and Delivery

  • Focus on professionalism.  Check how you appear in front of the camera. For example, multi-color patterns and shiny jewelry may be especially distracting on video.  Instead, select neutral colors and professional business attire.
  • Pay attention to body language. To make a positive impression, look straight at the camera, remember to smile often, and remain still without fidgeting.  Since you are “on camera,” avoid glancing downward and shifting away from the screen.

 Practice Virtual Interviewing Using OptimalResume

  • Record virtual interview questions.  Did you know that OptimalResume offers an Interview Prep module that you can use to practice interviewing skills in a virtual environment?  Use this tool to record your video and review your responses.  Do you come across as confident, knowledgeable, and friendly?  Build your virtual interviewing skills for a flawless delivery.

Want to learn more about interviews?
Visit the Career Services Center’s Interviewing tab to watch our Interview Strategies video and gain essential tips to ace your interview.

Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services
(Adapted from the Career Services Center’s Interviewing tab)

Dina Bergren



How Being in the Right Place at the Right Time Led to Two New Jobs

Rudene Thomas

Have networking and being a member of a professional organization helped you in your career?

Joining a professional organization can be rewarding and fulfilling when trying to enhance your skill set.  Some professional organizations are expensive.  You need to determine if an organization meets your needs along with how you can contribute by volunteering on a committee.  A person should not just join for the sake of “what’s in it for me.”  A person should consider how she or he will personally benefit and contribute to the organization and its goals.

When I joined the Federal government in Bethesda, Maryland, I wanted to know how I could enhance my skills.  So I joined a nonprofit organization named Federally Employed Women (FEW).  I attended a chapter meeting and liked the vision, mission, and goals of the organization and what it had to offer.  I considered how I could contribute to this group.  I served in several capacities, and all of the positions were rewarding.

My most notable role was serving a chapter president.  This opportunity gave me the ability to develop leadership skills, do public speaking, direct committees, recruit members, write awards presentations, develop the budget, build professional connections, and meet with senior officials of the FEW organization and leaders from my previous employment.

So, in essence, a person must look at volunteering as a way to gain valuable skills to excel in one’s career.  It also shows that you will go above and beyond to do extra activities outside of work.  It is hard work but fun work that you can add to your resume.  Often employers such as the Federal government like to see that individuals do volunteer work.

Here’s an update on how networking landed me a new job at my current employer as a Program Analyst in the Office of Policy Development and Coordination (OPDC).  In December 2015, I was in the hallway looking at the employee bulletin board.  A man came along and asked me what I was looking at, and I told him that I was looking at the announcement of an employee retiring.  During our conversation, I told him who I was and where I worked along with sharing my educational background.  I had seen this man in passing but never knew his name and still didn’t ask his name.  So we departed, and I didn’t give it any more thought.  The next day the man came into the office where I worked and spoke to my supervisor.  She came over and told me that the man was a supervisor in OPDC, and he wanted me to participate in a grants competition by reading and scoring applications.  So of course, I agreed because that was an opportunity for me to do something different and meaningful.

Well, I did such a fantastic job that the Director, OPDC, sent an email to my supervisor, her boss, and the OPDC Supervisor.  The most notable statement in this email from the Director, OPDC, was that I was very detail-oriented, concise, and thorough.  Also, I provided supporting information to justify my scores on the grant applications.  I was so thrilled to see these comments in writing.   I considered reaching out to the OPDC Supervisor since he invited me to participate.  I reached out to him and requested a brief meeting.  I printed out my resume and went to his office.  I expressed an interest in his office if an opportunity opened in the future.  He offered me a detail assignment for six months.  This gave me the opportunity to try out a new job and see if I liked it and if the team liked me.  Well, the detail assignment worked out, and I’m permanently in this office.

I don’t know if this was luck or being at the right place at the right time.  If you are seeking a new opportunity, it’s best to share your story but be brief.  Just tell the person the office you are in, your position, and your educational background.  Remember you only get 1-2 minutes so do your best, stay calm and always be ready because you never know who has that next great opportunity.

Good luck!

Written by Rudene Thomas, PhD in Public Policy and Administration Student, Guest Blogger

Rudene Thomas