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Georgetown’s Plan To Stay Relevant In A Flooded Market

Georgetown McDonough Students. Courtesy photo

I was actually going to ask next if you are doing anything or have any plans to try to overcome that rhetoric coming out of the political sphere and parts of the country, to try to rebound those international applicants. 

Yeah, you know, we are trying to approach this on two fronts. First is to reassure them that there is a strong social culture — at least at Georgetown — in collaboration. We are a cohesive culture and group. People take care of each other. And then on the job side it is really trying to strengthen relationships with employers who are willing to sponsor H-1Bs or recruiters who are willing to consider overseas appointments. So we have been working with a few of our really close corporate partners to see if they can open up international offices in Canada or the U.K. or anywhere else, like Singapore for the Asian students. Besides that, there is a bunch of programming that we do for international students. We have special orientation for them when they come to campus. We do more international co-curricular activities. But you know it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s difficult to convince them to consider U.S.

And the applicants can go elsewhere. Applications have increased in Canada, they have increased in Asia. They are probably increasing in Australia as well. People have options.

Do you think this is something that will flip back once the current administration moves on, or will you all be fighting this rhetoric for years beyond this?

I think one of the things we talk about in D.C. is that it’s one of the most diverse cities in the country. I mean you literally have every single embassy and so many Fortune 500 companies have offices here. You have more international visitors, from a political perspective, than most other cities in the U.S. It’s a place where you can find a like-minded group of people who are reasonable and thoughtful and likely more so than many other parts of the country. So that’s the message we send. And lucky for us, D.C. has really invested a lot in making itself a much more welcoming city.

New neighborhoods that have come up. My son just graduated from undergrad and he now works in D.C., and lives in a neighborhood that ten years ago I would have said, you better not go there. Now it’s a thriving place with lot’s of young people. And many parts of D.C. have become like that. You know prices have gone up so that’s the concern that many international students have, especially with their decline in their currencies which is a problem that they all face compared the U.S. dollar. But there are many good things that we can promote and we can talk about.

What are some other things you all are doing to not only stay relevant to international applicants, but our domestic applicants looking at you all and other schools?

You know, on the D.C. front, one of the things that we are really spending some serious energy on is to create a meaningful collaboration with local institutions and organizations on the curricular front. So a couple of years ago we launched the certificate on non-market strategies which really looks at the impact of all of the other non-business forces on business decisions. So whether it is policy or regulation or law, how do all of those forces impact business decisions. That certificate has become really popular, I would say about a quarter of our students end up doing that certificate.

This year, we launched a new required course called Managing the Enterprise. So it’s really a course about how do you manage an enterprise so that it’s primed for success in the future while focusing a lot more on your most important asset, which is your people. So how do you design the organization, how do create the best, most efficient structure? How do you create a culture that promotes mentoring and learning? How do you create an agile environment? The course is based on a project that runs in collaboration with the folks who run the D.C. Metro. So that’s a public sector enterprise with lots of government funding, and all kinds of stereotypical and real issues about labor and motivation — or lack of motivation. We the CEO of this organization called WMATA and their senior leadership team come in and they spent an evening with the students presenting. All the students were required to work on this project and come up with some recommendations. That course was just completed and is a great experiment for us to see how we can really leverage our D.C. strength. If the model works, it’s something we’d love to scale.

I’m looking forward to hearing what the students have to say about the new course. And we’ll we learn from it. We will adapt. Because it’s an opportunity that I don’t think we should let slip. We’ll continue to work on increasing our D.C. connection, but using it and doing it in a way that’s more about business and society going hand-in-hand, which is part of the value that we strongly believe in at Georgetown.