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The Citizen

Making the Most of J-Term to Advance Your Job Search


By Wei Luo, MPP 2017

As the fall classes wrap up, students may be wondering how to make the most of the January term (J-term) period between winter break and spring semester. The Citizen recently spoke to Mary Beaulieu, Assistant Dean and Director of the Office of Career Advancement (OCA), and Janice Vaughn, OCA’s Senior Associate Director of Communications and Employer Relations. They shared some tips for using the J-term to advance your job search.

HKS students come from highly diverse backgrounds, and naturally aspire to different career paths. Each student must therefore tailor her job search to her unique skills and goals. Career coaches are available for individual appointments to explore, design strategy, offer advice, and keep students on track. Mary emphasized that “J-term is a great opportunity to move forward on your own path” and that students should definitely “use it for professional development.”

The two OCA officers recommended a variety of opportunities and resources that students can take advantage of during J-term.

HKS Goes to Washington D.C.

Travel to D.C. for a major networking event with over a hundred alumni who are eager to meet you. The alumni work in a variety of institutions, from executive agencies and Capitol Hill to the World Bank and IMF. The trip is scheduled for Tuesday January 17 and Wednesday January 18—after J-term courses end and before shopping days.

Student Alumni Shadowing Program

During January, students will have the opportunity to shadow HKS alumni in their professional roles. These opportunities will take place with alumni around the world, and students can shadow multiple alumni. Keep an eye out for announcements from the OCA about this opportunity.

Harvard-Wide Global Networking Night

Make connections with alumni across different Harvard schools. The event is scheduled for January 11, 2017 and will take place in different locations around the world. Details are available at:


Students often travel during J-term to experience different countries and cultures. Mary suggested that students think about ways to leverage the experience of their treks to move their career aspirations forward.

HKS Alumni Directory and LinkedIn Group

Mary strongly encouraged students to reach out to alumni to expand their professional network. “This is a community, this is a family,” she said, “Alumni want to stay connected to the school, and they want to talk to you.” Students can find alumni using the alumni directory or the HKS LinkedIn group. Links to both are on KNet under Degree Programs & Student AffairsCareer AdvancementProfessional Networking Connections.

For graduating students, it’s important to continue moving forward on career goals during the school year. Janice emphasized that “everyone has their own style… there’s no one size fits all.” In light of the recent election, Mary noted that “this election may have thrown people off” in terms of career next steps, but “everyone has to make up their own mind.” She ended on an encouraging note: “We don’t want people to panic. You are all incredible, and there are a lot of resources here… You are as well positioned as anyone to succeed.” In the coming weeks, she recommended that each student “book an hour each week to do job search; make it like a class, a commitment.”