Tech-savvy alum Tom Barry uses World Health Organization research to build a personal brand and impress on-campus recruiters.
A week before graduating from the George Washington University, Tom Barry sat on a sofa at the bustling 21st and L Bourbon Coffee café and described a spring afternoon studying in Science and Engineering Hall.
A prospective engineering student who was trying to decide whether to attend GW or a California university timidly approached him, Mr. Barry said, and asked a big question: “Why should I come to GW?”
Mr. Barry had a simple answer: GW’s On-Campus Recruiting program (OCR).
“Choosing a college is about finding an experience that fits but also about finding career opportunities,” Mr. Barry said. “D.C. is an urban campus, but it is right next to Fairfax County where hundreds of tech companies are based, which means that on-campus recruitment is broad in scope.
“I told him that whatever school he chose, to look for an on-campus recruiting program like the one at GW.”
Mr. Barry’s advice came from his experience as an undergraduate student in the Elliott School of International Affairs where he channeled a burgeoning interest in health and technology into academics, research and internships.
His diverse experiences won over on-campus recruiting representatives from Deloitte when he interviewed last fall. He’ll start his job as a business technology analyst at Deloitte in July.
“My interest in health was personal, but then I saw how technology and health are integrating—technology is this disruptive force,” Mr. Barry said. “I was never a coder, but since I was younger, I’ve been interested in how systems transform with technology.”
Determined to expand his knowledge base, Mr. Barry traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, during the fall of his junior year to study in the global health program at the School of International Training.
While interning at the World Health Organization (WHO), he began researching mobile health technology— “basically anything with a wireless connection that supports health systems,” he said.
Mr. Barry continued his research independently during the spring semester in Dakar, Senegal, where he lived with a host family in a small home that was often without electricity.
“I was researching on the fly while taking classes, usually at a café down the road that had an Internet connection,” Mr. Barry said. “It was difficult, but I saw so much opportunity in Senegal. It’s a resource-limited country with a lot of opportunities for technology because it’s a government leader among West African nations.”
He reached out to WHO contacts he’d made during his internship and was given the opportunity to present his research to the United Nations and the Senegal Ministry of Health.
Mr. Barry said that developing a "personal brand" and taking advantage of GW's On-Campus Recruiting Program helped him land a coveted position at Deloitte's D.C. office.
“It was the payoff for always getting a business card and following up with people I met during my internship. People seem to rely on Linkedin, but for me it was about personal networking,” Mr. Barry said. “That whole year allowed me to create a personal brand for myself and really invest in experiences that equipped me for job-hunting.”
By the summer after his junior year, Mr. Barry was ready to get serious about the job search.
“I knew I wanted to go into consulting because it offers a variety of opportunities and introduces you to new business problems,” Mr. Barry said. “The D.C. office of Deloitte has a major presence in tech and healthcare, but I knew that the consulting world can be difficult to break into.”
What was his next step after identifying consulting as a vocation?
Logging into the GWork portal to complete orientation for the Center for Career Services OCR program.
“After talking to people in the industry, they recommended that I try on campus recruiting. It’s this great opportunity to use relationships that schools have with employers.”
The OCR introduction and training prepares students to search participating employers and schedule interviews on campus. Students are granted access following an online assessment of their understanding of the program. After submitting a resume and selecting employers to interview with, students are notified whether they have been invited for an interview.
“I interviewed with every employer that would have me in September—about a dozen,” Mr. Barry laughed. “I felt prepared after working with Susan Langford [GW career coach] on fine-tuning my resume and preparing for employers’ expectations.”
Mr. Barry said that he was also able to talk with Ms. Langford about his fear that “not being a math whiz” would hold him back from the analytical work he wanted to pursue. But she advised him that most companies are looking for recent grads who are willing to learn the skills they need to be successful.
“I was honest. I went in and said ‘this is my passion and this is what I’ve done to pursue it,’” Mr. Barry said. “I was drawn to Deloitte because before the interviews, entry level partners were taking questions and the head of federal consulting looked at us and said, ‘I want to invest in you.’
“It showed how much they empower employees right off the bat.”
Looking ahead to his new position, Mr. Barry said he is glad that his GW journey included classic “only at GW” experiences such as working on The Globe, the student-run international affairs magazine, and interning on “the Hill” in the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
But he said that it was the unexpected classes and experiences that shaped his career-focus.
“My experience has been so much more than what I thought,” Mr. Barry said. “ I interned on the Hill, worked at The Globe for four years, learned to write policy and put my research and technical skills to the test as a junior. It all added up to my personal brand."
“If I could give any advice, I’d tell freshmen to identify their passion, pursue it, seek out experts and ask specific questions,” he added. “At GW there are people who want to help you achieve your goals—just ask.”