Friday, January 30, 2015

Are writing skills necessary anymore?

From The Washington Post.
Career Coach: Are writing skills necessary anymore?
By Joyce E.A. Russell May 22, 2011

We know the value of oral communication skills for today’s workers, but that other type of communication— writing — is just as important. With today’s emphasis on fast communication through technology, it seems more people ask why they need to take writing courses or learn writing skills when they can just text their views to employers, clients and colleagues.

Even children seem to gripe more these days about why they need to learn to write in complete sentences. So what is the value of good writing skills today?

I recently posed this question to a number of executives, consultants and business leaders from various disciplines. I thought that some of them, especially the younger ones, might actually agree that writing is overrated. On the contrary, all of them emphasized the criticality of good writing skills and said that writing is even more important than in previous years. Professionals spend more time each day writing and are inundated with written communications (e-mails, reports, memos and such), so it is imperative that employees be able to write succinctly and write well.

Business leaders also felt that writing skills among graduates seem to have declined over the years. Those who demonstrate good writing skills are often sought to participate in more interesting projects. As one chief executive put it, “Employees have to be able to write proposals for client work; they can’t just cut and paste from the Web.”

Another partner of a firm said he was so embarrassed by an associate’s writing, he couldn’t put it in front of a client. A sales manager agreed, “We have gotten so used to texting our messages to people or tweeting that we have forgotten how to spell or put two words together.”

Writing skills can differentiate job candidates from one another. Some graduates have told me that they think their writing skills landed them a job. In some cases, applicants have to provide a writing sample for a position. Many applicants have to complete job applications, which may include answers to various essay questions. Job candidates can also show off good writing skills by following up an interview with a thank-you note reiterating the value they would bring to the job. Employers often tell me they are surprised by how often applicants do not review what they submit. Incorrect grammar, spelling and language usage can make a very bad impression. Using an informal style — relying on abbreviations, not using punctuation and failing to capi­tal­ize — does not come across as professional. Many hiring managers figure that if a person demonstrates poor writing skills when highly motivated to apply for a job, those skills probably won’t be any better once on the job.
Here are some things to think about when you sit down to write:
  • Think about your audience (business colleagues, friends, etc.) and the appropriate format (e-mail vs. report vs. letter).
  • Be clear. Don’t rely on technical jargon or acronyms.
  • Be concise. For many jobs it is important that you be able to write a one-page executive report as well as other short reports.
  • Be professional, especially in e-mails. Anything that you send can be copied or forwarded to others. Employers often comment that a person’s written message reflects his/her personal image and degree of professionalism.
  • Be comfortable with revisions. Don’t expect that your first draft will be the final product. Great writers often spend many hours revising and improving their work.
  • Practice and get feedback on your writing.
  • Take classes to improve. An Internet search quickly reveals numerous in-person and online options to improve technical writing and creative writing.
  • Read your writing aloud to uncover mistakes.
  • Cite references where appropriate. Make sure you do not plagiarize by taking others’ work without crediting it.
  • Proofread your work or get someone else to review it. Review accuracy, clarity, spelling, punctuation, grammar and conciseness.
  • Use structure to make it reader-friendly. Section headings, paragraph subheadings, graphs, charts and bullet points can help.
Remember, it is not the reader’s job to decipher what you are trying to say. It’s your job to make it clear. I have seen many individuals stop reading a paper, report or job application if they were having a lot of trouble understanding it. You want your work to stand out, but not in the wrong way.

Joyce E.A. Russell is the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management. She can be reached at
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

MSBA Student Interns at FoodCowboy to Help End Hunger in America

Roger Gordon, co-founder of FoodCowboy
My name is Ronnie and I am currently an #MSBA student at #CUA. After hearing Roger Gordon speak at a US Chamber of Commerce event, and again when he accepted an invitation to visit our graduate class, I began my marketing internship at #FoodCowboy in 2015! The #MSBA program has taught me a lot about sustainable business models and, in my opinion, #FoodCowboy’s business model is unprecedented. At #FoodCowboy we do not aim to feed just a few families, but take a big picture approach to ending #hunger in #America.

Download the FoodCowboy app, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Barbara Cohen, co-founder of FoodCowboy
 2015 is the year of #sustainability and #FoodCowboy is ready to be a major part of the movement. #FoodCowboy seeks to put an end to #hunger and #waste using #technology and real-time data to transport almost spoiled food to food banks, shelters, etc.

#FoodCowboy has already been featured in multiple media platforms (Huffington Post, NPR, Time Magazine, etc.) and I recently had the unique opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at the TV interview process and all the hard work that goes into the preparation of the interview. We are excited to see all of our hard-work come to life on The Nightly Business Report on PBS in February! Stay tuned for #FoodCowboy’s answer to #hunger.

For more information about FoodCowboy, visit their website at

Barbara and Roger speaking to the MSBA class
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Business and Economics School to Receive $3 Million

Jan. 22, 2015

Business and Economics School to Receive $3 Million

Grant to Fund Four Long-term Faculty Researching Virtue in Business
  Dean Andrew Abela addresses the Class of 2018 during Orientation last fall.
The Catholic University of America’s School of Business and Economics has received a commitment of up to $3 million from the Charles Koch Foundation ($1,750,000), the Busch Family Foundation ($500,000), and three business leaders (each contributing $250,000) to support additional faculty members who will bolster the school’s goal of advancing the study and practice of principled entrepreneurship.
“This new $3 million grant puts our school far along the path of creating a cadre of faculty dedicated to research exploring how we can make business and economics more humane,” said Andrew Abela, dean of the school. “That’s not only the vision for our school; it’s also a moral imperative that Pope Francis has been championing with great passion.”
The $3 million pledge comes a little more than a year since the Charles Koch Foundation and the Busch Family Foundation committed $1 million and $500,000, respectively, to the business and economics school to support four visiting scholars researching principled entrepreneurship as a catalyst for improving society’s well-being.
The four additional faculty, who may be hired as early as fall 2015, will be long-term scholars who teach in the management area and share a common focus in research on the integration of Catholic social doctrine within business professions.
The Charles Koch Foundation supports research and higher education programs focused on advancing an understanding of how free societies improve well-being, especially for the least fortunate. The Busch Family Foundation was founded by Timothy R. Busch and his wife, Steph. Timothy Busch is a member of The Catholic University of America’s Board of Trustees and the School of Business and Economics Board of Visitors, and chairman of the board of the Napa Institute.
The three Catholic business leaders who have each committed $250,000 – Sean Fieler, Frank Hanna, and Michael Millette – are all members of the business and economics school’s Board of Visitors. Millette is a member of CUA’s Board of Trustees.
“I am proud to donate to CUA’s vision for an educational program that shows how capitalism and Catholicism can work hand in hand,” Timothy Busch said. “The school, an integral part of the only pontifical university in the country, will have a unique role in teaching this message to future business leaders – and to the rest of the American Church.”
“Catholic University’s increased commitment to exploring principled entrepreneurship will engage more students and scholars in crucial debates about the role of business in society,” said Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Foundation. “This additional grant will accelerate the University’s efforts to understand how businesses best create value in society.”
The University will search for, recruit, and select the new professors in accordance with existing University hiring policies.
The mission of The Catholic University of America School of Business and Economics is to provide intellectual leadership in business and economics through practical and theoretical education and scholarship, inspired by the Catholic principles of human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good, in support of the mission of the University. It is one of 12 schools at the University, which was founded in 1887 as a graduate research institution.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or

Note: \This article is the press release from CUA Public Affairs, originally posted here.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

A Dinner to Remember

We kicked off our first week back in class with our annual etiquette dinner, hosted by Kathryn Marshall.  Ms. Marshall, Associate Director of Career Services here at The Catholic University of America, coached the class on dining etiquette as part of an interview.

Kathryn Marshall, Associate Director of Career Services

Students were coached on everything from how to correctly hold a white wine or red wine glass:

To how to correctly hold a fork and knife (and which to use when there is more than one set): 

To how to eat more tricky and messy foods like the delicious (and slippery) chicken piccata with fettucine pasta:
Overall the evening was a great success. Everyone learned very important information, tips and tricks to remember when dining as part of an  interview. A special thanks to Kathryn Marshall and the wait staff and management of Aramark for making this special event possible.
Gorgeous place settings
Eating appetizers can be tricky when there are toothpicks involved.

Second course spinach and tortellini soup

Third course salads

The intermezzo course - mango sorbet
A delicious main course!

There's always room for a little dessert
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