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09 Jun 2010 - 02 Oct 2011
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Name: Rebecca Pawlowski
School/Year: COL '99
Major: Languages and Linguistics
Job Title: Director of Communications, Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corporation
Please describe your background and career journey to your current position.
I received my B.A. from the Languages & Linguistics Department at Georgetown in 1999. In 2006 I graduated with an MBA from the University of Maryland.
As an undergraduate I obtained an internship with Public Radio’s “Savvy Traveler” show that helped pique my interest in writing for a travel agency.
During my junior year I studied abroad in Seville and did work for a paper writing/tourism company. This position helped influence my decision to pursue a career related to tourism, and I began thinking about writing about tourism abroad.
There is not a specific path to a job in Tourism. Were there additional steps that you took to help make working in your industry more feasible?
After graduating from Georgetown, I was hired for a contract position as a Freelance Travel Guide Updater for the U.S. Travel Guide “British University North America Club”. The position lasted just three months but gave me some valuable experience for the positions that I sought next.
I was then hired by the Prince William County/Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau in VA as the Media Marketing Coordinator. Beyond the usual media relations, this position allowed me more exposure to public relations as well, a strong asset for finding future jobs. Networking proved to be key because my boss was a Georgetown alumnus and was very welcoming. She turned out to be one of my most memorable mentors.  When it came time for me to switch positions, she was extremely helpful.
In January 2001 a Media Relations Manager position opened up at the Convention and Tourism Corporation. Through the new position, I transitioned from writing about tourism abroad to helping a city, Washington D.C., market itself and its own tourist attractions. I stayed in this position for five years.
In 2006 I was promoted to the position of Director of Communications at the Convention and Tourism Corporation. Not only does my job encompass extensive media relations, but it has also expanded greatly into a public relations position. I deal with hotels and other business while simultaneously working with the media. Much of my position focuses on economic development, as I figure out the best ways to market Washington, D.C. as a premier tourist destination.
What skills have been most useful to you? What skills should students develop to prepare for a job similar to those you have had?
Strong writing skills are really one of the most important assets to have in this field; you have to be able to communicate successfully. My writing skills helped me to get jobs and be successful at them. Even though I did not take any myself, I think that journalism classes would help students become familiar with the style of writing most closely associated with Tourism.
In retrospect, I also think that my history courses were particularly useful, specifically for their emphasis on critical reading and analysis of context. Much of what I do in pitching media requires an ability to understand public attitudes and wants and translate those appropriately.
Earning an MBA and taking many marketing classes along the way proved to be extremely worthwhile for me as well. Those classes allowed me to better grasp the business side of my career field. I would suggest that students go for their MBA, or take advantage of Georgetown’s Masters program in Communication/Society or any other type of New Media courses. I’d like to emphasize the value of people who can creatively translate new media phenomenon, such as Facebook and MySpace, into the media environment.
What overall advice would you give to Georgetown students?
I would advise that students actively keep their eyes open for internships and jobs related to areas that interest them. I found my internships to be wonderful opportunities, and as an employer, I look for individuals that have some experience. Internships can be critical in giving applicants an edge for a job, such as one in tourism, where there is no defined career path.