An Interview With Our Own: Jessica Pishko

Read Jessica's Bio here!Curious about the life and times of our spectacular admissions consultants? Please enjoy our newest blog series in which we interview the fabulous people who make up the Accepted.com staff. Next up is…Jessica Pishko.

Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where do you currently live?

Jessica: I went to Rice University in Houston, Texas for undergrad where I majored in English and French. I currently live in San Francisco with my family.

Accepted: Can you share 3 fun facts about yourself?

Jessica:

1. I used to be a yoga teacher (but haven’t taught in a few years).

2. I worked in the French department in college where one of my primary jobs was to open bottles of wine for faculty parties. So, I got very good at it and used to work at a few faculty parties as a bartender for extra money.

3. I have a two-year old daughter and a Chihuahua named Sammy.

Accepted: Do you hold any graduate degrees? 

Jessica: Yes, I have a JD from Harvard Law School and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University.

Accepted: Can you walk us through the jobs and experiences you had that led you to become an admissions consultant for Accepted? 

Jessica: Before I went back to school for my MFA, I worked as a recruiter – this was 2008, which was a terrible time to be recruiting. But, I did learn a lot about the legal job market and found that I enjoyed working with people. As an MFA student, I had the opportunity to work in Columbia’s writing center, where I helped all sorts of students with their writing, from admissions essays to final papers. Based on my work there, I was asked to become a writing consultant for Columbia’s Postbac Program and worked with students applying to medical school. I really enjoyed helping people achieve their dreams, as cheesy as that sounds, and am thrilled to be on the team at Accepted.

Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about consulting?

Jessica: As someone who switched careers herself, I’m very sympathetic to the challenges of applying to school and getting accepted into the right program. I really like to help people who are working hard to achieve their goals and make their dream careers happen. That’s very satisfying for me, and I hope it’s equally satisfying for my clients!

Accepted: What sorts of applicants do you mostly work with?

Jessica: Law school, medical school and graduate school.

Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips?

Jessica:

1.  Try to see the application – including the personal statement and interview, if applicable – as an opportunity rather than a hurdle to overcome. I think that changing your attitude about the process helps to reduce anxiety.

2.  Be flexible and willing to change. It can be hard to take criticism or encounter a set-back, but if you are able to let go of your preset notions, it’s a lot easier to revise and improve your application and admissions strategy.

3.  Be yourself. Too often, I think applicants worry about what admissions committees want or try to “stand out” rather than write something that actually reflects who they are.

Learn more about Jessica and how she can help you get accepted!

View our catalog of admission services! Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

Get Your Game On: Prepping for Your Grad School Application
• Law School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services
• How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience Working With A Medical School Consultant

I’m About to Make Your Day…

Download Your Free Guide to Crafting a Killer Admissions Resume

Does your opening line catch the reader’s attention?

…by giving my essay a catchy opening line that doesn’t turn you away or bore you to tears.

See, I could have started this tip post with “Today I am going to tell you how to create a compelling essay opening,” but you probably would have skipped over something as drab as that. How about these?

It is the art of philosophical car washing that got me thinking about pursuing an MBA.

or

There are numerous ways to make a banana split cry.

…now THOSE are essays or personal statements I’d like to read!

Yes, you want an engaging opening for your admissions essay or personal statement, but you also want to make sure to avoid anything obvious or chock full of clichés.

A good essay opening is one that:

• …sets the tone. A serious essay should be introduced by a serious opening line. If an intro sentence makes you chuckle, on the other hand, then you can assume the essay itself it humorous as well.

• …raises intrigue. Your essay’s opening line should encourage questioning or engender curiosity. Like for our first example above, “What is philosophical car washing?” or “What is the art form of this activity like?” or, as per our second example above, “Huh?” And that’s okay too!

• …surprising, shocking, or suspenseful. Causing your reader to flinch, raise an eyebrow in surprise, jump with shock, or furrow her forehead from suspense is a good thing. That reader will want to read on.

Grab your readers’ attention so they will read your essay because they want to and not because they have to.

NOTE: If you can’t think of a catchy opening, but know what you plan on writing, feel free to write your essay first and add a catchy hook at the beginning of the essay once you’re done, or sometime along the way.

Download your free Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes! Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application
• From Example to Exemplary – A Free Guide
• Writing The MBA Application Essay

Get To Know Accepted!

As the dynamic and thoughtful community at Accepted continues to grow, we’d like to take a moment to thank you for your engagement and to introduce ourselves to those of you who may not know what we are all about.

Keep up the great conversation in the comments section! We love hearing from you.

See how Accepted can help you succeed!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• Get to know our admissions consultants
Download a free admissions guide
Check out the Admissions Straight Talk Podcast

5 Mistakes To Avoid In A Cover Letter

Click here to download your quick admissions guide

Think of your cover letter as the appetizer for what you know will be a great meal.

You only have one chance to make a first impression. If the first impression you need to make is through a cover letter to a prospective employer, school admissions office, or internship sponsor, make sure it shines a light on your qualifications and displays your enthusiasm for the position or that seat in the class. Unfortunately, too many cover letters I see are dull as dust, containing only generalities or jargon and lacking confidence. These letters hurt your cause.

Here are 5 common mistakes in cover letters. Don’t make them in yours!

1. Sound as if you’re bored.

“I am writing in response to your opening for a marketing manager, listed on Job Site website.” This response is honest and to the point, but it also lacks a sense that you really want this gig. Better: “I am enthusiastically applying for the position of marketing manager for Best Company Ever. My experience as a top saleswoman for the last three years for an organic beauty supply is an ideal match for your needs.” Feel the energy of the second sentence? The reader will, too.

2. Don’t make any effort to get inside knowledge about the company or school, or explain why you want to attend their program/get hired by them. Also omit your most relevant experiences that should make them want to give careful consideration to your resume.

There could be a dozen different reasons why you’ve chosen to apply for this job or to attend this program. For example, if it’s a start-up, you’ll have more opportunity to perform multiple roles and gain a broader view of small businesses. In a larger company, you may have more chances for travel or longstanding career growth. Perhaps the company has innovated a technology, product type, or employee-friendly atmosphere that you strongly admire. Identify these things, as well as your most relevant experience/qualifications that match what they are looking for. Don’t go into too many details; keep it short. For example:

“My friend Bonnie V. told me how much she learned about digital media sales and marketing as a result of her internship with Best Company Ever last summer. My experience with the Streaming Live Network in building their salesforce over the last year will make me an ideal fit for your team.”

“As a future entrepreneur in green technology, I admire Live Green Now’s innovations in environmentally friendly plastics and am eager to learn more about these innovations from the inside. My master’s degree in Environmental Studies and research into new techniques for recycling plastics without water makes me a strong candidate for this position.”

3. Ignore the stated requirements for acceptance or position.

If a company says that knowledge of a particular software knowledge, skillset, or academic record is required for a position, don’t waste your time or theirs by submitting a letter if you don’t have it. If you feel you are still qualified, you had better have a compelling explanation and say so up front. Otherwise move on. Pay attention to what companies and schools say they are looking for. They mean it.

4. Sound needy or wishy-washy about getting a call back for an interview. 

A recent cover letter I edited – by someone whose professional experience spanned more than 20 years, numerous awards and 10 patents in his name – ended his letter like this: “If after reviewing my materials you believe that there is a match, please contact me.” This sentence is passive and sounds insecure, as if he doesn’t really expect them to call. And they probably wouldn’t.

I suggested he end the letter like this: “I look forward to the opportunity to meet you to discuss this position and how I can add value to Best Company Ever.” See how the simple change of writing in active voice (“I look forward. . . “) exudes confidence in his ability to demonstrate value.

5. Make them take the extra step of going back to you to get references.

This is one of the mistakes that drives me crazy every time I see it, which is often. Why in the world would you write “References available upon request” instead of providing the actual references in the letter, and/or the resume? List names, titles, phone numbers and emails. If a reference doesn’t have a title, put the person’s relationship to you so the caller will know in what context he or she is providing the recommendation.

Finally, keep the letter short – preferably only a half to three-quarters of a page. This is an appetizer only to get them to want to give your resume careful review, and then call you for the next step. Using active voice, specific facts about your qualifications and the reasons you like the company or school, will demonstrate you are not sending cover letters in a scattershot way, but in a thoughtful, carefully considered manner. And this should help you bring your job search to a swifter and happier conclusion.

Download your free copy of the Quick Guide to Admissions Resume now!

Judy Gruen

By , MBA admissions consultant since 1996 and author (with Linda Abraham) of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

 

Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application Essay or Personal Statement
Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Your Resume 
Sample Resumes and Cover Letter

Magoosh Guide To The TOEFL eBook

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