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Center for Professional Development
63 South Main Street, 2nd Floor
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
(603) 646-2215
Fax: (603) 646-1360
E-mail: Center for Professional Development
Recruiting Program E-mail:

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About How Parents Can Be Helpful

How can you help?

  • Visit Center for Professional Development when you come to campus, and encourage your student to make an appointment with a career counselor. Our professional staff, comprehensive workshop schedule, and user-friendly resource center offer support and guidance at every stage of the career development process. Self-assessment and interest inventories can help your student organize information about his or her values, personality, and skills and the relation of this information to career possibilities.
  • Recognize that your student's choice of undergraduate major rarely defines a career path. Interests, skills, and values will emerge from college courses, activities and work experiences. The Portfolio Project provides a structured framework within which your student can articulate the transferable competencies he or she has gained while attending Dartmouth.
  • Encourage your student to develop networking skills; suggest names of neighbors, business associates, and community contacts for informational interviews. Encourage your student to use the Dartmouth Career Network.
  • While many students use internships and summer jobs to lay the groundwork for full-time employment or further education, it is just as important for students to experience work settings that may steer them away from certain fields.
  • Emotional support and patience will help your student further develop his or her self-confidence. Mistakes are usually powerful learning experiences.
  • If you are an employer, consider  hiring Dartmouth students for internships or for full-time employment.

Questions About Center for Professional Development

Student:  I'm a first year.  What can Center for Professional Development do for me?

Center for Professional Development:  A great deal! As a first year student you can explore career fields that best fit your strengths and interests; start building a resume; discuss the relationship of majors to careers; search for summer internships; explore opportunities to maximize your learning potential and how to optimize your D-Plan; among other things.

1. The first step is to stop by our office and take in a First-Time Users Tutorial. Offered several times a week; schedules vary so call the office at 603-646-2215. Put that number in your cell phone now! Or email Through this session you will learn all about how to search for internships, how to review past internships on the Internship Survey Database, how to make contacts with alumni in the Dartmouth Career Network and how to best utilize the vast resources available to you as a Dartmouth student. Career Service is located on the 2nd floor of the Bank of America building on South Main Street (next to the Nugget Theater). See Map.

2. Next step would be to stop by for a 15 minute drop-in appointment whenever you have a question.Drop-ins are available Monday through Friday, on a first-come first-served basis, from 1:30 to 4:00PM. Last appointment is 3:45PM.

3. Next step is to move into scheduled 30 minute appointments with a specific Career Counselor to form your own action plan. The sooner you become acquainted with Center for Professional Development, the better off you’ll be. Start monitoring the “Center for Professional Development” blitz bulletin to learn more about upcoming events. Stroll through the web site to become acquainted with the online resources.

Questions About Making Career Decisions

Student:  I am really enjoying my coursework in Classics. I love Anthropology as well. But, hey, I need to get serious and major in something practical if I want to be employed after graduation. Isn't that true?

Center for Professional Development:  Dartmouth is recognized for providing a broad-based liberal arts education, where coursework in departments like Classics and Anthro can equip you with an amazing variety of marketable skills. A glance at the Dartmouth Career Network shows Classics majors working in Law, Telecommunications, Government, Trust & Estate Planning, and Healthcare, as well as in Education and Publishing.  Find information related to the variety of careers options you have. The first step is to stop by our office and take in a First-Time Users Tutorial. Offered several times a week; schedules vary so call the office at 603-646-2215. Put that number in your cell phone now! Or email Through this session you will learn all about how to search for internships, how to review past internships on the Internship Survey Database, how to make contacts with alumni in the Dartmouth Career Network and how to best utilize the vast resources available to you as a Dartmouth student.

Student:  I'm studying Economics and am interested in a business career. Is finance my only option?

Center for Professional Development:  Although financial options get a lot of press, a  business organization - depending on its size and product - may include marketing and sales, research, information technology, production (e.g. purchasing, scheduling), corporate communications, etc. To learn more about the wide range of opportunities available, pick up a handout in Center for Professional Development entitled: Job Choices in a Business Organization, talk with Alumni Career Advisers (database in Center for Professional Development) or visit the Career Links section of the CS web site and check out the Occupational  Outlook Handbook, Wet or for more information about business opportunities.

Student:  I am feeling a lot of pressure to make a decision about my future but given all of my interests, I just want to keep my options open. What should I do?

Center for Professional Development:  You should recognize that any decisions that you make at this stage in life are not irreversible. The important thing is to determine which priorities are driving a particular decision, e.g. the need to be in a certain location, the need to be making a contribution to society, the need to be making a certain amount of money, etc. and evaluate any course of action in light of those particular needs. "If you make a good decision, it will not guarantee a good outcome, because you cannot control the outcome....the "goodness" of a decision is based on how it is made, not on how it turns out" (Decisions & Outcomes, H.B.Gelatt et. al.).  For assistance in making career-related decisions, make an appointment with a counselor  by blitzing 'Center for Professional Development'. Prior to the appointment, consider doing 'Pinpoint', our new computerized guidance tool that can be downloaded to any computer that can run Windows (follow instructions on Feeling Lost section of CS web page). And remember, whether you are seeking a leave term or post-graduate opportunity, you are not making a lifetime decision!

Questions About Job/Internship Search

Student:  I am looking for work. I know that Center for Professional Development has lots of resources on the web and in the Resource Center, but isn't there just a list of jobs that someone can give me?

Center for Professional Development:  Try as we might, we haven't found a way to take the work out of finding work. There are multiple lists, of course, in Center for Professional Development of employment opportunities in a variety of fields, both on-line and in hard copy form. Still, all too often those lists just represent a starting point for job search. Most positions are not advertised to the general public. If you're looking for opportunities in Atlanta or San Francisco, for example, employers in those areas are likely to contact local career offices, local temporary help agencies or local newspapers, to advertise their opportunities. Many positions are found through word-of-mouth and networking. To sum up, it's wise to use a variety of strategies in your job search.  Contact Center for Professional Development to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors, to develop a plan that meets your specific needs and interests.

Student:  I'm applying to a ton of jobs/internships.  Can I basically create one cover letter and modify it slightly for each job?

Center for Professional Development:  A customized cover letter is an essential component of your application. The letter is your blank slate to write a persuasive piece and highlight the best reasons why you would be a great employee.  Employers can tell when you have used a form letter. Think of how you feel when you receive a personal letter versus a generic form letter. An employer will feel the same way if you take the time to show that you are an ideal fit for their unique position and organization.

For this, you need to do some homework.  Use a variety of Center for Professional Development resources, including the Alumni Advisory Network and workshops, to research the field and the employer. Use your findings in order to describe the unique talents and experiences you have that make you a good fit.  Your cover letter should be no longer than 3-4 paragraphs, so be concise.

Check out Useful Handouts  for advice on constructing a Job Search letter. A good cover letter can help you stand out well above the crowd, and land you the interview.

Student:  I have applied for a lot of jobs but many employers haven't gotten back to me. I assume they aren't interested. Is that a correct assumption?

Center for Professional Development:  Not necessarily. Like any of us, many of the employers on the receiving end of cover letters/resumes are juggling many tasks simultaneously and don't always follow through with applicants. It is a good habit to get into for you to routinely call employers a week to ten days after your initial submission, to make sure that your material was received and to reinforce your interest in and availability for either a telephone or on-site interview. E-mail followups are not sufficient, since many employers are inundated with e-mails and can't/won't respond to them in a timely fashion.

Student:  I've heard that employers sometimes schedule a phone interview as an alternative to an in-person interview. Am I at a big disadvantage taking an interview over the phone? How do I prepare?

Center for Professional Development:  A face-to-face meeting with an employer gives you the opportunity to establish that all-important personal chemistry and to visibly demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm. It also gives employers an opportunity to evaluate your personal appearance as part of their screening process.

If an in-person interview is not possible, take extra steps to prepare for a phone interview.  As a phone call can easily slide into casual conversation, it is important to remember that you are participating in a formal interview.  Research the employer as you would for a face-to-face interview, and come prepared with a list of appropriate questions. Insure that the environment for your phone call is private, quiet, and free of visual distractions.  Have a copy of your application materials, a pad of paper, and a pen at hand.  Recognize that your tone of voice is your only method of conveying your interest and enthusiasm.  Practice interviewing over the phone with a friend or relative.  Be careful not to speak too quickly or slur your words. Enunciate clearly and avoid sounding monotone. Be sure to punctuate your key responses and show your energy. Don't hesitate to ask questions. And don't forget to send a thank-you note within 48 hours of the call.

Student:  I am a first year student . Do I really need a resume?

Center for Professional Development:  It's never too early to start working on a resume. You will undoubtedly be asked to provide a resume as you begin to look for your first internship.   If you are wondering where to start, Center for Professional Development has a variety of resources, including the  Writing your Resume handout,   samples of Dartmouth resumes in our library, reference books on Resume Writing, and Resume Reviews.  During a Resume Review, you can sit down 1:1 and have your resume critiqued by one of our trained reviewers. Resume Review hours are posted on our Center for Professional Development Blitz Bulletin. Every term you should be updating your resume to include your most recent experiences, including club membership activities, academic achievements, volunteer work, internships, work study jobs, and new skills/languages.

Student:  I have been told that unless my overall GPA. is 3.3 or above, I am dead in the water when it comes to looking for jobs. Is that true?

Center for Professional Development:  Employers are all over the board when deciding whom to interview, based on grades. Clearly there are employers within some sectors- management consulting comes to mind - where a premium is placed on a high GPA.  Still, it is just one of many factors taken into consideration in evaluating candidates. Certainly you are on safer ground if your GPA. is above 3.0 if employers are screening applicants based on grades.

Student:  I am still looking for a leave term job this summer. Is it worth contacting a temporary help agency for assistance?

Center for Professional Development:  Temporary or "temp" agencies can be a viable option. Often these agencies specialize in clerical and support work, but it's increasingly common to find temporary assignments in other areas....Temporary agencies are listed in your local telephone directory and in the JobBank Guide to Employment Services (Adams Media Corporation), found in your local public library." (Source: The Job Bank series in Center for Professional Development).

As indicated above, "temp" agencies can be a good 'foot-in-the-door' source of income. Also, you might consider combining  a temp experience this summer with a volunteer experience two or three days a week to test out a possible career interest. Be sure to ask about who pays the agency's fee (it should be the employer, not you).

Student:  I have heard a lot about an independent job search. Am I really on my own, especially when I'm away from Dartmouth?

Center for Professional Development:  An independent job search doesn't mean that you are on your own. Quite the contrary. It means that you are proactive in researching employment opportunities and initiating contact with employers. If you are off campus you can still access a variety of Center for Professional Development resources.  Stop by our office BEFORE you leave campus to learn more about what's available and how you can use these resources.  If you are near another college/university, you might inquire about using the resources in their career office. If requested, Center for Professional Development can provide a letter of reciprocity, indicating our willingness to offer the same hospitality to a student from the host school.

Student:  I have been applying for several media-related internships this summer and many of the postings say:  Arrangements to obtain credit must be made with your Advisor or Internship Coordinator prior to beginning your internship (source: Fox 25 WFXT listing). What should I do?

Center for Professional Development:  It is common practice in the communications industry - due to federal mandates - to require credit for unpaid internships. Dartmouth addresses this issue by providing a statement, signed by the Dean of Faculty, which speaks to the subject and often satisfies the need of internship providers (obtainable from Maria Waite in Center for Professional Development). On occasion, students have satisfied this need by enrolling in credit-bearing independent study courses offered through community colleges.

Questions About Applying to Graduate Schools

Student:  I'm considering law school, but I don't know whether I should apply right away or work for a few years first?

Center for Professional Development:  There is no disadvantage to delaying applications.  Law school admissions officers encourage work experience and the goals of the older applicants are generally more focused.   Many seniors consider working for a year or two before applying and question what types of employment will help their chances of gaining admission.  Dartmouth graduates have worked in any number of fields before applying, ranging from business and education to the media and social services. 

If you apply as a senior and are not accepted, you can always reapply without prejudice.  Plan to take at least two years to gain experience in a job you enjoy.  In general, unless you are very certain about a career in law and have a strong record going into senior year, our advice is to wait.  Don't rush.  A challenging job can be a good foundation for your postgraduate education.  Feel free to discuss your questions or concerns with a Pre-Law Advisor in Center for Professional Development.

Student:  Is it true that, in order to get into a really good business school, I need to land a job with a big name firm in finance or consulting after graduation?

Center for Professional Development:  Wrong on both counts. In order to get into "really good business schools", you are not required to have previously worked for 'big name firms' nor specifically in finance or consulting or even business, for that matter. Listen to the Managing Director of Admissions at Harvard Business School:

"The MBA Admissions Board aspires to create a class with diverse backgrounds and global perspectives....We are looking for candidates who have been leaders in a variety of settings." Better yet, visit the Tuck School web site for insights closer to home.

Last Updated: 10/9/13