Alumni help students connect with careers
Some members of the Class of 2009 will begin their first post-graduation jobs this summer thanks to Dartmouth alumni, who have offered advice, professional connections, internships, and job opportunities. "But," says Monica Wilson, associate director of Dartmouth Career Services, "I suspect that there are more connections out there just waiting to be made."
Brian Conroy '86 (right), senior vice president at Fidelity Investments in Boston, Mass., has spoken to hundreds of Dartmouth students about their careers. He has even helped some secure internships and entry-level jobs at Fidelity, including Andrew Kempler '08 (left), trader in special equities, and Emma Baumgartner '08, business associate. Kempler participated in an undergraduate internship with Fidelity. Monica Wilson of Career Services connected Baumgartner with Conroy after another offer was rescinded during last year's economic turmoil. (Photo by Matthew Hakola / Lux Umbra)
In March, when the economy was looking especially dour, Career Services and Alumni Relations initiated a "Job Jam" effort to connect alumni with students. "We've had a steady response so far," says Wilson, who helped oversee the Job Jam e-mail and phone communications to over 30,000 alumni. "There was a slow day recently, and then an alumnus at an online multimedia company called to say he was looking to fill four positions."
According to a May survey of the graduating class, 33.6 percent (149 of the 444 students who responded) reported having accepted job offers. While Wilson reports that this rate is typical, anecdotal evidence suggests that this year there are more students than usual who are still searching.
"We have heard from students who are frustrated," she says. "Now more than ever, students need to broaden their efforts and use their networks to source jobs."
Brian Conroy '86, senior vice president at Fidelity Investments, says that networking is not just good for students; it's good for organizations. "The payback is terrific," says Conroy, who has spoken with hundreds of Dartmouth students over the past 20 years. "It's my way of connecting to the College that I love, and you get close to high performers with a liberal arts background who often have international experience. These are high-caliber applicants."
Many students who speak with Conroy end up in finance as interns or in permanent positions. Ashley Hines '09 of Newburyport, Mass., served as an intern at Fidelity last summer and will begin a position as a junior equity trader there in July.
"Brian was very open about helping us find a right fit, whether it be within Fidelity or elsewhere," says Hines, a psychology major and varsity lacrosse player. "The position will be competitive, social, and fast-paced. I was lucky to find a job that fits my personality."
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*Because of the flexibility of the D-plan's year-round calendar, Dartmouth students participate in internships year-round, not just during summer.
Alumni Council member Jon Murchinson '91, a senior manager in the Corporate Communications Department at Google, frequently speaks with students when he comes to campus for council meetings. John Topping '64, CEO of the Climate Institute, a nonprofit firm dedicated to practical solutions to climate change, served on an "Entrepreneur's Panel" on campus May 11. And Jorge Miranda '01, principal of the MATCH school, a charter high school in Boston, comes to the Career Services' Employer Connections Fair every fall. (Elena Severinghaus '09 and Gabrielle Santa-Donato '09 have accepted teaching positions at MATCH.)
Students can begin making a connection by visiting the online Dartmouth Career Network, a 26,000-member list of alumni who volunteer to provide advice about their fields. There's also DartBoard, a password-protected job site available to Dartmouth students and alumni. In May, DartBoard listed over 100 full-time entry-level positions with such titles as junior analyst, market research associate, energy engineer, and humanities teacher.
Anna Bofa ‘09 of Puyallup, Wash., will begin a position as an associate in business development at Google Inc. this summer. "I wouldn't have gotten the job if it hadn't been for a Dartmouth alum," she says.
Zainep Mahmoud ‘08, a Google employee, provided Bofa with advice and encouragement prior to her first meeting with a Google recruiter on campus and in the many interviews that followed. Bofa even met Dartmouth alumni employees for lunch at Google when she visited the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
A major in history and African and African American studies, Bofa says her leadership experience-she is president of the Afro-American Society student group-and her three internships were an advantage.
Her degree didn't hurt, either: "Dartmouth students are thoughtful, passionate, well-spoken, and natural leaders," says Greg Marsh, a Google recruiter. "It's one of our top colleges every year."(Photo by Joseph Mehling '69
Sometimes the alumni connection is direct, and sometimes it's subtle. When Stephanie Trudeau '09 of Spokane, Wash., was interviewing, she spoke to Dartmouth alumni who recommended that she emphasize her teamwork skills honed as a member of the varsity softball team. The computer science major landed a job at global security company Lockheed Martin, and she says the advice gave her confidence in interviews. "I've had many conversations with alumni about what they like to see in their employees and how they decide whether or not to hire a candidate," she says.
Following a competitive application process, Dan O'Brien '09 of Hampstead, N.H, was one of 10 candidates selected to teach students in rural China as part of the China Education Initiative (CEI). O'Brien, a government major who originally was interested in a position in that field, met Vinny Ng '03, director of CEI's program development, at an information session hosted by Dartmouth's education department.
"Vinny was a great help throughout the process," says O'Brien, who also met with Ng for an informational interview.
This spring, during a Career Services event, Brian Conroy visited campus on behalf of Fidelity to speak to about 200 members of the Class of 2009 who were still working to find an entry-level opportunity. "I told them to stay upbeat, and to remember that thousands of now-successful alumni were just as anxious as them. And many of those alumni are now available to help."
By STEVEN J. SMITH
Last Updated: 1/14/10