Moving to a new city
Antony Kaguara ‘15
Nairobi, Kenya to San Francisco, CA
Antony was born in Nairobi, Kenya and spent the final two years of his high school experience at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. At Swarthmore he majored in Computer Science and Economics. While at Swarthmore, Antony was part of the entrepreneurship club and helped co-found SwatTank with the support and sponsorship of Career Services and several Swarthmore alumni. Antony is now working as a product manager at Juvo, a start up financial technology company that helps financially underserved consumers in emerging markets build a financial identity and gain access to critical financial services. Antony describes his position as requiring him to be a “swiss army knife” and to know a little bit about everything from marketing to product life cycles. He lives in San Francisco, CA.
How did your Swarthmore network or experience help you in moving to a new city?
I moved to San Francisco with a few other Swatties. It helped me to carry forth the spirit from Swarthmore and made the transition much easier. I hung out with a lot of Swatties from the start of my move, and they helped teach me about small things like rent, where to shop, etc. Since this was the first time that I was working in the US, it really helped to have friends and a network to rely on. I used the alumni directory to get contact information of local alumni once I moved and definitely recommend that other alums use it. The Swarthmore Facebook groups are really helpful for job postings, internships, housing opportunities; in general, people are more willing to help you out if you’re a fellow Swattie. In San Francisco, there’s a real network of Swatties here. I’ve been to a few events including a Meet and Greet with President Smith; that was great because I got to connect with her and learn about what’s changed at Swat since I graduated.
The Swarthmore network overall is fantastic. I have learned so much from talking to alums. Cathy Polinsky (‘99), gave me a lot of general advice on working in tech. Newer alums are really helpful, especially those that are 1-2 years out, with the experience fresh in their heads. They can give a lot of practical advice on everything from jobs to what furniture to buy for your first apartment.
What advice can you give to students/recent graduates on moving to a new city?
Swarthmore has been a central part of my experience and network here in San Francisco. I would say, try connecting with recent grads who are your friends, and ask how their transitions and moves went. Everyone goes through this tough time after graduation. It can be tough at the beginning. There are a lot of big transitions and it’s tough to grow up. It can definitely be challenging for the first couple of months but as a Swattie, you will be fine.
Do you have any advice for other international students or recent grads who are transitioning from student to alumnus?
When you’re choosing a job, you really need to ask the employer whether they are “e-verified”. This means that the company has the ability to sponsor OPT- optional practical training. Only companies that are e-verified can sponsor OPT and it’s really important for international students. If you’re looking for a startup, it’s essential to communicate early on that they need to be or get e-verified. It doesn’t cost that much and there are a lot of lawyers that can help. That status can help get you employed. Keep in mind that with a student visa, if you’re working in STEM, you can apply to renew your OPT for two years.
Jennifer Marks Gold is an amazing resource and extremely helpful in that transition. It’s really important to keep her updated on your status, especially, if working in the US after graduation is a priority to you. I honestly just love that Swarthmore has her and that office available to international students- it’s a very good resource, which speaks a lot about Swarthmore.
Resources for settling in
Find alumni in your area
Even before you move, you can connect with your new Swattie neighbors. Check out our Alumni Social Media Catalog for a Facebook or LinkedIn group for your new town. Additionally, you can use the Alumni Directory to look up classmates by area, post-secondary degree, or job title.
Mark your calendar
Every year, hundreds of young alumni from Swarthmore College move to new cities to pursue graduate degrees, new jobs, or just to resettle. Each fall, alumni groups host "Welcome to the City" events across the country and around the world. During these events Swarthmoreans welcome new residents, pass on valuable information about their new locale, and network with other members of the Swarthmore community.
Beyond Welcome to the City, there are regional clusters of alumni, parents, and friends called "Connections" who coordinate alumni gatherings. Programs may include social, cultural, and educational events, community service projects, and networking opportunities.
Update your information
Be sure to update your information with Swarthmore so we know which events are relevant to you. You can update your biographical and contact information in the Alumni Directory, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 610-328-8435.