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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ about...
Post-Graduate Plans
Student Engagement
Faculty Engagement
Experiential Learning (Externships & Internships)
Why Swarthmore's Career Services?

Why a liberal arts education?


Post-Graduate Plans

Q:  How does Career Services assist students who want continue their education in graduate school?

A:  Over 90% of graduates go on to graduate school within 5 years of graduation. Swarthmore students are very competitive applicants to prestigious programs all over the US and internationally. Career counselors, in conjunction with faculty mentors, help students decide when/if graduate school is the next step, edit drafts of their personal statements, and connect them to Swarthmore alumni who can also provide advice.

Q:  What kind of industries do Swarthmore students enter after their undergraduate studies?

A: Graduating with a liberal arts education, Swarthmore students enter a broad spectrum of careers in a variety of industries [pdf]. Some of their many destinations are financial services, business, consulting, research (medical, economics, policy, etc.), technology, engineering, nonprofit, public service, law, education, and teaching.


Student Engagement

Q:  How does Career Services engage and reach out to students?

A:  Our outreach efforts comprise of targeted emails based on students’ academic disciplines and career interests as well as collaborating with other departments to engage Swarthmore’s academically diverse community. It is important to us to provide responsive programs and resources that are improved every year through unique student feedback.

Because of Swarthmore’s tight-knit community, many alumni are eager to help students. Alumni engage in our office through talks, employer information sessions, and the extern program. We encourage our students to connect with alumni who can offer career advice and mentor students.

Q:  What is Handshake?

A:  Handshake is the internships and jobs database managed by Swarthmore (only open to Swarthmore students and alumni) to help you more easily connect with employers, jobs, internships, event information, on-campus recruiting opportunities, and knowledge communities. Career Services sends targeted emails through Handshake based on student profiles. Therefore, we highly encourage every student to fill out their profile and update their career preferences in Handshake to the best of their ability in order to receive emails regarding career opportunities and internships interesting to them.

Q:  Where can I actively check out what Career Services is doing?

A:  Upcoming important events and information sessions happening at Swarthmore as well as the Greater Philadelphia area can be found on our social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube), Handshake, website, the DASH, and Reserved Student Digest.

Q:  Who can I reach out to for more questions?

A:  Career Peer Advisors (CPAs) are trained student workers who advise fellow students primarily on their resumes, cover letters, initial job/internship search process, and can provide a general overview of the resources offered by Career Services. CPAs are a great initial way to connect with our office, and have many students who meet with them on a regular basis during their weekday drop-in hours from 1:00-4:30pm in Parrish 135.

Career counselors also do all of the aforementioned, but most importantly, they provide one-on-one counseling for all topics career-related. Our counselors are also available for mock interviews for various types of opportunities and mock case interviews for consulting positions.


Faculty Engagement

Q:  How does Career Services engage faculty?

A:  Career Services understands the close-knit relationships faculty have with their students. We work together to help students access resources that are useful to them. Each academic department has a career counselor liaison who works closely to share resources. Furthermore, we also work with faculty to educate students about the world of work and career opportunities through collaborating on programming, inviting speakers, and hosting workshops. Academic departments also send us job openings to be posted in our database, help us to market our career events, and refer students to us for career counseling.


Experiential Learning (Externships and Internships)

Q:  What is Swarthmore’s extern program?

A:  An externship is a one-week mentored job-shadowing experience where over 200+ students are matched with alumni workplace mentors and have a chance to see the inside of a career field in a variety of cities and industries, meet with professionals in the workplace, and make other contacts by living with alumni families. Extern Week runs the last week of Winter Break and experiences are unpaid, but funding for transportation may be available through the Deans’ emergency fund.

Q:  What kinds of internships do Swarthmore students participate in? Are they required?

A:  Students participate in a variety of internships that are related to their fields of interest--everything from non-profits to finance to creating their own startup. Although internships are not required, we highly encourage students to make the most productive use out of their summers and can help them find ways to do that--even if that doesn’t mean an “internship.” Structured internships aren't the best fit for everyone--we work with each student individually to find what will be meaningful to them. 

Q:  How does Career Services support students in terms of experiential learning?

A:  Career Services offers summer internship funding through two programs: Summer Experiential Fellowship Program and the Swarthmore Future Entrepreneurs Program. We also work with students to help them find meaningful opportunities outside the scope of the formalized extern program [pdf]. Furthermore, students of high financial need can apply for emergency funding through the Dean’s Office to help them defray costs related to undertaking experiential learning experiences. Lastly, Handshake, UCAN, and engIN are curated internship databases for students to start their search. Combined, there are over 10,000 opportunities in a variety of industries and locations.


Alumni Engagement

Q:  Do alumni engage with Career Services?

A:  Absolutely! Alumni help students in a variety of ways throughout their career development. Our Extern program and Alumni Student Networking dinners are key ways our alums offer workplace advice and networking opportunities with students. Alumni often provide mentoring for current Swarthmore students through our programming as well as meeting students for one-on-one interactions. Additionally, alumni advocate for Swarthmore College within their organizations and are often the driving force for getting employers to participate in our recruiting events both on and off-campus. Each semester we reach out to alumni to share job and internship postings with us, and we welcome those opportunities at any time.

Furthermore, Career Services provides career counseling to our recent grads and experienced alumni as they navigate career transitions.



Q:  What do employers look for in Swarthmore students?

A:  Employers value the experience students gain inside and outside the classroom where they work in teams to solve challenging problems. Swarthmore students readily demonstrate their strong work ethic -- they work diligently to balance rigorous academic course loads with active engagement in student activities, community service, peer leadership roles, the arts, as well as employment on campus and other commitments to their community, family and friends. The ability to learn quickly and the love of learning is a hallmark of Swarthmore, as is the analytical approach students take to any issue, problem or concern. Our students are effective communicators and passionate advocates for their beliefs, with confidence in their ability to make a difference and have a lasting impact in their chosen paths.

Q:  How does Career Services help Swarthmore students find employers?

A:  Our employer development efforts include contacting major employers in fields of interest to our students as well as regular contact with our parents and alumni, encouraging them to post jobs and internships for students. In 2017-2018, we posted over 1,350 full-time jobs and over 650 internships in our primary job database. Students had access to an additional 6,000 internships through Handshake; UCAN Intern(UCAN), an internship consortium of 17 colleges and universities across the country.

We are committed to preparing students for and connecting students with recruitment opportunities, and do so through our on-campus recruiting efforts and a vibrant TriCollege recruiting relationship with Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, as well as a diverse roster of recruiting consortium interview days, and career fairs with peer institutions. Each group coordinates interview days in key metropolitan areas to provide students with access to employers recruiting for full-time and internship positions.


Q:What makes Swarthmore’s Career Services so strong and unique?

A: Career Services fulfills its education mission through our individual counseling sessions with students and our programming emphasizing a diverse range of career fields and topics. We believe it is important to be informed and knowledgeable about the world outside of Swarthmore, one in which our students will actively participate as leaders making a difference in their chosen fields. Career exploration is a vital part of students’ career development and we are committed to providing students with many opportunities to test their assumptions about careers and gain valuable experience. We accomplish this goal by curating three distinct internship databases for students, by funding internships for students, and by arranging substantive mentoring opportunities for students.

A distinctive feature of Swarthmore Career Services is our ability to connect with and engage the vast majority of our students; on average, 75% of Swarthmore students use Career Services each year. We also actively engage and partner with faculty and our colleagues throughout the college to support and educate students.

Read more in our Director’s Welcome.


Q:Why a liberal arts education?

A: Studying liberal arts helps shape our students' career choices and makes them uniquely qualified candidates for positions in a rapidly changing world. The evolving economy has caused some employers to focus narrowly on specific technical skills as they evaluate applicants, making it more challenging for students to highlight transferable skills -- the type often gained through studying liberal arts. Despite this, our students consistently fare well in this challenging job market, exceeding the national average in securing employment prior to graduation. Our students have also been successful in gaining admission to the most academically challenging graduate and professional schools in the world.