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Peer Advice for a Successful Search

alumni answering questions
  • "Really emphasize your unique points in applications. As liberal arts students, it should be easier for us to find interesting aspects we succeed in!" 
  • "For interviews: it's important to sound confident as well as sound interested. How you say things is as important what you're saying in general."
  • "Networking is definitely crucial, so take advantage of the Swarthmore alumni network, but also any networks you have from home, high school, or even people you've met in previous summer internships."
  • "For me, it was mostly about identifying the opportunity I really wanted... Once I reflected more deeply and found the opportunity I really wanted, I focused really hard on that one thing. I think narrowing the scope of your job search is tough because it may feel like you're closing doors, but it is an important part of finding the best opportunity."
  • "For interviewing, practice! Write out some answers to anticipated questions, and practice them over and over again. Go on mock interviews, and practice by yourself in the mirror or camera. My advice for application materials is pretty similar-- the key is focusing in on one piece, working really hard on it, refining and revising it, and then submitting it. In general, with focus and attention to detail, the rest will come."
  • "For companies that I had no connection to, I searched for Swat alums at those companies on LinkedIn and sent them an email asking if they had any advice about getting a job and if they had a few minutes to talk. Often times, they were happy to hop on a phone call. Initially, I was nervous about talking with people I did not know, but Swat alums are always very nice." 
  • "I made sure to research a lot about companies before getting on the phone with alums and other contacts. I also kept up to date with current tech news. During phone calls and interviews, it was one thing to say, 'I am very interested in software engineering' or 'I am very interested in your company.' However, the phone call goes better if you are able to ask specifics about the company or talk with them about current news in their field."
  • "I had one or two bad experiences in which interviewers asked about things that I mentioned or were on my resume that I did not know much about. The lesson was if I did not want to talk about something in an interview, I should not have it on my resume or mention it at all. Interviews are not that long so I always tried to concentrate on things I am comfortable with."
  • "Send your resume to multiple people for their advice - this includes CPAs, your peers, recent graduates, more experienced alums and so on. It is not uncommon to have dozens of drafts before coming up with a great resume. Remember to use a variety of action verbs and quantify the results of your contributions."
  • "Before submitting a cover letter (with a firm-specific introduction) or going into an interview, it is always helpful to reach out to alums at that firm to learn about their experiences and interview tips. If you can mention specific names or anecdotes, it is always a huge plus and demonstrates your passion for the position."
  • "Prepare for interviews with your buddies! It is so helpful to prepare for behavioral/ case interviews with friends and they are the best people to go through the process with. My friends have been a great source of support for me and I am incredibly grateful that we stuck together through the many applications and interviews."
  • "Externships are incredibly helpful for gaining experience and building connections. You can do it through Swat’s program, or you can always reach out to alums or local companies over breaks. There are also unpaid part-time internships during the semester and these can be great talking points during interviews."
  • "For networking, often the most helpful people to reach out to are recent graduates who just went through the recruiting process and are eager to help. Often, they are involved in the first-round selections too. Also, it is helpful to chat with junior members first before reaching out to more senior alums at the firms."
  • "I have been amazed by how strong our alumni community is - people are always happy to help! Please don’t be intimidated by alums’ experiences/ positions and feel free to reach out. Just remember to always be respectful of their time and have a thoughtful list of questions ready. Always write thank-you notes!"
  • "Great advice that I received was to block out time every day to focus on job-hunting - perhaps two hours every afternoon to work on applications, reach out to alums and prepare for interviews. Swat can be overwhelming sometimes and this is a great way to spread out the stress of job-hunting and make it a daily habit."
  • "One of the best practices of networking is always follow-up with people you meet, such as alums you spoke on the phone with, someone you met at a networking dinner, recruiters at an information session and so on. It is surprising how few people follow-up consistently and it is a great opportunity to leave a lasting impression."
  • "After you have secured an internship or job, remember to share the good news with everyone who has encouraged and helped you along the way. These connections and friendships can last a lifetime. Also, it would be great to pay it forward by supporting others who are going through the process as well."
  • "If you haven’t already, now is the time to be best friends with Career Services! Drop in for an appointment and the counselors are incredibly helpful in providing support and pointing out useful resources."
  • "Handshake has been a great resource for me and I’d highly recommend logging on regularly to check out jobs, information sessions and on-campus interviews."