Tales of the Hunt
Four newly minted Dickinsonians tell how they shaped their job searches during this trying economic time.
July 1, 2009
Matt Stone '09
Matt Stone ’09
Sitting for an interview in the plush offices of a leading investment bank high in a glittering New York skyscraper last spring, Matt Stone ’09 couldn’t help but feel good about his job prospects. The only problem was that the investment bank was Bear Sterns, and three weeks later it was bankrupt.
“That was definitely a shock,” the economics and international business & management double major says with a laugh, admitting that the credit crisis made his search for a finance job much tougher. “There were times I thought I’d have to give up on that job in New York City.”
More than a year after the collapse of the banking giant and a killer internship, however, Stone graduated with a prized NYC-finance job. The secret, says the Bank of New York Mellon’s new corporate trust administrator, was preparation and networking.
“For me, finding a job was a four-year process,” says Stone, who began working with the Career Center during his first year to polish his resumé for his initial internship. At the end of each of his three internships, Stone reviewed his resumé with each of his employers and continued to work with Career Center resources like Dickinson Works to build a network of alumni in finance.
The Mellon job, in fact, came to Stone’s attention through Keith Dow ’06, an account manager at the bank. Having launched the Dickinson Finance Club during his sophomore year, Stone invited Dow to speak at a club event co-sponsored by the Career Center. Knowing that networking would be vital to his search in a shrinking job market, Stone kept in touch.
“A lot of students don’t realize the resources there are at the Career Center,” says Stone. “It’s not only reading your resumé, which they’ll do any time, but there are things like Dickinson Works and DickinsonConnect. … There are tons of alumni out there willing to help you find a job.”
Jennifer Carson ’09
How could Jennifer Carson ’09 say no to a job offer in this economy? Easy—she has one heck of an Excel spreadsheet.
“I have this huge spreadsheet with everyone’s name, their contact information, who referred me, whether or not they were helpful, [and if] they want me to keep in touch,” she says, explaining the network she’s built during the last year. “It’s the snowball effect. You talk to five people, then those people refer you to five more, and then those people refer you to five more.”
Aiming for a career in public health, the self designed health and society major interned at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in New Jersey last summer. Beyond gaining public-health research experience, she set up informational interviews with 15 staff members at various levels throughout the nonprofit to help shape her job search.
As her network grew, Carson earned a job offer from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in March, but she was waiting to hear back about a better opportunity, a public-health apprentice position with the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“I called [Career Center Executive Director] Pat Mullane, and I was like ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ ” she recalls. “He was really helpful in talking me through exactly how I could say that I couldn’t accept the offer at this time without saying I wasn’t interested in the position.”
While she waits to hear the final word from the CDC, Carson isn’t nervous about missing out on an opportunity because of that spreadsheet and the vast network it represents.
“It’s nice because it helped give me the confidence not to just take the first offer I got,” she says—though she admits that building and maintaining that network takes a lot of time. “Getting a job is a full-time job.”
Miriam Weiner ’09
Miriam Weiner ’09 has applied for more than 70 journalism jobs in the last few weeks.
“It’s a little depressing,” she says of her job hunt. “It’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. I check my e-mail all the time to see if I’ve gotten anything back. Whenever I pick up my phone, I think maybe it’s a job, but then it’s just a solicitor. I’m always on the edge of my seat waiting for something.”
But she has reason to be hopeful. The Dickinsonian news editor has had internships with the Hendon Times in London, an in-flight magazine in France, and most recently Dickinson Magazine. Plus, she’s got the college president on her side.
Having gotten to know her through their biweekly news meetings for the student newspaper, President William G. Durden ’71 was surprised that Weiner missed a February Networking Day luncheon featuring Buzzwire CEO and former Newsweek president and publisher Greg Osberg P’09.
“President Durden came up to me and was like, ‘Why didn’t I see you at Networking Day? How could you miss this?’ ” she recalls. “I told him I had to work, and he said, ‘You need to get in touch with him immediately. Here’s his phone number; here’s his e-mail.’ President Durden has really helped me out a lot.”
Still, she’s finding it tough to break through the crowded field of would-be reporters. “All the responses I’ve been getting back are, ‘We’ve received over 100 applications for this job,’ ” she says. “So every time, I think, ‘There goes that,’ because I know there are so many people applying for the same jobs.”
To cope, Weiner just keeps plugging away. Per Durden’s instructions, she contacted Osberg and Philip Bennett P’12, senior advisor for the Washington Post Co. Recently, she started freelancing as a stringer for the The Patriot-News. As she continues to gain experience and expand her network, she’s hopeful she’ll land the job that will launch her career even if it has to be in a small market.
“Who knows?” she says with a smile. “Last week I heard back from a paper in Roswell, New Mexico.”
Since being interviewed for this piece, Weiner accepted a position as a travel analysis/editorial intern with U.S. News and World Report. She’s currently helping to build a travel-destinations ratings page for the magazine’s Web site.
Rebecca Fassio ’09
Rebecca Fassio ’09 wrapped up her job search six months before graduation. She’d found and applied for the perfect job in early December, sure that her leadership experience made her the best candidate for an educational leadership consultant position with her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
“That was my dream job,” she says, “and I waited to hear back until early February—but it was a no!”
The unexpected answer left Fassio scrambling to get a job by graduation. Luckily, the IB&M major had been working with the Career Center since her sophomore year, when she applied for and secured a marketing internship with Hershey Philbin Associates in Camp Hill, Pa.
“Before, I just had one standard resumé, and it was over the one page recommended and full of formatting errors,” she recalls. “They taught me things that seem simple now—like tailoring your resumé and cover letter to each position.”
After finding out that she missed out on her dream job, Fassio worked with the Career Center this semester to narrow down a job search that was suddenly too wide open. In March, she got an internship reviewing resumés and employment aptitude tests with a local staffing agency. The position has opened her eyes to a potential career in human resources while helping reaffirm some job-search best practices.
“Everything the Career Center says makes so much more sense now,” she says. “It’s like I can see it through their eyes.”
She’s hopeful the internship might lead to a full-time position, but her experience has taught her there’s no such thing as a sure thing. As she uses what she’s learning to continue the hunt, she’s also accepted that it’s less about landing a dream job than it is about starting a career.
“I’m not too concerned about getting that perfect job in that perfect location with that perfect salary right out of college,” says Fassio. “I think, just given the economy, that’s not reasonable to expect right now. But even if I don’t start out in my dream job, I know that eventually I’ll find it.”
Jennifer Carson '09