The CCPA welcomes guest blogger Evan LeFore’06 back to the
community with his take on the importance of beginning to think about
your career now. Evan is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He is currently a consultant at Promontory Financial Group. Thank you, Evan!
Welcome (back) to Haverford! If you are anything like I was as a Haverford student, the start of each new school year brought a twinge of excitement and angst with all the questions I had to answer:
- What classes am I going to take?
- What is my living situation going to be like?
- How have my friends changed since last June?
- How have I changed since then?
- What can I do to make this year even more fun than last year?
- And, for you seniors: What in the world am I going to write my thesis about?
But one question that is left off of this list far too often is:
- What am I going to do next summer?
Even though the previous summer is only a few days gone, it is never too early to answer this question. And, trust me, answering this question now is important—especially since the school year goes by fast. Between classes, papers, problem sets, Founders dances, nights in Lunt Basement or the Coop, study sessions, etc., your days will quickly turn to night and you’ll wake up and it’s Pinwheel Day with the yearend approaching fast. (A side note: Pinwheel Day is still one of my favorite days of the year.)
Year after year, too many Haverford students begin the job-search process towards the end of their year, with many facing the arduous task of finding their summer/post-graduation job after many of the job deadlines have long since passed. The goal of this blog post, therefore, is to illuminate the tactics that you as a student can take to avoid this situation.
In a nutshell, the point of this post is to encourage you to begin thinking about your career now.
There are three main reasons for beginning this thought process so early in the year. First, many employers begin their hiring process for both summer interns and full-time hires before you even have your first midterm exam. According to the Center for Career and Professional Advising’s (CCPA) website (www.haverford.edu/ccpa/), seniors looking for full-time work have 30 jobs openings currently available with deadlines on or before September 30th of this year. And for internship seekers, some organizations (including Federal Government agencies) have deadlines as early as November.
While not all job and internship applications have such early deadlines, it is important to know when they are so you can begin planning your application process with those deadlines in mind.
Second, the job application process is a long and complicated one. To get a job, many of you will have to research companies; write resumes and cover letters; submit applications; and do informational, phone, and in-person interviews. Doing each of these well takes time and practice. And, as someone who spent many years recruiting candidates coming straight out of undergrad, I can tell you that a company can tell who prepared for the job application process—both by the quality of their written work as well as by their answers to interview questions.
Informational interviews with alumni or people in your network of family or friends are great ways to learn more about the types of jobs out there and their fit for your skills and interests. Take advantage of these conversations to learn more about a job—they will save you a lot of time by helping you learn what types of jobs you do (and do not) want to pursue.
And finally, the career search process starts the minute you step on to campus. As a Haverford student, you have a wealth of information from which to help devise your post-college career plans. Such resources include, but are not limited to, summer internships, the CCPA, and alumni (who, believe me, are waiting in the wings to help you find your career path). The earlier you start utilizing these resources, the more likely it is that you will graduate with a job that puts you on your path to a promising career.
If you have made it this far, you may be saying to yourself “But I’m planning on going straight to graduate school, so what does any of this have to do with me?”
The answer is, not surprisingly, that you too should start thinking early about the graduate school application process. Should you apply to graduate school, you will most likely need to take an entrance exam as well as complete schools applications during your senior year. The earlier you plan to dedicate time for this outside of your classwork the less painful it will be for you. And for many graduate programs, including MBA and public policy degrees, having at least two years of work experience is deemed preferable; thus, if you thinking of pursuing such a graduate degree it is also important follow this post’s job-related advice in order to help you secure a post-graduate job.
Talk is fine and well when it comes to planning your career exploration, but below I give you an outline of some steps you can take over the next few months that help make your next summer an enjoyable one:
- Meet with a CCPA representative to talk through your potential career path
- Start/polish your resume
- Research the CCPA website to see what sorts of jobs/internships are already available
- Apply to jobs with September deadlines
- Talk to your peers and upperclassmen/women about their internship experience
- REACH OUT TO ALUMNI for informational interviews
- Begin drafting cover letters for jobs with upcoming deadlines
- Apply to jobs with October deadlines
- REACH OUT TO ALUMNI who work for the firms you’re interested in and/or have interviews with in the coming weeks
- Study for and take any grad-school-related tests
- Apply to jobs with November deadlines
- Refine your resume and cover letters
- Start doing mock interviews with the CCPA and/or your friends
- REACH OUT TO ALUMNI (notice a theme?)
- Focus on finishing the semester up strong, but make sure to keep an eye out for any looming application deadlines
- And on your winter break, REACH OUT TO ALUMNI—particularly those who live in your hometown
While the above lessons will not guarantee that you’ll enter the spring semester with the knowledge what you’ll be doing next summer, they will greatly increase your odds of getting that internship or full-time job that will launch your career in the right direction.
Evan LeFlore ’06 is currently a consultant at
Promontory Financial Group. Evan is also a
graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business
and Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.
He can be reached at Evan (dot) LeFlore (at) GMAIL (dot) com.