Advice and Resources for the First-Time Job Seeker

“Don’t stop sending out resumes. To say I was a little lax in my job search is an understatement. It is easiest to find a job when you actually have another job – whether that be an internship, a temp position, or a full-time job, get some experience doing something. You should spend a little time thinking about what it is that you want to do, but you may not know what you like until you’re doing something you don’t like.” Matthew H. ’15, Consulting
“Network and go to a lot of events to see what types of jobs are out there. Do not get stuck in one particular industry, such as investment banking.” Isabella T.V. ’14, Consulting
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“Understand that everything can be temporary, so if you find yourself doing something that is unsatisfying, it’s temporary. It just takes a bit of grit and ambition to get where you want to be.” Anansa B. ’15, Education
Rochester Alumni Exchange
“Things will work out. Breathe.” -Douglas B. ’15, Education
“Put together a solid resume and apply to everything that you might be qualified for and are interested in. An irritating number of entry-level jobs list ‘3-5 years of experience’ as a requirement, but your college work gives you more experience than you’d think. You’d be surprised how many interviews you’ll get.” -Lauren W. ’15
“Start early is the first advice I always give. You should start by asking your professors and previous supervisors, especially if you plan to stay in the area.” Kendra H. ’14, Non Profit
“LinkedIn is an awesome way to search for jobs! They have search filters so you can find a job you’ll like in an area that you want to live in.” Morgan P. ’15, Business
“NETWORK! Make friends with people. Talk to them about their experiences and how they got to where they are.” Nahoma P. ’15, Education
“If you are looking into graduate school, can be extremely useful to get in touch with academic research around the world. If you are interested in a career in industry, the career services website is always good. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is accurate and well made.” Ioannis Z. ’14, Engineering
“For those interested in scientific research, I found it particularly helpful to search online for university-affiliated labs studying something of interest to me. I would then email a lab coordinator briefly detailing my interest, including a relevant cover letter and resume, asking about job opportunities. This allowed me to navigate job possibilities by location and subject.” Ryan W. ’15, Science/Research
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“Get to know the organization, company, or industry you’d like to work in as well as you possibly can! I visited the Teach for America website almost every day starting in my junior year, reached out to alumni who had joined the Corps, and contacted other alumni teachers who had pursued the classroom via the traditional route.” Alesa Y. ’15, Education
“The Fellowships Office is extremely helpful for securing scholarships/fellowships. They have a wealth of information and have been successful with helping UR students win grants. You can also ask them if they can connect you with UR alumni who won the grant to which you are applying.” Lauren K. ’15, Government
“The Career Center’s workshops are incredible. Also, just keep applying – eventually something will stick. If you’re looking at working for nonprofits or NGOs, check out and” -Emma A. ’15, Consulting
“Look for career path best-fits, rather than location when looking for a first job. is very helpful. The Muse can also be a great help.” Hannah V. ’15, Media/Communications
“Don’t be afraid to leverage your network! You may consider it awkward at first, but the sooner you get over that, the better. After all, those you tap for advice and available opportunities might be knocking on your door three years from now with the very same requests. And when that time comes, remember to pay it forward.” -Lucas P. ’12, Media/Communications
“Nowadays the process takes time, so don’t be discouraged. Continue to tweak your résumé until you get it right. Looking for a position in a field where you already have experience is key.” –Victoria V. ’10, Science/Research
“Informational interviews can change the game for you. As someone graduating into a flooded mental health field, talking with as many people as possible about a variety of jobs helped me narrow down possible agencies and types of counseling jobs to target.” –Anonymous, Social Services
“Don’t feel like you have to stay restricted to a job that is related to your major. Take into account your interests and the organizations you were involved with as well.” –Catalina B. ’11, Media/Communications
“When applying to jobs via email, always follow up. Employers receive many résumés, and the students who take the time to reach out again are noticed.” –Andrea S. ’12, Law
“If you can’t get a job straightaway, look for paid internships and/ or internships that don’t take too much time so that you can work another job that pays the bills in the meantime. You might even find out that the industry you thought you wanted to work in isn’t quite what you want!” –Allison G. ’08, Media/Communications
“Network, network, network! I highly recommend finding Rochester alumni from your student group or major to talk with about your aspirations and how they may be able to help you. They were a recent college graduate once too!” –Kyle C. ’13, Education
“I recommend you spend a fair amount of time performing quiet introspection. Find out what motivates you, what type of atmosphere you like, what type of people you like, and then start your job search. is an excellent resource to help you accomplish this.” –Nikolaos D. ’09, Military
“This sounds silly but proofread! Typos make it seem like you’re apathetic about the job and overall reflect negatively.” –Andrea S. ’12, Law
“Don’t be afraid to make cold connections with alumni on LinkedIn. Most are happy to chat with you.” –Anonymous, Consulting
“Sometimes, you can get a lot out of local-focused news sites, like New York Mag or DCist.” –Ross B. ’09, Media/Communications
“Be open to any job that is slightly relevant to what you want to do. You will refine your interests and add to your résumé, both of which will allow you to move up or out when the time is right. Be flexible in your expectations and keep an open mind. Even if you always knew you wanted to be a doctor, working as a residential advisor in a group home will give you valuable perspective.” –Elizabeth C. ’08, Medicine
Rochester Alumni Exchange
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people doing what you want to do or working at the company you want to work for. Figure out what you want to do and just start doing it. Blog about it, do it for free, volunteer, do side projects, etc.” –Brad O. ’10, Information Technology
“Edit your résumé. Re-edit your résumé. Utilize the Career Center and friends who know your work ethic to help you in the editing process. Remember that it is important to tailor your résumé to the position you want. So it is important to slightly alter it depending on the job you are applying to.” –Janise C. ’13, Social Services
“Spend time speaking with people who are already in the industry/ industries and roles you think you want to be a part of. You will learn everything you need to know a lot faster that way and grow your network.” –Gemma S. ’09, Business
“Be sure to write thoughtful cover letters, and have a friend edit to catch any typos, which can eliminate you from consideration. Even if they’re not explicitly requested, cover letters are important to provide context for your application and tell the hiring manager why your skills are a good fit for the job.” –Kate W. ’07, Non-Profit
“Write handwritten letters to the person(s) you want to work for specifically.” –Bradley C. ’10, Finance
“If you plan to work and go to graduate school, check with your graduate school or advisor of companies or organizations that do tuition reimbursement. This allows you to both work and have your company/organization pay for school.” –Kellie I. ’10, Health Care
“This is just the beginning of your career. It is more important that you want to go to a place that will give you an opportunity to learn, over how much they will pay you.” –Matthew F. ’08, Finance
“Reach out to alumni as they are always welcoming of a UR grad. If they don’t have an open position, they will be well connected in their field to help you find a job.” –Bobby S. ’08, Education
“Meet different people in different industries, you never know what you will need or if you will end up switching career fields later down the road. Those relationships have proven to be invaluable to me.” –Angie S. ’11, Science/Research
“As the number of jobs you may be applying to increases, don’t let the quality of your résumé and cover letters decrease. The importance of following up can’t be over stated.”
–Anonymous, Engineering
“Whatever city you want to be employed in needs to become your best friend. If you can afford it, consider moving to this city and volunteering and working part-time until your dream career comes along.” –Kayleigh S. ’08, Non-Profit
“Think outside the box. Do not overturn any opportunity that seems not exactly aligned to what you are interested in. The chance to build your résumé and to broaden your exposure is what you want.” –Anonymous, Government
“Before moving to NYC, I was cautioned that finding an entry-level nursing position would be impossible in the city. It is not! Apply online through different hospitals’ nurse recruiting websites and plan to travel to NYC for interviews. You will likely be hired into a new grad program that will last a year.” –Elizabeth S. ’11, Medicine
“Create a LinkedIn account if you do not already have one. Many times employers will search for you on Google. If your LinkedIn profile comes up first, then they will know that you are a young professional. They will also have the chance to see some of your amazing attributes that you possibly could not fit on your résumé.” –Janise C. ’13, Social Services
“Find a mentor that you admire in your field and don’t be afraid to reach out to them. It’s all about who you know that will help open doors for future opportunities.” –Emily W. ’10, Fine Arts
“Job websites like Indeed or Monster are sometimes helpful, but it’s more helpful to target specific institutions or companies you’d like to work for and go straight to their website.” –Anonymous, Non-Profit
“I started off using a lot of common employment websites (e.g., and ended up finding my first job off of Craigslist. It’s common for headhunters to use this means of reaching candidates, as they will do the first round of recruitment for positions that may require several steps.” –Megan H. ’09, Education
“If you are interested in law, check out the NALP directory. It breaks down, in clear, objective terms, the characteristics and compensation of many legal employers.” –Anonymous, Law
“If you’re going into journalism you should, at the very least, be on Twitter and LinkedIn and have a personal website. (There are lots of portfolio sites that are easy to use– Google it.) It’s expected and it’ll look bad if you don’t have them. A personal website should include, at minimum, a SHORT bio, clips, and your résumé.” –Melissa G. ’13, Media/Communications
“Don’t rely solely on job postings. Reach out to companies you are interested in working for, even if you don’t see they have posted a job opening. By doing this, your résumé may be reviewed before they even post the job.” –Rosemary Z. ’10, Science/Research
“Spending countless hours scouring job search websites will most likely leave you frustrated and disappointed. Instead, focus more time and effort on making new connections and utilizing your contacts to get your résumé in front of an HR representative or hiring manager.” –Anonymous, Finance
“Start your search early and take your time. Make sure you fit the job description as well as the company’s culture. is a great resource for those interested in the world of startups. LinkedIn is a great tool for any job.” –Kevin D. ’14, Business
“Many job postings have ‘x years of experience’ listed under qualifications. That doesn’t mean x years of experience after graduation. Think about all of your on-and-off-campus experiences and the transferrable skills or lessons learned from them.” –Alysha A. ’15
“Finding a job you genuinely like will take a long time, so don’t get discouraged or give up quickly. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do and it’s okay to take some time to figure things out.” –Amanda C. ’16, Science/Research
“Stay organized. Keep a spreadsheet of the date you applied, what the position is, the lab/department, and contact information. This will allow you to follow up with HR or PIs easier. Apply, prepare, and be kind to yourself if it doesn’t work out.” Jill D. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“Even if you aren’t super sure what you arer interested in, go to a career fair on campus and talk to employers. Pick a few companies you think you might be interesting and stand nearby when others are talking or ask questions yourself. Walk around to offers and stop by any that catch your eye or ear.” Matt A. ’16, Engineering
“Update your LinkedIn profile! Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn were my most used websites to find my job. Glassdoor was particularly helpful during salary negotiations.”Kelsey S. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“Make sure you focus on finding a strong mentor whom you get along with. There are a lot of skills you’re going to have to pick up very quickly to compete in the real world, and it helps to have someone to not only serve as a guide, but also as your advocate when you’ll need it. And you’ll need it.Richard H. ’16, Finance
“Reach out to alumni – it’s much easier to get a full picture of the work life if you know someone that works there, and you can use them as referrals. LinkedIn is also a good resource.”–Christina K. ’14, Engineering
“ is a pretty good site. My best advice is to look often and to keep an open mind. Use all the resources you have. There are a lot of online sites. You are your best advocate.”–Kyle W. ’15,
“Figure out what industry you want to be in and then apply to all top companies in that industry. Use LinkedIn to find alumni that you can talk to and potentially get internal referrals from.”>Elias D. ’16, Information Technology
“When looking to go into graduate level research, speaking with professors is extremely helpful. Professors at the University of Rochester are able to discuss which institutions have exciting research that fits your needs and help you network with these professors.”–Amy E. ’16, Science/Research
“Apply, apply, apply! Even if you don’t quite meet all the qualifications, apply! I recently read that women only apply to a position when they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will apply when they only meet 70%.”Morgan K. ’16, Science/Research
“My advice would be after narrowing your search to the type of job role you are looking for, shift your focus to other questions. What aspects of corporate culture are important to you? What type of team do you work best with?”Ellen S. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“Be professional, keep in contact throughout the process – before and after the interview – and just look at every ‘failure’ as another opportunity to learn from your mistakes and improve your job hunting skills. Before you know it, you’ll have some job offers lined up! LinkedIn, Googling jobs and looking for postings at local businesses and higher education institutions (i.e. hospitals, universities, libraries) helps as well.”–Stephanie S. ’16, Military
“Networking is extremely important. I feel like almost all the interviews I got were through referrals from a current employee or through a staffing agency. I would recommend posting your resume on industry specific job boards (like Dice), Indeed and LinkedIn. Recruiters are going to search these websites before searching their internal databases.”Sailesh D. ’16, Information Technology
“Never underestimate the power of networking! I have found staying in touch with supervisors and professors vital in the job search process.”Amanda L. ’16, Non-Profit
“Networking with meaningful conversation, not necessarily directly related to finding a job, per se.”Robin W. ’14
“Take the time to individualize your resume and cover letter. if you don’t know what to write for your cover letter look at the job description, then briefly describe why you’re great at those skills or what relevant experience you have for them. Also, include the job you’re applying to and the hiring manager’s name if you can; people often appreciate those details. Then, follow up! Especially after an interview, sending a quick thank you can go a long way.”Teresa R. ’16, Medicine
“Start reaching out to industry people or people in positions/companies that you are interested. Use LinkedIn or the Rochester Alumni Exchange.”Ha L. ’16, Business
“Be open to opportunities. While you might go into your job hunt thinking you want one thing, be willing to explore alternative avenues to increase your odds of finding a job. At a minimum, you’ll gain valuable experience in your field, and best, you could be find something you didn’t know you’d enjoy.”–Simone A. ’16 Social Services
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Networking How-To Tips

“Make a spreadsheet of every possible connection you have. Go through your parents, friends, LinkedIn groups, or anyone else you know. Gather their contact information and mark down whenever you send or receive an email. And always send a thank-you note within 24 hours!” Matthew H. ’15, Consulting
“I’ve found networking to be forced and awkward. Emails and cocktail hours are stressful and not personal. Meet people beyond networking. This sounds strange, but the people you meet organically by joining organizations, volunteering, and striking up conversation often are your best network.” -Douglas B. ’15, Education
“Word of mouth and via email. Always publicize what you can offer and what you plan to get out of being a part of the person’s network you are exchanging contact information with.” Kendra H. ’14, Non Profit
“Talk to people around you and find out if they know people that may be useful to you and reach out to them. You have circles of connections through mutual friends.” Nahoma P. ’15, Education
“The best thing to network is to actively talk to people. Even though it sounds obvious, it is not as easy as it sounds. Networking can happen during a coffee break, lunch, or at a pub having a beer, but you need to be able to talk to people in any setting.” Ioannis Z. ’14, Engineering
“Contact alumni! Particularly for research, many positions cycle through quickly as these jobs are typically held by recent undergrads before they head off to professional schools and doctoral programs. Reaching out to recent alumni was integral in obtaining my current position – a fellow Yellowjacket referred me to my current supervisor.” Ryan W. ’15, Science/Research
“If you can, volunteer and spend summers in the setting you picture yourself in. Working as a literacy teacher in RCSD through Urban Fellows and as a tutor through LEAP certainly prepared me for the classroom. It also allowed me to ask teachers how they had found their way into the classroom. Finally, I stayed in touch with some of my role models from my freshman and sophomore years who had gone on to become teachers.” Alesa Y. ’15, Education
“Reach out to locals in common gathering areas – coffee shops, religious institutions, and so on. Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance; more often than not people will be willing to help you out.” -Ben W. ’15, Medicine
“LinkedIn has been a helpful tool for me. I signed up for the free month trial of LinkedIn Premium, cold messaged professionals working at the companies I was pursuing, coordinated informational calls, and was 10x more prepared for the job interview than I would have been otherwise. People on LinkedIn are surprisingly willing to respond to messages from strangers, especially if you make a connection with them (e.g. UR alums, common interest, common major).” Lauren K. ’15, Government
“Still working on that one…” -Emma A. ’15, Consulting
“People love talking about what they do, what they’re interested and passionate about, and what they’ve done. Be genuinely interested in the person and their interests, and find some way to provide value back to them, whether that’s your own connections, some interesting story/anecdote/article, etc.” –Brad O. ’10, Information Technology
“Attend as many networking events as you can to speak with others in your desired industry. The more professionals you speak with, the more knowledge you’ll gain.” –Andrea S. ’12, Law
“Open yourself up to any opportunity to meet people in any setting. Truly, you never know who you’ll meet, and this is especially true in a big city. Always be willing to go out and meet friends-of-friends at a bar or an event, and both ask for and offer assistance. Assuming you make a good first impression, people generally want to help their friends’ friends, so make those connections!” –Allison G. ’08, Media/Communications
“I would highly recommend joining a young professionals group in your new city/town. The popularity and general success of these groups varies by region, but I’ve found them to be a great way to meet people. They hold weekly or monthly events and everyone there is expecting to network, so it’s less intimidating to approach someone.” –Sarah H. ’10, Law
“The most fruitful connections have been those with current and former colleagues. These individuals have the opportunity to truly get to know you – something that a random individual you meet at a networking event doesn’t necessarily have. That said, be kind and professional to everyone in your office. You never know when you might need advice or a favor.” –Lucas P. ’12, Media/Communications
“Take the plunge—it’s not easy and most people don’t like it, but you just need to get over your fears because it can make a huge difference.” –Anonymous, Consulting
“Networking. It is a dreaded word but, unfortunately once you get into the real world of job hunting, a necessary one. Be yourself. Be genuine and actually strive to make connections with the people you network with. The more you can have an actual conversation and get to know the person beyond ‘so how can you help me find a job,’ the more comfortable and relaxed the conversation is.” –Anonymous, Social Services
“Always have business cards on hand even if they simply say ‘student.’ Business cards look professional and are an easy way to pass contact information at a cocktail event or conference.” –Emily W. ’11, Fine Arts
“Before you reach out to someone make sure you do some research about their company and what they do. I often receive e-mails from students/prospective candidates who clearly have no concept of what I/my company do and it really puts you in a negative light.”
–Matthew F. ’08, Finance
“Find associations/business councils in your area of interest and sign up to attend one of their networking events. The folks that attend these events tend to be excellent networkers attending specifically to make connections. Remember: at networking events everyone is there because they want to network! So just start talking!” –Ann G. ’07, Environment
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“It helps to have a project or cause you are working on and trying to move forward as you begin networking so you can bond with others over this side pursuit, showing your grit and work ethic from another perspective that doesn’t feel like direct job solicitations to those you are trying to network with. Getting advice from someone on an interesting and relevant business problem is an easy foot in the door.” –Gemma S. ’09, Business
“Have a few well-thought-out questions to get you started.” –Anonymous, Engineering
“Read the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Any technique that I’ve found to be effective is already covered exhaustively in that book.” –Daniel F. ’08, Consulting
“Keep in mind that most people are happy to help you out—others have helped them in the past too. Send thank you emails after you meet with people and, if it seems appropriate, request that they let you know if they hear of any jobs opening up that might be a good fit for you.” –Kate W. ’07, Non-Profit
“Make sure to even ask family and friends! Often the people closest to you can go overlooked, but if you have a relative or close family friend who is in an industry you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to reach out to them with a few questions.” –Lauren L. ’11, Consulting
“Best way to network is to get involved in your community. Join the company soccer team, go to language classes, start training with a running club, etc. You can organize things too—start a dinner/ drinks night with colleagues and have them invite friends.”
–Abigail H. ’07, Consulting
“I have used my professional organization, which also has an ‘emerging professionals’ network. Try to join local branches of professional organizations. Save money to attend conferences; they are a great way to meet important figures in your profession and even find a job.” –Emily W. ’11, Fine Arts
“I found that keeping a spreadsheet with people I had contacted, which included the last time I reached out to them as well as the next time I was planning on it, was helpful.”
–Christopher S. ’11, Finance
“Using the Rochester Alumni Exchange to reach out to alumni working in areas of interests who live in the New York City area has been very helpful.” –Christine C. ’10, Non-Profit
“When you’re contacting someone you want to meet with, ask them if they want to get coffee. It’s more low-key than lunch and it also gives them the opportunity to suggest meeting somewhere else, such as in their office. I’ve basically found it’s code for ‘I want to talk to you and I need a non-awkward way of asking.’”
–Melissa G. ’13, Media/Communications
“Before you leave an informational interview, ask that person for three more people they can connect you with. This results in a lot of informational interviews, but then when you apply, you can email these individuals to see if they can be of any assistance.”
–Jonathan A. ’09, Government
“Being kind to others and making sure you leave a workplace on a good note is always helpful. In Rochester, I worked as a research assistant in the baby lab and developed a close relationship with the post docs. This became an advantage when, a month after graduation, I received an email from a post doc about a new lab manger position available in her new lab.” –Maritza G. ’14, Science/Research
“Network naturally! I’ve had much better results when I try to make connections with people long before I ask them something. Use your contacts as investments. You get out what you put in!” –Alberto S. ’14, Science/Research
LinkedIn is a GREAT tool. Use alumni, connections from internships, and family friends. If someone offers you their help when it comes to a job search, accept the offer! It’s important to make as many connections as possible when you’re young. You never know who you’re going to meet and where you future will end up. Be brave and reach out to people you haven’t spoken with in a long time. I’ve gone so far to reaching out to friends of friends who are doing what I wanted to do. Social networks are an amazing insight into the various career options. Check out the different job titles and research what that actually means in terms of day to day work.” –Rachel Y. ’14, Business
“Be curious. Ask about a person’s career path and how they decided to do what they do for a living. This can serve as a great model, even if to identify that there is no set path. At the end of the meeting, ask if s/he believes there is anyone else that would be willing to meet with you for the purposes of networking.” –Anonymous, Health Care-Non Medical
“I hate formal networking events because they feel impersonal. Building a good network comes from working in your field and building real connections with those you work with. If you haven’t worked in the field, look to your professors or advisers. A few meaningful relationships are more important than a wide swath of LinkedIn requests.” –Kaitlyn K. ’12, Law
“It’s okay to ask people in your network to introduce you to the people they know that do work you might be interested in. You don’t know what you don’t know, so asking someone you already have a relationship with about who is in their network can really broaden your horizons.” –Alysha A. ’15
“Talk to friends and former classmates/colleagues who have graduated about their jobs. Make a LinkedIn profile so recruiters can find you. Look at job postings on AfterCollege.” Matthew A. ’16, Engineering
“Meetups are a great way to get to know people at different companies.” –Christina K. ’14, Engineering
“I’ve networked through other undergraduate researchers and professors.” –Amy E. ’16, Science/Research
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“Strike up a conversation with anyone. More often than not, you may learn about someone’s cousin who works in the same industry as you, and even if not, it doesn’t hurt to get experience talking to all kinds of people” Morgan K. ’16, Science/Research
“I am a total introvert, so it was challenging to start networking. I think saying yes to any sort of after-work event is a good start, whether it be happy hour with co-workers or event for an organization you’re interested in joining.” Ellen S. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“I would recommend signing up with as many staffing/temp agencies in your area as possible. I would also recommend that you use the job boards and company websites to fin positions of interest, but do not apply through these. Instead, go to LinkedIn and search the company. From here, you can see if you know anybody there or can get an introduction to someone who can pass your resume along. I found this to be FAR more effective than simply applying online.” Sailesh D. ’16, Information Technology
“Talk to people who do what you want to do. Talk to your new coworkers, talk to your peers, just reach out! No one will fault you for that and if you are honest and passionate, people will want to help you.” –Simone A. ’16, Social Services
“There are so many opportunities to network based off of interest groups. For instance, I have met many people by attending Jewish events throughout the city. Being a part of a university environment also provides other opportunities to network through university-sponsored events and in my classroom settings.” Jessica R. ’16, Nursing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Job Interviews

“Wear: suit. Say: Be honest. Don’t say: things you would not tell a stranger. Difficult Questions: take your time its ok. Proper follow-up: email thank you note within 24 hours.” Isabella T.V. ’14, Consulting
“Wear power colors; navy is a great color! And choose an accent color (tie, scarf) that is the same color as the school. Be prepared to answer questions about conflict that can arise in the job and how you would handle those situations. Be prepared to answer questions about how you’ve handled conflict in the past. Ask questions! My go-tos are questions about the support system that is offered.” Anansa B. ’15, Education
“Actively seek an opportunity to share interesting story. By interesting, I mean something you truly enjoyed and that shows your passion. That passion shines through above all else in an interview.” -Douglas B. ’15, Education
“Honestly just be yourself. Interviewers can tell when you’re just another scripted college grad with the same qualifications as the other ten scripted college grads they’ve talked to. Be interesting, be you, and stand out in the way only you can.” -Lauren W. ’15
“Always go into interviews dressed for the job you want, and with the confidence that the job is yours already.” Kendra H. ’14, Non Profit
“Dress up a little more than you think you need to. Being dressed professionally will always reflect well on you; it is much better to be overdressed than underdressed.” Morgan P. ’15, Business
“Be yourself. It’s important to find a work environment that you feel comfortable working in.” Nahoma P. ’15, Education
“Always, always, always dress well. That is definitely very important when you are presenting yourself. People will throw curveballs at you: I was asked once how many golf balls are in the sky of the USA at 12 pm, but you need to keep your calm and even if you don’t know the answer, be ready to provide an argument. That will usually do the trick.” Ioannis Z. ’14, Engineering
“I would often call a friend or family member just for a few minutes before an interview to easy off some nervousness. Just by talking to someone I already knew I was more prepared to converse in an interview setting. This “warm-up chat” gave me confidence before the formal interview. Remember that interviews are typically granted to qualified candidates, they just want to see what you’re like!” Ryan W. ’15, Science/Research
“The hardest question I was asked in my Teach For America interview was, ‘Under what circumstances would you quit this job?’ I didn’t realize that they were asking this because first-year teaching is brutal work: physically, mentally, and emotionally – especially in an impoverished community. Now I know that my students EXPECT inconsistency and EXPECT teachers to quit because it happens all the time. My answer? I wouldn’t! Accepting the position meant that I promised my future students that I would be there for them every single day, no matter how hard it was.” Alesa Y. ’15, Education
‘Why do you want to switch from what you have been doing to this field?’ Make sure to know why you chose your academic/professional path and how their company aligns with your goals.” Lauren K. ’15, Government
“It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Do your research about the company. If you understand what they do, then you can better answer the questions they ask.” David W. ’15, Business
“Wear a suit. If you’re wearing a skirt, wear tights underneath” -Emma A. ’15, Consulting
“If you’re taking over for someone and were interviewed by them, or were interviewed by a potential coworker, make sure to be specific when you thank them for their time. They will be the ones who largely help determine if you’re qualified to do their job.” Hannah V. ’15, Media/Communications
“Demonstrate your value! Don’t talk about what you want, provide ideas and examples as to what value you can provide to the company you are interviewing with.” –Dan S. ’09, Consulting
“Always be prepared with questions for your potential employer and ask when you should expect to hear from them. Companies will often fall behind on their recruiting schedule, but it helps you rest easier if you have some idea.” –Victoria V. ’10, Science/Research
“Always wear a suit and tie, no exceptions. Park 30 minutes in advance, but don’t walk in until 5 minutes before. Don’t lie—be honest about what you can do, they will know, and it’s even worse if you convince them otherwise. You’ll be on the job expected to complete something you can’t—not a great first impression.” –Dan S. ’09, Consulting
“Do your research. Know what the company does and read over their three most recent press releases. Show that you care about what they do, and they’ll see you fitting into their culture.” –Adrienne W. ’11, Information Technology
“The best interview question I have ever been asked is, ‘If you were to be hired and we sat down in one year to discuss your accomplishments, what would they be?’ All employees (even at the most junior level position) must be leaders and this question aims to test your ambition and initiative.” –Lucas P. ’12, Media/Communications
“You may be asked about how you’ve handled specific types of problems in the past, so it’s good to think about which of your experiences you could talk about. For example, ‘how have you handled working with a difficult coworker?’ You can talk about volunteer work, internships, or even class projects as long as you demonstrate the skills they are asking about. Try to frame all your answers positively. Don’t tell them about any challenges without also sharing solutions.” –Kate W. ’07, Non-Profit
“Ask the person setting up your interview whether there are particular pieces (apart from résumé or cover letter) that you should bring along. If you have a portfolio, bring it just in case as you may be with a group who would like to see some work to back up your descriptions.” –Megan H. ’09, Education
“When they ask you about your weaknesses, mention them truthfully, but make the sentence positive. For example, if your weakness is your tendency to be too quiet, you can say: ‘People say I’m too quiet and shy sometimes, but that works out well because I remember every detail from what others say.” –Sudesna G. ’07, Media/Communications
“Be yourself because a genuine personality will be more memorable and trustworthy.” –Emily W. ’10, Fine Arts
“Do not ask questions about salary on the first interview (unless explicitly asked in the interview).” –Michael C. ’07, Non-Profit
“Always be nice to the secretary or personal assistant. When you call to follow up, they’ll be the one answering the phone.” –Anonymous, Engineering
“The most intimidating yet influential question I’ve ever been asked in an interview is: ‘who is someone you would not want me to call as a reference for you?’ This is basically a question that allows you to reflect on a previous work or personal relationship that proved conflicting for you. However, it’s also a chance to express your problem-solving skills and demonstrate self-awareness as you look back on some things that might previously have been considered weaknesses.” –Megan H. ’09, Education
“Interviews should be conversations. When I interview people, I find I like it best when they ask me questions and are engaged throughout the whole interview. It shows me they’re really interested in the position.” –Lauren L. ’11, Consulting
“Make sure you talk to other people who have interviewed at the company before you to get an idea of process and expectations. When in doubt, do research on culture (look at social media accounts/HR accounts).” –Gemma S. ’09, Business
“Keep in mind your industry, of course, but generally, remember that people want to work with others whom they enjoy. So be open and friendly to anyone you meet in the office, even if they aren’t your interviewer.” –Arielle F. ’10, Communications
“Always be prepared to ask the person hiring a few thoughtful questions that can’t be found online. For example, ‘what opportunities for committee work or group work are available? What are the 3-5 most important values of this company or department? Is there formal or informal mentoring available to new hires?’” –Elizabeth C. ’08, Medicine
Just Five Ad
“Have at least five questions, because the interviewer will probably address a couple of them before you ask, and you’ll want some in reserve; every interview ends with ‘Do you have any questions?’” –Ross B. ’09, Media/Communications
“Be yourself. I spent tons of time tailoring my resume to highlight the ‘right’ qualifications for each job application. In the end, make sure the job fits you—you won’t benefit yourself or your future employer by trying to make a good fit out of something that isn’t. Be honest in your interview and don’t be afraid to walk away from a job that isn’t right for you.” –Erin O. ’11, Higher Education
“You don’t have to take the first job that’s offered to you. They’re just as lucky to have you working for them as you are to have been offered the job. So make sure it’s a good fit before you say yes, or that first day in the office is going to be the start of many miserable months!” –Allison G. ’08, Media/Communications
“Get some nice custom thank you cards with your monogram and address on the envelopes made up to send after your interviews. It’s worth the cost to help you stand out any little way you can.” –Dan L. ’07, Military
“Interviewing for a startup is unlike interviewing for any large company. Wearing a suit isn’t recommended, the right attitude and willingness to learn is far more powerful than previous experience, honesty is preferred over being highly scripted, and your personality needs to shine.” –Lauren B. ’10, Engineering
“If the job posting says ‘no calls,’ DO NOT CALL! While you may think you’re just being persistent, what it really shows is that you are incapable of following the simplest directions. If the organization wants to follow up with you, they will call you.”
–David L. ’09, Non-Profit
“Employers like to see that you have a goal. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a 20-year plan, but have a solid 3- to 5-year plan and explain how working at their company fits into that plan.” –Anonymous, Finance
“Be prepared to answer the question ‘Why you?’ It’s important to be able to answer this question because every position you apply to will have applicants who went to the same caliber school and have the same skill set.” –Anonymous, Law
“If you have a phone or Skype interview, at the end of that electronic meeting, offer to travel to meet them in person on your own dime if that is feasible for you. It will help you stand out in their final applicant pool amongst a sea of electronic interviews.”
–Rosemary Z. ’10, Science/Research
“In terms of what not to say, never willingly give up how many interviews you have been on or if the place you’re interviewing at is not your first choice.” –Angie S. ’11, Science/Research
Alumni Events in your city
“I suggest practicing your answers to common or anticipated questions out loud, either by yourself or role-playing with a friend. It’s one thing to know what you want to say, but even if you write out your answers, it usually takes a few tries for it to come out the way you want it to while speaking aloud.” –Chelsea D. ’10, Education
“If you don’t get a job, don’t be afraid to ask the person where you can improve or what you could have done better. They may say nothing or they may provide the best insight you ever received, but either way you have nothing to lose by asking.” –Jonathan A. ’09, Government
“Research the company beforehand and mirror your attire to suit their culture. When in doubt, dress up. After you’ve talked for a bit, ask the interviewer how they see someone with your skills fitting into the position. This not only gives you a better picture of where you fit in, but gets the interviewer to think about you in the job before you’ve even completed the interview.” –Nick B. ‘14, Finance
“Go into your interview with the mentality that you don’t care whether or not you get the job. Be relaxed. Be friendly. Put on formal attire. Ask good and relevant questions. Make your interviewer laugh, but don’t overdo it. Be confident in your abilities or your interviewer won’t be confident in you.” –Will H. ’14, Science/Research
“Do your best to treat your interviews as more of a conversation and less of an interrogation. I can say from experience that 95% of what interviewers are looking for is someone who they can tolerate working beside for 40+ hours each week.” –Anonymous, Consulting
“On the day of your interview, arrive 10 minutes early and be pleasant with: 1) the office administrator and 2) the other candidates. The administrator is often asked about the congeniality of each candidate. The most common questions begin with, ‘tell me about a time.’ It’s best to answer using the STAR format, which stands for Situation (10%), Task (20%), Action (50%), and Result (20%). The percentages are for how much time you should allocate to each section, with your Action being the most important.” –Daniel F. ’08, Consulting
“It’s okay to be yourself! Connect on a personal level with the interviewer. You’re interviewing a potential job as much as they’re interviewing a potential employee, and it’s important that you feel comfortable. You’ll do better in an environment you fit into than trying to change yourself to meet an existing environment. Come to the interview with a background on what the company does and questions on your position, workload, and advancement options.” –Kaitlyn K. ’12, Law
“The Career Center is great interview prep! Even if you don’t do a mock interview, ask how to navigate difficult or unexpected questions.” –Alysha A. ’15,
“Look up commonly asked interview questions and prepare your answers – not in a scripted sense, but in a way that you would naturally respond. Being comfortable and confident in yourself is necessary.” Jill D. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“Make sure you are engaged during the interview. You don’t have to know all the answers immediately, or even at all, but you do need to let them know you care about being there. Talk through your thoughts because most of the time they want to know your approach to solcing the problem, not whether you are an encyclopedia of knowledge. Try to ask at least one or two questions at each interview. When I have a series of individual interviews at a company, I like to ask each person at least one question unique to what we are talking about, as well as one that I will ask all of them. Usually that consistent question is about ho they like working for their team, or about what they do, or about the insider view of the company. These help you get a few perspectives as you try to judge if the company is a good fit for what you are looking for.” Matt A. ’16, Engineering
“Always dress professionally! Even if you think it’s unnecessary, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Also, be sure to follow up via email within 24 hours after the interview. In that email, you should talk about some specific things that were discussed during the interview so that the person receiving the email knows it’s not just a generic thank you email. I’m always sure to take notes during all of my interviews so that I have something specific to talk about during my follow-up email.” Kelsey S. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“For finance interviews: No brown shoes for guys, full stop. Gray or Black suit, black shoes (shined) and matching belt, light blue shirt and red tie. Also, collar stays.” Richard H. ’16, Finance
“In engineering, it’s not so much about whether you know the answer, but how you approach the question. They want to know that you can problem solve, so if you don’t know the answer right away, just stay focused and ask clarifying questions.” –Sandra W. ’15, Engineering
“As soon as you get an interview, call up an alumnus at the company and ask him for advice.” Elias D. ’16, Information Technology
“Wear a business suit. My best advice is to be confident and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm goes a long way.” ” -Amy E. ’16, Science/Research
“Follow-up is key, both after submitting an application and after an interview. Employers know that applicants send out numerous applications and it is difficult for them to assess large applicant pools. Follow-ups signal to employers that you are very interested in the position and may help your odds. They certainly won’t hurt. I would recommend following up seven to ten days after an application and 24 to 48 hours after an interview with a thank you note.” Dominick S. ’16, Law
“Be prepared for the dreaded “What is your worse quality?” question. I’ve also been asked a lot of situations questions, such as “Tell me about a time when…” where you need to give a description of the situation, what you did, and the result.” Morgan K. ’16, Science/Research
“Use the tips that the Career Center has for this – they are pretty up-to-date on how to do well on interview day. Research the company or organization beforehand, and be confident in yourself, come game day! Remember: if you got the interview, that shows that they think you might be a good candidate for the job. Reaffirm that by highlighting your strengths and how you are working to improve your weaknesses, and carry yourself with some self-confidence! It shows!” -Stephanie S. ’16, Military
“Dress well, simple, and clean. Wear comfortable shoes! I’ve interviewed around 15 people for a position in my department in the past couple of months. The people who made the best impressions were excited but not nervous, well-spoken, and interested. Take notes and ask a lot of questions. Do your homework on the company, so you know what they do and you can ask intelligent questions. Remember to interview them too, because you may find it’s not the right job for you.” Teresa R. ’16, Medicine
“Talk about your work ethic, your experiences, and smile. Read over standard interview questions and prepare some sort of response, but definitely go off the book so you don’t sound robotic during the interview.” Ha L. ’16, Business
“Be sure to have an answer to the standard, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Keep it focused on what’s important, and don’t be afraid to elaborate.” -Simone A. ’16, Social Services
“Recently, in an interview, I was given a scenario and asked how I would respond in that instance. It’s important to identify your strengths and weaknesses and know how those can apply to the position you are applying for. Also, always dress to impress!” Jessica R. ’16, Nursing

Your First Month on the Job

“It can be slow, frustrating, overwhelming, and everything in between. You have the next 40+ years to find a job that you think you actually like, with pay you think you deserve, and hours that don’t drive you crazy. But right now, your job is to get experience, create a network, and grow as a professional.” Matthew H. ’15, Consulting
“A lot of training and learning.” Isabella T.V. ’14, Consulting
“Overwhelming. My job has a strong work culture and there were so many people to meet. However, small adjustments to my mentality made the environment comfortable.” Anansa B. ’15, Education
“Like anything new it takes time to get used to.” -Douglas B. ’15, Education
“There’s always a learning curve, but be patient with yourself, do your best, and ask a lot of questions.” Nahoma P. ’15, Education
“It was quite a struggle trying to get on top of everything and knowing what exactly I was doing. It can be nerve racking at first since you always feel you are behind and always trying to catch up but after a couple of months the transition is complete and you feel more ready than ever. Don’t get disheartened easily!” Ioannis Z. ’14, Engineering
“My first month was dense with training and formalities. It gave me the foundation to navigate full-time employment and job specific tasks.” Ryan W. ’15, Science/Research
“It was the hardest month of my life. I felt like I lacked so much knowledge and experience. For the first time, I felt like I was failing. What got me through was waking up every morning and trying something new: over the course of a few months, I learned what worked and what didn’t. I also realized that this IS a career about experimenting, trying, failing, and trying something new until you see a change in student achievement and motivation. It sometimes feels like a success only occurs after 25+ failures. The students, however, see someone who is persevering and trying everything in their power to make an impact.” Alesa Y. ’15, Education
“There is always a lot to learn with a new job so it was exhausting at times but also very exciting.” David W. ’15, Business
“Hectic; a little confusing. I took over for someone and took over all her projects at once. It was challenging to learn the ropes AND have all those responsibilities thrown on top, all at once. My supervisors and co-workers were all extremely helpful, though.” Hannah V. ’15, Media/Communications
“I was very nervous and quiet. This was my time to be a sponge and absorb everything around me. After a while, you will feel like you can start to let go of the quietness and show more of who you truly are and what you are capable of achieving.” –Catalina B. ’07, Media/Communications
“Humbling and exciting. Keeping my eyes and ears open, and my mouth shut, was a strategy that has served me well. I also asked a lot of questions (at the right time, in the right place) about things directly related to my own work, things only sort of related to my job, and sometimes things entirely unrelated. By asking people with different jobs and from different departments ‘How does this work?’ or ‘What is that?’, I’ve learned more about how my role fits in with the bigger picture. I’ve also built up a bank of (seemingly random) knowledge that has come in very handy at times when we are trying to troubleshoot or work interdisciplinary!” –Elizabeth C. ’08, Medicine
“My first job had a steep learning curve. I made lots of mistakes but was reassured that all newcomers do the same. It was helpful for me to be able to laugh at myself.” –Megan H. ’09, Education
“Enter your first job the way you entered college. Take notes from the upperclassmen who know a thing or two, then use your own experiences to help guide you. Pretending that you already know it all only hinders your growth.” –Janice C. ’13, Social Services
“Hectic. You learn so many things and meet so many new people in the first few months of a new job. You won’t be expected to remember everything, but make sure to have a positive attitude and be ready to help out wherever you can.” –Lauren L. ’11, Consulting
“My first month I learned how well prepared I was. Even though I was a mediocre student in undergrad, I felt like I was head-and- shoulders above my peers in the new environment. It made me really thankful for the UofR.” –Travis B. ’12, Science/Research
Alumni Benefits
“I’ve seen a lot of people fail their first month. Things to consider:
(1) Pretend you’re still interviewing and be on your best behavior.
(2) Be open and willing to learn new information and/or acquire new skills.
(3) Don’t be late or leave early until you’ve proved that you’re an asset to the company.”
–Alexander P. ’07, Education
“I work in art conservation so my first month was very hands-on, but everything was new to me; I definitely hit the ground running. I did a lot of journaling at the end of each day to reinforce the skills that I had learned. The journals came in handy for helping to prepare my portfolio for graduate school.” –Emily W. ’10, Fine Arts
“Most likely, no one is going to tell you how to perform every aspect of your job. Find a mentor in your workplace whom you feel comfortable going to with questions. Ask them if they will be your mentor and remember to thank them.” –Sarah W. ’08, Education
“Work as hard as you possibly can for the first six months. Of course, continue to work hard after that, but make it a point to exceed and be there as much as possible when you start. It is MUCH harder to recover from a poor start in building a reputation than it is to start things off right from the beginning. This will earn the trust and respect of both your coworkers and superiors and pay dividends down the line.” –Dan L. ’07, Military
“Exciting. It is a time to learn a tremendous amount about the process and culture of the new office. It was also important to define expectations clearly and check in to be sure I understood them.” –Anonymous, Health Care-Non Medical
“You feel helpless! No one knows you and you have no authority, so you have to pretty much wait around for tasks to do. That feeling goes away, trust me! Eventually, you’ll feel like you have no free time and that you’re an integral part of the company. You’ll start to feel productive and get more efficient at your day to day goals. Make sure to introduce yourself to people around the office. Once you start to make connections internally, you’ll feel more comfortable coming to work every day.” –Rachel Y. ’14, Business
“I started out as a contractor and my first month was mayhem. My manager went on vacation on my second day, so I wrote double the copy without any understanding of the brand voice. However, this trial by fire helped me learn the ropes quickly, landing me a full-time role only three weeks after I started.” –Anonymous, Media/Communications
“My first month was a whirlwind, as I’d moved to Amarillo from Rochester for a job I was already very skilled in and prepared for within the university setting. However, it also took time to adjust to working at a university while not being a student; there is a fine line of professionalism in more relaxed environments that can be tricky to navigate.” –Rachel A. ’07, Higher Education
“No matter how much you learned or how well you did in school, the first month at a new job, you will feel completely lost. Every company has its own way of doing things, and they are probably going to be using new technologies that you likely will not have learned in school. They are also going to have lots of jargon that you won’t understand unless you ask questions. So ask them. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know, but be prepared to listen closely and thank people when they take time to explain things to you. And if you pay attention and try hard, one day about a month or two in, everything will suddenly click, and before you know it you’ll be the one answering questions for other new hires.” –Anonymous, Information Technology
“Harder than expected. It wasn’t the work – although that wasn’t easy – it was getting over the fact that undergraduate life is over. You are no longer surrounded by tens or hundreds of friends each day. No one really tells you how different of a social dynamic it is and it will change overnight. It was shocking for me, but eventually you get used to it and keep on keepin’ on.” –Nick B. ’14, Finance
“My first month working at a nonprofit in volunteer management was stressful! I hadn’t worked in an office for more than a few months as an intern, so I wasn’t sure exactly how to deal with office culture or politics. I was also assigned a lot of work quickly and felt overwhelmed. I was actually completely prepared for the work; it just felt like a lot because I hadn’t had this type of position before. At the same time, I really enjoyed using my skills in a practical way to get things done, and having evenings free with no class assignments is amazing!” –Kate W. ’07, Non-Profit
“My first job out of college made me realize quickly what my priorities were. I was slightly overworked and making little pay. However, that job got me to the city I wanted to be working in and allowed me to look for other jobs in the area from a position of employment. Stay positive and if it isn’t the right fit, look elsewhere.” –Kaitlyn K. ’12, Law
“Hard, but rewarding. You’ll be doing a lot of learning those first few weeks but that’s good. It means that you’re still growing.” -Simone A. ’16, Social Services
“Learning curve. Loads of tips available upon request.” Robin W. ’14
“I spent the first month at my job absorbing everything and adjusting to post-college life. Although it wasn’t directly relevant to the work I was doing at the time, I asked a ton of questions and wrote everything down. Most of that information was helpful a few weeks later on different projects.” Samantha L. ’16, Media/Communications
“Many obstacles are more mental than you’d recognize: if you don’t think you can do it, the “it” being a project, a responsibility, or a particular job, then you have already defeated yourself before you even went up to bat. Give yourself the chance to try something new, and learn from each experience (good and bad ones!).” -Stephanie S. ’16, Military
“I learned so much in my first month. Not only about the company and my team’s responsibilities but all the other aspects that come with “real” life. I was fortunate to have a supportive team that welcomed me immediately.” Ellen S. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“It takes about a month or more to adapt to a new job environment. It’s okay if it’s scary at first; be patient.” -Amy E. ’16, Science/Research
“It was like drinking water out of a fire hose. Be very organized. And, learn how to prioritize based on importance and who requests information from you.” Elias D. ’16, Information Technology
“My boss said “Welcome to the Thunder Dome” and I started spending 70 hours a week pretending I knew what I was doing. It gets better, keep your head up :)” Richard H. ’16, Finance
“Irregular. There will be days or weeks that are busy, but there might also be days that there isn’t a lot to do, as your manager might be figuring out what your role will be. Take the time to read the protocols, do extra trainings, spend time getting to know people around the office, and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.” Jill D. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical

What Young Alumni Wish They Had Known When They Started Out

“Get a budget planner – it makes things a lot easier in the long run.” Isabella T.V. ’14, Consulting
“A first impression is one thing; the first project is another. Showing growth and an eagerness to improve is what counts.” -Douglas B. ’15, Education
“Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you don’t have any idea what’s going on or what you’re supposed to do for at least the first month. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone questions to learn as much as you can.” -Lauren W. ’15
“Dress the part, but don’t over-do it.” Kendra H. ’14, Non Profit
“Be patient with yourself and don’t beat yourself up for not knowing something.” Nahoma P. ’15, Education
“The job description, what they tell you in the interview, and what you actually end up doing are three completely different things. However, what you learn through college is to work under pressure and learn a lot of stuff quickly and those are the two main reasons why you got hired and why you will succeed in your career!” Ioannis Z. ’14, Engineering
“I wish I knew better about the social setting of my workplace, which was very different from my previous work experiences. I had to really put myself out there to make friends, but with persistence and an inviting attitude I succeeded.” Ryan W. ’15, Science/Research
“I wish someone had told me that I would inevitably make a million mistakes, and that was OKAY. I wish someone had told me that the more mistakes I made, the more I would learn, and the more I would impact student learning. I wish someone had reminded me that it’s impossible to change the lives of every student I teach, but that if I affect even ONE of those lives, I have inspired achievement and confidence. I remember the saying,” ‘To the world you may just be one person, but to one person you are the world.’” Alesa Y. ’15, Education
“If you are asked to get information from someone else, get it in writing. That way if it is wrong, or if the person tries to claim they never said it, you have a paper trail.” -Emma A. ’15, Consulting
“You may think that you can talk to people like they are your friends, but do not say anything negative about other coworkers or your boss, especially in the office. You never know others’ relationships or who could overhear you.” –Anonymous, Science/Research
“Don’t underestimate how sedentary office life can make you. Most people don’t have a reason to move at work, and offices tend to have a lot of free food. The combination isn’t healthy. Get up and go for a short walk every hour.” –Ross B. ’09, Media/Communications
“When you start working, your number one goal is to convince your manager that you can make his or her life easier.” –Macy A. ’07, Information Technology
“I wish someone had told me that it is better to be honest and pleasant about my ignorance than to act with false confidence. In this field, it is better to ask questions, double check information, and work harder than anyone in ‘compensation’ for people taking the time to teach.” –Elizabeth C. ’08, Medicine
“I was easily intimidated at my first job into believing I was so junior that I had no ability to impact change. In the end, that was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Understand that you have just as much agency and power as you believe you do. Don’t ever, ever be arrogant or self-assuming, but know and trust your strengths. The right combination of humility and confidence will make you truly unstoppable.” –Lauren B. ’10, Engineering
“I wish someone had told me to think about my work with a long view. My first job was amazing, intense, and inspiring—but 95% of new hires burned out within a month to a year. I took some important lessons about what I like in a workplace from that experience, but I wish I had known that then. You learn something valuable from every professional experience, even if in the long term it doesn’t end up being the right fit.” –Leah O. ’09, Non-Profit
“Relax—this is by no means a life sentence. In most cases, your first job is an opportunity for you to figure out what you want to do with your career, because no one honestly knows immediately upon graduation.” –Anonymous, Consulting ‘12
“It’s really important to build positive relationships with your coworkers from the start. Learning how to work with different people’s styles helped me become very effective at my job.” –Kate W. ’07, Non-Profit
“Not to be put off by the tone of emails. Some co-workers will be casual and friendly; others will be all business and leave you wondering ‘Am I in trouble?’ or ‘Does this person think I’m incompetent?’ I think this can be a difficult thing to get used to, especially for those who rely heavily on technology to maintain casual/lighthearted communication with friends, etc. Take time to get used to the way individuals communicate as you develop your own style.” –Megan H. ’09, Education
“Here is a list of things people told me that I found incredibly valuable:
(1) The answer ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly acceptable answer and one that you should not be fearful to give. It is much better than giving someone an answer that is wrong or not truthful.
(2) Ask questions when you don’t know or understand something. People will be happy to teach you and explain to you. You will be better for it.
(3) Make sure you know how you are being perceived.
(4) Decide what you want to be known for and make every action you take a step towards achieving that.” –Matthew F. ’08, Finance
“If you present your supervisor with a problem that you want his or her help with, you should also present them with a possible solution. It shows that you’re a solutions-minded individual who is thinking ahead and seeing the bigger picture.” –Lauren L. ’11, Consulting
“Meet as many people as you can. The more people you know, the faster you’ll move up the ladder.” –Anonymous, Media/Communications
“To ask about prioritizing. Bosses give you a lot to do, and it’s important to ask which task should get done first. And if people besides your boss give you something to do, tell your boss, because they don’t always know what’s happening.” –Ross B. ’09, Media/Communications
“This will not be your job forever. Be prepared to leave it for something bigger if you like the field or leave it for another field if you want to try something else.” –Gregory M. ’08, Consulting
“It’s ok to take a lunch break (and breaks in general). Obviously don’t go crazy and disappear for two hours, but no one expects you to work all day without stopping. Make sure to take a breather at some point.” –Melissa G. ’13, Media/Communications
“That I had a right to be as creative as I could be. It took me a very long time to feel comfortable offering my own ideas and proposing projects to my team. If I had known it was okay, I would have been able to work on a lot of really interesting projects earlier on.”
–Arielle F. ’10, Communications
“I was told a lot before starting. People could have told me a lot more, and it wouldn’t have mattered. I was listening but not truly hearing any of it, being caught up in the rush of everything. That said, I wish I had understood becoming competent can take longer than expected. In some industries you might be able to hop right in, but for banking/finance it can take up to a year depending on your position. It’s unreasonable to expect to know as much as someone who’s been there a few years after only a few months.” –Nick B. ’14, Finance
“Your boss probably has no idea how to be a boss, and will often forget to tell you key information. This means you have to ask questions about EVERYTHING. It’ll tick off your boss, but he’ll be more aggravated by you making mistakes without asking the right thing to do first. Own up to your mistakes and do it right as soon as possible. Most importantly: don’t ever make the same mistake twice.” –Will H. ’14, Science/Research
“Co-workers are not friends, especially in China.” –Wen O. ’12, Education
“Be likable. As a UR graduate I assume you are intelligent and do good work, but the ability to gain advocates at your organization is ultimately the key to success. Be interested in your colleagues; ask how their kids are doing; offer to help on their projects. Your likability will dictate how you move up in a company.” –Daniel F. ’08, Consulting
“That I didn’t need to take the first job offer that came to me. I wish I had weighed my options a bit more before taking my first job out of college. At the same time, I’m not sure I would have started the wonderful career I have now without that first job.” –Kaitlyn K. ’12, Law
“You won’t agree with all your managers or coworkers; some may be unorganized, inefficient, or chronically late to meetings but it is out of your control, especially with superiors. Maintaining your professionalism will require a lot of patience.” Jill D. ’16, Health Care, Non-Medical
“Ask lots of questions! There are no stupid questions.” -Christina K. ’14, Engineering
“It’s okay to not know the answer to everything.” -Amy E. ’16, Science/Research
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