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Q & A: Liza Jane Bernard on Getting a Job

On Friday, Feb. 22, representatives from 79 nonprofit organizations will be coming to Haverford for the Bi-College Career Development Office's annual Not-for-Profit Career Fair. We asked Liza Bernard, director of the Career Development Office, about her advice for students as they go about their job searches.

What's the top piece of advice you'd give students as they prepare themselves for a job search?

One of the great things about the Bryn Mawr and Haverford communities is the fact that students feel like they're competing with themselves and not against each other. However, when you're searching for a job, it's about trumpeting yourself in a way that makes some students uncomfortable. A job interview is not the time to be modest or shy about revealing your accomplishments. So we really encourage our students to learn interview skills and do mock interviews.

Does the Career Development Office offer mock interviews?

We do, and a number of students do take advantage of this service, but more should. Some students will try doing mock interviews with friends, and while that's certainly better than doing nothing, we strongly recommend practice interviews with a stranger—a CDO counselor, an alumna/us or other networking contact. Someone involved who has experience with the hiring process and/or your field of interest can give you a completely honest and unbiased assessment. We can also record a student's interview, which can be very helpful.

Is the job search any different for a liberal-arts graduate than, say, for a Wharton grad?

Doing a job search is an active thing. That's just as true for the student at Wharton as it is for our students. A student can't expect to post a résumé online and have the offers come flooding in. Students need to capitalize on the networks in their lives—family, friends, alumnae/i—to help position themselves to be in the right place at the right time. The added challenge for a liberal-arts graduate searching for opportunities in some business and/or technology fields is that they need to be more detailed in their presentation of relevant and transferable skills they can offer.  Sometimes it's up to them to make the connection for the employer as to why they'd be the right candidate for a given position, which takes us back to the importance of the interview as well as strong written communication skills.

Who can take advantage of the Career Development Office's services?

We serve both the Bryn Mawr and Haverford communities. We want to work with students throughout their College years; the process of career exploration and resulting searches for internships and/or jobs takes time to truly be effective. We also serve alumnae/i through the various career crossroads they encounter.  A significant portion of our resources is available online and thus helps us to better serve both students studying abroad and alumnae/i who live at a distance from the College. 

What about faculty and staff?

Faculty and staff are more than welcome to take advantage of all of our online resources. As time permits, we are also happy to offer advice regarding specific questions around career development issues for faculty, staff, and/or their children.

For more information on the Career Development Office, go to www.brynmawr.edu/cdo.

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Posted 2/14/2008 by Claudia Ginanni