Ask Becky

On culture studies and College connections.

What are the best ways to assess an organization’s culture before taking a job and finding out later it is a bad fit?—Sleuth

Dear Sleuth:

Until you’re in it, you probably won’t fully appreciate the nuances of a particular workplace culture. Nevertheless, there are several approaches to learning more in advance of accepting a job offer.

First and foremost, take stock of what matters to you in the workplace. What are the qualities and characteristics of a work environment that support your satisfaction, align with your values, and keep you motivated and energized?

Reach out to alumnae/i and others in your network who are current or former employees of the organization. A coffee chat or networking conversation can provide a more three-dimensional account of what an organization is all about, what it is like to work there, and so forth. In person, you can ask follow-up questions and read between the lines—and then do additional research.

Apply your curiosity and research skills to review newspaper, journal, and other professional publications for information. Professional associations or Chambers of Commerce might produce Best Places to Work lists that can prove useful in some cases.

Consult discussion forums or sites with employee ratings and reviews, such as Glassdoor, but be certain to review these with a critical lens. Are those who have had disappointing experiences more likely to express their displeasure online? Are those who are satisfied and happy regularly posting about what makes the company such a good place to work?

During a formal job interview, ask pointed questions, as opposed to a general, “Can you describe the office culture?” For example:

  • How does the organization promote risk-taking and innovation? What happens when people fail?
  • How are high-stakes decisions made when there is conflict or disagreement?
  • How do you (as a leader/supervisor) support and motivate the team?
  • Describe the “organizational politics” in this department as well as the organization as a whole.
  • What best demonstrates this organization’s commitment to equity and inclusion?

I’ve heard positive buzz about Mawrter Connect, but why should I use it instead of LinkedIn?—Confused

Dear confused:

All opportunities to talk with other alumnae/i are valuable and complement one another. Mawrter Connect is our enhanced personal and professional networking community, provided by the College in direct support of the No. 1 articulated alumnae/i career services need: connections.

Mawrter Connect is a Bryn Mawr-exclusive space that enables you to directly message individuals who have raised their hands as willing and eager to speak with others. You may set the maximum number of meetings you wish to have per month, to manage your valuable time. All interactions can happen through the email address you provide.

Mawrter Connect is tailored to your objectives and needs. You specify the topics of conversation you wish to have or the areas of expertise you wish to share with others. It will be the ideal place for you to make yourself available to others, especially students, without having to formally connect with them as you do on LinkedIn. You can use personalized search criteria to reach out to others (alums may search for other alums, but alums cannot search students). And finally, it is free of ads and sales pitches; it is a space for true, purposeful connections!

As for LinkedIn, that platform enables you to build your online professional identity and manage your entire network. If you’re using it now, keep doing so. We encourage you to use both. (Using both isn’t a requirement, though; you can access Mawrter Connect without having a LinkedIn account.)

Visit to learn more!

Do you need help navigating the world of work? Career guru (and Bryn Mawr’s senior associate director of Alumnae/i Career Services) Becky Ross takes your questions at Please keep your questions succinct.