Great Recession Era Alums Share Career Advice for Today's Grads

Today’s graduating seniors are facing one of the toughest markets since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Who better to offer encouragement and practical advice than Recession-era grads?

With that in mind, the Career & Civic Engagement Center organized two panels featuring alums now working in finance, nonprofit, marketing, and tech share advice for launching one’s career in uncertain times.

The panels, titled Creativity and Resilience in Today’s Job Search, are available for viewing.

The wide-ranging advice included ideas that serve well in the best of times. Piyali Bhattacharya 07 recommended, “If you can, find a mentor.” Janet Lee ’07 cautioned against rushing off to grad school. And Sumaya Abdurrezak 05 offered, “Be prepared to be unprepared.”

Josephine Karianjahi '09 said, “Stay connected to people,” and the importance of networking—through the Bryn Mawr community, the Tri-Co, and beyond—was a theme echoed by virtually all the participants. Rachel Townsend 09 gave first-hand testimony in her account of landing her current job through a fellow alum she met at a Bryn Mawr-sponsored event.

Along those lines, Cate Megley 08 gave props to the resources available through the College. “Mawrter Connect is a really good resource,” she said. “Talk to people. That’s how I got all my jobs because I talked to people.”

Likewise, many emphasized the need for perspective—and flexibility. “Your career is long and you will make mistakes,” Sara Koff 08 said. “Being flexible is really important. You’re going to be working for the next 40 years so what you do in the next 18 months doesn’t define you.”

Other perennial job-hunting tips also got offered: do your research, follow up, and proofread your emails and resume.

Some advice, though, was calibrated very much to the moment. Nydia Palacios ’09 said, “You have to have faith that things are going to work out in the end. But at the same time, you have to recognize your current reality, which, for you guys and for me when I graduated, is that you’re going to hit a pretty tough job market. So the way that reality worked out for me was that I wasn’t going to get my first job as my dream job.”

Likewise, Lily Chen 08 advised taking the long view: “None of us is saying this is going to be an easy ride,” she said. “You are going to have a lot of people say no to you before you get yesses. Take this time as a learning opportunity and when you reflect back, you’re going to be, like, I learned so much about myself, I learned about the people who are going to be there for me—because that is huge—and you’re going to grow as a person as well.”

Erica Seaborne ’09 talked up the value of a “for-now” job—something she did in her first years out of college. “In the beginning,” she said, “it felt bad: I’m not being successful. But in the time that I was there, I learned so much—what I liked, what I didn’t like. Keep learning while you’re there and keep talking to people about what you want your next step to be.”