February 20, 2002

Alumni Discuss New Job Climate

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Yesterday, three Cornell alumni and a graduate student in the Johnson Graduate School of Management discussed their career histories and professional strategies as members of a panel entitled, “Stay on Top When the Economy is Down: Alumni Success Stories,” sponsored by Cornell Career Services (CCS).

Economic Changes

Seeking insight regarding the employment opportunities that follow graduation, over 100 students attended this discussion in McGraw Hall.

With the number of available jobs in the country plummeting in conjunction with the current U.S. economic distress, CCS promoted this event to alleviate some of the stress that upperclassmen are experiencing as they apply for jobs.

“I tried to put myself in a senior’s shoes and asked ‘what would make me feel better about approaching this job search?'” said Karin S. Ash, Ph.D. ’99, director of CCS.

Personal Experience

Panelists Lisa Patz ’87, Alex Ruiz ’90, Jouel Velasquez ’88 and James Carlos Feliciano, grad discussed their post-undergraduate career paths and offered suggestions to students with regards to their long-term career goals, useful workforce skills and the application and interviewing processes.

The panelists encouraged taking an active role in the job search and urged students to avoid discouraging themselves with the current economic situation.

“The only way to move up through the ranks is to start from the bottom,” Ruiz said. “Enthusiasm and a desire to learn [are things prospective employers] look for highly.”

All the panelists seemed to agree that applicants interview most intelligently, most impressively and most successfully after researching the companies to which they apply and encouraged students to research companies extensively by reading annual reports, browsing websites and signing up to receive their news letters prior to the interview process.

“Know the company that you are really pursuing. Give yourself a chance,” Velazquez said.

The panelists also stressed the importance of professional presentation in the interview process.

Emphasizing the value of an impeccable resume and people skills, Feliciano encouraged students to approach interviews thinking, “I want to be on the top of their mind [after the interview].”

Velazquez also suggested that students focus clearly on their professional interests.

“Know yourself and know how to express yourself [in an interview],” he added.

Members of the panel also urged students to create a professional network by maintaining contacts in all possible industries and areas of employment.

“If you a have friends [employed by a company] … [they can tell you about] openings that the company posts internally,” Ruiz said.

Patz presented another alternative adding, “Take on an internship, do some volunteer work … anything that’s going to help you build contacts,” Patz added.

The panelists’ comments were appreciated and well received by students, many of whom seemed apprehensive about their career futures.

“I think they were very helpful because they are the people that have been there and done that and know how to get there,” said Jessie Wang ’02.

“It was very helpful because I’m a graduating senior,” said Candice Chan ’02. “It has put me a little more at ease.”

Hoping to stress the opportunities available graduating students, Demetra Dentes, Senior Assoc. Director of Employer and Alumni Relations, said, “The possibilities are endless.”

Archived article by Ellen Miller