“Mock Interview Day with Alums,” an event hosted on January 23 by the Lazarus Center for Career Development, gave students an opportunity to practice presenting themselves to potential employers in a supportive environment.
Patricia Woods, assistant director of the Lazarus Center, organized the event. Echoing recent articles in LinkedIn, Woods says that students “are very rarely taught how to get the job to do the skills they want to do. They need to have opportunities to verbalize the answers to interview questions.”
Many of the participating students, eager for anything that will give them a leg up in a shaky economy, have attended several events sponsored by the center.
Emuna David ’14, a theatre major interested in broadcasting and writing for theatre, film, and television, transferred to Smith and became a self-proclaimed “CDO junkie” right away. “A lot of my friends are transfers as well,” she says, “and we all pretty much hit the ground running when we came here, determined to take advantage of all of Smith’s job-finding resources. Thanks to career services, I’ve been able to develop a very great resume and although I’m anxious about getting a job after Smith, I feel well prepared.”
For David, job interviewing gets easier the more she does it, so she wants all the experience she can get. “I want to be able to present myself succinctly and eloquently.”
Julianne Roseman ’13 signed up for the mock interviews when she saw that one of the participating alumnae worked in consulting, the business she hopes to enter after Smith.
“In consulting, the types of interviews are really specific because you have to solve a case during the interview,” she says, “like, they’ll ask you how many taxis there are in New York, and you have to ask framing questions, it’s very tricky. And besides this workshop, there aren’t any other ways to learn how to give an interview like this.”
Because she’s an English major—not the traditional background for management consulting—Roseman says she worries about getting an interview in the first place, and she sought information from her interviewer about how the hiring process works, as well as other information.
Jim Meck, whose wife is an Ada Comstock Scholar, class of 2014, participated as a mock interviewer as a way to stay active in the Smith community. “This is a way to give back,” says Meck, who has worked in the systems engineering industry since 1985. “The biggest pattern I noticed is that students tend to assume that potential employers only care about your academic record,” he explains. “But we want to know, have you ever gotten a paycheck? Some other advice I have for students is to take advantage of all of Smith’s great job-finding resources, and to make human interactions every time you get a chance.”
Like Meck, Beth Likely ’81, who owns a healthcare public relations and marketing communications firm, also participated as a mock interviewer as a way of giving back to Smith.
“Smith has been, and will always be, a large part of my life and who I am,” she says. “This program is an opportunity for me to share some of what I’ve been able to accomplish because of Smith, and to help new Smith grads launch successful careers right out of college.”
She says students should know that employers look for candidates who “have done their homework and come to the interview with a good understanding of the type of work we do. Also, be ready with specific examples from college, or summer jobs/internships, that demonstrate skills relevant to the position. Just because you haven’t fully entered the workforce doesn’t mean you can’t point to great examples of leadership, creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, etc. Always keep in mind that the interview is the single most important opportunity to convince me why you are the person I should hire.”
For students who might feel discouraged about their job search, Woods urges them to keep their chins up. “Remember, if you don’t get the job, it wasn’t that you were a failure, it was just that the job/company was not a match. This is a blessing in disguise because there is a better fit out there for you. Keep optimistic. Keep working with us at the Lazarus Center.”