Graduate Students Give Advice at Career Panel

A panel made up of three graduate students and moderated by the Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Affairs, Kerry Landers, spoke about finding the right job, how to get it, and where to go from there. 

The panel consisted of David Lukofsky, a fourth-year graduate student at the Thayer school; Jeremy Ouellette, a fifth-year graduate student in Physics; and Niranjan Bose, an '04 graduate of the MCB department.

David recently received a Mass Media Fellowship from the AAAS and will be spending the summer at an NPR-affiliated radio station in Ohio, reporting on science, while Jeremy has recently accepted a position at Raytheon as a systems engineer. Niranjan, on the other hand, having already spent three years in a consulting position, had accepted a post with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2007 as a business analyst in the Global Health division. Despite their highly varied job choices, however, all three agree that their experiences at Dartmouth were crucial to where they are today.

When talking about choosing a job or career to pursue, Jeremy explained that taking a holistic approach is important and that considering quality of life, career satisfaction, and career flexibility and permanence were key factors in his decision. Niranjan agreed, adding that it's a good idea to take a short-term perspective at the moment and re-evaluate after a few years. "Ask yourself, ‘What do I want out of the next three to five years?'" he said. Having originally thought he wanted to be in consulting for the rest of his life, he realized after three years that it really wasn't for him — the ability to evaluate and move on is important, he pointed out.

The panelists also talked about how to get a job once you have an idea of what you want to pursue. Jeremy had the most luck with an educational recruiting firm and the Thayer job fair, Niranjan got some help from the recruiting Career Services Office and the Tuck Bridge Program, and David was inspired by the "live example" of a visiting speaker at Thayer who had once received the same fellowship that he eventually applied for. While Niranjan did eventually obtain his job offer through an Internet application, he agreed with his fellow panelists that mass applications via the Internet are frequently unsuccessful.

Another point on which the three agreed was that it helps to know someone, which led them to discuss networking. As David pointed out, "It never works when you're telling yourself to have to network — just be friendly and interested when you're talking to someone." Niranjan added, "You never know who is sitting right next to you and where they might end up." While many students are intimidated by the word "networking," the panelists explained that just being nice and exchanging e-mails when meeting new people can be extremely helpful.

Another Dartmouth resource utilized by all of the panelists was Kerry Landers in the Graduate Studies Office, who is more than happy to meet with students, go over their resumes, and help them to prepare for interviews. In particular, she has worked with many students on tailoring their CVs and resumes to make them more understandable for their potential employers in industry. Niranjan told the students in the audience to get started on their resumes today — it can show them what gaps exist in their experience. This gives students a chance to try out new activities, fill in those gaps in experience, and find out what they really like or don't like before they start applying for jobs.

Finally, the panelists discussed the interview process. One important thing that prospective employers want to know, explained Jeremy, is why you want this particular job. Other common points of discussion mentioned were the applicant's thesis work, why you would be the best candidate, where you see yourself in five or ten years, and what your biggest success and/or failure has been. David added that in his interview, he felt that his interviewer mostly wanted to find out the dynamic of the person he could potentially be hiring.

Despite the fact that their careers are headed in very different directions, the three panelists agreed on many points and provided a great deal of helpful advice to the students who attended. By recounting their own personal experiences, they provided valuable insight into the job searching and application process. The panel was a great reminder that Dartmouth has a wealth of resources, not only in administrators and programs but in our fellow students as well.