Each year, Hamilton’s Career Center holds an Interview Crash Course for seniors, designed to help them sharpen their skills before leaving the Hill and entering the job market. The 2021 crash course, which took place January 6, naturally looked different — faces were digital, handshakes were virtual, and advice was passed over time zones and state lines via Zoom. But students and staff nonetheless seemed to agree that the event remained worthwhile and productive.
The session began with an overview of basic tips for job interviews. Students were then placed into breakout rooms, where they spoke with alumni volunteers and received related feedback. “Alumni volunteers in general are incredibly generous with their time and advice,” said Associate Director of Career Development Heather Wixson, “and this program allows each of them to really connect with two individual seniors in a meaningful way at a time when they are facing great uncertainty — and that is true this year more than ever.”
The online format allowed the program to take advantage of new opportunities, such as the ability to utilize alumni from around the country. “I was able to speak with an alum who lived in Washington and another alum who lived in California,” Juanita Gordon ’21 said. “We got a little late start because of complications…[but] I think we found a groove.”
Alumni volunteers in general are incredibly generous with their time and advice.
For many of the participating students, the practice interviews with alumni proved to be the most useful portion of the Crash Course. “I found the advice from one alum during a mock interview very helpful. Not all interviews will follow the typical question-and-answer format, sometimes straying from the particular role or company entirely,” Gigi de Hechavarria ’21 said. “Oftentimes companies and employers are looking to see if the candidate will fit well into the company’s culture if they have already predetermined that the candidate has the appropriate technical expertise for the role.”
Avery Morgan ’22 enjoyed a similarly valuable experience in her breakout room. “The two alumni that I had the chance to speak with were very engaging and gave really helpful feedback about certain mannerisms and speech patterns that I need to work on,” she said. “It’s great to have such supportive alumni who take time out of their busy schedules to help us out.”
This campaign will ensure all students have the requisite skills to engage in career preparation, build networks that lead to successful outcomes, and develop self-confidence and marketable life skills.
Others found the event’s digital medium particularly relevant for the job market of today and the immediate future. “While the digital format of the event was different [from] a typical year, it was very useful to get practice countering some of the inherent awkwardness of video interviews,” William Andriola ’21 said. Similarly, Luca Katz ’21 explained that “the online format was effective because many interviews are done over Zoom, especially during the pandemic.”
All things considered, the Career Center and team of alumni volunteers put together a meaningful program for the seniors. “We were thrilled to continue to offer this signature program during this incredibly different year,” Wixson said. “We did have a few small hiccups technically, but on the whole it was an incredible success.”