A contagious buzz throughout campus regarding summer internships marks the beginning of the school year. For seniors, internships can turn into potential job offers, and to others, it is just another stepping stone for future employment after graduation.
The Office of Alumni and Career Services met with around 78 percent of last year's senior class, whether on-on-one or in a workshop, and continues to help current Spiders land their ideal internships and full-time jobs, Leslie Stevenson, director of career development said.
Senior Madeleine West received a full-time offer from her internship at AlphaSights this past summer in New York City. She found out about the company through SpiderConnect and easily applied through the SpiderConnect portal while she was studying abroad in Prague, she said.
“The already-established network on SpiderConnect was extremely helpful because I would have never heard of AlphaSights,” West said.
While abroad, West couldn’t attend any of the on-campus interviews, but she was relieved when they let her do a video chat and luckily acquired her internship by January of her junior year, she said.
“Definitely exhaust all measures and look through SpiderConnect,” West said. “If companies are on SpiderConnect, that means they want to hire students from Richmond, but also never be afraid to reach out to alumni. Getting your name out there really helps.”
Career Services has made it its mission to help students gain connections to well-known companies and helpful alumni, Stevenson said. The office has made it its priority to create specific steps for students based on their class year in order to help them gain experience, as well as create the perfect resume and cover letter, Stevenson said.
“Over the past three years, at least three quarters of the student body has used our office for some aspect of finding an internship or job,” Stevenson said.
The philosophy of Career Services is about building your network in order to find the right person to speak with, Stevenson said. SpiderConnect is definitely one step, but Stevenson said networking was the key to finding opportunities.
Senior Francesca Hay acquired her internship at GumGum in New York City through alumni connections, which she said were very helpful since she didn’t know where to start in her search process.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so when I was starting to look, my adviser, professor [William] Bergman, a marketing professor in the business school, connected me with a ton of alumni who worked in the industry, which led me to my internship,” Hay said.
Through connections in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as her adviser, Hay was able to find the perfect fit as well as guidance on where to look, she said. She also met with an adviser at Career Services.
“They gave me stuff on SpiderConnect to apply to, and they also helped me decide on what industry and what positions I would be qualified for, which was super helpful,” Hay said.
Ultimately, students start out at Career Services to point them in the right direction, but alumni connections have also helped students to get their names out there and to speak with people who are working directly at a company they might be interested in.
“Every two years, we survey students about what they think they’d like to do and where they would like to live," Stevenson said, "and that’s how we design our programs and our employer outreach strategy.”
Stevenson said Career Services was always trying to figure out the best ways to put people in contact with alumni. Through the responses to student surveys, members of the office have been able to see what students in given industries are leaning toward so they know whom to reach out to in terms of specific companies and alumni, she said.
Having a strong alumni network has allowed students at the university to apply to a wide array of companies. Stevenson said alumni knew how hard current students worked and how eager they were to do a good job, which continued to make the school appealing to future employers.
Hay also knows this to be true from her own interactions with alumni, she said.
“It’s not weird to just message [alumni] on LinkedIn or Facebook because they're always happy to talk about their experiences,” Hay said.
Stevenson said the alumni network at Richmond was a very well-knit and connected group, and having these connections has made it easier for many graduating seniors to find a familiar face at a new job.
“I got the full-time offer at AlphaSights, and I start in July,” West said. “It’s such a fun company, and I’m lucky that there are about seven Richmond alumni. The Richmond connections continue within my job because I’ll be able to see familiar faces every day.”
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