Alumni Share Career Insights and Interviewing Tips
Knox alumni shared career insights and interviewing tips with current students during an evening of networking on October 18.
November 27, 2018
Knox alumni shared career insights and interviewing tips with current students during an evening of networking on October 18. The event, which is open to all class years, is organized annually by the Bastian Family Career Center and the Alumni Relations Office.
This fall, Junior Kelly Feng participated to improve her interviewing skills. “I have a really hard time with interviews,” she said, “I still have those nerves. It’s just learning to cope with it. Just one interview makes a big difference on how I perform on my next one.”
Feng also said that her interview with Susannah Gawor '99 opened her up to the possibility of studying business alongside biology. “It was really eye-opening because [Gawor] is in business but she works with a lot of physicians, and so she was able to give me insight on a lot of the business side of medicine. Now that I have that information, I’m interested in how it works and how I’m going to be a part of it.”
The event occurs every fall during Homecoming, which provides plenty of opportunities for students to develop connections with alumni year over year. Swarup Behera '20 is one such student—he felt unprepared for his interview with Chris Winick '73 back in 2017. However, after he heard that Winick was checking up on him later the next year, he decided to do a few more interviews and prepare for this fall’s mock interview event. This time, he said, “there’s a lot more meaning to it.”
Poorva Anand '19 was another returning student. Her experience last year helped her land an internship with alums Russell Coon '08 and Zack Kirven '09 at Organic Grain Exchange.
Anne Perrille '76 was surprised by the turnout of students in the '21 and '22 classes. “It shows that they’re taking initiative. When you have first-and second-year students knowing that this is something that’s on them, and they need to be accountable, that really impresses me.”
Students received advice on a variety of topics, including making a good impression on a graduate school and exploring options within a field or industry. Ceren Ordas '18 found that even though she wasn’t interested in her interviewer’s field, there was still a lot to learn: “My interviewer asked me about my strengths, and then turned that towards what I want to do and how that can benefit me in my career.”
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Students also found reassurance in their ability to relate to alumni, which helped ease some of the anxiety around having a mock interview. "I feel like once you find a commonality with someone, even if they're a complete stranger, you can easily have a conversation,” said Stephy Austin '20.
Michelle Seibert '14 attended for the first time this year and found it fulfilling. “The students are so excited to have that opportunity to talk with alumni—what you did after you left Knox, how long it took to get to where you are. It’s great to give them that opportunity to talk about it,” she said.
Alumna Ramona Lin '15 had a particularly serendipitous story—she’s come full circle on the mock interview event. During her sophomore year at Knox, she was able to network with Valerie Blevins '86, who was an attorney. Lin described herself as a shy student who wasn’t sure about going into law, but she found that Blevins was extremely approachable, and her suggestions were instrumental. Lin had the opportunity to have a mock interview with Blevins later in her senior year, and the two have been in contact ever since.
Now an attorney herself, Lin returns to serve as a mentor for this year’s mock interviews. “I’m happy to be a resource,” said Lin. “I personally benefited so much from my experience at Knox, that to the extent that I can, as a young alum, I will try my best to give back.”
Several Knox students expressed gratitude for the career center. Ordas said that she visits the center as much as possible, and that she’s received tremendous help. “After the first time I sent [my resume], Terrie sent it back to me within 30 minutes… I thought: Oh, this is what a resume’s supposed to look like!”
Anand, who also attended the Business Immersion Trip in the spring, was surprised by the range of resources the career center has. “I know a lot of people who haven’t reached out to [the career center]... I tell them you should definitely go and meet them; they’re really helpful and really nice.”