Alumni Can Help You Get Jobs

Sally Phelps, Director of PGP
 

 

Many great conversations were started over the last couple weeks with alumni who were here representing their companies, and want to help students get their first job or internship.  But what about alumni at the companies that couldn’t come to campus?

The primary message from them is – we can help too, but CONTACT US FIRST before applying online!  In most cases and for many reasons, here is the process they are recommending:

  • Contact the alum first, BEFORE or at the same time as applying on line.  PGP often has contact info for alumni at your target companies.   
  • Give them a chance to get to know you and your skills/experience.  “I’m from Olin too” isn’t enough of a reason for them to recommend you.  Ask for a phone conversation, maybe even coffee or lunch if you (both) can swing it. 
  • If you fit the bill and make the bar, follow their lead as to next steps. 

Many are clear that they have high standards in terms of who they feel comfortable referring.  But employee referrals are extremely important at any company, so don’t be intimidated!   Alumni will often give you advice on what skills and experience you may want to pursue, what posted jobs may already be filled,  and what kinds of things you can do to strengthen your application.  Not only do they (probably) want more Oliners at their company, they will often get some kind of referral bonus for helping the company find good talent!

In your initial email to the alumnus, don’t be afraid to include your resume, link to your LinkedIn profile, and portfolio if relevant.  DO NOT send huge memory docs, much better to provide a link to your work. 

Here were some specific bits of advice from Oliners at many of our target companies, who are more than happy to be contacted by you:

Lever (San Francisco, CA), Eric Hwang

In general, it doesn't hurt to ask an alum about opportunities at the company first, since then they can give you advice in advance, either general or specific to that company.

Of course, if they don't reply within a reasonable time, applying online is better than nothing. They can always add a referral for you later, though some companies have very particular processes or inflexible software that makes this difficult.

How much weight a referral carries in the hiring decision usually depends on your referrer's answer to, "How well do you know this person's work in this role?" However, even if your referrer doesn't know your work at all, it almost never hurts to get a referral - in that case, it could at least get someone to look at your application sooner / more carefully than they otherwise would.

Boston Scientific (primarily Boston, MA), Laura Christakis ’11  

If possible, I try to catch interested students before they apply online for the first time for a few reasons:

  • I have a more accurate view internally of which positions are actually open and being filled; going through me will save you time because I can give you better information than the global website can;
  • I know quite a few Olin students who apply for positions that are above them; at some companies that doesn't matter but around here it's much easier and more reliable to apply for the correct position or, if not, to have a referral contact attached to your application who can explain the discrepancy;
  • We have a formal referral program at Boston Scientific and it's much more difficult to use for an applicant who has already finished applying (ideally the referral email would be sent first and the applicant would apply using that email)
  • At Boston Scientific, we love co-ops!  I realize that means an LOA at Olin, but if you’d like to work a semester+summer, let me know that too.  This longer time frame works well at my company. 
  • Please continue to contact me regardless of where you are in the application process (I'm always happy to help!), and again, please hold off on applying online until after you’ve contacted me. 

Facebook & Google (Bay Area primarily but many locations)Greg Marra ’10 Chris Marra ’12 (both currently at FB)  

People should 100% be referred by existing alumni at (large) companies when applying for _any_ role. It is better to have someone who works at the company, even if in a totally unrelated role, refer you internally.

  • When you apply online: You get put in a stack of 3000 other people (not exaggerating the numbers here) who have applied for the job, and maybe get popped off depending how deep the recruiters get and how much an algorithm that reads your resume pushes you to the top of the queue.
  • When you are referred: Almost 100% chance a recruiter will look at your resume!

If you want humans to look at your resumes, you want to be referred by one of us. No question about it. Even if you’ve already applied online, you can and should still have an alumni re-refer you. 

Continuum (Boston, MA), Contact PGP for info about alumni at Continuum

All applications must come in through our online system.  However, if you reach out to an alum BEFORE you apply, we can give you a specific application link that will flag your application for a closer review, helping get you through the noise of many candidates. Students should feel free to reach out (through PGP) if they are interested in working at Continuum and I'd be happy to give them advice on their application materials before they  apply. However, they should make sure to do this well in advance as it takes time to get to know a student and their work.  If I'm slow to get back to them they should apply through the official channels without me, as timing is often just as important. 

Innosight (Boston Area Consulting Firm),Aisaku Pradhan ’09    

Innosight’s growth and strategy consulting business is growing at a  fast rate, so we continue to actively hire. Our recruiting manager is always reviewing resumes looking for strong candidates, but our interview process is very structured, so timing can be an important part of a successful application.

We typically close our recruiting process for full time hires before Thanksgiving for the post-MBA, advanced degree and undergrad levels. It doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get hired with a late application, but the majority of our undergrad, MBA, and PhD hires come in through that process or are pushed into it from schools we don’t actively recruit at. We actively recruit at Harvard Business School, Yale SOM, Dartmouth’s Tuck, Harvard College and Babson (undergrad only)—but anyone can apply and we do hire a good number of people outside those main pipelines. If an interested Olin alum is at one of those schools, in addition to flagging them to recruiting, I can also connect them with the right recruiting team. Full time hires typically start with us in September of the following year.

In the week before Thanksgiving and running until mid-February, we typically shift our focus to summer internship recruiting. Postings are already up for those positions. We look at the internship as an experience that often leads to a full-time offer for students that are rising seniors. Most intern candidates are successful and function similarly to full time consultants, joining a team and participating on client work for a significant portion of their time with us. Interns typically join us in June.

Experienced hires can apply any time and have more flexibility  on start dates. Prior strategy consulting, corporate strategy or compelling start-up/ growth experience are huge plusses.

The interview process does involve a case interview based on a real client experience so some familiarity with growth rates, entrepreneurship and basic business concepts can help; but business school experience isn’t needed. In fact, most of the consultants at Innosight studied something other than business as an undergrad with many of our recent hires having degrees in engineering, computational sciences, biology, psychology, political science, English, etc.

Please contact me before you apply, I can help flag the application before it gets sorted, though candidates still need to apply online unless they are coming in via on-campus recruiting post-business school or post-PhD. 

athenahealth (Watertown, MA), Luis Gutierrez (UX) & Morgan Lavine (PI)

(Luis) Same is true at athenahealth - email me first so I can help you apply to the right position, get your resume directly to recruiters, and put you in to the system so I can get it to the top. This makes everything smoother, faster and more successful...and I'll be able to monitor the status of the application too. That's what an alumni network is all about!

(Morgan) Chiming in - definitely contact someone before applying. The process is slightly different when the application goes through a referral vs a cold-application.  

Biogen, Steve Krumholz

Same would be true for this company -  - contact me first.

Clypd (Boston, MA), Herbert Chang

Yeah, what everyone else said!   There are many things that technology does better than humans, but hiring and assessing whether a candidate is worth the effort isn't one of them.. (..yet?) 

On a Slightly Different Note… Interested in working in Theatre? 

For the Oliners who are always interested in working behind the scenes in the theater, Katie Kavett  has been in various theater-related roles, mostly in NYC, since leaving Olin in ’09. 

Katie had this to say, “I'm sure it's one of the rarest industries for an Oliner to go into, but if there's ever anyone else looking to go into theater, please put them in touch with me!  I can speak more to the management/technical side, but I can probably help a bit on the performing side as well. I remember it was tough when I started since I had no network, so I'd be thrilled to help out any Oliner looking for a job or summer internship in theater.” 

Many thanks to our awesome alumni for this FANTASTIC advice!

Posted in: Alumni Speak