Amid Uncertain Times, New Grads and Students Find Career Success
Recent marketing graduate Ashlyn Allebach now works as an account manager on the database acquisition team for DMi Partners in Philadelphia.
“It’s awesome,” says Allebach, who served as vice president of the Future Alumni Association while at Jefferson. “I’m learning something new about the industry every day. I’m very grateful.”
However, like many new grads and students seeking full-time jobs and internships for the summer, she encountered a few curves during this unprecedented year. Allebach secured the position right as the pandemic unfolded, which threw her future career plans into question.
“They reached out and said we have no idea how this is going to affect our business,” she says. “Everything went up in the air for months.”
Allebach received word in May that the company would onboard her remotely and they asked when could she start. Relived, she began later that month from her home office.
She continues to work remotely today, analyzing data for the full-service digital agency. Of course, Allebach misses not seeing clients in-person and wishes she could be more connected to the company culture in an office environment. But she says she doesn’t let these uncertain times dull her passion.
“I spent the past four years working my butt off for a field I’m excited to enter,” Allebach says. “This won’t ruin that excitement and drive.”
Fashion merchandising and management grad Heather Cunningham also found her career footing during the pandemic. After interning with Five Below while at Jefferson, she now serves as an inventory analyst for the company, sending products from the distribution centers to the stores.
Up until the pandemic hit, she spent two days a week interning at their Philadelphia corporate offices. Cunningham says the transition to remote full-time work went as smoothly as possible.
“I love the culture and people,” she says. “Everyone has been so nice and helpful.”
Jefferson students, such as Rosario Tineo, have also landed valuable summer internships, albeit with some modifications. Late last year, the finance major secured a position with J.P. Morgan’s asset management division in New York City. The pandemic forced the internship to go remote and trimmed the planned nine-week program to just five.
“It’s literally a sprint,” says the senior, who often puts in 10-plus hour days to pack in as much as she can as a member of the U.S. insights marketing team. “Throughout these challenging times, J.P. Morgan remained honest and committed to helping young professionals, like myself, further their professional development and gain insight into the financial industry. I’m thankful to intern for a company that empowers future leaders to remain resilient in the face of adversity.”
Tineo also expressed gratitude for the Money Management Institute’s Gateway to Leadership Program, through which she’s a Gateway Scholar. The initiative supports a variety of programs to foster career awareness and workforce readiness for minority students seeking internships and entry-level positions in financial services.
To give back some of the knowledge she has gained, she co-founded Jeff Invest earlier this year. The University’s new financial literacy club helps students take control of their money and learn how to build credit, create a budget and invest for their future.
The pandemic dashed the club’s planned launch in the spring, but they aim to ramp back up during the fall semester, says finance senior Michael Rodriguez, Jeff Invest co-founder and also a Gateway Scholar.
The networking opportunities and communication skills he learned as a scholar played a big part in him earning an internship at Wealth Advisory Group where he focuses on financial planning and wealth accumulation, Rodriguez says.
His internship was scheduled to run from June 1 to July 30; however, being remote, Rodriguez will likely continue working for the company throughout the summer and into the school year.
While he wishes for in-person interaction rather than Zoom calls with clients, Rodriguez sees this untraditional internship as a key step on his road into the financial services industry.
“I think it’s important to stay positive and adapt to changes that are out of our control,” he says.
As might be expected with current world events, not all students and recent grads have landed their dream job or internship this summer. Ainsley Maloney, Jefferson’s associate director of industry relations, shares strategies for those still searching during the pandemic:
Our advice in two words? Don’t wait. If you’re hoping to ride out the pandemic and job search later, you risk losing a sense of control over your future.
The truth is, your search can happen now and should involve much more than just submitting your resume on job boards.
It’s crucial to stay on people’s radar. Employers not currently hiring still want to stay engaged with top candidates so when they’re ready, they can choose from a solid pool. Don’t question whether a job is actually open—go for it.
If you’re hoping to ride out the pandemic and job search later, you risk losing a sense of control over your future.
Also, engage with recruiters and designers on social media by liking or sharing their posts. Stay visible by posting updates of your capstone or portfolio pieces and use hashtags so your name appears on top of employers’ feeds.
Your ability to adapt quickly and transition to remote classes is a huge selling point and should be front and center on your cover letter or during interviews. Let employers know you can work remotely, and add Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams to your resume if you used them in class.
Take this time as a way to practice engaging with your professional community. Given our Nexus Learning philosophy, Jefferson students meet dozens of professionals through in-class speakers; industry-sponsored projects, such as Sprint, New York Immersion and Nexus Maximus; and hiring events like Career Fairs and Design Expo.
Keep in mind, “employers” aren’t only HR recruiters. The person hiring might be the alumna you saw last semester on a panel who now runs her own department. Chances are, you could easily write a list of five industry professionals you’ve met during your time at Jefferson. Reach out to one of them via email or LinkedIn to request an informational interview and expand your professional community. For tips on how to ask for an informational interview and more, check out 20 actionable tips to work on your career during the pandemic.
Your ability to adapt quickly and transition to remote classes is a huge selling point and should be front and center on your cover letter or during interviews.
Finally, don’t forget that your first job out of college doesn’t have to be forever. You have some 40 years to build your career, so learn to play the long game. We coach students to brainstorm three tiers of possible jobs they can apply to, given the circumstances. Tier one is your dream job in your industry. Tier two is a job that helps you build skills and experience but may not be exactly in your field. Tier three is, “I need a job now, so I’m willing to do X.” Apply to jobs across all tiers at the same time and stay open to every option.
If you feel overwhelmed, remember you’re a human in the midst of a pandemic (aka: perfectly normal). Our Career Services staff excels at helping students break large goals into actionable steps and creating a personalized plan that works for you. You can schedule a remote appointment with professionals on the East Falls and Center City campuses in Handshake by going to Career Center, then clicking Schedule an Appointment.