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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hiatt Career Corner: Think creatively in a bad economy

Published: January 16, 2009
Section: Opinions

Even in a strong economy it takes hard work and creativity to reflect on your skills, explore careers, and connect with organizations for jobs and internships. So what should you do during a slowing economy? Continue to research opportunities while acknowledging that the world is changing; you may need to find ways to apply your skills in new fields and sectors that are still growing.

By thinking strategically about your career search you can still find opportunities and land a great job or internship. According to workforce analysts, growing fields include management, scientific, economic, and technical consulting; education; internet publishing and broadcasting; computer systems design; homeland security; the federal bailout; energy consulting, conservation, and green jobs; media and entertainment; biotechnology; and mental health. Liberal arts student gain skills that are transferable to all of these careers.

But what does this mean in today’s job market? Students need to broaden their thinking about how to apply their skills. If you had your heart set on working at a big investment bank, consider joining the finance department of Staples, one of the biggest employers in Massachusetts. If human resources is your passion but you can’t find open positions, consider other opportunities that allow you to build skills you can eventually transition into an HR position.

Brandeis alumna Kate Forrestall ’01, Global Recruiter for Marketing at TripAdvisor explains, “It’s great to see candidates who have a diversity of sectors as well as a variety of internships, interests, and extra-curricular activities.” After graduating with a BA in American Studies, Kate worked at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club as the After School Program Director. She later completed a Masters of Policy and Management at The Harvard Graduate School of Education and parlayed a dual-departmental internship in Human Resources and Educational Programs at the Museum of Science into a full-time position. While at the museum Kate discovered her passion for human resources, which led her to TripAdvisor, where she secured a more senior position with greater responsibilities.

Forrestall acknowledges it takes hard work for students to convey how their experiences relate to specific opportunities. “Sometimes, it is clear students have done great internships and jobs, but there is no clear focus that relates back to a major/minor or a career goal. I think this is where Hiatt can help. Hiatt can help translate those professional experiences into a strong, unified resume that not only speaks to a desired post-college career path, but to a particular job description,” says Forrestall.

Sridatta Mukherjee ’09 had a similar epiphany to Kate’s. “Last year, I was completely focused on investment banking,” says Sridatta. Through a summer internship in commercial banking, Sridatta discovered she liked working with clients – something she would not have experienced initially at an investment bank. Sridatta did her research to explore other fields. “I spoke to friends who were interning in economic consulting firms to find out more. I also attended information sessions that Hiatt hosted on campus. These allowed me to get an in-depth idea of what kind of work I could actually be doing.” Sridatta recently accepted an offer with KPMG’s Economic and Valuation Services division, and is one of three seniors who have been hired by KPMG through Hiatt’s on-campus recruitment program.

Whether you are just beginning to explore careers or want to research new opportunities, it is never too late or too early to visit Hiatt. Hiatt can help you think creatively about how to fulfill your career goals even in a slow economy. Stop by and see us on January 20th during our Inauguration event, “Yes You Can!” in the Shapiro Atrium and the Hiatt center from 10am-3pm where you can watch the inauguration events, get career advice, and enjoy free hot chocolate and popcorn.

Editor’s Note: Cary H. Weir Lyte is the Associate Director of Employer Relations for the Hiatt Career Center.