OCS Gives Advice In Tough Job Market

The anxiety of recruiting season has descended upon the campus, but a networking event organized by the Office of Career Services yesterday sought to dispel the pressure to find the perfect job immediately after graduation and encouraged students to keep an open mind when considering career options.

Over one hundred students attended the workshop, which included a panel event and a networking session during which students met with alumni who were on campus for a leadership conference.

“The point was to offer students a safe environment to practice networking with alumni who really do want to help them learn,” said OCS Associate Director Susan M. Vacca ’76.

The six alumni panelists boasted a diverse array of undergraduate concentrations, interests, and professional background—ranging from public service to law—but they offered similar advice for students seeking to enter the job market.

“I encourage you to consider the notion of whether you’re really taking a risk,” said Thomas H. Mattox ’82, the panel’s moderator and managing director at Lancaster Street Partners, a real estate firm. “You’re going to have your Harvard degree to fall back on and a community to support you.”

Echoing Mattox’s sentiment, OCS Director Robin E. Mount emphasized the strength of the Harvard community in times of need: “Last year, when the economy was really deteriorating, a lot of alumni approached us and offered to help,” she said following the event.

The panelists at “[Making Sure You Have A] Life After Harvard” also offered some practical tips for interviewing and networking.

Ellen G. Reeves ’83, the Harvard Alumni Association’s vice-president of engagement and marketing and a frequent public speaker, said students should recognize their individual aspirations and be straightforward and honest during networking events.

“Make it easy for others to help you,” Reeves said. “God might help people who help themselves, but people love to help people who help them to help them.”

Alexandra T. Monti, the Harvard Alumni Association senior class coordinator, said undergraduate attendance at the event was split relatively evenly among the four classes.“This just goes to show that the theme of the panel was something all students could relate to,” Monti said.

Neagheen Homaifar ’10, who attended the event—co-sponsored by the Harvard Club of New York Foundation, HAA, and OCS—acknowledged that recruiting can be a stressful process.

“This panel, if held last semester, would have been so helpful,” Homaifar added. “[The panelists’] wisdom and their idea of viewing failure as another opportunity to gain skills would have really helped.”

—Staff writer Helen X. Yang can be reached at