Jing Li is an international student in his senior year at the UO, double-majoring in Economics and Accounting. Advising and Career Services Director Bill Sherman spoke with Jing just as he was starting a six-month internship at Amazon in Seattle.
Great job on landing this internship, Jing! How did it come about?
Actually, it’s a long story. At first, I didn’t think I would get a spot, so I did not apply for it.
Fortunately, because of a luncheon hosted by Mr. Bill Sherman, I had a chance to submit my resume to Amazon’s recruiters. About one week later, I got an email showing Amazon’s interest in offering me a chance to interview with them and I did a make-up online application. After a couple days, I had an interview with four different interviewers in Amazon headquarters in Seattle.
What are you doing at Amazon?
My position is a financial analyst intern, working with financial retail team. My major responsibility is to prepare weekly business reports, using excel and SQL. Amazon usually selects about 30 interns for the financial analyst position from almost 1,000 applicants. It is not a making-copies-and-making-coffee internship.
What advice would you give to other students hoping for a similar opportunity?
A lot of students think actually GPA in school is not that important. But when recruiters look at a student’s resume, they always look at their GPA first. Not a single company would like to hire a party boy or party girl. But don’t be a nerd—get involved in volunteer activities, clubs, competitions, and even internships.
Also, be yourself and be unique. This is important during interviews. I can give you an example: During Amazon’s interview, one of the interviewers asked me a question like, “are you a great teammate and would you always make a decision that satisfies your teammates if you are the leader?”
I said actually if I were a leader of a team, sometimes if I need to make some decisions that I think are right, I will do it and take the responsibility even though it goes against my teammates. And I also told the recruiter that I had an interesting nickname—”the Tyrant”—because my leadership style sometimes is not that democratic, even sometimes a little bit arbitrary.
Actually it turned out that the interviewer liked my answer because he actually intended to mislead me to think that he was looking for a perfect-teamwork guy or a supporter. Instead, he was looking for a leader who can make the decision and take the responsibility when he/she is needed. Therefore, it’s important to be yourself.
Thanks, Jing—best of luck on the rest of your internship!
Recent WSJ op-ed piece gives tips to grads from someone who’s already landed a gig.
No black suits. Send thank you cards. Get a LinkedIn page. Update your Facebook settings.
David Pierce is a senior at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Recently, his op-ed piece appeared in the Wall Street Journal. He discusses the pressure and anxiety that comes with the job search, and shares a few pieces of wisdom to help his fellow Class of 2014 grads launch a successful first job right after graduation.
Full text of the article.
Original article from Wall Street Journal (requires subscription).
Photo By bpsusf (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfbps/4607149870/)
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Career and Advising Services Director Bill Sherman had a chance to catch up with 2013 grad Emily White. She talks about her job search, her new position, and her views on being a Duck—and shares some advice for other college students wanting to launch their careers right after graduation.
Congratulations on your new job, Emily! Tell us about it.
I’m a Higher Education Research Associate (RA) for The Advisory Board Company (ABC) in Washington DC. The Advisory Board Company is a healthcare consulting firm, but I’ll be working for their higher education consulting branch, the Education Advisory Board. I’ll be conducting primary and secondary research for universities and community colleges who approach ABC with questions. I can’t wait to dig in to my projects, and hopefully help some universities and community colleges solve difficult problems!
What kinds of challenges did you face in looking for work?
Despite all evidence, I had convinced myself that I’d leave school with a job. I actually turned down a job offer that definitely wasn’t right for me before I graduated, but then I didn’t receive another for a couple of months. It’s very easy to grow discouraged when you’re applying for jobs each day and getting no responses whatsoever. I realized that I also had a strong interest in consulting. I specifically sought out a consulting firm with a strong focus on volunteering and community involvement, which I feel will be a particularly good fit for me.
What job search strategies did you try and which worked best?
I received three different job offers in the last six months, as well as several other interviews, and without a doubt the most effective way to earn an interview was through UO connections. Bill Sherman’s weekly emails earned me a job offer in Portland, and I got another through a meeting with representatives of the firm at the spring Career Fair.
I actually found my current job through LinkedIn: I did a lot of keyword searches in the job postings section for skills and interests of mine (economics, research, international development, Spanish, etc.) which helped me find all sorts of firms I’d never heard of before. It was definitely not the most traditional path to this role, but it’s surprising how often people get jobs in a way they didn’t anticipate.
Looking back upon your time as a UO Economics student, what classes, resources, and extra-curricular activities helped you to make a successful transition from college to career?
I double-majored in Economics and Spanish, and I did the honors program in each major, which meant writing two senior theses. For anyone looking for a career in research, or hoping to go on to graduate school, conducting a long-term research project is crucial! I also attended the EC 407 course, Careers in Economics, which introduced me to a variety of job search options, and helped me to tailor my resume and cover letter for different positions, and taught me more networking strategies to find job opportunities.
Additionally, I completed an internship with Institutional Stove Solutions (InStove), which was very useful in allowing me to gain experience in areas that were relevant to my job search. As a non-traditional student, I entered UO with some work experience under my belt, but in fact, my volunteer experience has turned out to be very interesting to employers, who saw my volunteer activities as proof that I was willing to work hard, and that I have a range of interests.
Any advice for current students looking to prepare for the workforce?
This might sound a little harsh, but if the only thing on your resume is your academic record, you’re not going to be at the top of anyone’s list for most positions (at least with a bachelor’s degree). Today’s job market is improving, but it’s still hard to distinguish yourself from other applicants. I think that completing an internship, or getting paid work experience is absolutely crucial. Nearly everyone applying for the jobs you apply for will also have met the basic qualifications (college degree, mastery of certain subjects/skillsets), and it’s up to you to give yourself the preparation you need to make yourself stand out as an applicant. Don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements in your resume and during interviews.
Additionally, you should definitely talk to your career counselors, even if you aren’t certain what you want to do with your degree. They can still help you find internships and job postings that are relevant to your interests and skills.
Finally, if you can manage it, be open to relocating. There are great firms all over, and limiting yourself to a small geographical area will greatly diminish your options.
When I tell people the amount of work that went into my job search, they’re often surprised, considering I have prior job experience and I did well in school. It’s easy to assume that success will find you if you have done well in school, but the honest truth is, it’s not easy to find a job that is right for you. Working with your career advisors (especially those who are knowledgeable about the specific field you’re looking for work in) is the absolute best way to make sure that you’re tailoring your cover letters and resumes effectively, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Student trip sponsored by the Department of Economics
The UO’s Economics Club took a field trip to the Seattle Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank in late January. Econ Club member Jeff Naber was one of the 15 or so students who made the trip.
“When we arrived we passed through two security checkpoints—one outside before we could even park our cars, and one inside the building itself,” Naber recalls. “Cameras were not allowed inside the building; we even had to leave our cell phones in our cars.”
The first part of the visit included displays that traced the history of the Seattle Fed, which was relocated from its downtown Seattle location about 10 years ago to undeveloped land previously owned by Boeing. They also saw samples of the largest currency denominations, including a rare $10,000 bill, which was only used for inter-bank transfers before electronic funds transfers became commonplace.
Next, they learned the role of the Seattle fed, which is to collect information about the regional economy for the Fed to use in determining monetary policy, and to collect, store, and distribute currency from the member banks.
The group toured the facility with an escort of police guards, after being relieved of purses and coats, and reminded repeatedly not to put their hands in their pockets for any reason. They viewed the receiving room, where armored trucks unload bins of money for sorting.
“At one point one of the employees held up two stacks of money, and our guide pointed out that we were looking at $1 million. Just being held up by one dude,” says Naber. “It was weird.”
Weird, too, was the group’s view inside the vault, which Naber said looked like “a Costco full of bins of money.”
Lastly, the group viewed the processing room, where money is examined to see if it is real and fit for re-circulation, or counterfeit and/or too damaged to circulate. Each group member received a bag of shredded currency as a souvenir.
Afterward, the members made the 15-minute drive to downtown Seattle for sightseeing and exploring the city’s iconic spots, such as Starbucks and Pike Place Market.
The Economics Club’s Seattle Fed trip was sponsored by the Department of Economics, which paid for lodging and travel costs for the group. To learn more about the UO Economics Club, you can visit the club’s Facebook wall.