Advice from English Department Alumni to the Class of 2020

Elise and Paul both graduated and entered the job market during a time of economic struggles. They shared words of wisdom to help you navigate the months ahead.

“My best career advice would be to network into your target industry, company, or job function. Inform everyone you know that you’re on the job hunt and what you’re looking for. Set up a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one already, and research how to optimize your profile and amplify your personal brand. Start connecting with people, following companies of interest, and joining relevant professional groups.  Reach out to people in your alumni network(s) to hear more about your industry/company/area of interest, as well as any advice/resources they might have. Ask if they might be willing to introduce you to relevant contacts. Express your gratitude and stay in touch to keep the connection fresh, so you stay top of mind should any new opportunities arise. You’re more likely to get noticed if someone refers you, versus sending your online application into a dark void.

“It’s also important to know that there is a hidden job market–just because you don’t see a job posting at a company you’re interested in, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to pursue opportunities there.  Take advantage of this time to acquire new skills through online courses, volunteering, or pro bono work. Immerse yourself in industry knowledge and news, whether it’s through a newsletter, podcast, or webinar.

“And remember, this too shall pass. Be patient and perseverant, and good things will come your way.”

— Elise, Social impact marketing and communications strategist

(Class of 2008)

“When I graduated in 2009, we were in a gigantic recession and there were no jobs. My advice is to reach out to anyone who might be able to help you. If you know what you want to do, reach out to alumni or people you know who work in your preferred field. As much as possible, try to make your interactions personal. Have a coffee with someone, even if it is over Zoom. You’ll have better luck than if you just send out emails and respond to job board posts. If you don’t know what to do but you know where you want to live (which is fine), reach out to people in that area. You will be surprised how helpful people are if you reach out. Try to find a mentor. This can be through an official mentoring program or just by reaching out to someone who might be able to help you. You should also become comfortable with networking. Every job I’ve had since I graduated from UW is the result of networking.

On Wisconsin!”

— Paul King, Attorney

(Class of 2009)