Staff Spotlight Interview with Andrea Rydel

The following is an interview with Andrea Rydel, Career Services’ new Assistant Director for Internships. Andrea started over the summer and while she has met many students already via appointments and events, read below to find out why, if you are looking for an internship, you will want to get to know Andrea.

Casey Brown: Welcome to Career Services! So first, tell me a little about your role in the office.

AndreaAndrea Rydel: I am the Assistant Director for Internships and Career Counseling. Basically, in my role, I work with students to prepare them for internships and the search process, working on documents like resumes and cover letters and getting students ready for interviews. I also manage the Summer Experience Survey and work with employers to encourage them to post internship opportunities and recruit here.

CB: It’s great that you work with both students and employers. We just had the General Interest Career Fair a few weeks ago and there were a lot of employers there. I would imagine a lot of students were looking for internships
there, right?

AR: Yes, there were both full-time jobs and internships available at the fall fair, which is intended to offer a wide variety of  opportunities for all students. I have been letting students know that the fall fair was not focused specifically on internships. Some freshmen who attended the General Interest Career Fair mentioned that they were not able to find many employers who were recruiting first-year or second-year students for internships – though they still had a chance to introduce themselves to employers. The selection of internship opportunities and requirements will be broader at our upcoming internship-focused fairs.

Internship fairs are really great for freshmen, sophomores and juniors, because the positions they’re recruiting for are specifically summer internships. They are a great way to start  exploring career paths and summer opportunities. For juniors, summer opportunities can even lead to full-time job offers, which is especially nice.

On December 6, we will host the second annual All-Princeton Resource Fair for Internships & Funding from 1-4 p.m. at Frist. This is a “one-stop” fair covering all Princeton resources for summer internships and funding! Students can learn about a variety of campus resources and programs available for summer internships. Then, on February 14 (on Valentines’ Day) we are hosting the Summer Internship Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Dillon. We’ve actually partnered with the nonprofit career fair again this year, so there’s both for-profit and nonprofit organizations that come to the fair – a really great mix of opportunities and different areas of interest for students to explore. We’re making a big push with employers this year to hopefully get some more varied opportunities for students. For example, we’re trying to get some more companies from the communications industry.

CB: Great! Now, tell me a little about the Summer Experience Survey.

AR: This is a tool that we use with students who are starting their internship searches. Basically, when students fill out the survey, they will provide information for their fellow peers (like where they worked geographically, the company they worked for, whether it was full-time or part-time, etc.). We take all of that information and remove the names, so when the students come in, they can say“ I’m looking for an internship in banking,” and we can say, “These are the geographic locations students have pursued opportunities in, these are examples of organizations, these are the job functions that they were in” – whatever kind of information we can give to help them make an informed decision. If they’re thinking “I really want to be in a certain field, but I don’t really know what I want to be doing,” we have a database of information to draw on and say, “These are the types of internships you could be doing in this area.” Students can complete the survey at

CB: So, it’s not just a survey, it’s also a tool for learning for the Princeton community.

AR: Absolutely. When students complete the survey, they’re also really helping their peers and future students who will benefit from the information. It also helps us to determine things like which fields our students are interested in so we can factor that into our employer outreach. It’s a great tool. I encourage all students to fill it out before the November deadline. The link is in CareerNews every Monday.

CB: So it sounds like you’re busy with a lot of things. Tell me about your average day in Career Services.

AR: It’s a lot of meetings with students! Many students are coming in right now with resume/cover letter questions. Some students are already starting career exploration, so they’re trying to figure out “What might I want to do this summer? Do I want to do an internship? Do I want to study abroad? What would help prepare me for a job search once I graduate?” Most of my day is spent speaking with students, researching for students to find resources for them if they’re going for something more specialized, coordinating the survey and planning programs that cover broad areas of career exploration and preparation. A lot of administrative tasks fold into helping the students.

CB: Do you have any hobbies that you’d like to share?

AR: I do! I like to read. I’m currently Casey,-Andeareading the newest Dan Brown book, Inferno. It’s fantastic, as all of his books are. I really enjoy fiction because it’s a great escape, but I also really like biographies and anything written by the Heath brothers or Malcolm Gladwell. I also enjoy running or practicing yoga – it clears my mind and I love the stress relief.

CB: We all do around here sometimes, especially in the fall! Do you have any particular academic or professional subjects that really interest you?

AR: I was a psychology major, and my master’s is in counseling, so I really like thinking and learning about how the human mind works and how emotions play into that. I used to do research in human emotion and scent, which is a really interesting topic. So I do keep tabs on that field because I think it’s so fascinating.

CB: That’s really interesting. What’s the number-one piece of advice you want to give to students who are looking toward their career paths, into internships or their jobs in the future.

AR: I think at times it’s di cult for students to follow their heart, because they know that they’re interested in or passionate about one thing – and they’re being pulled that way by their heart – but another part of them is saying “But I really should be doing this” or “everybody else is doing this.” My advice would be to go with your heart, do what you’re passionate about. If you’re excited by something, and you can’t wait to learn more about it, and you want to work on it or do research on it or do something professionally with it, listen to your inner voice. We typically succeed the most doing what we love.

CB: Great, thanks so much.

AR: Thank you, Casey.

The Best Post-Career Fair Follow Up Email You’ve Ever Written

After a Career Fair, there comes the follow-up. If you made contacts at the fair last Friday, now is the time to send a short acknowledgment of this interaction you shared.

Typing activityYou don’t have to be a super hero, but a little etiquette goes a long way to ensure that the job search isn’t just a frantic expedition (anyone remember Legend of the Hidden Temple?). This isn’t a game show and we don’t have to climb through mazes or swing on plastic vines to ‘win.’ Thankfully, this is the real world and leaving a lasting post-career fair impression is as simple as writing an email.

Here are some tips that will help you set a personal record in follow up email writing:

  1. Keep it professional. Even if it’s an email and you’re tempted to put an emoticon. Just don’t do it. Also, don’t send a thank you note from your phone. Autocorrect is one thing, but even if you spell everything correctly, think of that “sent from my iPhone” message at the bottom. Right—not a good look. A professional tone shows you’re serious about the job.
  2. Send it now! The career fair came and went. If you’re the kind of person who sends holiday thank you notes in March, fight your nature before your contacts have forgotten you! Write a note NOW! Besides, being prompt is an integral part of putting your best foot forward. Which brings me to…
  3. Helping your interviewer remember you. Jog their memories, and perhaps mention a topic of conversation. The first line is a good place to reference where you met and under what circumstances (Career Fair, of course).
  4. Affirm your interest. Perhaps you were passionate about a certain position the company offered. Mention that again and take the chance to reconnect that with your strengths. Being forward is often expected.
  5. Wait, there’s more? Offering to provide additional information is always helpful to both parties. Maybe you’re not writing an email, but in fact a cover letter as part of a job application. If so, then turn here for more information.

Bottom line, if you consider working for and with a professional community after graduation, the Career Fair conversation could be your first person-to-person interaction within this community. The follow up email could be your second, so here’s your chance to make it count!

Career Fairs Are Not Just for Seniors and Juniors!

Welcome to Campus!  The General Interest Career Fair is coming up on campus in a few days. That’s right—you can find employers, companies, post-grad programs—maybe even a J-O-B!

9777This Friday over 100 organizations will be there to greet you, hear your elevator pitch, and discuss their organizations as well as the post-grad opportunities they offer.

Freshmen and sophomores sometimes erroneously believe that they should not go to the career fair until junior or senior year.  This is a common misperception. Here are some excuses heard around campus:

I’m a freshman. I don’t need to start thinking about a career!

I have no idea what I want to do post-graduation, let alone for the next six years—let alone for the rest of my life! Yikes!

But Rocky’s lunch looks so good, and I already missed the curly fries last week!

First of all, I love curly fries as much as the next Rockyite, both let’s face it: both lunch and the Career Fair last for a while. There’s no reason you can’t eat curly fries AND focus on your future between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm this Friday. The career fair is for all students and offers the chance to start thinking about careers as well as making valuable contacts for your future.

Second, if you have no idea what you want to do 9959post-graduation, a Career Fair is the perfect place to do your research. You can either spend your time looking at stock photos of smiling faces on company websites—or you can talk face-to-face with a real representative from that company. Talk about a no-brainer. Even a brief conversation with representatives from different sectors can give you the lay-of-the-land on some career options. You might even change your mind about your career path or find a new avenue to pursue.

And if you end up in the “well….maybe grad school” zone, that’s useful information, too! In that case, make sure you make your calendar for the Grad and Professional School Fair on Oct. 4 from 12:30-3:30pm.

And finally, freshmen and sophomores—all we can offer you is a big, emphatic invitation “Come to the Career Fair!”

That’s right. Career Fairs are not just for seniors and juniors. Here are some more reasons why:

  1. It’s great practice for presenting yourself—putting a suit on (which tie should I wear), dusting off the elevator pitch (or starting one).
  2. Freshman can land internships over the summer. (What?) I’ll say it again: Freshmen can get summer internships, too!
  3. Networking takes time, and there’s no time like the present. 9881Besides, it’s great to get connected with circles outside your hometown network, especially if you’re interested in branching out after graduation.
  4. There’s no (well, almost no) pressure! When you get to be old like us seniors, you might look back and wish you took the opportunity to visit a career fair before the prospect is accompanied by jolting memories of A Chorus Line songs (Read: “I really need this job!”). Not that we seniors are thinking that! Of course not….

Here’s a few resources for front-running freshmen and smart seniors alike:

Here’s information on how to work a Career Fair.

Check TigerTracks for a list of the employers coming to the fair. Then, do some research so you know the right questions to ask!

Here’s how to keep your wardrobe classy and professional.

9976Once you look the nicest you’ve looked since your graduation photo, hop over to our Linked In Photo Booth to get a professional headshot taken!

What are Princeton students doing over the summer?

Answer: An awful lot! Check out this video to get a glimpse at the plans some students have in store!

The past few weeks I went around campus interviewing students about their summer plans. From freshmen to upperclassmen, students are abuzz with blueprints for travel, research, study, and work in a wide variety of sectors from law to engineering, nonprofit work to language classes. While it’s not surprising to see Princeton students engaged, there was one trend that I didn’t expect–Princeton is going global in a HUGE way. Whether through Princeton’s International Internship Program or for senior thesis research, students are increasingly seeking experiences abroad. In fact, last year 27% of students reported spending some or all of their summer abroad. It seems like that number just keeps growing!

Here’s one caveat: If you DON’T have structured summer plans right now–no sweat. First of all, it’s your summer, and you should do what YOU want to do. Now, if what you want to do is land an internship, you’re not too late! Check out TigerTracks for the latest job postings, or make an appointment with a Career Services career counselor before classes end to discuss your opportunities. 

See you in September!

Internships 101: A No-Brainer Guide

Don’t call 411. If you’re deciding if you should pursue an internship this summer, there’s a simple answer.

Go for it.

bigstock_Attractive_young_business_prof_15703601To those unacquainted, internships are the star power of a job world that’s way tougher than Nintendo 64. They’re excellent ways to explore possible career fields as well as build experience and workplace skills. It’s best to have one to two internships under your belt by the time you graduate. Often, recruiters will even prefer candidates that have experience in two internships.

Here’s the no-brainer list. Make sure you know the following before moving on to the next level:
Level Zero: THE QUESTIONS PHASE. Every young child goes through this phase. So does every internship seeker, so before proceeding, consider the following:

  • What careers pique my interest?
  • Am I interested in a particular type of organization, i.e. government or nonprofit?
  • What do I want to do on the job? Usually you’ll do one or more of the following—research, conduct office activities, assist planning, write, work in a lab, and problem solve.
  • Where do I want to be?
  • Are dollars important to me? (i.e. Do I want to get paid?)

Level One: THE BASICS. You’re ready to go. Now for some updates.

  • Read Career Services’ weekly CareerNews e-mail every Monday for a list of opportunities and deadlines as well as workshops and events to help you build the job search skills you need.
  • Update your resume and draft a cover letter. If you need a “cheat sheet” check out the Career Planning Guide.
  • Practice your interviewing skills, and not just to the mirror– although that works, too. Attend workshops or schedule a mock interview to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Level Two: THE SEARCH. Welcome to the stage of the furrowed brows, Nicholas Cage-style. This, actually, is the fun part.

bigstock_Portrait_Of_A_Female_Executive_1576130Your bright, shiny new internship is just around the corner. Don’t forget to follow up with employers 10-14 days after applying. It is not too late to continue applying in April. There are still plenty of internship postings coming in to Career Services; some are just waiting for someone (like you, perhaps) to fill them!



Common Conundrums: Job and Interview FAQs

As my peers and I search for jobs bigstockphoto_Your_Career_340932and summer internships, a few sticky topics have come up—how do I dress for my interview? Write a follow-up email? Tell an employer about my weaknesses? How can I balance career dreams and community engagement? After researching these questions, I’ve come up with several answers.
Dear friends—I hope this helps!

  1. What is business casual?
    For starters, DON’T break out the flip-flops. Most of you already pass this rule. But how do I look sharp? What does this label even mean? Should I wear khakis or Suit pants? Truth is, for most jobs, this will be your wardrobe. Only a select few dress in business attire every day. Here’s a handy list for dressing up, compiled from our career website.
    DO remember that business casual is more business than casual.
    DON’T look sloppy. Dining hall breakfast garb like sweatpants and t-shirts is, of course, never acceptable. Also, make sure that your “nice” clothes are all neat and well tailored. Nothing too tight or revealing!
    For ladies, DO wear skirts and nice dresses. Make sure they’re not too short.
    Also for ladies, DO try any of the following combinations: dress + cardigan or blazer, or skirt + sweater set, knit top, blouse, button-down, V-neck, centerpiece shirt, or turtleneck.
    For men, DO wear pressed pants with a new photobelt.
    For men, DO wear business formal minus the tie and the jacket. Often, a polo shirt can be appropriate, too.
    If this is for the interview, DO research the company you’re interviewing with beforehand. Often you’ll be free to express more personality in an interview with Google, Facebook, and other computer software companies as well as in the film and fashion industries.
    Bottom line, DO research before getting dressed. If you have questions, contact your interviewer for more information.
  2. How do I write a follow-up email?
    If you’ve seriously applied for jobs and internships, the follow-up stage (or, more accurately, the do-I-follow-up? stage) is fully stocked with opportunities!  Check out Alison Green’s short, snappy follow-up email for a good model:
  3. Tackling the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question.
    Kryptonite? Narcissism? Well, to be honest, nothing!
    Needless to say, these answers won’t fly in the job interview. This is a tricky question, and when an interviewer asks many of these questions, it’s to your advantage to think creatively and show that you are a thoughtful, self-reflective human being. You’re not Superman, and even wearing a Super-suit and cape to your interview won’t prove that. (Note: do not test this theory. See section on Business Casual above.)
    DON’T spin a weakness into a strength. “I don’t have any weaknesses,” “None that I know of,” “I frequently work overtime at the expense of my social life,” “I’m so efficient that I don’t have to delegate” are all great weaknesses to have. But for the interview, you can do better.
    DO use this model. Wetfeet identifies a three-part system to answering this question. First, identify a real weakness. Next, show how you’ve improved upon that weakness. Third, celebrate your improvement. That way you’ll come across as human and fallible but still determined and adept at problem solving.
  4. As a senior, do I “give back” or pursue a life-long dream?
    In a perfect world, you’ll be doing both next year—painting, dancing, writing, breaking into fashion or film, trying your hand as an actor. Why not? You’re young and there’s no (or, well, few) strings attached!
    Yet, you’ve had an uncommon opportunity in education…you feel like you should give back right away. What do you do?
    Often, you can do both. Rana Campbell, a senior and Sociology major, plans to pursue her dream job in the media industry while also giving back where and when she can—through a local afterschool program or as a volunteer for a program like Peety Greene Prisoner Assistance Program, where she has volunteered weekly for all four years of her undergraduate career.
    For others, it’s a service job and a dream on the side. Landed a job in consulting? You can still take dance class at night. What about travel? Are you taking a job abroad and itching to write a novel? No time like the present!
    Look to the Alumni Careers Network to find previous Princeton grads that are currently carving the path you desire. You’ll find that a career might take you on paths you never even imagined!
  5. How do I find jobs if I want to work in a particular city in the U.S.?
    Oh, so you want to work in New York? Easy. We’ve got that one in the bag.
    Other cities aren’t so easy to scope out. As an east coast school in New Jersey, we might be a bit partial to our neighboring cities when it comes to jobs. That being said, there are some easy steps to take to find a job—wherever you may wish to be next year.
    First, on TigerTracks and UCAN, the search feature allows you to list postings by location as well as by keyword. Bam. Done.
    Second, check out Even though you’re not technically going abroad, the website has a wealth of organizations listed for major U.S. cities. You can browse their lists by city, and then more closely by industry.

Finding Your Niche: Visual Arts

Often, the visual arts, archaeology, and art history get a bad rap. Word on the street may suggest that these majors aren’t exactly practical major choices.   Nevertheless, a major/career in these fields can lead you on many rewarding career paths. Alumni who majored in art and archaeology at Princeton reported a variety of different career plans, from positions as literary agents and research associates, to jobs as lawyers, teachers, analysts, or professors. That being said, you don’t have to look very far outside your major to find job opportunities.

First, here are some resources for jobs in the arts:

Check out this site for a quick synopsis on many various careers available to art history majors: You may find something interesting and unexpected.

Also, here’s a wealth of information on art and architecture resources:

Northern Michigan has a long list of job databases by arts industry, from design to film: is an independent jobs database. The site currently features 880 postings for positions in all kinds of arts and creative nonprofits  Watch out though—this site costs money if you want to look more closely than a casual browse.

Also, if you’re interested in arts and business in New York, check out for information, tutorials, and several internship listings for positions within the organization.

While your possibilities for post-graduate careers are nearly boundless, there’s nonetheless a vibrant, international network of jobs for which your art/art history major uniquely qualifies you—museum jobs. Boy, are there a lot of these.

Of course, this list is not to limit your search. Many a Princeton grad has taken his/her own path with an art/art history degree. Visit the Alumni Career Network to speak with alumni who can tell you more about their personal career journeys. This way, you can learn from the painters, artists, producers, curators, editors, and executives who were once where you are today.


Not Another Facebook Update!

When Facebook suddenly changed to timeline, there was widespread controversy. Some liked the double-picture spread. Others were concerned that the change would make it far too easy for viewers to access the early years of your Facebook history. And who wants their middle school pictures open to the public?

Now it’s not just Facebook that’s changing. LinkedIn has also recently altered its format to a new, more visually streamlined profile format. But before we hem and haw over social media changes, let’s take a look at the details. This format may just work to your advantage.

So what’s different? First thing you’ll probably notice is that your picture is much bigger. While the photo slot is still square-shaped, it will be all the more noticeable when viewers land on your page. As always, make sure it’s professional! Additionally, the layout of your information will no longer appear like a print resume converted online. In fact, it will read visually a bit like the Facebook “About” section. The logo of each company you have worked for will appear next to its title.  Each category of the profile (i.e. “Experience,” “Education,” or “Organizations”) will be headed in dark, all-capped font. And next to each heading will appear its own logo.

Second, to the right of your profile you’ll see something called “Profile Strength.” This is a measure visible only to you that will tell you how competitive your profile is on LinkedIn. While this measure is mostly based on completeness of your profile, there’s another way you can strengthen your profile with another new LinkedIn feature.

Now, at the top of your profile any viewer can see your activity feed—did you connect with a new person? Post a status? Update your photo? This feed is a good way to show your connections, what you’re up to, and the more you come up in the news feed the better. Aim for adding something to your profile about once a month.

Another key change is your new ability to “follow” thought leaders—a similar system to following on Twitter or subscribing on Facebook. Take a moment to research the top thinkers in your field. This feature will help keep you up-to-date and also help others learn a bit more about your interests and aspirations.

My overall impression is optimistic. Because of the easy on the eyes layout, people who view your profile will better be able to remember you. Sounds fair enough. See for yourself. For more information on building your best LinkedIn profile, visit Career Services social media page.

Review of Maisha Walker’s IMAGINE Series Talk

Guest Blog Post by Vivian Gao ‘15

Looking at Maisha Walker (Class of ’94), one would not expect to hear that she was anything but confident in her career path; with her warm, infectious smile and enthusiastic attitude, she appeared every bit the successful entrepreneur who loved what she did.  But this had not always been the case, as Walker revealed to a group of students during her recent talk at Career Services as part of the Imagine series.  As a French major who graduated without an idea of where she wanted her career to go, Walker shared that she tackled the job-search process post-graduation armed with only a pencil and the NY Times Classified Ads. Now, Walker is the Founder and President of Message Medium, a digital marketing agency that helps new and reinvested brands create dynamic and profitable presences online.

Walker started off her story with a funny anecdote from her senior year at Princeton, during the time of year when students start flocking to Career Services clean-shaven and in business-suited hoards.  Walker laughingly recalls how she flagged down one of the girls on her way to an interview (“which probably wasn’t the nicest thing, now that I think back on it”) and asked the girl what she was interviewing for.  Upon hearing the response “consulting and investment banking,” Walker admits that she had no idea what the fields were at the time, and by the time she realized that she actually found the “amorphous field of business” interesting, all the deadlines for applications were already past.  This story perhaps serves as a gentle reminder to students on just how common it is for students not to have life planned out upon graduation. Later Walker would go on to work at Morgan Stanley as an Analyst for 3 years, before a long string of various jobs she took on before ultimately finding her passion for marketing and digital media.  This served as further evidence that your career path is not always a straight line and that there may be many twists  and turns on the road to finding your passion.

Maisha Walker ’94 was the guest speaker for Career Services’ IMAGINE Speaker Series. Walker delivered a talk for students about her unimagined career journey on November 28th.

In her talk, Walker emphasized to students the importance of reaching out and striving for perfection, from her experiences with connecting through Princeton’s alumni network (post-graduation) and getting an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, to messing up a large-scale project because of carelessness in working with Excel.  And, although not directly, Walker demonstrated how optimism was the biggest contributor of all to success: throughout the experience of being unemployed and even being fired, Walker maintained that she was determined to continue exploring different career fields and learn from her mistakes.

In her current capacity as head of a digital marketing agency and the creator of the blog “The Internet Strategist” for Inc. Magazine, Walker has plenty of advice for eager students looking to network, use social media to build their online image, and land the perfect job.  But at the heart of the question of “how do I find my ideal career?”, Walker seems to advocate the old fashioned method: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!  I really enjoyed hearing this honest, upfront, and personal talk from an accomplished alumna like Ms. Walker (you can watch her talk here) and look forward to hearing from future Imagine Series speakers this spring.