Top 10 Reasons to Talk with a Career Counselor this Summer

1) You just graduated and you want some help getting started in the job search.

2) You don’t know what you want to do or how to get started figuring out what to do.

3) You want someone to confirm that it’s okay you didn’t find a great summer job or internship and to make a plan for what to do next.

4) You want some advice on getting the most out of your summer internship or research experience.

5) You want to take some time this summer to learn about different internships, jobs, or careers.

6) You want to learn more about how concentrations or degrees connect with careers.

7) You’ve got interviews lined up and you want some help preparing and practicing. 

8) You’re going to a networking event [link to BrownConnect summer list?] and you want help preparing to get the most out of it.

9) You want some advice on how to reach out to alumni and other people who work in fields that interest you and how to do good informational interviews.

10) You’ll be applying and interviewing for internships or jobs this summer or early in the fall as part of on-campus recruitment and you want tips, advice, and help making a plan for how to proceed.

Log into Handshake or e-mail to schedule an in-person, phone, or video appointment.

Your First Job – Not Necessarily Your Forever Career

As graduation nears, seniors are feeling stressed about what their first job after Brown will be and when they’ll find it. Many think that they must choose a lifelong career now AND have a job before graduation. A few facts might help settle your mind:

  • On average, people change jobs 15 times in their lives (data from LinkedIn)
  • Over the last 20 years, the number of companies people worked for five years after graduation has nearly doubled (also from LinkedIn).

Graphic from LinkedIn:–and-will-accelerate

  • The bulk of Brown graduates secure their jobs between March of their senior year and six months post-graduation

As you can see, lots of people don’t have it figured out on Commencement Day – that is normal!

Now that you realize that your first job isn’t what you’ll be doing forever, what should you look for in your search to help you find that career path you’re excited about?

Think about where else the job could lead.

Ask about the path forward in your interview:

  • What types of project assignments are available?
  • Are there opportunities to gain more responsibility?
  • What are the networking opportunities?

What transferable skills will I develop? Will it make me well-rounded?

If you know that you want to be in a certain industry or functional area, but you haven’t settled on a specific role, look for positions that allow you to build transferable skills.

Search for positions that allow you to work with different functional areas and take projects that might be out of your comfort zone. Look, too, for positions that allow you to dive into different types of projects. Startups and smaller companies can be great choices for these reasons.

Who Will I Learn From?

You won’t know everything as you begin your career path, and that’s okay. Your first job is supposed to be a learning experience—so look for a company that encourages the more seasoned employees to mentor and train newbies and provides training sessions and new hire orientations. Open-door policies with supervisors are another positive sign that you can grow and learn in this environment.

Finding your first gig is an exciting and overwhelming time. But with these hints, you’ll be well on your way to a great place to start your career.

Want more help? Book an appointment with any of the CareerLAB counselors – we can help you feel better and more in control of your search.


Book an appointment with Career Counselor through Handshake
either in person, on the phone, or via Skype

Appointments are available throughout the calendar year!

Networking Can Be Easier Than You Think

Written by Maya Omori, Peer Career Advisor, Class of 2020

Networking can be as simple as connecting with alumni in a matter of clicks and a short phone conversation.

Two summers ago, I was looking for a summer internship in my hometown of Los Angeles. I didn’t know what kind of position I was interested in, but the thought of working in tech or film was slightly intriguing. I logged into BrownConnect, and I typed “Amazon Studios Los Angeles.”  I clicked on the “Alumni” tab, and Craig Muhlrad popped up. I altered the email template slightly and sent him a message.

After about a week, he responded! His response came directly to my Brown email inbox, and we scheduled a short phone conversation for later that week. I was a little nervous because he had never met me, nor did I have a fully developed “schpeal” for why I was interested in his career. To be honest, I had no idea what he did.

“Networking can be as simple as connecting with alumni in a matter of clicks and a short phone conversation.”

Before the call, I jotted down a few questions from the Informational Interview Tip Sheet on the CareerLAB website, in addition to skimming his LinkedIn profile. Little did I expect, the conversation was so casual! I never even referred to my question sheet, as Craig led the conversation and I mostly listened and asked clarifying questions. He told me about his day-to-day, what his career path has looked like thus far, and a few key insights if he were to “do it all over again.”

While the conversation did not end with an internship offer right off the bat, I hung up the phone with a newfound realization that “networking” can be stress-free and simple.


Want to meet with a PCA? Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Walk-In Hours are held at CareerLAB. No appointment is necessary.

*Spring 2019 Hours run through May 3, 2019:
Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays: 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays: 7-9 p.m.

Just drop by 167 Angell Street.

Connections between Careers and Concentrations

When choosing a concentration, students often ask about the connection between a concentration and a career.  Brown’s Open Curriculum provides students the freedom to explore a range of academic disciplines based on their own interests and goals and to direct the course of their education.  This can feel both exciting and overwhelming!

Sometimes academic interests directly correlate to a particular career field and the academic knowledge gained from courses is needed to pursue particular jobs. But most often, the knowledge and skills gained from a concentration is applicable to a wide range of careers. This is what makes the Open Curriculum and liberal learning at Brown so inspiring. You can choose a concentration to study in depth and also explore a breadth of courses outside your concentration. All of which will guide you as you decide what internships to explore and what to pursue for your first job after Brown.

This is what makes the Open Curriculum and liberal learning at Brown so inspiring.

Career counselors are available to meet with students and help make sense of what you have gained from your concentration and how this connects to different career fields. And your academic background is only one part of your undergraduate experience that interest employers. Your campus activities outside of class, internships, work, volunteering, and more, all play a role in how employers evaluate you for a position.

CareerLAB offers numerous tools to explore the paths alums have taken from various concentrations.  

  • The Focal Point website contains an “Alumni Pathways section” (located at the bottom right of each page) which provides examples of the various careers that alums have pursued from each concentration, as well as their first job after graduation. 
  • The alumni database in BrownConnect allows you to search for alums by concentration and industry.  You can then set up a conversation with an alum to learn more about the connection between their concentration and their individual career path.
  • CareerLAB’s Undergraduate Post-Graduation Data shows what Brown alums were engaged in within nine months of graduating – whether they were employed, pursuing an advanced degree, or participating in other endeavors. The data can also be filtered by concentrations and industries.

Make an appointment through Handshake to speak with a career counselor about the connection between your concentration and potential careers, and what options may be available to you based on your academic interest. The possibilities may be broader than you think!

For Graduate Students: CV or Resume – What’s the Difference?

Which is best to use as your calling card – the resume or the CV?

Your first impression when applying for either academic jobs or jobs beyond academia is in the form of a resume or CV – it is your proxy. Knowing the differences in formatting and content matters. Let’s consider audience, style, and content.

In the U.S., applications for faculty positions and grant/fellowship require a CV; employers in business, non-profits, research and government require a resume. (Outside the US, the term CV is commonly used for any document.)

If you are applying for a job in business, and you submit a CV, you tell your readers you don’t know their culture (and that you want to be an academic). No interview… If you submit a crisp, skills-oriented document, you tell your readers that you are ready to help them solve their problems with your skills and talents. Interview scheduled…

The CV is a listing of academic achievements, primarily research and teaching, including the accomplishments academics are looking for in applicants. It includes the standard categories of education, research, teaching, fellowships/awards, publications and presentations, with a strong and specific focus on current work, and much less focus on previous experience.

A resume highlights your current and previous education and work experience and, most importantly, the transferable skills you’ve developed during graduate school that relate to the job you are applying for. The emphasis is not on the details of your research or teaching, but rather on the application of your expertise and skills in a setting outside academia.

Within fields, there is often a standard order of entries and expected CV structure. In other words, creativity isn’t necessary. A CV is as long as it needs to be. Length varies with time in the field and productivity.

A resume is usually one page, perhaps two. Common wisdom says that the reader will give your resume 10-15 seconds before making the decision that you are in or out. Be concise!

The ordering of categories depends on what you are highlighting for the employer – in other words, you might have multiple versions of your resume for the same job search. Use bullet points and spacing to quickly get the attention of the reader. Bullet points showcase your skills, tasks you’ve completed, and your accomplishments. Details are expected and necessary.

A simple guideline for an effective resume is to start your bullet points with verbs, like this:

  • Developed…
  • Evaluated…
  • Researched…

In summary:
Carefully develop the appropriate document for each job application. Visit CareerLAB for samples and for consultation and CV and/or resume development. To make an appointment, visit Handshake, come to Grad Walk-ins (Monday, 4-5m, Wednesday, 3-4 pm, Thursday, 2-3pm) or email


Practice Makes Perfect: How Mock Interviews Can Prepare You For The Real Thing

Written by Renny Ma, Peer Career Advisor, Class of 2020

About a month ago, I received an email from a company requesting a first round interview. To prepare, I used the CareerLAB’s Effective Interviewing Tip Sheet to think about what types of questions I might be asked, including, “Tell me about yourself,” questions about my strengths and weaknesses, and importantly, questions about why I wanted to work for that specific company. It was helpful to sit in a quiet place and to think out loud about how I might answer these questions, and ultimately, was able to consolidate what I practiced aloud into a few key bullet points that I didn’t want to miss during the actual interview. Afterwards, I did the same with some of the sample interview questions former interns had posted on Glassdoor.

Although it was certainly beneficial to have researched the company and prepared for my interview, I was still missing an element of reality. Every time I reviewed the questions on my own, I only ever reviewed questions that I had seen before, and consequently, didn’t quite experience the full effect of thinking on the spot or connecting with my interviewer. This is where a career counselor came in!

Setting up a mock interview with a career counselor was simple — all I had to do was visit Handshake and select a mock interview appointment time that worked for me — mine was with Amy Tarbox. I also had the option to do a mock video interview, which was exactly the format I was expecting for my real interview (though phone and in-person options were also available). To my relief, the questions didn’t start as soon as our call connected. Amy allowed time for us to just talk in the beginning, which was a good reminder that interviewers are not necessarily there to stump you, but to have a conversation and to get to know you better. Being able to connect personally with Amy also allowed me to relax a bit more, and to feel better going into the interview.

“Interviewers are not necessarily there to stump you, but to have a conversation and to get to know you better.”

Many of the questions that Amy asked me were directly from the CareerLAB’s Effective Interviewing Tip Sheet, which helped me practice the answers I had thought about previously, but still allowed me to think on my feet. After each question, Amy was extremely supportive and pointed out the strongest parts of my answers, and also took the time to make suggestions as well. In some of my long-winded answers, she helped me identify the most relevant pieces and also helped me think through some other potential questions the employer might ask. After the mock interview, I felt much more confident about the preparations I had already made, about what might be the most interesting and pertinent to an employer, and also about what steps I could to take to continue improving.

I should note: though I worked with Amy, all career counselors and Peer Career Advisors are able to conduct mock interviews with Brown students. In my other experiences with mock interviews at the CareerLAB, I also found encouragement and helpful assistance, including mock interviews tailored with unusual questions, as well as tips about clarity, intonation, and even pauses during phone interviews.

Before your next job or internship interview, I highly recommend taking the time to schedule a half-hour mock interview with a career counselor or come to walk-in hours to practice a “mini-mock” with one of our Peer Career Advisors. It is an excellent time to practice what you’ve prepared, learn more about yourself, and to tweak your answers before the real thing. In my experience, it has also been a really great way to build confidence in my background and abilities, which was exactly what I needed to approach my interview with courage and optimism.


Want to meet with a PCA? Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Walk-In Hours are held at CareerLAB. No appointment is necessary.
(Spring 2019 Hours):
Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays & Fridays: 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays: 7-9 p.m.

The Versatile PhD

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Find Out What Your Degree Can Do For You!

What is it?

The Versatile PhD lets you create a profile, giving you access to a myriad of tools to explore options beyond academia. The PhD Career Finder, for example, allows you to explore non-academic careers such as consulting, biotechnology, law, university administration, and many more. There are private discussion boards and forums, and The Versatile PhD community is underwritten by a number of academic institutions, including Brown. With 85,000+ members, it is also a great place to network; they even host local meet-ups. In short, The Versatile PhD is an invaluable resource for exploring non-academic careers, connecting you to people, self-help resources, and even jobs.

Brown graduate students, log in to Versatile PhD through the university portal to get full access to the content:

What’s new?

The VPhD Smart Jobs Initiative is a weekly digest of non-academic jobs, designed to empower PhDs and post-docs with new career ideas and opportunities. You can subscribe to their list and receive weekly updates about exciting job opportunities. For example, recent postings include  jobs as a research analyst in urban planning, a financial engineer, and a market analyst, and spans from fields such as public health bioinformatics to clinical psychology, law, and agriculture.

They have recently launched a research blog that analyzes PhD-specific job trends. In this blog, they highlight a small cluster of career opportunities related to the week’s topic. Check out their most recent blog post on how an aging population underpins healthcare employment, or read up on how your much coveted statistical skills translate to other career paths.

Finally, the newly updated Options for Success Career Exploration program is a six-module course developed for PhDs by Dr. Fatimah Williams at Beyond the Tenure Track, a consulting firm that helps find PhDs career pathways beyond academia. In six steps (Orientation, Envision, Discover, Assess, Connect, Explore), the course helps you to understand the link between your degree and the professional world, and to confidently manage the transition from university to professional placement. Watch a preview of the Options for Success Career Exploration program, and take advantage of the tools that The Versatile PhD has to offer!

Great Gifts for Grad Student Job Seekers

If you’re a graduate student with career aspirations on the brain, you may want to forward this week’s post to family and friends who are doing their holiday shopping. Reading career advice may not be the most fun way to spend your holiday break, but finding a book that is a good fit for you can provide some peace of mind.

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD Into a Job
by Karen Kelsky

Kelsky’s shoot-from-the-hip style isn’t for everyone, but this book has become an industry standard for the academic job market. To own the book is to have access to Kelsky’s clear ideas about each step on the path to an academic job, reaching well back into early graduate school decisions such as choosing your advisers.



So What Are You Going To Do With That?: Finding Careers Outside of Academia
by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius

Like The Professor is In, So What Are You Going To Do With That? offers some hard truths about the prospects of the academic job market. The objective of this book, however, is not to help you to game that system best you can but rather what opportunities may lay in store should you chose another path. The book covers the gamut from existential (“Soul Searching Before Job Searching”) to highly practical (“Case Studies and Sample Resumes”). With subchapters like “How to Use Your Grad School Years Wisely,” it is never to early to take a look. The best part of this recommendation is that CareerLAB has just received fresh batch of So What Are You Going To Do With That?  Stop by to see Bev Ehrich and get a copy while they last.


Piled Higher and Deeper
by Jorge Cham

All a bit too serious? How about a comic strip version? You’ve probably encountered PhD comics somewhere in your social media life. Jorge Cham’s series Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD) presents the often darkly humorous insights of that comic enterprise in chapter form. Look for “Adventures in Thesis Land,” “Academic Stimulus Package,” “Life is Tough and Then You Graduate” and More.


The Academic Job Search Handbook (Fifth Edition)
Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong

While it is good to have a laugh (even at yourself) sometimes, there is something especially soothing about a snark-free, straight-forward job search guide. That is what Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong have put together in The Academic Job Search Handbook. Originally composed in 1992, the book is now in its fifth edition. While only your advisors can really help you with the particulars of your field, the general guidelines presented here are accessible and applicable in most cases. It goes over the typical timeline, offers sample written materials, and reaches well into your potential future with tips on interviews, negotiations and even junior faculty expectations.

If you’re in the early to mid-years of your PhD, the above suggestions can serve as good texts to acquaint yourself with what lies ahead. If your Interfolio account looks like an Amazon shipping center on black Friday (so many deliveries!), we wish you the best, and maybe you can spend some of your break curled up with a new novel.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Explore Career Fields

From careers in architecture to zoology, and from finance to social work: CareerLAB’s Explore Career Fields site is a valuable resource for exploring careers outside of academia, especially for graduate students. Click on one of the 16 career fields–Business and Management, Government, Engineering, Communication and so forth–to unlock an entire database of everything you need to know about this field and its subdivisions. Many of the categories contain a combination of non-profit, for profit and government opportunities. By clicking on the parent category, you will be directed to job or field specific pages compiled with a variety of resources to facilitate the pursuit of your future career.

You can browse articles, contact alumni, find out what the most important companies are, which professional associations you should know about, and even learn about job openings and internship opportunities! Think outside the box and start exploring today. Whether you are just setting out and learning about different possible job opportunities in the areas of your interest, or ready to apply to specific positions within your field, CareerLAB is here to aid you in that process.

Click here to go straight to CareerLAB’s Career Field exploration page, and enjoy exploring!

2019 Spring Recruiting Events: On- and Off-Campus

Spring semester is a time when employers are eager to meet Brown’s outstanding students and to discuss future job and internship opportunities with you! Below is a list of events taking place both on- and off-campus. This is your chance to shine.


NY Recruiting Consortium – January 11, 2019

Location:  NYC

Invitees: Juniors and Seniors

About: Meet with a variety of employers in New York City to discuss full-time job and internship opportunities. Selected candidates will be notified if they’ve been selected to interview in NYC.

Application/Registration Instructions: Students must apply for opportunities through the NYRC  platform.  Any questions, contact

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Spring Career Fair – January 29, 2019

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Sayles Hall, Brown University campus

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Meet employers from a variety of industries at Brown’s Spring Career Fair. Full-time and internship opportunities are available.


Brown’s Common Good Internship and Job Fair – January 30, 2019

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Sayles Hall on Brown’s Main Green

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Attend this career fair to meet with employers who work in nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies. Discover opportunities for both internships and/or full-time jobs in education, public health, the arts + design, social services, activism, community development, public service, start-ups, social enterprises, international development, sustainability, and more!


Save the Dates:

DC IMPACTlink – February 8, 2019

Location: Washington D.C.

Invitees: Junior and senior undergraduates are eligible to apply for an interview spot.

About: Connect with non-profits and government agencies in Washington D.C. during this off-campus recruiting event. Meet with over 30 D.C.-area employers who focus on public policy, government, think tanks, media and other industries. Transportation will available from Brown’s campus to this event in D.C.

More information will be in Handshake over winter break.

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All-Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair – March 1, 2019 

Location: New York City, New York

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Connect with organizations in the private, non-profit and public sectors across a multitude of industries in Consulting / Engineering / Environmental Development / Energy / Non Profits and many more.

Look for information in Handshake and around campus after winter break.

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Support is available!

Want help in preparing for recruiting events?

Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Walk-In Hours at CareerLAB:
1:30-3:30 p.m.

Graduate Student Walk-In Hours at CareerLAB:
Tuesday, 3-4 p.m.
Wednesday, 4-5 p.m.
Thursday, 2-3 p.m.

Or make an appointment with a career counselor on Handshake.