Career

Beyond the Two Years: What Fellows Are Doing Next

Upon completing the Fellowship, our alums go on to do amazing things. Some are running for office, some are in graduate school. Others are teachers, therapists, marketers, research associates, entrepreneurs, and so much more! Read on to learn what this year’s graduating class is doing next.

Jasmin

Upon completion of her Fellowship at Jumpstart in New York City, Jasmin will be pursuing a Masters in Education Policy at Boston University as a Martin Luther King Jr. Fellow.  At the same time, Jasmin will work as a Massachusetts organizer for Educators for Excellence (E4E), working to organize educators to policy and advocacy opportunities for education reform. 

During her Fellowship, Jasmin planned and executed the Family Academy series with schools in several New York neighborhoods, navigating both a virtual and in-person programming format that created opportunities and engaged many families and caregivers as they built early literacy skills alongside their children. She named these events as some of the most impactful of her Fellowship because she was able to build deep bonds with families, children, and school-based professionals who helped to support and implement Jumpstart’s programming. 

She also gained experience in both lobbying and advocacy for issues impacting the early childhood education field with the Policy and Government Relations team, and was given the opportunity to support Jumpstart’s New York Policy agenda build-out. She supported the team from the preliminary stages of writing legislation, to lobbying for the role of paid community service with legislators, and used coalition-building skills to support and convene broad support around their initiative. This exciting experience reaffirmed her passion for policy, advocacy, and collective action. 

She shares, “Overall, these two years have allowed me to enhance my policy and programming communications through direct lobbying, testimony, and community event leadership. My understanding of how to support large advocacy movements through collective action has supported my passion for impacting the lives of children and families through educational equity.”

Kira

Upon completion of her Fellowship at Museum of Science in Boston, Kira accepted a permanent role at the Museum as a Youth Programs Education Associate.

During her Fellowship, Kira worked with Summer Youth Interns and Youth STEM Ambassadors, creating workshops about college and career readiness, leading team-building activities and field trips, and mentoring youth staff who were developing their leadership and education skills. She also facilitated science learning in the exhibit halls of the Museum through small-group, drop-in style activities as well as larger stage shows, like the Live Animal show she developed to teach about adaptations.

She also focused on creating opportunities for youth to connect at the Museum. The Youth Programs team hosted large convening events like the High School Science Series (HSSS), where hundreds of high school students visited the Museum for free for a half day of exploration around topics like Climate Change and Mental Health. She also collaborated on the Mental Health and Women’s History Months Themed Weekend and has been able to connect with exciting external guest speakers and performers as a Museum educator.

She shares, “Through this Fellowship, I learned that I love working with people and making a difference with my work. The social impact space is so varied, but the passion that my colleagues and peers have is energizing and inspiring. I plan to continue working in informal education, specifically with youth, and to grow my skills as a leader and communicator.”

Nia

Upon completion of her Fellowship at Year Up in New York City, Nia accepted a role as a Research Associate at Mathematica, which uses data, analytics, and technology to address pressing social challenges including climate change, health care, education, and employment. 

During her Fellowship, Nia led four Learning Community Lookbacks, which consisted of her collecting and analyzing significant data about students in the current and just-graduated classes, and presenting that data to staff in order to address strengths and growth areas as a program and organization. 

She also led multiple groups of coachees through the entire program up to their graduation. She feels very fond of each of her groups, and is so happy that they have been successful throughout the program and beyond. She is sad that she will be unable to attend the graduation of her final group of coachees, but knows that they are destined for great things beyond Year Up.

She shares, “In addition to my accomplishments I have also gained invaluable skills and experiences that will both prepare me for what is coming next and also stick with me for the rest of my life. Year Up has enhanced my public speaking skills by allowing me to present to large groups and facilitate activities with our participants. It has taught me how to lead my peers and mentor others. Over the course of my Fellowship, I have improved my spoken and written communication and my organizational and time management skills. I have also been able to practice my quantitative and qualitative research and analysis skills, as well as my data visualization skills. Each of these abilities will come in handy in my upcoming professional role as well as in my graduate school experience.”

Ryan

Upon completion of his Fellowship at Jumpstart in Boston, Ryan accepted a role in the Massachusetts Legislature as a legislative aide to Representative Marjorie Decker.

During his Fellowship, he tested the early literacy of over 100 kids using TOPEL, contributing to the data and evaluation of Jumpstart’s program. He also built out the foundation of a new Massachusetts Community Impact (MACI) team. The MACI team held events to engage children in literacy activities, distributed literacy kits to families not served by traditional Jumpstart programming, organized material creation events with corporate and community partners, and formed relationships with other organizations to organize events with their core constituencies.

He also led Jumpstart’s policy and government relations work in Massachusetts. He set policy priorities for Massachusetts, fostered relationships with elected and appointed officials and their staffs, represented Jumpstart on the Common Start Coalition’s Steering Committee (and served as the policy expert for the coalition, speaking about the bill at the State House and answering questions from journalists and stakeholders), and submitted testimony on bills and proposed regulatory changes.

He shares, “This experience thrust me into a role with elevated responsibilities that often left me as the youngest and least experienced in the room. Early on, I frequently felt imposter syndrome and deferential to those around me. Over the course of the two years, however, I have developed a confidence and a voice that I am proud of. This growth is at the core of the FAO Schwarz Fellowship: leadership and competency fostered in a recent graduate who wants to make a career in social impact sector. This was only possible through impactful mentorship and incredible responsibilities that I’ve grown into and excelled at over the course of my Fellowship.”

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Juan and Nia work with clay at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia

Listening Partnerships: Making Space for Grounding and Reflection

One of the many perks of the Fellowship is having a community that shares in each other’s growth and learning as we navigate our various fields in the nonprofit sector. One way the Fellowship helps to facilitate this is through listening partnerships. We use this time to meet with another Fellow to connect and discuss how we’re feeling about our time within and outside of our host organizations.

Having this space allows for a time of reflection that can often get lost when you’re deep in your work. It’s a great time to center and ground yourself in the reason why you initially chose to join the nonprofit sector in the first place.

These conversations have really helped open myself up to thinking about my future beyond the Fellowship, but also how I can best make use of my time in the Fellowship.

The time I’ve spent with my listening partners have been refreshing breaths of air. A lot of the time, while there is a structure that we can follow, conversations usually start in finding comfort talking with someone that has shared experiences, later trailing off to new and deeper conversations.

The listening partnerships give structure to what is an inherent human trait: listening. By creating a space for meaningful listening, the Fellowship is being very intentional in the way we are introduced into spaces with our cohort, building important relationships and making deep connections. While there is structure around the listening partnerships, it isn’t something that has a rigidity that inhibits the potential for fluid and natural conversation and connection. Rather, it serves to prevent the potential for oppressive power dynamics to be introduced into the space.

I think it’s also important to name how these listening partnerships can serve as a vehicle for radical transformation. Naturally, this space opens itself up for the potential to share your experiences on a deeper level. These conversations have really helped open myself up to thinking about my future beyond the Fellowship, but also how I can best make use of my time in the Fellowship.

The best case of this can be found in my two most recent listening partnerships, one with Sophie (a first year Fellow at Audubon Mid-Atlantic) and another with Jasmin (a second-year Fellow at Jumpstart). I found myself leaving our time together with important takeaways. During my conversation with Sophie, in the midst of sharing both our personal and professional updates, I found myself truly taking the time to think and process the work that I’m actively doing. Having Sophie as my listening partner allowed me to ground myself in my work and really take a few steps back to reflect and engage with the past and present experiences I’ve had during the Fellowship.

At Breakthrough, I can sometimes find myself deeply focused on a task that I can forget to take a step back to actually reflect on all that I’m experiencing on a macro level. This isn’t to say that Breakthrough hasn’t provided me with rich and meaningful opportunities–in fact, Breakthrough has helped me learn and grow in a number of ways in a short span of time. Whether that be checking in with college students, assisting in afterschool programming, meeting and planning with our alumni committee, or sorting and updating our database. Talking with Sophie during our listening partnerships, however, I was able to step outside of my work at Breakthrough and see things at a higher level, and think about how my work there contributes to my life story, and start to question what it means for me to be in the position that I am and what I will be doing with the experiences I’m having in my future. It also helps to think outside of the framework of education, since most of our Fellows are working in different areas across the nonprofit sector, it’s interesting to see how we’re all contributing to our respective communities but in different ways.

With Jasmin as my listening partner, our conversation eased itself into talking about what her time after the Fellowship will look like. It made me start thinking about what path I’ll choose to undertake post-Fellowship. Jasmin mentioned how she will be pursuing graduate school and it made me start thinking about how much I would enjoy going back to school to get my master’s, potentially in a field related to advancing my career in nonprofits. 

These two conversations so far have grounded me both in the spaces I find myself in presently, and in my thoughts about my future beyond the Fellowship. They’ve sparked ideas on the multiple avenues I can pursue and helped me process how the work I’m doing now can be influential and play a part in whatever I aspire to accomplish in life.

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Juan Mojica

Juan Mojica (he/him) is the College Success & Alumni Coordinator FAO Schwarz Fellow at Breakthrough Greater Boston.

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Natalia and Sydney pose in front of the Museum of the City of New York

Career Talk with Sydney, Manager of Student Learning and Experiences

First-year Fellow, Natalia Wang, sat down with their supervisor, Sydney Stewart, to discuss her career in social impact and education, graduate school, work-life balance, sources of inspiration, and more! 

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FAO Schwarz Fellow Ryan speaks from a podium at the Massachusetts State House

A Vision for Early Care and Education

Early care and education (ECE) is a fascinating field to work in. It is so multifaceted, with a plethora of stakeholder groups including children, families and caregivers, educators, program directors, and employers. I have been able to interact with many of the stakeholders throughout my Fellowship, and learn at least one new thing every day – about brain development, teaching credentials, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care’s financial assistance program, and more – and anticipate that that will be the case for my entire time working in ECE. The field is so important, and I feel grateful to be a part of the early education community!

I have the absolute privilege of working every day in service of Jumpstart’s vision that one day every child in America will enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.

The children involved – aged 0 to 5 – are in the most developmentally significant phases of their lives. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child explains that “early experiences affect the quality of [brain architecture] by establishing either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all of the learning, health and behavior that follow,” with more than one million neural connections forming every second. Research finds that participating in an early care and education program as a child has positive effects throughout an individual’s life: participants are less likely to be placed in special education, have increased college graduation and employment rates, and have long-term health benefits.

It is evident that early care and education is vital to child development and life outcomes. It thus should not be controversial to suggest that all children, no matter income or zip code, should have the opportunity to access ECE. All children can access – and are legally compelled to attend – publicly funded schools (i.e. public schools) from ages five to 16, give or take a few years depending on the state. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, that is not the case in the early years. Instead, the ECE system is – as described in a Bank Street Education Center report – a “haphazard patchwork of [publicly subsidized] resources [that] leaves the rest to find care in a severely broken private-pay marketplace that few families can afford.”

A recent brief from the United States Department of Labor highlights the lack of affordability of early care and education. “In 2018, median childcare prices for one child ranged from $4,810 ($5,357 in 2022 dollars) to $15,417 ($17,171 in 2022 dollars) depending on provider type, children’s age, and county population size.” With such exorbitant costs, family contributions range from between 8% and 19.3% of the median family income; an already burdensome cost that only increases with each child. A Boston Globe analysis of the Department of Labor’s data found that all 14 counties in Massachusetts rank in the top 100 nationally for the cost of infant care, with Middlesex and Norfolk counties costing more than $26,000 annually—costs that rank in the top three nationally.

Such high expenses sometimes force parents to leave the workforce to minimize the cost of child care, a decision that often falls onto working mothers. High quality early care and education is now recognized as “a critical piece of the workforce infrastructure,” and as “fundamental to the success of… local econom[ies].” The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates that “lack of access to child care in Massachusetts is resulting in at least $2.7 billion each year in lost earnings for individuals, lower productivity and additional costs for employers, and lost tax revenue for the Commonwealth.”

And then there’s the heart of ECE: the educators, program directors, and other folks associated with keeping the programs running. These folks spend their entire days educating (facilitating literacy, linguistic, and social-emotional development), navigating interpersonal conflicts over the destruction of block towers, and nurturing the kiddos so parents and caregivers can work. It is important to clarify that the high cost of care for families does not translate to high wages for educators. To the contrary—Directors know that the cost is already unsustainable, so they are loath to increase them any more to facilitate corresponding wage increases. As a result, early educators receive poverty wages. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California Berkeley, child care workers made $11.65 per hour in 2019; a wage that ranks in the 2nd percentile of all jobs. They could earn more working at a Dunkin! Early educators – who are predominantly women of color – are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid.

The CSCCE data shows that educators could leave the field and go teach kindergarten at a public school and earn $30,000 more per year. The same goes for teaching pre-kindergarten at a public school. That’s not right.

The United States spends significantly less per child on early care and education compared to other countries. Seen as a private market instead of a public good, the burden is on parents and caregivers to pay exorbitant amounts to get their kids into care. The system is broken. The system is in crisis. Children, families, educators, programs, and the economy are all affected because of the country’s lack of investment in the industry. This is an economic equity, gender equity, racial equity, and educational equity issue. It is easy not to see the forest through the trees amidst the compounding equity issues. However, at the core of it all, one fact remains: all children deserve an accessible and affordable early care and education experience, and educators should be compensated commensurate with public school educators with similar credentials and experience.

In my capacity as a FAO Schwarz Fellow at Jumpstart, I have been welcomed into early education centers where I met wonderful directors, educators, and kiddos. I have also met with legislators in the Massachusetts State House and advocated for bills that would increase educator compensation, provide direct-to-provider funding to stabilize programs, and increase the state’s financial assistance to families to help make programs more affordable.

I have the absolute privilege of working every day in service of Jumpstart’s vision that one day every child in America will enter kindergarten prepared to succeed. It’s the best job in the world.

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Ryan Telingator

Ryan (he/him) is the FAO Schwarz Fellow at Jumpstart in Boston.

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Fellowship Alums Share Social Impact Resources

We asked current and alum Fellows to share their perspectives on their careers, social challenges, and resources that have influenced them in their careers, and more broadly, the world of social impact. This is the final part of a four-part series.

What is the most interesting book you’ve read or podcast you’ve listened to on social impact?

Julia MacMahon ‘10: 

I just finished listening to season 5 of Scene on Radio: “The Repair”, which explores the roots of the climate crisis and what went wrong with our (the West’s) relationship with the natural world. It’s really thought-provoking and has helped me to place a lot of my feelings of ambivalence about the modern world and how many of our systems function.

Jesse McLaughlin ‘24:

Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway is a potent reminder of the interconnectedness of all creatures (human and non-human) in the messy struggle for justice and equity on a damaged planet.

Kayla Hopgood ‘14:

An important read for me was Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church. The author, Hannah Malcolm, basically makes the argument that in order to make any sort of meaningful impact on the climate crisis we need to learn how to grieve. Proper grief should propel us to act. When we consider social impact we do need to consider the philosophical, religious, and psychological underpinnings many of our greatest injustices carry. That’s part of the work I do as a minister. 

Ciara Williams ‘18:

I really enjoyed the book Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America by Brett Story. I also enjoy The Red Nation podcast hosted by Nick Estes and Jen Marley.

Quick Recommendations

Fellows shared so many great recommendations, we had to include more!

We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba – Recommended by Jen Benson ‘17, Lauren Hurley ‘20

“My most recent favorite podcasts is a two-parter from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast about Immunity to Change with Lisa Lahey. It’s not necessarily specific to social impact, but it just a fantastic walkthrough of how to set realistic and impactful goals and then actually accomplish them.” – Recommended by Dawn Lavalle ‘16

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer—beautiful and eye-opening book!” – Recommended by Charlotte Blackman ‘22

Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown (as well as the podcast they co-host with their sister, Autumn Brown, called “How to Survive the End of the World”). – Recommended by Sarah Kacevich

“If you’re interested in starting up a business, I recommend reading The Lapsed Anarchists Guide to Building a Better Business by Ari Weinzweig.” – Recommended by Emily Vikre ‘08

“I listen to a podcast called Code Switch that tackles topics around race, ethnicity, and pop culture.” – Recommended by Nia Atkins ‘23

“I highly recommend listening to Maintenance Phase, which deconstructs the research behind science and health fads, and talks a lot about anti-fat bias.” – Recommended by Mariah Peebles ‘11

Fellowship Alums Discuss Social Challenges

We asked current and alum Fellows to share their perspectives on their careers, social challenges, and resources that have influenced them in their careers, and more broadly, the world of social impact. This is the third in a four-part series.

What social challenges do you believe are the most important to solve?

Nick Mitch ‘20: 

No matter what specific sector you’re working in, I think it is critically important to consider how the built environment shapes outcomes. Too often, we take this context for granted and miss opportunities for more transformative change.

Michael McNeill-Martinez ‘14:

Access to resources that make people feel safe, supported, healthy, and more educated have all taken a hit in the last 5-7 years due to a variety of factors. This is especially crucial for young people who already have to deal with their own challenges in self-discovery and reflection as they mature and try to navigate modern society. We need to ensure that a myriad of programs are in place to ensure that there is equity for all, and people can move forward feeling a sense of fulfillment and long-term stability. 

Serena Salgado ‘22:

I think one of the most important social challenges to solve actually has to do with the way social impact is funded. It’s clear that many of the world’s wealthiest people like the idea of funding organizations but just how to do it (and maximize impact while doing so) is such a huge question. How do we direct wealth into the hands of community leaders without attaching so many strings? Let me know when you find out! 

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Fellowship Alums Discuss Their Career Paths

We asked current and alum Fellows to share their perspectives on their careers, social challenges, and resources that have influenced them in their careers, and more broadly, the world of social impact. This is the second in a four-part series.

Tell us a little about your career path after the Fellowship. How did the Fellowship experience influence your career path?


Joe Rosales ‘16: 

My Fellowship at Breakthrough New York was my first foray into education – I came into my role as High School Coordinator with very little student-facing experience, but I learned a tremendous amount in my two years on staff. While my role had me working with ninth through twelfth graders and on various projects, I surmised early on that my strongest passion came with counseling. I followed that instinct into more singular roles until I landed my current position: a college counselor at a public school in Queens. I love it!

Molly Blake ‘19:

The fellowship truly influenced my passion for education and took me on a route to my current company Panorama. I have loved getting to see the impact of social-emotional learning from a high level and impacting districts across the country. My next move is to hopefully get into expansion work and continuously help districts with behavior issues in school districts. The Fellowship empowered me to take this leap into education and lead with grace. I am very appreciative of that. 

Maley Parilla ‘12:

Prior to finding the Fellowship I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in my career, besides that I wanted to do something in education but did not want to be a teacher. The Fellowship helped me learn of all the different ways this type of career could be possible and introduced me to all aspects of non-profit work. It gave me the space to try fieldwork and administrative work. The fellowship and working at Jumpstart were formative for me–through these opportunities, I figured out that I wanted to be a Social Worker. The Fellowship and working for Jumpstart gave me such great experience prior to entering the Social Work field and gave me a leg up in terms of experience and opportunities that I could pursue both in grad school and following grad school. 

Abi Mlo ‘22:

If it weren’t for my fellowship at the Trust for Public Land, I would have never landed myself a job working in a land protection nonprofit with an emphasis on increasing access to the outdoors. While I don’t plan to stay at TPL forever, I feel forever touched by the organization’s mission and I plan to continue this effort no matter where I end up next. 

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Fellowship Alums Share Career Advice

We asked current and alum Fellows to share their perspectives on their careers, social challenges, and resources that have influenced them in their careers, and more broadly, the world of social impact. This is the first in a four-part series.

What advice would you give current or soon-to-be alumni Fellows as they’re beginning their careers?

 

Emily Hynes ‘21: 

Something from my fellowship experience that has helped me begin to discover my career path was the opportunity to do so many different things in my fellow role. That opportunity gave me both the skills to work in many different areas at future jobs, which I’m currently doing in my new role, as well as the insight into different job areas that has helped me narrow down what I want to do in the future in my career.

Jonathan Baez ‘14:

Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can wherever you can. One of the worst things one can do at the start of their career is to think you know it all. Seek a mentor and seek to grow to your full potential. 

Karen Wilber ‘18:

I’ve been lucky to have many amazing managers, and having a great manager can significantly influence your job happiness and professional development success, so if you’re interviewing ask good questions about who will be supervising you and how they support those they work with.

Kayla Jones ‘19:

Keep making the next best step. I know there is a lot of pressure for recent college grads to have everything figured out. There isn’t a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ choice to make. Instead, trust that your intuition and passion will help guide your decisions. A path gets determined by a number of steps. Make that next step, even if it feels scary. Taking a step even when you’re scared shows how brave you are. Trust yourself, do your best, and you’ll be surprised by how much you can achieve. 

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Tips for a Successful Interview

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If you’re like most people, you find interviewing exciting but nerve-wracking. This is your chance to share who you are, your passions, motivations, and qualifications, so naturally, you want to get it right. 

We created this guide to support you throughout the interview process, whether you’re applying for the Fellowship or not!

 

Before the interview

Update Your LinkedIn

Before the interview, you should take some time to update your LinkedIn profile. Your interviewers will more often than not look you up in an effort to prepare for the interview. And you should do the same! Be sure to research your interviewers (if you know who their names ahead of time) and develop a sense of their professional experience and career journey. This will also help inform the specific questions you ask (more on that later!)

Resource: Jonathan Javier and Jerry Lee of Wonsulting frequently share helpful tips for LinkedIn, resumes, and interviews.


Review Your Social Media

You’ve heard it before–make sure your social media is something you’re comfortable with potential employers seeing! Be sure to review all accounts associated with you, and decide whether the content is something you should keep public. You can always make your accounts private!


Prepare, but don’t overprepare

This one is a balance. You need to know the story you want to tell, but not so well that you’re practically (or literally) reading from a script. Once you feel like you have the gist of your story, you should be all set. You want to know the key points while maintaining authenticity. This is how you set yourself up to shine!

Whether in person, virtual, or on the phone, it’s fine to have some bullets for you to glance at. In every interview I’ve done (and I’ve done quite a few!), I’ve had bullets to glance at to make sure I’m sharing all of my qualifications for the role. 


Be a STAR

The STAR Method is a great way to frame your responses to open-ended questions like “tell me about a time you lead a project.” This technique will help you tell the story of your experiences while hitting all the information interviewers are looking for. 

The STAR Method consists of sharing the

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

I like to prepare 3-5 versatile STAR scenarios to springboard from. Sometimes I end up using the same one twice, but with different framing. Point is, you want a pool to pick from, in case one doesn’t align well with the questions they ask.  


Tidy Up

Take a moment on the day of your interview (if you have time) to tidy up your background. Make sure it is quiet, tasteful, and/or clutter-free, or be ready to use the background blur feature that most video interview platforms have. Be sure to turn your notifications off–there’s nothing worse than a text chime coming through, especially if it makes you lose your train of thought. 

If you’re doing a phone interview, remember that they cannot see you, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can ensure maximum comfort levels for your conversation, and on the other, you need to express yourself through your voice. Phone interviews strike me a little like acting–you have to make sure they can hear the emotion (excitement, happiness, passion, etc.) in your voice–you can’t rely on your facial expressions to tell that story for you. 


Early Bird Gets the…

If it’s a video interview, test your equipment well beforehand, making sure your camera and microphone work on the chosen platform. You can usually run a test on these sites/platforms without having to join a specific meeting. This will allow you to seamlessly tackle my next tip for any interview type: show up early. 

If it’s a video, log on to the meeting at least 5 minutes in advance. I can’t tell you how many interviewers shared their excitement when I was ready to go when they were–virtual interviewees often left them waiting. Same goes for in-person interviews, make sure you arrive at the agreed upon location well in advance (typically 10-15 mins unless they provide other instructions).

For phone interviews, typically the interviewer will call you, so you should be ready to go a few moments before you’re expecting the call. 

If you’re unable to join or arrive at your interview on time, be sure to communicate with your point of contact as soon as you can and let them know when they can expect you to join/arrive.



During the interview

Be Yourself

You know it, but it bears repeating: be yourself. The organization requested an interview with you because they want to meet you, the real you. Let your personality shine through your interactions and responses. 

Take it from me, I talked (at length) about how much I enjoy watching the train that goes by my apartment every day, and felt like a total dork after I logged off. I still got the job. 


Ask tailored questions

Okay, so technically you should prepare these in advance, but it’s fine to think on the fly, too! Be sure to prep 3-5 tailored questions, using them to both show your interest in and research on the company, while gathering information to learn if the role/organization is a good fit for you.

Resource: Here’s an article from Harvard Business Review to get you started.


Take Notes

For interviews, I always have a pen and notebook at the ready–typing notes can make it look like you’re multitasking, or cause your computer to shake in a distracting way. I usually like to disclaim that I’m taking notes so that they know why I may be looking down repeatedly while they’re speaking. This sets my mind at ease–they know they have my full attention (and that I’m so interested and engaged I’m taking notes!)

 

After the interview

Give Thanks

Be sure to follow up with your interviewers and share your gratitude for their time and the conversation you had. If you don’t have their direct contact information, you can share it with your recruiter or talent acquisition contact and ask that they pass it along. There are a lot of great resources on how to craft the perfect follow-up note. (Here are a few of our favorites: The Muse | HBR | Career Contessa


Take Time to Reflect

Once your interview concludes, and before you rush off to the next thing in your busy day, take a few moments to reflect on the experience and jot down any final notes. Think about whether the organization seems like a good fit for you, and if you’d enjoy having your interviewers as coworkers. Note any remaining questions you have, and find a way to get them answered if they’re pressing. 

Finally, remember and rest in the satisfaction that you did your best! 

As you embark on your job search and attend interviews, doing research will keep you sharp and prepared. Some of our favorite resources were already mentioned:

 

Picture of Taylor Reese

Taylor Reese

Taylor Reese (she/her) was a Fellow at Year Up from 2019 to 2021. Upon the completion of her Fellowship, she joined Year Up full time. She now works at Jobs for the Future, and is the part time manager of the Fellowship.

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