Major: Math, Theology, Economics
Minor: Computer Science
Current Job: Product Manager at Indeed.com
Current Location: Austin, TX
1. Going into college, did you know what career you wanted to pursue? If so, what was it?
When I started college (or when I finished, for that matter), I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do. I knew what I didn't want to do, but I was interested in and open to a variety of different options. Many of my professors suggested different options as well; while that was interesting and thought-provoking, it didn't make the process any easier. Initially I was just looking for (any) jobs in Wheaton, where many of my friends still lived, but soon just getting a job, period, became the most important thing, which is how I ended up in Austin.
2. Why did you chose your major?
I was interested in math from the beginning. I really enjoyed the gen eds I took in economics and theology, as well as the professors, and so decided to continue studying them.
3. Did you ever visit the Center for Vocation and Career?
Yes. Maybe not as frequently as I should have, but I did meet with Billye a few times, and participated in some informational sessions and some interviews facilitated by the Center for Vocation and Career. Despite the fact that my eventual job didn't come about via the Center for Vocation and Career, Billye's encouragement and advice was invaluable, keeping me motivated when discouragement would strike after repeated rejections.
4. Did you have an internship in college? If so, what was it? How/why did you chose it?
I didn't do an internship during college, but I did happen into a variety of different things (Wheaton in the Holy Lands, tutoring, financial administration, working in the library); while they weren't prestigious internships and didn't usually directly relate to my studies, they did provide valuable experience in the "working world". Of course, the opportunity to enjoy some semblance of a summer vacation (by not having a whole summer taken by a high pressure internship) a few last times was nice.
5. How did an internship prepare you for your future? What did you learn?
I never had an official internship during college, but the variety of summer jobs I did provided a wide variety of experiences that helped ease the transition into an actual job. I did do an internship after college before I moved on to my job in Austin. While brief, it taught me certain (technical) skills that came in handy later and the incredible value of good workplace relationships, as well as reinforcing things like organization and work ethic.
6. How did you go about finding a job after college?
I applied to any job that remotely looked interesting, but most of my time was spent connecting with alumni in the area, trying to get advice from them, trying to get connected to potential jobs. Again, even though the job I have now didn't come about through either of those avenues, it was great - if often discouraging - experience. Connecting with alumni also helped me get insight into what a "real job" actually entailed and what types of jobs I would actually want to do. Being an international student, I also tried connecting with other Dutch expats in the area, and even posted on some expat business forums. The latter is what actually finally got me a job.
7. What advice would you give a current student about finding a job and/or networking?
Don't be afraid to try to build a relationship with alumni out of the blue. Most of them will be receptive to engaging with you and even if they can't connect you with a job directly, will be more than happy to give you advice and connect you with others who can. However, don't purely depend on relationships to get you a job. While networks and referrals account for many hires, they certainly don't account for all of them. Many students, being from out of state, don't have a strong network built in. Look for jobs online as well, both to see what's out there and what types of skills employers are looking for, and also to be able to get a lot of applications out there. For online job search there's no better place than Indeed.com (I will admit that I'm a bit biased - see below - but I do believe that with all my heart). Finally, don't be afraid to think outside of the box, and be open to possibilities that come your way, no matter how unexpected and unfit they may seem at first. I never imagined I'd end up in Texas, or doing what I do. Now, however, I can't imagine doing anything else.
8. What are you doing in your current job?
I work as a product manager for an internet company. What that means is that I work with different teams across the company to build and perfect online products, from analyzing performance and test results, designing features, doing research, communicating with coworkers, clients, and users, and more. Ironically, I work for the biggest job site in the world (over a hundred million global users a month), Indeed.com, so the products I help to build make the painful process of looking for jobs easier for jobseekers. In short, we strive to make all the available jobs are accessible in one place and as easy as possible to apply to. Previously I worked in their international team, focusing on the Netherlands, but now I get to work with specific products on a global scale. It's interesting, exciting, and challenging work at a great company with amazing coworkers. It's not at all what I imagined I'd be doing when I was at Wheaton, but like I said before, I can't imagine doing anything else now.
9. How did Wheaton prepare you for your current job?
I'd be lying if I said that everything I studied related directly, or even indirectly, to what I'm doing now. Most things, in fact, do not. However, I wouldn't trade my four years at Wheaton for anything. At Wheaton, I became a good communicator, both verbally and in writing, fostered a strong work ethic, and learned how to think, organize, analyze, and engage in respectful and productive relationships. That may sound cliche, but you'd be amazed how far that gets you. The other invaluable thing Wheaton did for me was to build friendships and foster community. The friendships I built there continue to support me and will last a lifetime. You can't recreate the community found at Wheaton, but knowing the importance of community and healthy relationships helped me develop strong relationships both at work and outside of it.