Jun 05, 2020

Career Services: How Students, Alumni, and Recruiters Collaborated to Turn Crisis into Opportunity

By By Tuck Career Services

This March the Career Services team was gearing up for its usual springtime activities: conducting debrief calls with corporate partners, beginning to lay out the recruiting calendar for next year, and carefully matching student profiles to alums’ current geographies and/or industries in preparation of a targeted outreach for those still seeking jobs. But this spring was different for everyone.

Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, these tasks took on new significance, as news of companies rescinding offers and canceling internships began to break. Despite the seemingly grim outlook for the job market, the Career Services team acted quickly, leveraging its personal relationships and connections with students, alumni, and corporate partners to transform the spring term into one of opportunity for our students. This personal, connected, transformative approach is at the heart of how we operate in Career Services.


With eight career advisers dedicated solely to working with students and Tuck’s intentionally smaller class size, the Career Services team is able to get to know each student on a personal level. Even through the transition to an entirely remote working (and learning) environment, advisers doubled-down on communicating with students. Maintaining close contact meant they were able to provide targeted help and support when needed, and report back to the team with updates on a daily (and sometimes even hourly) basis about which students were interviewing where, who had received offers, and importantly, who had accepted. Before long, #goodnews was trending in the Career Services virtual team room as the team shared news of offers received and accepted, with each prompting a cascade of ‘likes,’ heart emojis, and happy-dance GIFs.


It’s well established that Tuck has one of the most engaged and supportive alumni networks in the world. Our alums “bleed green,” continually surprising us with their dedication to the school and passion for paying it forward that extends long after their departure from campus. The response from alumni to this year’s targeted career outreach was nothing short of astonishing, breaking previous years’ records in both numbers of responses received and opportunities generated. Even those that had nothing concrete to offer were eager to help, offering to shop student resumes around to their own networks, expanding our reach farther than ever before. One alum at Google established a mentorship program, pairing students with Tuck alums at Google for increased support.

In addition to alumni support, the team doubled-down on outreach to corporate partners, leveraging debrief calls and LinkedIn connections to pinpoint which companies were still hiring. Associate Director of Employer Relations Sarah Van Orman worked tirelessly, sleuthing out each lead that team members shared and providing a constant stream of opportunities to students. Her cultivation of these company relationships blossomed into a plethora of opportunities. What started as a single full-time hire of a T’20 at Kanopy, a media company, resulted in the creation of an additional nine internship roles. Similarly, after Allbirds hired one Tuck intern, other hiring managers wanted to see more Tuck candidates, resulting in additional internship postings and one additional Tuck hire.


Relying on experience from previous years, Career Services and the First-Year Project team collaborated to create even more opportunities. There are always a number of FYP companies whose projects are not ‘staffed’ by student teams for course credit. Instead of letting these potential opportunities fall by the wayside, the two offices banded together to approach the companies with the possibility of transforming these into project-based summer internship offerings instead. Indeed several organizations were receptive to the idea, and five companies ended up extending more than 10 internship offers.

One of the biggest achievements this Spring was the stellar work of the OnSite team, led by Kerry Laufer and Peter Golder. Starting back in Spring Break, when it looked like as many as 60 T’21s might be without an internship, Kerry and her team built a completely new program (Tuck Summer Fellows), sourced a tremendous menu of projects from alumni and other contacts, and ran a matching process to assign students. The projects that were staffed ended up being converted to ‘real’ internship once the companies got to know the quality and enthusiasm of our students, and many of the other projects will roll forward into ongoing opportunities with OnSite.

As a result of all of these cross-Tuck efforts, intern job posting numbers in May were up compared to the same time the presiouvs year—a testament to the efforts of everyone involved and the caliber of Tuck students, creating demand for their talent even in a market hit by layoffs and hiring freezes. In the end, there were more intern opportunities available than Tuck students seeking positions, which seems like a pretty big win at any time, but especially now.

Tuck Career Services is committed to providing a personal, connected, and transformative experience for students as they take the next step in their career. Our career advisers are industry experts—many of whom have worked at the same leading organizations our students seek to join. The generous size of our advising team ensures we have the time and ability to get to know each student individually and to work with them side by side. Get to know our team.