Career

Approaching the Job Search

Wilson Cecil offers his advice on starting the job search.

I came into the M.S. Commerce Program with the intention of doing everything possible to land a “good job.” I’m in the Finance Track and was exploring many opportunities in the finance space. I used a multi-tactical approach that, after a lot of time and effort, eventually paid off. For those about to start their job search, here’s my advice:

  • First, take advantage of Handshake (UVA’s online job database) to comb through hundreds of job postings. I found positions and companies I hadn’t thought of or heard of before that were really interesting.
  • Second, after identifying companies you find interesting, search on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections at the company. Leveraging your personal or UVA alumni connections is a great strategy to get your name singled out and moved toward the top of a large resume pile. Every advantage counts. Even if you don’t know anyone personally, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone at the company in a professional manner to learn more about the company and open positions. These informal conversations, or informational interviews, can be super helpful when identifying a company or opportunity that is a good fit for you. I should mention that the School’s alumni networks are extensive (240K+ UVA and 19K+ McIntire alumni), and most alums are more than open to a conversation.
  • Third, make use of Commerce Career Services (CCS). The CCS staff is a great resource and there to help you in any way possible with your job search. CCS helps with everything from career strategy and fit to resume review and interview best practices. They offer a wide range of programming, including employer-in-residence programs; career fairs; networking events; mentoring programs with alumni; and even career trips to New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. There is also one dedicated career coach who works with M.S. in Commerce students, so you receive personalized attention and advice. In fact, she starts to work with students over the summer before starting the program so that we hit the ground running.
  • Another tactic that I did not use myself but recommend is asking your professors for help. They are well-connected across industries with a wide range of companies. Build a rapport with your professors, and take advantage of the mentor programs with alumni to build a network that will work on your behalf. Everyone at McIntire is there to help you succeed both academically and professionally.

I’d also like to share what my personal job search experience looked like. Throughout the fall semester, I applied to and interviewed with what felt like hundreds of companies. I was advised to take every interview offered and use it as practice for the later-round interviews you want to crush. I went through countless first-round interviews, even a few final-round interviews, but nothing materialized into a job offer. I was getting rejected but kept on applying and expanding my network. I remained determined.

Finally, I received an on-Grounds (in-person) interview with a company that I was extremely interested in, Greystar Real Estate Partners. I went through first- and final-round interviews before finally receiving the call I had eagerly been waiting for. I got the job! I accepted the offer and will be moving to Charleston, SC, after the program. This brings up a piece of advice: Not every “good job” is located in New York, Washington, D.C., or other major metropolitan area. Figure out your priorities, and if geography is important to you, then refine your job search. Follow your gut, not the masses.

Looking back, I realize that I could have approached the year differently. Yes, getting a job is important, but taking advantage of getting to know your classmates, fully exploring academic opportunities, and experiencing Charlottesville are equally important. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture because the year will fly by before you even know it!

Learn more about M.S. in Commerce career outcomes here or connect with a student ambassador to learn about their job search process.

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