Ask a Career Coach

In April and May 2020, Alumnae Career Advisors Becky King and Dana Keep hosted an “Ask a Career Coach” drop-in series. Many of the questions alumnae posed are universal and applicable to many, so we are sharing the discussion and resources covered in this series below. Please remember that you are always welcome to make an appointment with Alumnae Career Advisors in Handshake to discuss your individual situation and explore career possibilities!


I am hoping to pivot from one career path to another. What should I be doing to prepare for this transition?

If you are just beginning to think about a career pivot, your first steps will be researching your target field and talking with people in the roles and organizations you would like to target.  If you are further along, you might want to try to find a small project or volunteer gig that would allow you to “test out” your new ideas in a low risk way. You could also consider taking online courses or pursuing certificates to fill in education or skills gaps.

  • Research:  Read about your target field using our career community resources on the Career Education website, industry association information, and company/organization websites.
  • Networking: Use The Hive and LinkedIn to find Wellesley alumnae who are doing the work that interests you.  Make virtual appointments to talk with them about their journey, their challenges, and why they do what they do. 
  • Strategic volunteering or gigs: During informational interviews, listen for areas where a company or organization might need help.  Contact volunteer coordinators at non-profits.
  • Online education: There are many resources available online, especially now. Consider Coursera, EdX, LinkedIn Learning, and more.


I have been laid off. Are there resources for job searching available? What about freelance options?

As with many questions, the answer will depend on your circumstances. Do you have severance income or unemployment that will allow you time to reflect and explore new opportunities? Do you need a job immediately to meet expenses? Do you have skills that would allow you to freelance while you are looking for a more permanent job? According to recent projections, at least 25% of the workforce will be laid off by this summer, and jobs are being automated. However, new jobs are being created that didn’t exist a decade ago, or even a year ago. An estimated 80% of openings aren’t posted so you will want to leverage your network and reach out for guidance to position yourself for best results.

There are specific resources within career communities, and here are a few options for immediate searching (and remote work):


How can I reach out for informational interviews during the pandemic?

For those struggling with illness or other hardships, this may not be the time for informational interviews. For many people, however, being isolated in quarantine is an opportunity to help others by answering questions about a particular field. When you reach out, it is important to check with people about how they are doing in these unusual times, and if they are willing and able to have a conversation with you. Be sure you have looked up the organizations that interest you and the background of the people you’re connecting with before the informational interview. There are many questions you could ask, but be sure to ask at a minimum “If you were in my position, what advice do you have about what I should be doing?” and “Who else might you suggest I contact?”


What can I do now if there are hiring freezes everywhere?

For the most up-to-date information about freezes and who might be hiring, check Candor. While this pandemic has thrown all of us into uncertainty about the future, it has clarified what matters most to us. This may be an excellent time for reflection on your skills, interests, and values. We recommend two books: Designing Your Life and Designing Your Work Life, both by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, for some guided exercises and interesting frameworks with which to design your career and life. You can then research potential industries or organizations; talk to people and expand your network; try out some volunteer gigs or projects; and take some free skill-building courses online (EdX, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning) so you can increase your confidence and add new skills to your resume.


Should I return from maternity leave now if the economy remains weak?

This is a personal decision, with many variables to consider, so there are multiple answers here. Did you enjoy your job prior to the leave? Is your current daily schedule able to fit work hours full time? Part time? If you were contemplating a change perhaps now is a good time to pivot, but you may need to remain in the current role until you identify a new option. Some women discover that the costs of childcare outweigh what they earn so economically it might make more sense to remain at home with your child, at least in the near future. If you decide to take a career break (or have already taken one), is a helpful website. 


Do you have tips for how to present myself now that everything is online and virtual?

Please join us at noon EDT on Thursday, May 21st, for a webinar with alumna Ann Timmons ‘79, Communications Artist. She will share best practices for public speaking on virtual platforms and successful strategies for projecting professionalism and confidence through your unique video presence. After you listen to the webinar, make sure that you practice doing some virtual conversations or interviews so that it becomes more familiar to you. You can also make an appointment for a virtual mock interview through Handshake.