Switchboard Gives Job-Seeking Alumni an Advantage

William's conversations with alumni through Switchboard helped him land his current position at the EPA.

William's conversations with alumni through Switchboard helped him land his current position at the EPA.

Knowledge is power—especially when you're interviewing for a job.

When he was applying for a job at the EPA, William '10 used Switchboard to connect with other Oberlin alumni who worked there. They helped him decide whether the position was right for him and understand the EPA from the inside out.

William's research paid off—the advice he got from his alumni network on Switchboard helped him get the position.

Why did you start using Switchboard?

I started using Switchboard shortly after it was announced to alumni class presidents by the wonderful Ma'ayan Plaut [the Oberlin Switchboard operator]. I was mostly curious about the concept, but have stuck around for its utility.

You asked for advice on working in regulatory law. How'd it go?

My ask was responded to quickly and sent me down a path of person-to-person networking, that, doubled with an avenue I developed through my law school contacts, eventually landed me in the office of the program coordinator.

Obies that had formerly worked with or in the EPA were able to give valuable advice on the culture and the internal structures of EPA, so I walked in with a base knowledge that the coordinator found positive. I got the position and am still working here!

What do you tell other Obies about Switchboard?

Switchboard is a user-friendly, non-Facebook way to interact directly with the Oberlin alumni community. It is a collective Craigslist designed around a community that is known to espouse the values that define Oberlin.

On Switchboard, I can offer help to current students knowing that they are inquisitive and hard-working, and I can receive advice from older alums who have the experience of striving for positive change in this world on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, decade-long basis.

Switchboard Abroad is a Home Away from Home

Emma '09 found international alumni connections on Switchboard.

Emma '09 found international alumni connections on Switchboard.

Since she graduated from Reed College in 2009, Emma's life has taken a turn toward the cosmopolitan.

Emma has looked for connections and advice throughout North Africa and the Middle East over the past few years. Her alumni network has always been there on Switchboard to help.

Why did you start using Switchboard?

I first used Reed Switchboard back in 2011, when they were looking for alumni to speak with current students on campus.

I offered to speak with Reedies about political science/international relations graduate programs and my experiences in the local legal sector. 

You've used Switchboard everywhere from Lebanon to Morocco. Could you share your stories?

I've used it a few times since 2011.

Once, I connected with a Reed grad living in Turkey while I was looking for housing in Beirut. He had a number of tips for me and sent out a message to his network in Lebanon.

Switchboard success

Recently I've used Switchboard to connect a current student interning in Boston to my housemate who was looking for a subletter, offer advice to a recent graduate looking for information on international NGOs working with insurgency organizations, and, finally, to ask for connections in Morocco. 

I connected with Devon by searching Switchboard for posts dealing with Morocco and found a past post suggesting Devon might have some ideas. Through other internet searches, I figured out where Devon had interned in Morocco and sent her an e-mail asking for advice.

Switchboard success

She then connected me to the organization she had worked for, and I was able to have an in depth conversation with the manager of that organization. Success!

Would you recommend Switchboard to friends?

I would definitely recommend Switchboard. I think it is a great way to directly connect students with alumni and alumni with alumni in a way that is more organic and user-friendly than what Reed otherwise offers.

People love helping people, especially within the Reed community, and Switchboard facilitates that in a great way. 

On Switchboard, Alumni Are Always on Call

Zina '12 uses Switchboard to find mentors, opportunities, and places to stay.

Zina '12 uses Switchboard to find mentors, opportunities, and places to stay.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, will look for a job—and colleges and universities do a good job of helping their alumni find them.

But people need more than just jobs. We need mentors, advice, and the occasional place to stay. Colleges can't be everywhere at once to help alumni with everything they need.

Their alumni network can.

This is the story of Zina '12, who uses the Reed Switchboard to connect to her alumni network when she needs help from her community.

When did you start using Reed Switchboard?

I started using Reed Switchboard in the summer of 2012. I helped Switchboard one summer by taking photos for a project of theirs. It has been awesome watching it grow and become a user-friendly system.

My first post was in March '13 when I asked for contacts inside Oregon Health & Science University. The responses I got encouraged me to reach out personally to labs I was interested in, and I landed my current position as a direct result of that advice.

You've posted several times on Reed Switchboard. Could you share your stories?

I have used Switchboard as a safe way to find ride-shares, which has been great not only because I am way more comfortable, but also because I get to meet people I have something in common with that I wouldn't otherwise have encountered.

None of my Craigslist fears apply because there's the built in sense of community and accountability. I ended up driving with a Nepali transfer student in his first year at Reed from Portland down to the Bay and back for last Christmas. We compared notes on capitalism, funk, and coffee shops.

I had a blast with him on the road and we have kept in contact. 

Switchboard success

Asking for career guidance on Switchboard yielded excellent results as well. A wealth of alumni responded to my query.

I talked to some on the phone, some via email. Some were only a few years older than me. Some were quite a ways along in their career path.

Everyone brought a different story and set of experiences to the table.

Switchboard career advice

Many of them said they played trial and error with jobs until they ended up somewhere they never would have expected to feel right. This helped me relax about needing to get it right the first time and allowed me to experiment more freely.

What do you love most about Switchboard?

Switchboard is the best platform we have to connect alumni. I have met Reedies through Switchboard that I never would have been able to find otherwise.

Switchboard makes me feel embraced by the alumni network in a way that I could not have imagined while I was still a student.

I have had successes that range from small helpful pieces of advice, to finding places to stay overseas. I feel comfortable bringing any kind of crazy ask to this network. It is a versatile website that helps facilitate communication between and meet the needs of Reedies of all makes.

I think it almost single handedly coordinates the post-Reed community, which has vastly enriched the Reed experience for me.