HarvardOCS

Harvard FAS Office of Career Services

Revisited: Harvard Start-Up Career Fair

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Over the river and through the woods, you won’t find Grandma. Instead, you’ll hit the doors of the Harvard Innovation Lab, a $20 million project designed to “foster entrepreneurship in the Harvard and Boston community,” according to The Harvard Crimson. In line with its mission, the Lab recently played host to the Harvard Start-Up Fair organized by OCS. Over 80 unique organizations set up shop to welcome students across the University seeking exciting opportunities in technology and entrepreneurship.

To categorize the Fair participants uniformly under these two broad ideas, however, doesn’t do justice to the breadth of disciplines and industries represented in the collective. Indeed, students of all backgrounds – program developers and non-developers alike – could find work applicable to their studies and interests. For example, the tech start-up Breadcrumb intersects with the restaurant industry at the “point of sale,” namely, the point at which customers make purchases. Looking at the old model of business, the company decided they could do it better. Employees went on to design a program for iOS that enables subscribers to more efficiently and smartly track trends and make good decisions.

Those students with scientific inclinations could find several homes. NeuroScouting is combining technology and neuroscience to measure the performance of professional sports teams and individual athletes. They seek both developers and “sell-side” agents to aid their growing business. BioRaft is a web-based application used by universities and pharmaceutical companies across the country to help track safety hazards and thereby minimize lab risks. The start-up seeks both interns and full-time employers to help develop their web application. VoltDB is a MA-based start-up building a NewSQL database as a platform for clinical trials. The growing company seeks developer interns to help build the database that will increase efficiency, transparency, and safety.

Other start-ups engaged with the academic and business communities. Hadapt and Incentive Targeting both make use of “click-stream analysis” to supply retailers with better information about the habits of their customers and the practices that serve them. Pubget simplifies the search for scientific scholarship with a search engine that sorts through results according to where an article is found and whether or not the user can access it. Rock the Post pitches itself both as a “Craigslist for business people” and a better version of Kickstarter by not charging users to look for both money and services (time, skills, etc.) to aid a business venture.

Of course, these start-ups represent only a small fraction of the experiences and opportunities available to interested Harvard students. (The full list of organizations, along with other relevant information, can be found HERE.) Even if you missed the Fair, don’t hesitate to reach out to organizations that interest you! Judging by my pleasant and fun experience browsing the field, I’d say they’re happy to chat.

—Nicandro Iannacci, ’13

For more Start-Up Fair coverage, read Nicandro’s pre-fair blog entry.

Scientists Going Global

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In a world exploding with innovation and research, opportunities for college graduates in the sciences abound. And they aren’t just found in the United States – in fact, there are a wealth of organizations and programs that can take the curious scientist around the world…if you know where to look.

To help Harvard scientists navigate this new territory, the Office of Career Services welcomed five Fellows from the Program on Science, Technology and Society (STS) based at the Harvard Kennedy School. Moderated by postdoctoral Fellow Lee Vinsel and supported by program director and STS scholar Sheila Jasanoff, the panel explored a host of diverse experiences that spanned several countries and even more disciplines of knowledge.

Dr. Elizabeth Barron, a Fellow for both the STS program and the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, described interesting opportunities within the United States. After completing her undergraduate degree, Barron joined the Peace Corps for two years, serving in Niger as an environmental education volunteer. While cautioning prospective Corps members about the grueling application process, she nevertheless emphasized the number and flexibility of scientific efforts within the Corps. Barron then spent a year with AmeriCorps aiding a wildlife management project in New Mexico. She also suggested seeking work within any number of government agencies, among them the EPA and NASA, which could very easily turn into full time work.

Henri Boullier is a French PhD candidate in sociology at LATTS/Universite Paris-Est and IFRIS, and an STS Fellow. He described the community of scientists and STS scholars in France as social and very open to new researchers from abroad. Students interested in working in France can look to the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for funding, as well as one of the numerous Fulbright grants available. Boullier also recommended CampusFrance as a tool for finding science opportunities.

Mads Dahl Gjefsen is a PhD student at the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo, Norway, and an STS Fellow. Students looking to study in Norway can look to the Norwegian Research Council in addition to Fulbright grants. Those students interested in STS scholarship should seek out the Copenhagen Business School, a leader in the field. Gjefsen also recommended contact with the Scandinavian Studies Program at Harvard for general information. Above all, he said, it will be helpful for students to contact universities directly to start a conversation about possible research.

Dr. Emma Frow, a Fellow with the STS program, is a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Originally from Canada, Frow completed her undergraduate and doctoral degrees at UK universities before getting involved in volunteer opportunities exploring the relationship between science and society. Among her experiences – and her recommendations to interested students – are positions with the Royal Institution, promoting science; the Foundation for Science and Technology, encouraging scientific debate within Parliament; and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Moreover, Frow emphasized the wealth of STS departments in the UK as well as PhD scholarships available to study there, most notably the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright scholarships.

Maggie Curnutte, a United States native who is now a PhD candidate at the University of Milan, is also an STS Fellow. Though she studied philosophy as an undergraduate, Curnutte ultimately decided to pursue graduate studies within the hard sciences after some time as a technician in a Boston laboratory. Her program in Milan combines her interests in both social policy and hard scientific research, though Curnutte was quick to say that those students interested in pure science can also find opportunities at similar universities. On that note, she noted the wealth of scholarships available to study on international campuses, where visitors are welcomed.

Budding scientists should do everything they can now to build and expand their personal network. Through leveraging this network, believes Jasanoff, students will find the greatest opportunities with the most ease. Networks will also help students discern which programs and universities are the leaders in the field of the student’s interest, as there is no “Mecca” equivalent for scientists looking abroad. Indeed, Harvard students should wear their interdisciplinary background proudly as they search and inquire about scientific opportunities abroad.

For more information, explore the links above or contact OCS career adviser Anthony Arcieri, who can put you in touch with any of the aforementioned personalities. Good luck!

—Nicandro Iannacci, ’13

Advanced Personal Money Management

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What is “credit”? What is a “credit report”? A “credit score”? How do you construct a budget? How do you make smart investments? How do you protect yourself from identity theft? What are smart, easy ways to manage your money?

Encouraged by positive feedback to trainings in years past, OCS and the Harvard University Employees Credit Union (HUECU) presented Advanced Personal Money Management: Secrets to a Successful Start. Leading the charge from HUECU was Tom Murphy, a seasoned veteran in financial consultation and literacy programs. Students at Harvard who had previously attended these trainings, he explained, frequently wished they had learned such information earlier in their careers; those in attendance would be equipped with important and immediately useful tools for success.

The presentation was broken down into three parts:

-        Personal credit, credit reporting and credit scoring;

-        Personal financial management; and

-        Personal financial investing.

Detailed notes and examples accompanied each discussion.

Were you unable to attend? Are you looking for some smart tips on money management? Below are selected highlights that may prove useful in your own financial planning.

- Remember the 3 C’s of Credit:

- Character: how well do you honor your financial obligations?

- Capacity: how easy will it be for you to repay the debt?

- Collateral: will the loan be secured by something?

- Be sure to regularly request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Trans Union, Experian, Equifax) to confirm its accuracy. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to make those requests.

- Financial lenders aren’t the only folks who may review your credit history. Other interested parties include employers; landlords; automotive dealers; professional licensing boards; and insurance companies!

- To protect yourself from identity theft

            - Shred any documents that contain your account information.

            - Don’t advertise your date of birth (DOB) online.

            - Never provide your personal information without verification.

- Several factors comprise your credit score; improvement in any one factor can improve your score!

            - Payment history (35% or higher);

            - Amounts owed (30%)

            - Length of credit history (15%)

            - New credit (10%)

            - Types of credit in use (10%)

- Time is on your side: start saving now! You will benefit over the long term.

- Know your financial values and personality; consider your time horizon and level of risk tolerance. It will help you build a budget and investment portfolio that best meets your goals.

—Nicandro Iannacci, ‘13

Branding You! with Chris Colbert

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This past Thursday afternoon, Chris Colbert – CEO and founder of advertising agency Holland-Mark – visited Harvard to give a lecture entitled “Branding You.” This program, which Colbert has delivered for three consecutive years at Harvard, invited its audience to figure out their personal marketing tactic in order to be the best candidate for a job position and ultimately obtain the job position they want. This year, Colbert’s audience was comprised mostly of Extension School students, although a few Undergraduates were present as well.

Colbert began by acknowledging the economic recession currently facing our country, and the incredible unemployment rate that right now is the worst it’s been since World War II. Colbert predicted that the unemployment rate is going to remain at this level for several years to come, which makes the job market as competitive as ever. While he recognized that there are “lots of people looking for jobs and not that many jobs out there,” he stated that there are “millions of opportunities, and it all depends on how well [one] establishes [his or herself] in the minds of the prospective employer.”

Such was the platform of Colbert’s program: “everything is a brand.” In terms of “branding” oneself to appeal to a market, Colbert first implored his audience to know one’s market: what kind of place do you really want to work? After establishing a set target with which his audience wants to reach their “brand,” Colbert moved on to discuss the best ways to distinguish oneself in the eyes of the employer. He suggested “taking the simple and making it compelling:” finding the one simple characteristic that makes an individual special and different, and creating an uncomplicated label that captures that distinction. “If you don’t create a “one simple thing” for the market, the market will create one for you,” he warned, noting that “fire-housing” one’s qualities will cause confusion and disinterest in the intended audience.

Colbert also stressed the importance of working the network, and encouraged his audience to reach out to friends and acquaintances on LinkedIn and Facebook. While marketing oneself well is important, using connections to find employment is crucial: “the real level of distinction in this world is who you know” he claimed.

Along with these factors, Colbert also highlighted the necessity of a fine-tuned resume, and the importance of interview preparation. “Prepare to present,” Colbert instructed,  “and don’t be afraid to practice interview role-play with friends before your real interview.” Not only is it important to present oneself well, however: it is also imperative to be well-informed about the company for whom one is interviewing. Asking probing and insightful questions at the end of an interview, he stated, is integral in showing the prospective employer that an individual is interested and educated about the business.

Most of all, Colbert entreated his audience to “be brave” when applying and interviewing for jobs. “Doing things you actually hate to do, like role-playing with friends on how to interview, is where the real game changers are. You have to walk into the interview believing you can do it – and you can, as long as you do the work to prepare for it.”

Colbert’s captivating speech left his audience with an entirely new perspective on the job market and specific strategies on how to conquer it.

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Julia Eger, ’14

The New Harvard i-lab

About fifty undergraduate and graduate students gathered in a room in the Science Center on Thursday afternoon to hear director Gordon Jones speak about Harvard’s new innovation lab.

What exactly is the Harvard i-lab? According to Gordon Jones, the director of the project and a former professor at Bentley College, the lab will – in short – be an “on-campus center for students to learn, do and grow their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.”

But the lab, located on Western Ave in Allston, seems like it will be doing much more than that. With its 30,000 square foot complex – complete with classrooms, workshop and conference rooms (as well as a basketball court, kitchen and gaming zone) – as well as the impressive events it has lined up already, the i-lab is looking like it could be Harvard’s next hotspot. Starting November 18th, the lab will begin its “limiting opening phase” – which means it will be only offering some events, workshops and day-use workspace; by the spring semester, the i-lab will be in full swing. Jones is also offering a trip to Silicon Valley over J-term for 36 students who express special interest in entrepreneurship.

Upon opening, the lab plans to focus on entrepreneurship and innovation related programming, such as classes and faculty projects; practicum and expert resourcing, like training workshops, experts-in-residence, Harvard innovation partner firms and mentorship; and experiential events, especially speakers and i-lab original programming. Harvard is even planning to offer its first undergraduate class on entrepreneurship at the lab itself.

With support from Harvard College, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, the School for Engineering and Applied Science, and the Harvard Kennedy School, Jones emphasizes he wants the i-lab to be a place to unify students from across the university, and a place in which students from all schools can learn from and help each other.

On a grander scale, Jones also expects the i-lab to deliver the best of Harvard’s knowledge and network. “Universities often risk losing relevance with the world at large,” he explains, emphasizing that the i-lab will be a place in which students can also reach out to the outside world.

Jones encourages “any student, with or without experience in entrepreneurship” to come out to the lab, but he also stresses the importance of innovation in itself. “Students ask, ‘What can the i-lab do for me?’ And while there will be programming and things you can join, we’re looking for people who will be innovative and proactive – not just reactive.”

While Jones recognizes that the distance of the Allston campus might deter Harvard undergrads from trekking out to the i-lab, he says that his team built a shuttle stop right next to the i-lab and that Harvard will provide transportation services between the i-lab and Harvard Square and Longwood campuses to procure easier access for all students. MBTA bus and subway service will also provide access to the facility.

Jones not only left his audience with an itch to see the grand opening of the i-lab, but also with interesting take on Harvard’s culture on a larger scale. “Failure isn’t always celebrated at Harvard,” he notes. “The culture is that failure is a negative thing. But in entrepreneurship, failure needs to be embraced – because it happens all the time. We need to change our view of that as a community.”


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Julia Eger, ’14

OCS Student Blogger: Study Abroad Fair

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The basement of the Gutman Conference Center was abuzz this past Friday afternoon with study abroad programs. Tables of representatives from Harvard-sponsored programs, foreign universities, and Harvard-approved study abroad programs lined the walls of the room, advertising themselves and answering questions for curious students who hoped to spend either a semester or summer abroad in a foreign country.

The programs were organized around the room based on whether they were Harvard-run or Harvard-approved, but that criteria was certainly not the only characteristic that separated each program from another. One organization, the School for Field Studies, which focuses on environmental field studies in six countries, boasted its tantalizing opportunities to do field work in exotic locations – like marine biology research in Turks & Caicos – with students from over 300 different colleges. The School for Field Studies also offers programs where students study abroad (and receive college credit) while working in public health and the environment in Kenya, natural resource management and rainforest research in Australia and New Zealand, and sustaining tropical ecosystems in Costa Rica.

A few tables over, students could speak with representatives from American University in Cairo, which offers a very different type of study abroad program. At the American University in Cairo, students have more of a typical college classroom experience: they in the enroll directly in the university, alongside students from over 400 other colleges around the world, and take classes (taught in English) in a unique foreign setting.

However, many other programs advertised at the fair focus on language immersion and class instruction in foreign countries. Several of these programs are offered through the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) – like the very popular Harvard College Study Abroad programs in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. Maya Espada ’12, who studied abroad in Chile through a DRCLAS program last spring, explained that other DRCLAS programs also “offer internships which extend to practically every country in Latin America.” Several of Espada’s friends have found semester or summer long jobs through the DRCLAS in “virtually any office or organization with which Harvard has a connection,” such as “NGOs, women’s groups, health organizations, and hospitals.”

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The vast majority of the organizations present at the fair offered both semester and summer long programs, and students seemed to express polarized opinions about going abroad during the semester versus the summer. Sarah Hansen ’14, a prospective study abroad student, said that she had “always wanted to go abroad because of the amazing and rewarding experiences” she imagined she would garner from spending time in a foreign country, but was looking specially for a summer program because she was “scared she would feel like she was missing too much” being away from Harvard during the regular school year.

However, other students felt that the incredible experiences reaped from their semester abroad outweighed any Harvard-square homesickness. Meg Barrow ’13, a student adviser for the Office of International Programs and a Pre-Med Psychology concentrator, spent last spring in Alicante, Spain, taking Spanish language and culture classes at the University of Alicante. “I couldn’t have had a better experience,” she said, adding that her favorite part of her experience was “life with a host family, as well as the complete language immersion, both of which I couldn’t have found at Harvard.” Where some students, like Hansen, fear the social consequences of being away from campus during the semester, Barrow did not find that to be an issue. “It was great to go abroad my sophomore spring,” she explained, “because I came back with two full years left to make up any time I lost being away from my friends.”

The fair provided an outstanding opportunity for study abroad veterans, like Barrow, to share their sensational stories and experiences first-hand with prospective study abroad students as they perused the plethora of unique programs and opportunities, which they otherwise might not have known were available to them.

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Julia Eger, ’14