Insight from professionals

How to prepare for a career after college

Pathrise explains how to obtain a dream job

Pathrise, an online service that helps with one of the hurdles college students face, finding a job, explained their services.

Pathrise is a Y Combinator backed startup, made up of advisors who have worked at a variety of major tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Salesforce.

Pathrise Co-Founder and CEO, Kevin Wu, was asked a series of employment related questions and for some data backed tips when on the job hunt.

Q: Why should freshman plan ahead for finding a job after graduation?

A: As a freshman, the job search might seem to be in a distant future, but the truth is, the people who get great jobs while still in school are the ones who take the time to work for it.

Often people put the job search out of their mind until senior year, but really that is too late if you want to get a job that starts right after graduation.

Most tech companies hire from their roster of interns, so securing a strong internship sophomore or junior year can lead to a great job after graduation. Otherwise, the fall of senior year is the biggest hiring time so students need to be prepared. 

Q: How early should students plan ahead for looking for a job?

A: Students should start preparing for their job search as early as freshman or sophomore year. This can be done in a few ways. The first is advancing your skills and building your portfolio and resume.

The best way to do this is to work on projects outside of your schoolwork. Personal projects can show drive and motivation as well as help distinguish you from the students from your school who will all have the same school projects on their resume.

Another way to get ahead on your job search is to make connections with people on LinkedIn and foster those relationships as you move through your education.

Find people at companies you are interested in who have a connection to you – maybe they went to the same school or they are from the same town – and ask them for an informational interview.

Once you have chatted, check in with them every quarter or so by giving them updates on your projects and internships or chatting about company news you might have read. These relationships can help when you start your job and internship search in earnest.

Students should also try to work at internships over the summer after freshman, sophomore and junior year so that they can get a sense of what it is like to work in their field and so they can establish connections.

Often companies hire directly from their intern pool, so this is also a good way to get a leg up on the job search.

Q: Do you see a lot of recent grads using Pathrise to find jobs? If so what have been the results and responses?

A: Yes, we have a lot of recent grads and college seniors who use Pathrise. Overwhelmingly, these job-seekers have had great success in the program in a variety of ways: they find five to fifteen quality opportunities a week, get a two to four times increase in the responses to their applications, see their interview performance scores double and increase their salaries through negotiation by five-twenty percent ($5k-$20k).

On average, people in our program find a job within three to five months.

Q: What are some of the most common misconceptions or stigmas behind the job hunt?

A: People think finding a great job is all luck. We hear this a lot, “I’m just waiting for my luck to turn.” We’re here to tell you that is not true. The job search is actually a winnable game, if you know how to play it.

For example, sending an application into the black hole of online portals is not enough. Instead, we recommend that job-seekers include a cold email to the recruiter or hiring manager along with their application, which increases the chance of response by three times.

We have a guide to these cold emails, including how to find email addresses and email template, that can be helpful.

Q: Is there any motto, phrases, slogans or words of prominence you give to people or that you stand by in the search for a job?

A: We stand by “hustle” as the best way to accomplish…basically anything. Want to optimize your job search? Hustle by sending a lot of personalized cold emails and making connections with everyone you can.

Want to raise money for your startup without investors? Hustle by releasing a minimal viable product and promoting it on Kickstarter to get the funding.

The backbone of hustle is putting in the work and not getting discouraged. It might take time, but hustling brings results.

Q: What are some of the key fundamentals or strategies when it comes to landing a job?

A: Like I mentioned above, hustle is super important. Putting in the work to send a personalized email along with every application, go to each career fair and networking event, and work on personal projects are all really good strategies to increase your chances of getting a job.

Another important fundamental is preparation. People don’t realize that interviews are just like exams. Technical interviews are testing your skills to make sure that you can keep up with the rigor of the company so you should practice for those interview questions by doing similar ones and finding optimal solutions.

For software engineers, we have a step-by-step guide to a Google technical question (found on the Pathrise website) that can be helpful.

But preparation is also key for behavioral interviews, which are interviews meant to determine how you work with others, how you deal with conflict and if you are a good fit for the culture.

These questions can also be practiced. You will always be asked some form of “tell me about yourself” so you should prepare your elevator pitch in advance.

We’ve also compiled a list of 45+ behavioral interview questions from real tech companies you can practice.

Q: Does your help with employment end with the job search and interviews and landing a job?

A: We help people through the entirety of their job search, starting with resume and LinkedIn optimization, moving through cold emailing and reverse recruiting, then interview preparation (both behavioral and technical) and finally guiding them through their negotiations.

But our support doesn’t end when they get a job. Alumni of our program often reach out to continue working with their mentor as well as pay it back and provide support to people currently in the program by providing referrals and advice.

Q: Is there any other information, tips or facts about your company you would like the North Dakota State University population to know?

A: We open source parts of our program since we believe it helps achieve our mission for all job-seekers.

One resource we recently launched that I think is interesting to highlight is our company guides. It’s a good example of all this data and research I’ve been talking about.

These guides are just a portion of the internal data we use to base our mentorship and training off of, but we’ve got detailed notes on the interview processes, most common interview questions, cultural key points, average compensations and other information about more than 200 companies released open source for anybody to use in their job search.

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