Bold, Beautiful, Beyond Barnard: A Review

A lot of buzz has surrounded Beyond Barnard: a bustling bureau which has recently consolidated Career Services, graduate school and internship advisement, and Student Employment. Alliteration aside, the rebranded office located on the second floor of Elliott Hall has been operating since February 2018 with the help of President Sian Beilock and Associate Deans Nikki Youngblood Giles and A-J Aronstein. The office provides a variety of services, from resume help to mock interviews to navigating on-campus jobs, all in one spot.

As a graduating senior, I am in the process of deciding what I want to do after college (and also trying to accept the fact that life DOES continue after graduation). It’s a tense time where everyone, from the super prepared and already employed to the throw-caution-to-the-wind types (me), is having their own version of an existential crisis. I decided to go to Beyond Barnard for help with the job search and to hopefully help quell my anxieties.

I had a bit of familiarity with the office before I scheduled a meeting with one of the members of the professional staff. As an RA, I attended a few workshops hosted by A-J and Associate Director Alexa Hammel on how to frame the role in job applications and how to build ourselves up as candidates, which were all super informative, interactive and fun. The office sometimes hosts career mentors in residence, and I went to speak with an alumnae once in a very casual setting about the marketing industry. I also have interacted with the Student Employment office regarding work study, but other than that I had yet to really explore what Beyond Barnard had to offer. Like many students, I was familiar with the services they offered, but did not take advantage of them. I decided it was time to take the first step in getting over my career anxiety by receiving some guidance.

The most complicated part for me personally was the actual scheduling of the appointment. There were a plethora of options to choose when booking the appointment from specialized career meetings for Pre-Med students to registration for specific events. I went with “Career Exploration” because it seemed like the most general in terms of what I was looking for, but I do think that the menu options could be a little more organized. After clicking through a few more details, I found out that the soonest I’d be able to come in for an appointment was in three weeks. I was not particularly surprised since I knew that, apparently, more people were visiting the office than before and that they were still in the process of expanding. I also was interested in meeting with one of the directors, but meetings with peer advisors have a much shorter wait time. While I was willing to wait a while for my appointment, anyone planning on making one should be aware that the office is pretty busy, or could try popping by during walk in hours (M-F from noon to 2 p.m. for advising team and M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Peer Career Advisors).

After three weeks passed, I went to my Thursday morning appointment with my resume in hand, ready for some advice. I did have to wait a bit for Alexa, whom I made the appointment with, when I got to the lobby, but the staff member who greeted me was very kind and helpful. After a little while, Alexa came to bring me to her office, where she asked me first what I was interested in. I told her that I needed help navigating the job search, a little bit about the fields I was looking into, and right away she gave me a ton of resources. She also gave me suggestions on networking, reaching out to alumnae on sites like LinkedIn, and gave me a rough timeline for the industries I was interested in. I mentioned that there were a few jobs I was interested in that I was afraid I had missed recruitment period for, for example, in consulting, and she gave me some advice on how to reach out to companies directly to see if any positions were still open. Her advice was both specific and tailored to what I was interested in and general enough to apply to almost any career path. The one-on-one with Alexa was brief, but I did get a lot of help for where I was at the time, and I felt supported in my choices.  

Afterwards, she referred me to one of the PACs for a resume check. This was one of the most helpful parts of my experience—the PACs are also students, and talking to them in a comfortable, non-judgmental setting helped me breathe a sigh of relief. The PAC I had did make several edits on my resume, and rightfully so, and there were things they pointed out that I would not even have thought to fix. It was an illuminating and reassuring experience, and I look forward to going directly to PACs more often for advice.

Overall, I would say my experience with Beyond Barnard has been positive, and a lot of people I have spoken to would echo this sentiment. Beyond Barnard has already had a huge impact on campus, from bringing a huge number of alumnae for mentorship programs to increasing the amount of first-years with on-campus jobs by 67 percent, according to the Columbia Spectator. Despite the long wait, I think meeting with Alexa was the right thing for me at the time, and look forward to continuing to implement the tools she gave me for the job search. For people who decide to go to Beyond Barnard, I would suggest going during walk-in hours unless you are looking for something super specific and bringing a resume and a few questions - even general ones! I will be returning to BB for more career guidance as I continue onwards into the void…