Jisoo Hong ’12

Political Science and German studies
Seoul, South Korea

College experience: Public policy coordinator for the Minnesota Women’s Consortium; legislative assistant to the National Assembly of South Korea. Spent six months in Berlin and Vienna studying German literature and Austrian history.

Where she works now: Paralegal with the Immigration Practice Group of the Twin Cities law firm Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon & Vogt

The job search: I knew a job search was going to be rough last summer, especially for an international student. In the process of landing my job I learned a lot.

Narrow it down: At first I wanted to find a job in the nonprofit world, but realized this could be difficult, and decided to take a different approach. I narrowed down my job search to those positions a political science major would be qualified for, such as a paralegal. By doing this, I avoided aimlessly browsing through websites. Seeking a job in the summer was especially difficult because all the other recent grads were also applying for positions.


Separate email account: Create a separate email account for your job search, especially because your Macalester email address will expire shortly after graduation.

Sign up and reach out: Sign up for job agency notifications. Use Mac’s Career and Development Center database, Macalester Career Connection (MC2), available only to students and alumni. And of course, make sure you have a great resume and cover letter.  Reach out to alumni to gain personal connections. That can sometimes can be hard and uncomfortable but it’s necessary in this day and age. Research companies on LinkedIn and tailor your resume to specific positions—that will make you more likely to get interviews. Try to use similar language in your cover letter as the employer used in the job description. That shows the employer that you’ve done your research and are invested in the position.

Along the way: Set goals for yourself during the job search. Think of the job search as your current job—that will give you a better chance of getting a position. Apply within a week of a job being posted; that will give you the best chance of landing an interview, since employers receive hundreds of applications for every position. Stay organized by creating a Google document or folder with pertinent information on jobs you’re applying for.

Interview preparation: Once you get an interview, prepare extensively for it. Mac’s career center can help you with interview prep. Show up 15 minutes early for interviews to avoid parking or other issues. Dress appropriately for the position, and keep in mind all your great qualities. Use a firm handshake and be aware of your body language. First impressions mean a lot. They will be able to pick up on things such as nervousness. Always remember to maintain eye contact and smile. Follow up with a thank you note as soon as possible.    

Number one piece of advice: Never give up. You don’t know when the opportunity will finally come, but you will never have one if you don’t keep trying.

January 25 2013

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