Looking for a job is, in itself, a full-time job. Ask any college senior. But for Sarah Kahwash ’14 and Julia Tidona ’14, both economics majors, the search is over. Both have accepted offers as project managers within the wealth management analyst program at J.P. Morgan in New York City. The key to success, both of them say, was networking.
Yes, there were applications to fill out and interviews to establish, but before any of that, they had to make connections in the field they wanted to pursue.
“I actually don’t love the word networking, only because it’s a really stiff way to frame something that should be pretty natural,” said, Kahwash from New Albany, Ohio, near Columbus. “But one of the best things about Kenyon is that the alumni really are getting something out of it. People love seeing themselves in other people.”
Tidona, who is from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, agrees. “Kenyon alums want to help you. You have to just keep networking until you find an open door.”
For both, choosing economics as a major was a careful process. Kahwash came to Kenyon as a modern languages major, in part because she didn’t want to take the same route in medicine as her brother, Basil Kahwash ’10, and both Syrian-born parents who are pediatricians. “I grew up speaking Arabic. I had a lot of appreciation for my multi-lingual background, and I wanted to continue that. And then I found econ, initially just taking it for a social science requirement. From then on I was in love with the subject.” She’s kept modern languages as a second major.
Tidona, too, is a double major, with her original choice being psychology. It was taking business courses in her study-abroad program at Trinity College in Ireland that caused her to change directions.
Both students reached out to alumni and professors and to other people those alumni and professors suggested which led to job prospects and phone interviews.
Peter Nolan ’11, a derivatives trader at J.P. Morgan, became an important contact for both of them. “A lot of the recommendations we get are through the professors,” said Nolan who keeps in contact with economics professors Jaret Treber and Jim Keeler. He stresses the importance of excelling in class so professors recognize ability.
But another key is making contact. “It’s a numbers a game after a while,” Nolan said. “The more you shoot, the more you score. Reach out to everybody and anybody.”
In the fall, Kahwash and Tidona discovered they would be traveling together to do a “super-day” of intensive in-person interviews with J.P. Morgan at the same time.
“We were totally collaborative the entire time which was great,” said Kahwash. “I remember saying right off the bat, ‘Our competition is the other 20 kids in the room, not each other.’”
Both were offered jobs.
“I’m not surprised they got those jobs,” said Kathy Krynski, economics professor. “The students we have who are most successful put in that kind of effort. This is not a passive exercise.”
Tidona says she has friends who cringe at the thought of networking, but, for her, it’s just part of the process. “You have to market yourself. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
Kahwash found connecting with others to be a two-way affair. “You need to adopt the same level of professionalism that you’re expected to but also recognize that the other person is human and not just a lawyer or a banker or consultant or somebody at an NGO or a journalist. They still have much of their Kenyon selves in them.”