Learning from the past, planning for the future: Wisdom from NYU ’08 and ’09 alumni

In efforts to support our graduating students, we have asked several NYU ’08 and ’09 graduates to share their insights on resilience in the job search and advice for applying to jobs during an uncertain economy. Read up on some of these insights below.

Bart Rosenthal, Stern ’08, BS in Finance and International Business,
& Stern MBA ’17

  1. How did you approach searching for a job during the 2008/2009 recession? How did you stay resilient and motivated?
    It’s a marathon not a sprint, so making sure you stay in a routine is incredibly important. Focus on applying to jobs, organizing coffee chats with recent alums and conducting career research from Monday through Friday. Give yourself a break on the weekends to make sure you recharge. One thing I didn’t take advantage enough of as an undergrad was the NYU Network. Get on LinkedIn and find alums from NYU who are working in fields you’re interested in. It’s always helpful to meet over 30 minute virtual “coffee chats” so you can hear from alums to get the inside scoop on a particular industry, company or role to help you prepare.

Tell us about the biggest challenge that you faced during this time and how you overcame it.
The biggest challenge was having that awkward feeling like you’re the last person to be picked for a team at a kickball match. I originally had a full-time offer secured from the previous summer internship with Bear Stearns, which fell a month before graduation. It felt like there were no good jobs left. The biggest challenge was muting that victim mentality, and instead replacing it with a protagonist mindset. Preventing the fall of the bank was not in my control, but what do I have control over today to help that could help with my job search. The Covid-19 situation is beyond any one person to solve (as was the financial crisis in 2008/2009). What is in your control are the steps you can take to apply to the right role and make the right connections for future opportunities.

What is your biggest piece of advice for students who are job searching today in an uncertain time and economy? Were there any skills that you found to be particularly helpful?
This can be an overwhelming and scary period. You’ve been in school your whole life and now that you’re ready for a job the economy tanks. My biggest piece of advice is conceptualizing that you will be working for the rest of your life. Don’t sweat a few months of delays in finding your first gig. You will find a job, make sure you’re also finding the right job for you at this stage rather than solely finding a job. Even if it’s not your “dream job” out of college, does it get you on the path of where you see yourself going career-wise?

Bart currently works as a Project Marketing Manager, Video at Facebook.


Jake Arky, TSOA ’08, BFA in Dramatic Writing

  1. How did you approach searching for a job during the 2008/2009 recession? How did you stay resilient and motivated?
    In 2008, I was working for a theatre company, which is all I ever wanted to do. When I lost that job in 2009, I had to pivot to stay financially afloat. I answered Craigslists ads. Took odd jobs where I could. Eventually, I went out on my own, founding a literary arts and performance non-profit, So Say We All, with a fellow NYU grad. It not only kept my sanity, but was the standout item on my resume when the economy bounced back and employers were looking to hire again.
  1. Tell us about the biggest challenge that you faced during this time and how you overcame it.
    Not knowing how I was going to pay my bills–fresh out of college, I needed to pay rent for the first time, buy my own groceries, and my student loan repayments were about to kick in, so I was a bit panicked. I persevered by keeping a personal routine as best as I could: exercise, being creative in some way, getting outside, and taking the time to relax and recharge between job hunting sprints. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the incredibly cheap happy hour at TGIF Friday’s didn’t help out, too.
  1. What is your biggest piece of advice for students who are job searching today in an uncertain time and economy? Were there any skills that you found to be particularly helpful?
    Never underestimate the power of putting yourself out there. Had I not pushed for what I wanted, knowing that I had to crawl in recession mud before taking bigger, cleaner strides in my career, I think I would have just moved home. Keep moving. Take baby steps, if need be, just make sure they are pointed forward. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t come easily or right away. Always let your community know who you are because then they won’t forget you when it comes time to find the right person for the job.

Pooja Kumar,  Stern ’08, BS in Accounting and International Business

  1. How did you approach searching for a job during the 2008/2009 recession? How did you stay resilient and motivated?
    As challenging as it was to look for a job during a recession, it also gave me a chance to just pause. Think about what you want to do that will feed your soul, who you want to work for that will enable you to thrive, and where you want to live that will help you flourish as an individual. Build somewhat of a routine to keep yourself motivated and stay connected with your peers for advice.
  1. Tell us about the biggest challenge that you faced during this time and how you overcame it.
    Rejection – and a lot of it – is mentally and emotionally draining. It’s inevitable, but process it and then let it fuel that drive inside of you to keep going.
  1. What is your biggest piece of advice for students who are job searching today in an uncertain time and economy? Were there any skills that you found to be particularly helpful?
    Remind yourself, this too shall pass. It may take more time than you planned for, but you will get where you want to be. If you want to take this time to be otherwise be productive, try and learn another language!
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