Natalie Arimah ’19 used to think that she would go to med school or law school, find the right job and stay there forever. But now, she’s gaining confidence and realizes that she’s in charge of her own career. If a job isn’t challenging her or fitting in with her goals in life, she’s not afraid to find something else.
Behind her all the way is Jen Maclaughlin, director of Career Development for the College of Arts & Sciences, who has been Arimah’s career coach since she was an undergrad.
“When I’m considering a new position, Jen helps me develop a set of criteria it has to meet,” said Arimah, who started a new job in May. “I like project management, working with new people and being in a mentorship role. I like seeing things through from beginning to end. Instead of just trying out a job and seeing how it goes, I’m now seeing if the position fits my standards.”
Arimah isn’t alone — Maclaughlin said her office has seen an increasing number of young alumni contacting career counselors for help, either with job searches or graduate school applications.
“We would always have a handful of people we were working with, but I’ve seen a spike in the numbers this year,” she said. “Some worked for tech firms and have been impacted by recent layoffs, others started their jobs during the pandemic and never received full training with their companies or felt like they were part of an office.”
For Arimah, Maclaughlin offers big picture advice about her career, along with logistics like resume and cover letter reviews, and practice interviews.
“I’m an anxious person and Jen is very centered and calming,” Arimah said. “She helps me think about reasonable, actionable steps that I can take right away. I know I can tell her exactly what I’m thinking and there’s no embarrassment.”
For students who choose to work for a few years before going to graduate school, the office can offer similar services.
Thomas Nolan ’20, who will be starting law school this fall at the University of Virginia, worked with Diane Miller in Career Development for two months to perfect his application materials.
“Whether we were discussing application ideas, or she was providing feedback on my written materials, Diane always made herself available to help and provide honest feedback,” he said. “She was invested in my application from the start and always worked with me to put my best foot forward in my materials.”
Working with the office wasn’t a new experience for Nolan, though. As an undergrad, he visited the office to find internships, funding opportunities, graduate application assistance and mentorship.
After graduation, Nolan studied at the University of Oxford, where he earned a master’s degree in global governance and diplomacy. Since November 2021, he’s been in Washington, D.C. working at a non-profit, CRDF Global, developing and implementing sanctions enforcement trainings on behalf of the State Department and other government funders.
“I think everything I’ve done for the last seven years has prepared me to embark on my legal career— from experiencing a rigorous academic environment at Cornell, to becoming a stronger researcher at Oxford, to working at the heart of international legal enforcement for the last two years,” he said. “Cornell taught me how to work alongside preeminent academics, develop networks in student organizations and, most importantly, to make the most of administrative resources explicitly provided to students.”
Maclaughlin encouraged other young A&S alumni to reach out to the office for help.
“We’re experts on early careers and can help with the same services they used as an undergrad,” she said. “We can make alumni connections, help with job and interview strategies and tell them who is hiring. We can also just update them on how the job market has changed since they were undergrads.”
Visit the Career Development website to make an appointment with a counselor.