Above: Mary Bloomer – Photograph by Gus Cantavero
Five years ago Mary Bloomer, a former Wall Street investment banker, founded Early Career Launch, a Darien-based consultancy that’s unique in its focus on helping college undergraduates define and achieve their professional goals. Only two other such companies, as far as Mary is aware, exist in the country.
After working as a career counselor at Yale University’s School of Management, Mary
realized the coaching that she was providing MBA students was largely missing in the life of the typical undergraduate. Even though most institutions of higher learning have career offices, “A lot of students don’t access their campus resources. And for some it’s difficult to get the level of attention and expertise they’d like,” she explains.
Mary and her team are decidedly hands-on. They work with students building skills ranging from identifying their dream workplace to mastering tricky, if predictable, interview questions. It’s an elaborate process that can include everything from vocational testing to videotaped practice interviews.
The business, which has prospered mostly through enthusiastic word of mouth, has counseled students from more than 100 colleges and universities, including many Greenwich clients. (The mother of three has a daughter who attended Greenwich Academy.)
Perhaps it’s no surprise that many Early Career Launch clients are liberal arts majors looking to translate their smarts—and those seemingly ambiguous humanities degrees—into a rewarding professional life. “What we talk a lot about is identifying the universal skills that everyone has and every company is looking for,” says Mary. “Many kids come in with no idea of what they want to do, and sometimes we begin the process simply by helping them figure that out.” earlycareerlaunch.com
TIPS FOR YOUNG JOB SEEKERS LOOKING FOR AN EDGE
BE DISCIPLINED ABOUT BUILDING A PROFESSIONAL NETWORK.
Mary notes a large number of internships and jobs are never advertised. So it’s critical to create a contact network to capture opportunities. Alumni, friends, family and former colleagues all can help, but you “have to let people know you are looking.” Stay in touch with these contacts on a regular basis.
BOOK “INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS.”
Mary notes informal chats with professionals in fields of interest can reap long-term rewards. “They can really help build confidence because the pressure is off when there’s no job on the table,” she notes. Plus, “the good impression you make can also lead to a job interview when something entry-level comes up.”
KEEP SUMMER EXPERIENCE NOTES.
Mary notes it’s easy to forget what you did on school vacation once the academic year begins, so jot down tasks and accomplishments at internships, part-time jobs and volunteer commitments. Those notes can ultimately help identify and articulate skill sets.
CAST A WIDE NET AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND.
Mary encourages clients to take interviews for opportunities that may not seem especially appealing. “You can learn so much from these experiences that you can take into the interview for that dream job,” she says.
UNDERSTAND THAT JOB SEEKING IS A PROCESS THAT CAN TAKE MONTHS OF EFFORT.
“It’s not as simple as logging in online and sending off your résumé,” says Mary. “It is hard work, and all about understanding the importance of time, effort and building a network.”