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My recent internship interview experiences as an HES candidate

Hi all, I was just admitted into the ALB program at the HES and had 5 internship interviews yesterday. I'm sharing this with you all to shed light on one person's perspective and experience on what it's like as a degree candidate marketing their HES qualifications in looking for jobs. Therefore I'm only discussing the education portion of my interviews, not the interview questions, positions I'm applying for, or employers themselves. In other words, I'm only talking about the education section of my résumé.

In terms of explaining what the HES is, my interviews were a negative experience overall. Firstly, none of them have heard of the HES, period, so a lot of my time was spent explaining what it was.

Secondly, none of my interviewers have heard of "ALB" so I had to explain that it's just the Latin equivalent for what would commonly be known as the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. In the back of my head, I knew that this question would come up so I had a quick and prepared response but what I wasn't ready for was the negativity my interviewers would throw at me. For instance, after explaining that Harvard uses Latin instead of English for some of their degrees, one interviewer went so far as to chastise me and, among other things, say, "For future reference, [I] should use the English versions (BA/BS) to avoid confusion."

Before I went to the HES, none of my employers or interviewers cared about my education section on my résumé. No questions came up on why I chose my major, what activities I did, or why I decided to attend certain schools--their eyes simply glazed over my résumé's education section and focused more on my professional experiences, skills, and qualifications pertinent to the position. But after recently entering Harvard, it suddenly became the main focal point of my interviews. I'm not involved on Harvard's campus (and therefore have zero Harvard-affiliated extracurriculars to report) so the only Harvard thing on my résumé is literally the one-to-two lines in my education section. I don't even have a field of study or minor yet so it just says my concentration. But for some reason, my interviewers seemed so interested (suspicious?) in the HES/ALB--a school and degree they've never heard of.

Overall, explaining what ALB was something I knew I could describe easily but I was not prepared for the negative reactions due to them being unfamiliar with it. However, I expect that if I were working towards an AB or SB (ie what the College and a number other institutions including Guilford, Georgetown, Rollins honors, Princeton, and a number of others use), then it would probably be a similar experience since those schools don't use English, either, but at least those schools are more established.

Out of my five interviews yesterday, only one employer seemed interested in the fact that Harvard still uses Latin. Like the others, she really prodded on what I was studying and doing at the HES but seemed more intrigued than turned off. Again, this much scrutiny over my education never occurred when I was at other schools.

Finally, none of them knew that Harvard offered courses online. I never said I was doing an online program; all I said was that I took my courses online. The HES offers online courses but it's by no means an online program. Given the condescending tone they used when speaking with me, I felt like this was a turn-off.

As a result, I presume that the sole reason for the negative reactions was because my interviewers were simply uninformed. Questions like, "What is an ALB? Why does Harvard use Latin? Harvard has an online program? How are you enrolled in Harvard if you're not in Massachusetts?" are only borne from unawareness and fear that I might either be trying to fool them and therefore not being able to adequately contribute to their company as an intern. I write this post not to complain but to share my experience and possibly warn that others are still unfamiliar with the HES. I now know that, in every conversation I have about the HES, I must always be prepared to assuage confusion by speaking with clarity about the HES to bolster visibility and bring positive light to our school.

For the record, I'm 23 and live in DC so most of my interviews are related to fields in the public sector. Perhaps this negativity stems from those "old guard" types rooted in bureaucracy. I never lied on my applications and fully disclosed that I am a degree candidate in the HES, not the College, by noting so properly on my résumés. Finally, my experience is an isolating one and in no way representative for anyone but myself.

Comments

  • Great information. I've only had one interview since attending HES and they never asked anything about HES being on my resume, but would be curious if anyone else had any similar experiences at @tokomon.

    Thanks for sharing.
  • GratGrat Posts: 273
    I appreciate your sharing, tokomon. I wonder to what extent (if any?) they would have treated differently a Harvard College student who puts AB/SB on their resume. They might be confused over that as well, as you mentioned, thinking it might be an associates degree or somehow not an BA/BS, but I suppose the one difference would be seeing "Harvard College" instead of the lesser known HES name.

    I also wonder if some people are intimidated by Harvard on a resume, and put up defenses/rudeness due to insecurity/intimidation/envy. It probably wouldn't hurt to be extra kind, humble and patient while trying to explain HES.

    I wonder if mentioning that you'd be glad to provide a copy of your transcript would help, to reinforce to them that you have a legitimate education under you. Anyways, thanks again for sharing and hope you end up with a great internship!
  • GratGrat Posts: 273
    edited December 2015
    You could say for example, "On my transcript you can see my courses and credits. You'll find it's the same as a Bachelor of Arts degree, and it was an excellent education."

    I also wanted to mention that if you got 5 interviews for internships, that sounds like a lot to me, so the HES affiliation seems to be getting you in the door.
  • I'm involved with a couple of federal organizations and I wonder if your interviewing for public sector jobs has something to do with the reception your HES education is getting. It seems silly, but many people in the federal system are so obsessed with their forms and documentation that something that looks different, like ALB versus BA/BS means they don't have the normal little box to check and that stresses bureaucrats out.

    It will be interesting to see if others going through the interview process in other sectors have different experiences.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    edited December 2015
    I've had my HES affilliation on my resume for years. It has never received as much as a mention with employers.
    My guess is that 25 years of experience trumps education, but if one is young and just starting their education, that is sort of all there is to scrutinize.
    Plenty of other things on my resume were scrutinized, just not school. Im too old!
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