Career connection

Recent KU graduate lands job thanks to local alumni network

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After spending the summer in Washington, D.C., Jessica Guardiola knew she wanted to make the nation’s capital her permanent home. So the recent KU graduate, armed with degrees in political science and history, packed her bags and left the Midwest, determined to find a job when she got there.

Always Jayhawks | Jessica Guardiola

Guardiola | Photograph by Dan Storey

“I feel like I kind of did it backwards,” says Guardiola, c’20, with a laugh. “I knew this is where I wanted to be after graduation. I just up and moved here without a job. I had been applying to jobs and put some feelers out, but I really hadn’t had any luck.”

Shortly after arriving in Washington, D.C., Guardiola, who was active in the Student Alumni Network as an undergraduate and served as president of its Student Alumni Leadership Board during her junior and senior years, joined the D.C. Alumni Network Facebook group and posted an introduction about her work background and her interest in finding a job at a law firm or nonprofit organization.

Within minutes, area alumni responded with job hunting tips, links to listings and job boards, and offers to chat. One post, from Deb Roby, b’93, of Alexandria, Virginia, was particularly helpful: Roby suggested Guardiola speak with Beverley Segel, managing director of direct hire legal placements at Palmer Legal Staffing in Washington, D.C. Guardiola found the woman’s contact information online and emailed her, which quickly led to a phone call.

“Beverley mentioned they had gotten a position that day to work for this huge law firm doing immigration law,” says Guardiola, who had worked for two years as a legal assistant at Treviño Law Office, an immigration law firm in Lawrence. “She checked my references, and I had an interview with Mayer Brown the following day to be a temporary paralegal. They liked me and gave me a second interview, then hired me.”

Though Guardiola had heard about the Jayhawk Career Network and the power of KU connections—especially when searching for internships and jobs—she was genuinely surprised by the response and support she received from her Facebook post. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she says. “But it was a good surprise, like people have my back and they’re here to help me. I felt like a lot of people were very understanding, because they had been in my shoes before and also moved to D.C. without a job. They remembered what it was like when they graduated from KU 10, 20 years ago.”

Guardiola not only made a valuable career connection through the network’s Facebook group, but she also met several Jayhawks during an Alumni Association virtual happy hour and learned about KU and Kansas City Chiefs watch parties organized by Kyle Peterson, ’14, the Washington, D.C., network leader. “I just moved to a new city during a pandemic, so it’s pretty hard to meet people,” she says. “But posting on those network-specific pages is such a good go-to that maybe some people don’t think about. That’s been a really good way to meet people who went to KU and understand the culture.”

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