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Today's blog post is just a quick anecdote about a moment recently that I thought was a very Dartmouth moment.

As many prospective students may be preparing for right now, I did an alumni interview after submitting my initial application to Dartmouth. I remember feeling really nervous — was it going to be some older adult? What would we talk about? How could I prepare when I didn't know what the questions were going to be? Would I mess it up and tank my application?

Because of Covid, my class's interviews were all conducted virtually. I logged onto the Zoom link my interviewer had sent me and was pleasantly surprised to see a smiling face. Katie, my interviewer, was young! She used casual expressions when she greeted me!

To be honest, I'm not sure if Dartmouth did this intentionally, but Katie and I had tons of interests in common. She worked in tech, which is the career field I'm thinking of heading into. She lived in the same area I did! Her passions for feminism and sexual assault prevention were passions I shared. Talking to Katie didn't feel like an interview… it genuinely felt like a conversation. She got the standard questions in: what were you involved in during high school? What are your academic strengths? Academic weaknesses? Why Dartmouth?

(Hopping in here to add my own interview tip. You don't really need to worry about having all the answers to the questions — BUT — you should be able to tell your interviewer, clearly and succinctly, why you are interested in Dartmouth and why you want to go here.)

Afterward, Katie and I started chatting about the world and current events. She asked me what I thought about the decision to take down a Confederate statue in Charlottesville and asked if I thought the College should take down depictions of less-than-positive history. I told her what I thought — no one, especially people from marginalized groups, should feel like their educational institution is glorifying violence against their communities. There is always a way to teach people about history and remember survivors that doesn't require putting genociders on a pedestal — that's my opinion, and Katie listened to why I explained why I feel the way I feel. She would have listened no matter what my opinion was — I am convinced she was genuinely curious to hear my opinion on the matter.

When I got into Dartmouth, I emailed Katie back, letting her know I was headed to the College in the Woods! She emailed back right away congratulating me — I genuinely got the impression she was proud of me. Unfortunately, Katie and I didn't have much reason to chat over the summer, as she was a busy professional, and I was getting ready to move across the country.

However, in this week's Engineering class (read about Design Thinking here), Professor Robbie tasked us with innovating some part of the student alumni experience. I knew exactly where to start my research — I emailed Katie back nearly a year later and asked if she could get on the phone with me. She emailed back almost immediately, remembering who I was with no prompting.

We got on the phone, and this time, I interviewed her, asking her about her career trajectory and the role Dartmouth alumni has played in shaping her corporate path. She scored the importance Dartmouth alumni have played in helping her get referrals and interviews at key moments in her career, and we laughed at how she was passing along that good karma now by helping me.

We wrapped up the call, and Katie said, "Natalie, please reach out if you ever need anything. I'm always here to help."

And that, my readers, is the Dartmouth Difference.

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