Two Years After Its Launch, The Wellesley Hive Continues to Thrive

Two students stand outside a building in Oxford, England.
Image credit: Hannah Jacobs
April 19, 2019

As a fourth-year biochemistry major contemplating what a life spent studying molecular genetics and genomics might look like, Hannah Jacobs ’19 was searching for advice in how to move forward in her intended profession. Jacobs was hoping to learn about how to develop a more computational foundation for genetics and genomics through graduate studies. When she came across The Wellesley Hive profile of Sara Althari ’13, who is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Genomics at Oxford, she reached out through the network. Jacobs wanted to know how Althari prepared for her graduate work in the cutting-edge field, in which there is currently little in the way of available undergraduate coursework. 

Althari discussed Jacobs’ research interests with her and helped Jacobs examine different programs within Oxford. “Sara gave me the confidence to apply to Oxford, which was not even on my radar at the time,” Jacobs said.

She helped Jacobs put together an application to Oxford’s Genomic Medicine and Statistics Program and hosted her when she visited for her interview with the application committee in January. Althari even connected Jacobs with one of her coworkers in her Oxford lab after learning from Jacobs that she was interested in an industrial career.

During her visit to Oxford, Jacobs connected with another Wellesley alumna, Oxford biochemistry professor Christina Redfield ’79, who broke down the differences between a D.Phil. from Oxford and a Ph.D. from a university in the United States, and helped Jacobs determine which program would best suit her. 

The Hive, a digital platform designed exclusively for Wellesley, lets students and alumnae interact to ask questions, seek guidance, and mentor and inspire each other, as well as find paths toward their professional goals. Since launching in 2017 as an online space for facilitating conversations focused on careers and professionalization, The Hive has continued to grow its community offerings. More alumnae are joining every month and are posting internship and employment opportunities directly to the platform, often before they are publicly listed.

Students who have used The Hive, like Jacobs, have found it has eased the uncertainty that can arise during the job and internship search process, help them navigate the outside world, take steps toward establishing a career, and consider options for further study.

“Sara really made me feel like she saw a lot of potential in me,” Jacobs said. “I was blown away by how supportive she could be without even meeting me. Hearing someone so successful encourage you was an incredible confidence booster! It really makes me feel heard and validates my experience of always trying to figure out what it is I want to do.”

Currently, The Hive has over 4,000 alumnae registered and available to be mentors to students. Approximately 1,500 students are registered as Hive members.

“The successful first two years of The Wellesley Hive are a true testament to the strength of the Wellesley network. The platform has supported students and alumnae as they navigate their career journeys—expanding upon the expertise of Career Education’s staff in ways that only alumnae working directly in industry could,” says Jennifer Pollard, the interim director of Career Education. “These relationships and conversations are critical for applicants to gain a better understanding of workplace culture and the quality of the opportunities they are interested in, leading ultimately to greater satisfaction and fit.”

Photo: Hannah Jacobs ’19 (right) and Kennedy Ulfig, ’20, visit Christ Church College—a constituent college of the University of Oxford and a main filming location for the Harry Potter films. Jacobs stayed with Ulfig, who is studying abroad at Oxford, during her visit to Oxford in January 2019.