autumn-moments

Student Perspectives on DCAN

Everyone knows that the alumni and parent connections are one of the strongest assets of a Davidson degree. DCAN – the Davidson Career Advisor Network – leverages that strength to help you pursue every aspect of your career search. With more than 1000 advisors, including alumni, parents and other champions across every industry, DCAN is one of the most powerful and personal tools you have.

When  I asked Jocelyn Kennedy ’17 what she would say to students who have not used DCAN, she replied quickly: “Just do it. The alumni are so willing to help and you’re honestly doing a disservice to yourself by not talking to one of them.” I heard this over and over when I talked to students about their experiences using DCAN. Though some were apprehensive at first about how DCAN advisors could help, or what to say to them, every student I talked to said they would recommend DCAN. Speaking about one of her DCAN advisors, Sabrina Cheema ’17 told me,  “He set me on a new path, where I thought, okay I can do this. He was just super encouraging, which was what I needed more than anything at that point.”

Here are four things that your peers want you to know about DCAN:

1.     If you are not already on DCAN, as Jocelyn said, “Just do it.” Like any networking experience, it can be intimidating the first time, but as David Nnadi ’17 put it, “you have to make that first step. To get to where they are at they had to start at the unknown too. So start at the unknown, keep taking one step after the next and you’ll get more comfortable with networking because it’s not that scary once you immerse yourself in it.”

2.     DCAN is fast and easy to use. Arsalaan Hashmi ’17  told me it took him less than five minutes to register and enter his availability for consultations. Once registered, he said, “I got connected within a day and we talked a week later on the phone. It was pretty seamless.”

3.     DCAN can help you at every stage of your career search. Perhaps you’re just starting out and you have a dream job, but no idea how to get there? Or, a major you are passionate about, but no idea what jobs you should be pursuing? Book a career consultation, and talk to a Davidson alumnus/a who has sat exactly where you are. Then, when you are a little further along, connect with another advisor for specific advice and connections.

4.     DCAN advisors can offer you knowledge and advice that can only come from someone in the industry. Applying for law internships? Schedule a consultation with an attorney to review your resume. Have an interview coming up? Prepare for it by scheduling a mock interview with someone in your field. Not only can they offer you advice on your answers, they can likely provide insights into the types of questions you should expect.

5.     Finally, the alumni want to talk to you and they want to help.  They willing signed up because they are interested in investing in your career.

If you’re not sure where to start, the CCD has created some resources for you.  Check out this article in Handshake for advice on how to best utilize DCAN and even some sample introduction messages and questions you can use for your first interaction.  Don’t forget to also just come by for a walk-in session with an advisor if you’d like some specific advice on utilizing the platform.

Sea Turtle Rescue at the South Carolina Aquarium

Original posted contributed by Aren Carpenter ’18, recipient of the Jolley Foundation Internship Grant for summer 2017.

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston thanks to a Jolley Foundation grant. I spent about half of my time working in the Sea Turtle Rescue Hospital that treats stranded, injured, and ill sea turtles from the entire east coast. It was an incredibly productive summer for the hospital this year; we treated more than 30 sea turtles and were able to release several just in the time that I was there. There are few experiences more rewarding. The staff and volunteers have such passion for these animals and it was a real pleasure being able to work with them to make a real difference for these turtles. I was involved with the daily care (feeding, cleaning, medical procedures, etc.) of the sea turtles and I was the primary caregiver for 12 terrapins, an estuarine turtle that I was using for research.

Terrapins are near threatened in several South Carolina populations and my research allowed me to study their interactions with crab traps, a leading cause of their aren-carpenterdeclines in the area. I conducted a series of tests on these terrapins and I am planning to submit my findings for publication later this year! Hopefully, my research can help mitigate terrapin deaths in the future. My previous exposure with terrapins also allowed me to start a biweekly terrapin educational program at the aquarium geared for younger children and teenagers. I was told by several of my supervisors that many guests commented that they loved the chance to have hands-on experiences with terrapins, so I believe it was a successful endeavor! As one of my professors used to comment, ‘you never know when one experience, however brief, could inspire a kid to be the next biologist or vet or scientist’. I’d like to think that I was allowing the thousands of kids I talked with to have such an experience.

In all, my summer was everything I hoped it would be. I can’t say enough how thankful I am to the Jolley Foundation for allowing me to expand my horizons, if you will, by exploring new career paths and making a difference in the lives of turtles and aquarium goers alike this summer.

Up Close with Cigna’s Managed Care Rotational Program

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Cigna’s Managed Care Rotational Program (MCRP) allows high-potential individuals to rotate throughout Cigna’s Medicare Advantage (MA) business in three rotations over the course of twelve months, getting exposure to the business model and senior leadership before placement in a permanent role.

When looking for a position post-Davidson, Cigna and the MCRP stood out to me for a few reasons. I was interested in the Healthcare industry, but was worried about getting lost in the shuffle of a large company. Cigna, though a large international presence, has a strong emphasis on personal and professional development. Further, the MCRP provides the opportunity and resources to focus on this development throughout the year-long program. For example, the Chicago-based MCRPs had regular lunches with the Chief Operating Officer of Illinois Medicare Advantage to discuss professional growth and learning opportunities.

Additionally, I did not want to immediately pin myself down to one area of the business; the MCRP is tailored to providing exposure to several critical departments in the company and finding what best suits your interests, skills, and areas for growth.

My experience in the program has been influential on my career path. I found my current role through projects I worked on in my last rotation and the managers and mentors I worked with have continued to be resources for advice and support post-program. I look forward to continuing to learn and develop professionally in my new position and am grateful for the opportunities and support the program has provided for me at Cigna.

Seniors interested in learning more about the Cigna MCRP should attend the Information & Networking Session and/or participate in the Coffee Chats on September 13.  Applications are due September 15.

Meera Goswitz ’15 graduated from the MCRP in June of 2016 alongside fellow 2015 Davidson Classmate, Benjamin Arkin. 2016 Davidson graduates Catherine Wu and Meron Fessehaye entered the program in July of 2016.

Up Close with Synchrony Financial’s BLP

up close_Synchrony Financial's BLPDavidson grad Dan Hagemann ’15 recently completed his first year in Synchrony Financial’s Business Leadership Program. Synchrony Financial (SYF), completing the separation from GE Capital, created its Business Leadership Program (BLP) to begin developing future leaders of the company. Dan, now a full-time BLP, shares his experiences from the Program and answers some typical questions about SYF with you below:

“What is the Business Leadership Program, and why did you apply to it?” 

The Program is a 2-year program at Synchrony Financial consisting of three 8-month rotations. Each entry class of BLPs contains roughly 50 BLPs. When you enter the Program, you enter under one “track,” and each of your three rotations provides a different experience within that track. Nine different tracks are offered, ranging from HR to IT to Data Analytics. Mine is Credit, in which I’ve done rotations in Deal Underwriting and Credit Risk.

The rotational nature of the Program still to this day remains my biggest personal draw towards the Program. When preparing to graduate Davidson, I was interested in doing consulting, but I realized that the Business Leadership Program provided that same short-term assignment structure that I admired in a lot of consulting firms. Also, it was clear to me that Synchrony was very serious about investing in its Program participants and valued its employees, both large priorities for me.

“How did you get the job, or at least, what made you a good fit for Synchrony’s BLP?” 

As an Economics major at Davidson, I felt very confident about my quantitative and reasoning skills – I’d later realize that they weren’t all that special – which I figured would be important for a position in Credit. However, it became really clear to me throughout the interview process that Synchrony placed quite a bit of weight on leadership abilities and what SYF now calls “Critical Experiences,” and I was able to point out some examples of those abilities and experiences from my time at Davidson, whether related to Wrestling or studying in India and Spain.

“What have been the highlights of the Business Leadership Program so far?” 

We’ve had quite a year packed with several awesome experiences, but I’ll try to boil it down to three main points:

  •  Meeting our CEO Margaret Keane as the very first experience I had at Synchrony (9:00am, Monday morning – not kidding!). I’ve been lucky enough to speak with her a couple of times since then, but meeting our fearless leader will remain one of my favorite events that my class experienced.
  •  Traveling to different SYF sites across the country for three weeks as one of our signature Cross-Functional Experiences. We dedicated the three weeks to learning about Sales & Relationship Management, a function none of us work in currently. It brought my class a lot closer together, and we were able to present our findings directly to the CEO and her direct reports at their Management Committee meeting.
  •  Every year in July, the BLP Symposium provides a week-long opportunity for BLPs to reconnect at our headquarters in Stamford with various functions as an orientation for the new class. The improvements that we saw both in our fellow BLPs and Program growth overall in one year were astounding.
SYF employees participating in the 2016 BLP Symposium.
SYF employees participating in the 2016 BLP Symposium.

 

“What advice would you give to someone interested in applying to the Business Leadership Program?” 

So, my primary advice here applies to any job, not just the Program. Aside from the given of getting to know fellow alumni at the companies you’d like to work at, I think it’s essential that you ask smart questions and show a good knowledge of a company’s business model or nuances to demonstrate both ability and interest. A few really simple, informal test questions like, “How do we (SYF) make money?” can tell a lot about how interested a candidate is in the business, because the content is fundamental to every action we take as a company. Specific to the Program, carefully consider which track you want to be a part of and know how to demonstrate your leadership experience.

Dan will be on-campus for an information and networking session on September 13th. Students are welcome to reach out to him directly at Daniel.Hagemann@syf.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in applying for the SYF Business Leadership Program, visit the Credit posting and Marketing posting in Handshake.  SYF is also recruiting for internship positions.    The application deadline for all positions is October 5 @ 11:59pm.

Five Steps To Organize Your Post-Grad Search

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Are you planning to apply for fellowships? Perhaps you’re considering grad school or want to find a job? And if not a job, then perhaps maybe a post-grad program like Teach for America, the Peace Corps or a faith-based service year? Or maybe you’re like me and you’re trying to do everything because you don’t know what will work out.

Whatever path you’re taking, you need a plan. And not just any plan, one that lets you write lots of applications while still meeting all your regular commitments.  Because this process, if you’re being intentional, could take up to 10+ hours a week of your time. The most important thing is getting those applications in, and here’s one way you can make that happen:

  1. Make an “interest list”. Write down all the fellowships, programs and graduate schools you might be interested in applying for. Hold off on adding in job applications – that will come in later. The Fellowships Office has resources to help you find out about opportunities, as well as narrow down your list. If you are researching graduate schools, the Peterson’s website is excellent.
  1. Make a year-long calendar and divide it into four sections – July to September, October to December, January to March, and April to June.
  1. Find out the deadlines and add these to your calendar. Help yourself by adding in reminders several days before a specific deadline.
  1. Now, turn to your job search. If you don’t have specific positions you are planning to apply for yet, don’t worry. For now, find out when the highest volume of job postings are for your desired field. For many people, this will be January to March, but don’t make any assumptions! Start with the broad overview below, then come   to the CCD for drop-in hours, every day from 8:30-5:00pm to get more details. Don’t forget to also utilize Handshake for current job postings, and visit the careers pages of the companies you are most interested in.

    Arts, Media, Communication & Marketing ……………………………February to May
    Banking, Finance, Real Estate & Insurance ……………………………..August to May
    Consulting, Management, Sales & Human Resources ………………….August to May
    Education, Community Organizations & Nonprofits ………………September to May
    Healthcare, Medicine & Medical Research …………………………….October to May
    Public Policy, Politics, Government & Law …………………………September to May
    Sustainability, Renewable Energy, & Food Systems ………………….January to May
    Technology & Software …………………………………………….September to May


  1. Make some decisions. At this point, you may be looking at your calendar thinking, there is no way I have the time to apply for everything here. Good! This calendar is not just about helping you plan, but also helping you prioritize. Look where in your calendar is particularly full. Consider, too, the parts of the year you know you are more busy, ie. exam season. Then make a second list – you can call it “maybe if I’m feeling super human” or something like that – and begin to move some of the items from your calendar onto this list. You can always put them back on your calendar, but no sense getting overwhelmed now.

It’s never too early or late to make a calendar-plan, but the sooner you start thinking about it the more you can spread out your applications. And don’t discount the benefits of applying for early Fellowship deadlines. It may be hard to meet the deadlines, but if you do, not only will you have a couple applications under your belt, you’ll also be ahead of the game on asking for references.

How Ministry Became a Career Option

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Ela Hefler is a senior History Major from Toronto, Canada. This summer she had the opportunity to explore the possibility of a career in Ministry through Davidson’s Ministry Fellowship Program

Before coming to Davidson I had only met one ordained person: the Catholic priest at the church where my family worshiped sporadically. With the exception of the one time I took confession before my first communion we never talked. I couldn’t tell you his name, and by the time I finished primary school my family had almost completely stopped attending mass. I never considered myself Catholic and didn’t give much consideration to whether God existed or not.

church at night At Davidson, that changed, slowly, then seemingly all at once. I got involved in Davidson’s interfaith group, Better Together, as a secular person. Through meals, conversations and celebrations I began to understand the fundamental role faith can play in a person’s identity. I realized that if I really wanted to know my friends and peers, I could no longer dismiss the importance of religion and religious understanding. Interfaith work also prompted me to dig deeper into my own beliefs. When I began to let go of a binary understanding of faith I started to find that a lot of the language and values of Christianity helped me find depth and grounding in my own identity, as well as my responsibilities to other people and relationships.

It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around how, in three years, I went from never having met an ordained woman to considering ministry as a vocation and accepting a nine-week summer “fellowship in religious vocation and leadership.” When I tell people I spent my summer interning at a church, most people ask – very tentatively – whether I want to be a minister. The answer is, I don’t know.

For years, I had planned to go into International Relations or Development. Davidson was the only college I applied to without an IR major, which may be how I ended up falling in love with history and domestic policy. Though my academic interests had changed, my plans for after college had not. That is until I paused to look back on my time at Davidson and realized the two areas I had invested the most time and energy were academic diversity and religious life. I realized my career goals hadn’t kept pace with my growing and changing passions, and that I wanted a career grounded in relationships rather than politics, and focused on domestic issues and communities.

Every summer Davidson College offers five rising seniors the opportunity to explore congregational ministry through the Ministry Fellowship in Religious Vocation and Leadership. The fellowship begins with an eight to ten week summer internship with an experience clergy member, and the fellows continue to meet regularly to discuss vocational discernment throughout their senior years. Students of all religious backgrounds are invited to apply.

However challenging I found the idea of ordination I knew a summer exploring ministry would give me the chance to explore in the ways I wanted to. And it did. I spent nine weeks at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, a United Church of Christ congregation in Minneapolis. It was a phenomenal experience, and I still don’t know if I want to go into ministry.

a sign in front of a church that reads "to our Muslim neighbours a blessed ramadan"But, here’s what I do know – ministry is hard, and hard to define. Over the course of nine weeks I led prayers, gave communion, wrote and delivered a sermon, planned a vespers service, helped with home visits and attended a weekly bible study with local ministers of a different denomination. I also volunteered at a food pantry and an interfaith garden, created and ran a church Instagram account, protested the police killings of Philando Castile and Anton Sterling, helped organize a vigil for the victims of the Orlando massacre and ordered lawn signs for the church and our members, which read “To our Muslim neighbors a blessed Ramadan”.

I know that I am a better listener after this summer. I have learned to recognize the value of simply being a “non-anxious presence” when there are no answers and you’ve said all you can. I have begun to let go of the fear that I am not “Christian enough” to go into ministry or contribute to a conversation about bible texts. I’ve started to think about how church can be verb, or a conceptual noun, and not just a fixed location with a steeple.

I’m grateful to Davidson College, and the Chaplain’s Office in particular, for walking with me as I stepped beyond my comfort zone to explore a career and a field I had never thought to imagine myself in.

Snapshot of Sofia

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Original post written by Yiyao Xie ’18, participant in the DavidsonIE Internship Program.

If you asked me just three months ago what I would be doing this summer, I would have never imagined I’d have the opportunity to intern in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. When I received my internship offer from Dronamics, a startup that develops unmanned cargo aircraft, I was a little bit hesitant to accept. I knew very little about Bulgaria; it was a country that I imagined was different from anything I had previously experienced, with a culture that was completely foreign to me as well.

My gut instinct was telling me to go with it, though, and now I am so thankful that I made this decision.

This is my first time in Europe, and it is the realization of a life-long dream; I’ve been wanting to go to Europe ever since I was a little girl in China. Bulgaria is very different from what I envisioned before my arrival. It may be because of the country’s previous experience with communism that I found a lot of similarities between Bulgaria and China, especially architecturally. From the outside, the apartment that I stay in here looks exactly like the apartment I lived in as a child.

Read More: 

How to Succeed in a Startup Without a Tech Background

lightbulb-innovation-1078x516Original post written by Allie Cowie ’18, participant in the DavidsonIE Internship Program.

Even though I grew up in Silicon Valley, I never thought of myself as a tech kind of gal. While it was cool to live near Google, Apple and Facebook HQ, I didn’t have much interest in computer science, which I assumed was a prerequisite for 99 percent of the jobs my friends’ parents held. It took leaving the Bay Area and coming to Davidson to make me realize how wrong I was.

Although having a computer science background is certainly a necessity for many tech roles, Davidson and its Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program have helped me realize that my liberal arts education is actually an asset here in Palo Alto, rather than a hindrance. As a Hispanic Studies major with no coding experience, I’m not programming or building apps, but what I am doing is just as valuable to the startup I work for–VersaMe, which was founded in part by Chris and Jon Boggiano, Davidson’s Entrepreneurs in Residence.

Read more.

Stapleton Intern Experiences Summer of Discovery

This post was contributed by Daisy Jones '19.
This post was contributed by Daisy Jones ’19.

This summer I worked at Dove’s Nest in Charlotte.   Dove’s Nest is a women’s rehabilitation center for substance abuse. My job was to basically spend time with the women and hear about their stories. Everyday I sat in on group therapy sessions, attended classes and workshops, and ate lunch with the women. I also did various organizational tasks for my supervisor. Additionally, I had the opportunity to help out  in the admissions department of Dove’s Nest. This meant that I helped orient new residents to the program and gave them their materials.

I worked at Dove’s Nest through the Stapleton/Davidson Urban Service Internship program. This is a program that is offered every year through the Chaplain’s Office. Its focus is to understand issues of urban poverty and homelessness through non-profit work in the city of Charlotte. My time at Dove’s Nest flew by incredibly fast, and before I knew it, I was already saying goodbye.

My final day at Dove’s Nest, I left in tears and was still sobbing on the city bus, all the way back to my host family’s home.

It is difficult to pinpoint one specific reason I was crying so hard. One motivation that stands out to me is that I thought I was going to have a better chance to say goodbye to the women I loved so dearly. I sat in on my last group therapy session and the women in this group said their goodbyes then, but I kept saying back to every woman, “I’ll see you later.” At lunch, it was the same routine. I kept telling all the women I sat with everyday that I would see them later in the day. Sadly though, this wasn’t true. I ended up being treated to lunch by my supervisor and another co-worker, and did not make it back in time to say goodbye to anyone. The overwhelming realization washed over me that I would never be in the same place again. The women would be different, the people different, the stories different. I was so mad that I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, but I also wondered to myself if it would make any difference. I know that this experience at Dove’s Nest had touched me, but had it really touched them in the same way?

I used to be concerned with this question of “how much impact have I made on these people?” and “what tangible difference can I see?”  But after this summer, my questions of worth are ones like “what have I learned?” and “how can I see things differently from the way I have seen them before?” and “how much impact have these other people made on me?” I was crying on the bus because there was an overwhelming answer to all of these questions, on top of a genuine concern that I didn’t get to fully say thank you to the women at Dove’s Nest for all they had done for me.

This job was not about outcome or success, rather building relationships with people based off our common humanity.

The Stapleton showed me how to work towards loving people exactly as they are. It showed me that there is nothing more I can do to be seen as lovely or worthy. It reminded me of this essential truth in everyone, and inspired me to see people in this way. I believe I was weeping on the bus in part because I made the realization that we still cast men and women away. We are conditioned to come up for justifications for why “they deserve” to be homeless, an addict, poor, and we are so conditioned to ignore the simple truth that we are all worthy. This summer opened my eyes like never before to this truth, and challenged me to think of the moments where I have simply cast others away.

Through my tears on that final day, I saw out of the corner of my eye a tissue in the hand of an African-American man. I looked up and held eye contact with this stranger for a moment, when I realized that this man was familiar. He was actually the only person I remember from the bus route consistently. He got on at West Boulevard, what many native Charlotte-eans refer to as “rough part of town” and rode the same bus to uptown where I got off everyday to get to my host family’s house. This act of kindness made me cry even harder than I was crying before. Through my tears, I somehow mustered the words, “thank you.” When the bus got to my stop, I walked out towards the door. I turned back to give that man one last look. He looked at me and nodded. I got off the bus. I will never learn that man’s name. I will never get to tell him how much that moment meant to me. Simply, he showed me that he loved me, without knowing me, without knowing if I was “worthy.”

The Stapleton was so much more than a work experience. It changed the way I think about theology, homelessness, poverty, and my response as a person of faith. In fact, it is hard for me to really think about this experience as “work.” I met some of my favorite women at Dove’s Nest, that I never would have had the chance to meet if it wasn’t for this internship program and the Chaplain’s Office. I am eternally grateful for this internship, for the Chaplain’s Office, and for that tissue from that stranger.

Working at a Non-Profit in Beijing: Americans Promoting Study Aboard

Tai Tran's photo

Original post written by Tai Tran ’18, participant in the Davidson in East Asia Internship Program.

My experience at Americans Promoting Study Abroad has confirmed quite a few things I have read about working with non-profit organizations. First of all I would like to point out that this is an organization I have had quite a big insight and familiarity with before asking for an internship position for. APSA began with partnerships with quite a few other non-profit organizations. The idea was to have these other organizations who were more well established help APSA get on its feet and walk alone. However, that was never really achieved. Thus, we have the situation I am in now. An organization that is about eight years old yet does not have the stable base that it should have at this point. In our team of three, with two staff members from the One World Now organization, this summer we have a group of 21 students and a curriculum that we build as we go. There is far too much work to be done and there is only one full time staff member here in Beijing, our Executive Director. Being overworked and understaffed, that was my impression of a non-profit organization.

But many people would never believe the results we are able to churn out. To get so much done, with only a few staff members, within a limited amount of time, and resources, in my opinion we are all amazing here at APSA. And I am sure this is true for many other non-profits. The amount of fun and self discovery I have been able to enjoy during my internship has only left me with a positive impression. My research skills came in handy when it came to formulating short summaries of sites with hundreds of years of history and significance. My experience at Davidson College has taught me to wear many hats at one time in order to help us stick to a schedule or program. Although I have yet to actually find myself applying what I have learned in classes, other than my Chinese language classes, I have taken at Davidson College, my experience with extra-curricular clubs and networking has given me a better grasp of the real world and what it means to get work done at Americans Promoting Study Abroad.

Read more posts from the Davidson in East Asia Internship Program.