5 Questions to Help You Find a Job You Love

Sometimes I wish I could call someone and ask ‘what should I do with my life’? Wouldn’t it be great to have someone else tell you, if you do A, B, and C, you will feel happy, fulfilled and everything will work out? Wouldn’t it be great to have certainty related to your future, professionally and personally? Let’s be honest, I would be rich if I could be that person for others! What a gift that would be. Unfortunately, I have not figured how to precisely answer those questions for myself, much less for other people. I have, though, identified a few key questions that I think are worth asking yourself if you are interested in finding a career that feels less like a job and more like a passion.

  1. What does your ideal day look like? Your ideal week? In answering this question, think about whether or not you like to have your time structured or be more autonomous. Do you like to work alone or with people? Do you perform better if you leave your house? While you might not always get to choose your ideal day as part of your job, you can certainly seek out pieces of your ideal day in different roles that you consider.
  1. Before you retire, what do you want to be known for professionally and personally? What is your professional reputation right now? Do you want to change, expand or vary it? Sometimes thinking ahead and visualizing yourself at the end of your career can help to put your values, goals and objectives into perspective. Looking back on the bigger picture of your professional life can often refocus you on what is important to you and help you pass over things that aren’t.
  1. What do you most enjoy learning about? Thinking about? Talking about? Do you prefer to learn in a classroom environment or from a textbook? What topics do you love talking about? While not every person who loves race cars can, or should, work in the racing industry, reflecting on what it is about race cars that you love and trying to surround yourself with others who have similar passions can help to make you feel more engaged and excited about your own professional life.
  1. What emotion or sensation do you associate with success: Happiness? Excitement? Pride? Stress-free? Your answer to this question may determine what type of work you seek out and how often you hope to change your work. If you are someone who likes to be excited and constantly stimulated, you will likely benefit from a fast-paced, diverse job. If you consider your ideal job to be stress-free, then you will likely want a constant, low-intensity work environment. Departments and companies change, so while a job might have started as a good match for you, over time, it might become something else. It is important to continually check-in with yourself about how your work environment is affecting your emotions.
  1. What are you willing to give up? Continuing with the question above, if you are someone who seeks out fast-paced work environments, then you will likely give up a degree of control in your schedule and place of work. If you are someone who prefers to be in charge of your schedule and be an autonomous worker, then you will likely give up opportunities that exist in larger corporations because they are typically more bureaucratic. A person once told me: it is not comparing the pros that lead to a decision for someone, but rather comparing the cons. I thought that this was great advice, because in the end, whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, it is the cost of a decision to which a person pays the most attention to and remembers the longest.

Answers to these questions are not simple and often take time to work through. In truth, over the course of my career, my answers to these questions have changed. I do not think that they are stagnant or simple. Answers to these questions will not tell you what title or position you should seek out. However, they will help you to identify what role might be most likely to lead to a feeling of professional fulfillment. I recommend reviewing these questions on a yearly basis or when you feel a transition is coming. Reflecting on where you have been, where you are and where you hope to go in your professional path always behooves you and helps you to make informed decisions.

 

Rebecca Glavin, Assistant Director for Career Development

Rebecca Glavin joins the Center for Career Development after having spent a number of years running her own practice, Glavin Counseling, as a clinician in Charlotte. She has an organizational psychology background and previously worked in leadership development consulting. Rebecca holds a BA in Psychology from Middlebury College, a Masters in Business Administration from UNC Charlotte, and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. 

New Year, New Look: Transforming the Center for Career Development

Following a semester filled with unprecedented success, we now focus our eyes on a new year—one promised to be abundant in enrichment and growth, and offer an outstanding array of career development opportunities for our students. As we shift our attention to a fresh semester, we aim to continuously drive strategic transformation via the strengthening of employer partnerships and career programming, office remodeling, and personnel hires that will amplify achievement.

Prior to the break, we reimagined our Center to intentionally optimize our space to include more rooms for consultation and interviews, so we have transformed individual offices to collaborative spaces to achieve this. When students return to campus, we will now have four rooms in the Center specifically designed for one-on-one advising and assessments, engaging with employers, and interview opportunities. As a key piece of our transformation, we are confident this new look will provide students with a warmer, more engaging atmosphere and allow for deeper connectivity and increased production. Students, be sure to stop by the Center upon your return—not just to see its facelift, but for career advising, of course!

Additionally, we are eager to welcome a fresh face to our staff: Rebecca Glavin, Assistant Director for Career Development. Rebecca is a key hire to heighten the Center’s success, and she will focus on the Davidson Impact Fellows Program, the Center’s Annual report as well as student advising and assessment. She joins us with distinguished experience in career coaching. She is well-versed in building strong client relationships, having owned her own counseling firm, Glavin Counseling, as a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her passion for people and counseling will undoubtedly add to our dynamic staff.

I am also thrilled to have joined the Center for Career Development in the Fall as an Assistant Director to deliver high-quality relationship management and support to our clients – both students and employers, alumni, graduate schools and other external and internal stakeholders. With marketing and communications skills honed in both the private sector at Unlimited Success Sports Management, and prior to this, within higher ed environments at Mississippi State University, I am excited to bring my enthusiasm to the Center. Since arriving in the Fall, I’ve hit the ground running, enjoying the opportunity to serve Davidson students through various signature career development events and one-on-one advising. I look forward to getting to know each one of you as a new semester begins!

As you can see, we have been quite busy ensuring intentional steps are taken to fully leverage the Center to deliver career opportunities to all Davidson students. Through the support and partnership of key employers, parents, faculty, staff and alumni, we have been able to capitalize on strategic change to generate successful engagement outcomes with our students and enhance professional development initiatives. We look forward to welcoming each of you back in the new year and cannot wait to help you achieve your post-Davidson goals.

Stay tuned for more… we are just getting started!

 

Sarah Layne,
Assistant Director for Career Development

Maximizing Your Career Potential During Winter Break

So you’ve made it through fall semester successfully! As you look ahead to a month of rest, reconnection, and reflection time, you may be wondering what to do with all of this free time?   This is a perfect opportunity to focus in on your career exploration and development to ensure ongoing success! Here are three tips to help you make the most of your career potential during winter break:

 Polish Your Resume

Whether this is your first semester at Davidson – or you’ve been here awhile – it’s important to create a collegiate resume and keep it updated! Not only does it mitigate stress later when you are applying to on campus positions, internships, or research initiatives, but it’s also a best practice for post-Davidson to keep that resume up to date and polished.  Not sure where to begin? Check out the Center for Career Development resume guide page for tips and advice on keeping your documents fresh. We even have editable templates to make it easy to get started today!

 Have a Career Conversation

Winter break is a great time to explore the world of work and what the myriad of possibilities are! Curious about a certain industry or job? The Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN) is a great way to connect with alumni and key stakeholders who are interested in supporting your career exploration and development through one-on-one coaching. You can search through advisors, send a request, and connect via conference call – all through the platform! These session topics can include resume reviews, mock interviews, or career conversations, which are designed to demystify specific professional paths of interest. Be sure to curate a short list of questions you want to ask before the conversation, to showcase your preparedness and interest in learning more. We’ve compiled a sample set of questions you might consider as you get started here.

Launch Your Internship Search

For many students, winter break is an ideal time to jumpstart (or continue) a strategic internship search. This doesn’t mean you will start and complete that search before classes start again in January, but it is a great time to peruse Handshake for opportunities and upcoming networking & on campus recruiting sessions.   The system gets updated regularly, so why not take stock now and start applying to opportunities of interest? Once you do this, you can continue the habit when you return to campus – designating time for yourself each week to work on your search. Have questions? Pop over to Appointlet to schedule a career advising session with a career coach in the Center in January!

 

About Tiffany Waddell
Tiffany Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development

Passionate about helping others develop themselves professionally and identify how their unique skills and interests can not only be cultivated, but add value to professional relationships, organizations, and the world, Tiffany has effectively coached hundreds of budding young professionals on how to create and launch strategic action plans to accomplish long and short-term goals.  She received her BA & MA from Wake Forest University.

Career Conversations: My DCAN Experience

DCAN is like a path of privilege, offered only to us Wildcats to lead all of you to a world of cool people and endless business connections.

– Julianne Xiao

Remember the millions of steps that we had to go through to learn how to use DCAN and find a career advisor? That is no longer something that can stop you from accessing this amazing website that has become so much more user-friendly after modification.

You have a dream. Awesome! But how are you going to achieve that dream? There are many options, such as meeting with a Career Development Counselor or applying for internships. If you have not heard of DCAN, now is the time to access the website. With a massive hub of alumni and parents who could be your potential professional connection, DCAN cannot be neglected when you are attempting to build a successful career path during your years at Davidson.

I personally just connected with an alumnus on DCAN for a career conversation in the finance field, and I had an unforgettable experience. On top of the wide range of services provided on the website, here are some quick tips coming from your fellow student who had a first encounter with the website not long ago:

  1. Choose the correct time zone

When you schedule a meeting, there are numerous time zones that you can choose. Remember to always choose the time zone where YOU are located. For example, if you are at Davidson College, choose the Eastern Standard Time Zone! This is really important because some advisors may locate at CA and live by the Pacific Standard Time, or they may even be abroad.

  1. Check out the sample messages on the Career Center Development website

When you are scheduling a conference call, you want the message to be precise (name, background, major, what you want advice on, etc.). On the Career Center website, there are sample messages that you can use to articulate your message so that you can leave a professional and polite first impression on your advisor.

  1. Explore and don’t limit your targets

The DCAN website has countless advisors in different fields. The goal of scheduling a career conversation does not mean that you are set on pursuing that career. The conversation simply gives you more information on what the field looks like and what you need to do if you ever wanted to become, say, a financial analyst. Be open-minded and reach out to people from different fields. This will not only help you have a better idea about planning your path, but will also help you explore and find the ideal field for you.

  1. Have someone from the REAL world fill you in on what is going on out there

Ask wise questions. The Career Center website offers sample questions that you could ask, or you could even search on Google or buy a book on how to ask career-related questions. This is your opportunity to get a sense of how the real world looks like – so no need to limit the conversation to “what degree should I pursue” or “what classes should I take.” For instance, ask about what kind of employees the field is looking for, or what a company might be looking for during an interview (*DON’T ask them for a potential job!)

The website is not at all as complex and terrifying as it may sound. Talking with someone who is successful and has a lot of experience with the professional field may seem intimidating. Don’t feel that way. I was nervous when I made that conference call, but my advisor turned out to be extremely friendly and easy to approach. This is an amazing opportunity to build network with alumni and hone your future career path, and I would recommend it to all my fellow Davidson wildcats.

 

 

Written by: Julianne Xiao
Julianne is a sophomore at Davidson and works as a Career Development Ambassador in the Center.

Up Close with Epic: Leveraging your Liberal Arts Degree

up-close-with-epic

I started working at Epic, an EMR software company, back in March of 2016. For context, Epic is a company where no one comes with prior experience. There is no “electronic medical record” major that state-school students take to get ahead of liberal arts students. From day one, I was on the same level with all of my peers. We all underwent training classes and took the same tests to prepare us for working in the world of medical software. In fact, Epic promotes a culture where your background is less important, and instead the work you put in decides your success. That is where Davidson so clearly prepares its students the best. 

My degree from Davidson has intrinsic value. My late nights in my library carrel writing papers did little to solve Macroeconomic issues, but they did prepare me for thinking critically about a subject so I could come prepared for lecture the next morning. That extra hour I went to office hours to ask for clarification about my Latin American education paper did little to improve my overall grade, but it instilled confidence to reach out for help and allowed me understand the value of creating professional relationships. Additionally, speaking up in my Political Theory class to voice my opinion on the 2016 election did little to change anyone’s vote, but it provided practice for transforming a cloud of disorganized thoughts into clear, concise points.

In sum, my degree is important. In truth, my degree has pushed me toward success.

My work at Epic has little overlap with specific classroom experiences. No singular class prepared me for interacting with hospital executives or leading presentations on EMR software. However, if I piece together my experiences with class presentations or research projects, I can clearly see a picture of the building blocks of my success. Even though I began my job at Epic with a limited understanding of what the job entailed, it did not matter, as I had my degree. I was prepared, equipped, and ready for any challenge. I was ready to work.

There are multiple full-time positions at Epic posted in Handshake. Learn more here

daniel-bianchini

Daniel was a Economics major at Davidson and graduated in 2016.  He is now living in Madison, WI while working as a Project Manager with Epic

Five Tips for Spring Success

Winter has descended, Thanksgiving break has passed and we are coming into the final leg of the semester. As we go into break, here are five tips that will help prepare you to hit the ground running in the spring semester:

1.     Get back on Handshake
Right now, you are probably focused on finals. But winter break is a great opportunity to research job and internship opportunities on Handshake. There are already more than 1200 postings, and more are being added every day. If you find an opportunity that peaks your interest, do not forget to “favorite” it, so it is easy to find and apply to later. Break is also a great chance to ensure your Handshake profile is up-to-date. If your LinkedIn profile is current, it is easy to copy the information over to Handshake. You can always drop into the Center for Career Development for a walk-in appointment if you want to review your LinkedIn profile with a career counselor or have a new headshot taken.

2.     Polish your resume
When was the last time you looked at your resume? If you have been putting off polishing or updating it, winter break can be a great time to check that off your list. If you are planning to apply for positions over break, or if you would like feedback on what you can polish to be prepared for next semester, you can come into the Center for a resume review. The CCD is open for walk-ins from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, including through exam week.

3.     Network on DCAN
There may not be on-campus events to network at over break, but you should not let that stop you from making connections and extending your network. DCAN makes that easy. With more than 1300 advisors, DCAN is one of the strongest networking tools you have. From career conversations to industry-specific resume reviews to mock interviews, DCAN advisors can help you at any stage in your job or internship search. It is fast and easy to use, but be sure to begin connecting with advisors early in break so you can schedule time to talk in early January before classes start.

4.     Pursue job shadowing opportunities
Break is particularly long this year – almost five weeks from the end of exams to the first day of classes. While the Career Center’s Job Shadowing Program has shifted to spring and summer [link to Sarah’s blog post], you can still take advantage of the break to gain experience in your field. Start by checking in with your network or connections at home to see if there would be opportunities to spend some time over break shadowing. If you have you developed relationships with any alumni on DCAN, you could also reach out to them about shadowing opportunities.

5.     Take time to reflect
The semester is busy, and we do not always take the time to reflect on what we have achieved and the progress we have made during the school year. Taking some time to reflect now, while the semester is still fresh in your mind, can help as you prepare to write cover letters and personal statements. It can also be an opportunity to notice whether your personal and professional goals have changed, or to celebrate the steps you have taken toward meeting those goals.

Job Shadowing Program: Updates & Enhancements

 

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Since the inception of our piloted Job Shadowing Program 5 years ago, students of all class years and majors have availed of hundreds of opportunities to connect with Davidson alumni and parents, explore career paths, and clarify their career goals. From veterinarians and social workers to consultants and CEOs, students have been able to observe a wide variety of roles in organizations across the country.

Student and host response to this program has consistently been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, 98% of students would recommend the program to a friend. To update you on the latest of this program and demonstrate the accomplishments, we are excited to share our Job Shadowing Program Annual Report.

As the Job Shadowing Program approaches its sixth year, we have been analyzing feedback from both hosts and students in order to continually enhance our process. Based on your feedback, we have determined that both hosts and students overwhelmingly prefer to shadow in the spring and summer. The extended timeframe allows for more flexibility in scheduling while the timing ensures more engaging experiences that do not conflict with holiday office closures.

As a result of this assessment, we will now prioritize the Spring and Summer Job Shadowing Program moving forward. This will ensure more successful shadowing placements that provide the most impact and enhance your experience.

We are thrilled by the great success of this program and are excited to kick of the 2017 Spring & Summer Job Shadowing Program. Be on the lookout for information sessions in the coming months.

Law School Fair Reflections

law-school-fair-reflections

When I was in second grade my class had a career day, and I dressed up as an attorney. I had on a black dress, my dad’s old briefcase, and my hair in a tight bun. All this to say, I have known that I wanted to go into the legal field since I was seven years old, so joining the Pre Law Society at Davidson was a no-brainer for me. I know that the path to discovering a passion for the law isn’t as clear cut for some people, and that’s why recruiting and educating new members has been my favorite role as President of the Pre-Law Society. Leaving a mock file review and hearing a classmate get excited about applying to law schools, or sitting in a networking seminar and listening to our members talk about looking for internships with senators and attorneys is what makes my role worthwhile. For this reason, the Greater Charlotte Law School fair was truly my favorite day of the semester.

As President, watching my peers listen intently to admissions officers speaking about the application process, course options, and notable professors, I felt that all of our hard work planning the fair was worthwhile. Afternoons spent advertising the fair to students and law schools alike were rewarded when nearly 70 law schools and 150 students came together to speak about career options and graduate school opportunities. For many of our first-year members the fair was a time to discover courses that excite them and really solidify whether or not law school is the best path. For juniors and seniors, I believe it helped decide which classes and campuses excite them the most, and maybe come to the realization that certain schools simply aren’t a good fit.

My own takeaway from the law school fair was perhaps less concrete than some of my peers. As a junior who chose not to grow abroad, I found my motivation beginning to waiver this semester. Classes seemed longer and LSAT prep was not moving along quickly enough. Speaking to admissions reps from my dream schools—Columbia, Duke, Boston College, and so many others—reminded me what I am working towards at Davidson and within the Pre-Law Society. Learning about immigration law classes and professors who take students to conduct research overseas rekindled a flame that had started to die down. The law school fair prompted me to see that the finish line is in sight, that the goal I have been working towards since I was seven years old is about to pay off greatly. To me, the Greater Charlotte Law School Fair was a truly invaluable experience.

emily-yates-headshotEmily is currently a junior at Davidson College. She is pursuing a double major in English and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emily is President of the Pre Law Society and hopes to have a career in the legal field.

 

From English Major to Software Developer: Up Close with McMaster-Carr

“I just graduated with an English major, and now I’m a software developer.”

I have introduced myself this way many times over the last few months, and in response, I tend to receive looks of surprise and skepticism. I’m proving the skeptics wrong thanks to McMaster-Carr, a company that values liberal arts graduates and gives them the resources they need to become successful software developers.

As a rising senior, I was unsure about how I wanted to start my career. I had done my summer internships with nonprofit organizations, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start my career in the non-profit field. I began participating in programs through Davidson’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program and realized that I wanted a job through which I could pursue my newfound interests in technology and design. Without much background in either field, though, I wasn’t sure what my options were.

I applied on a whim for a Development and Design role at McMaster-Carr Supply Company. I did not know anything about the industrial supply industry, but I liked the job posting, which emphasized the opportunity to gain skills in technology, design, and business. I was surprised to find that for these entry-level software developer roles, McMaster was not exclusively seeking students with backgrounds in computer science. Throughout the interview process, McMaster employees confirmed the company’s stance that you can teach people to code, but you can’t teach people to learn, justifying their decision to seek out a start class with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Throughout the interview process, I articulated the ways in which my Davidson education, extracurricular roles, and internships taught me how to navigate ambiguous problems and learn new skills and content quickly; though my experiences had little to do with computer software, McMaster recognized my potential as a quick learner, and I received the job as an entry-level developer in McMaster’s Systems Department.

I’ve only been in my new role for two months, but I’m finding that the Systems Department at McMaster is an amazing place to start a career. Systems is responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the software that McMaster uses for both internal and customer-facing business operations. As a developer at McMaster, I am learning how to develop across the full stack – from front-end languages for designing websites, to back-end languages for managing databases, and everything in between. In my first six weeks, I participated in a rigorous training program to learn programming and design skills, and now I’m continuing to learn as a member of my project team. The company prioritizes skill building, so my assignments are framed as opportunities to both contribute to my team and develop as a programmer. Additionally, the technology our department creates touches every part of the business, so the developer role is a great vantage point from which to learn about business strategy and operations more broadly.

While the path from English major to software developer may seem like an unusual one, I’ve already seen how the skills gained from studying a language (or any other liberal arts subject) can lead to success in software development. In the world of software, technology is constantly changing, so over the course of a development career, the ability to learn new skills quickly is more important than the specific content knowledge with which you enter. Additionally, to design software for a business, you need to ask critical questions about who will use a tool, how they’ll use it, and what is most important from a business perspective; as liberal arts majors, we are trained to synthesize information quickly and cut straight to the important questions, a skill which can give us a unique and useful perspective on a programming team. The learning curve is certainly steep, but I’m confident that a lot of Wildcats have what it takes to make an unlikely transition like mine, from English major to software developer.

Seniors interested in McMaster-Carr should check out the Development and Design role, as well as the Management Development role.

emily-rapport-headshotEmily Rapport graduated from Davidson in 2016 with a major in English and a minor in Hispanic Studies.

 

Graduate School, Or Not?

grad-school-or-notShort answer: maybe.  If you are thinking about graduate school, you are not alone.  Nearly one third of seniors will enter a graduate or professional school program after graduation.  Deciding on a program and when to start is a big decision.  Before you send off those applications and secure your enrollment spot, it’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions and take time to reflect on whether or not graduate school is the appropriate next step for you.

The first question I ask most students who meet with me to chat about researching graduate programs and application prep is simple: why?  For each person, the answer is different.  Immediate entry into graduate school may give you a leg up in your professional field of interest.  Many times graduate or professional school will afford you a number of specialized skills or certifications and help propel you into the next step of that particular industry.  For example – if you want to be an attorney, then at some point, attending law school, succeeding in your studies, and passing the Bar exam is a pre-requisite before you can attempt to practice law.  In other fields, a graduate degree may be required simply for candidacy of application to apply.  However, this is not always the case.  Some graduate programs are more likely to admit an applicant who has work experience. It is important to identify the norm or standard of education in a given field – and do a bit of research to find out whether or not graduate school immediately after college is a necessary or realistic goal.

Another big question to ask yourself: are you ready?  By ready, I simply mean are you ready to continue attending school for several months or years?  As you approach graduation, you may find that you would like a break from school to recharge before you pursue another academic program.  Perhaps you would like to gain some “real world” experience and explore the world of work a bit before deciding which field of study is the best one for you. Maybe you would like to travel the world or give back in the form of volunteering or service work.

Whatever you decide, remember that the choice is yours.  Family, friends, and other influencers will not be attending classes (or work) for you.  Adjusting to a new academic or work environment and geographic location is a major life transition and certainly worth consideration and intention.

Thinking about grad school after Davidson?  You likely have many questions. Be prepared – meet with a career advisor, faculty mentor, and industry professional to gather information and make an informed decision.  Learn more about the ins and outs of graduate school application prep, and how to make the most of your post-graduate studies.  For now, take some time to reflect as to whether or not graduate school right after college is the right choice for you and visit the Center for Career Development to discuss your options.