All posts by Ela Hefler

Ela Hefler

About Ela Hefler

Ela is a senior History major from Toronto, Canada. She works as an Employer Relations Ambassador (ERA) in the Center for Career Development and serves as the SIAD Liaison for the Department of Multicultural Affairs.

Flower blossom with text "5 Tips for Spring Success and Making the Most of Winter Break"

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.

Person painting with paint with text: "An Innovative Internship"

An Innovative Internship Option

The world today is more complicated than it’s ever been. When Davidson students graduate, they will face challenges more tangled, political rifts more wide, and and conflicts more extreme.

 

It’s a good thing, then, that Davidson prepares students with the skills they need to face a complex world head on: inside and outside the classroom, Davidson students learn to think critically, ask hard questions, and manage huge amounts of stress. Students graduate as leaders capable of navigating a changing world.

 

But despite students’ ability to solve complex questions in a complex world, traditional career paths are less and less able to do so. How will we protect coastal cities against a rising sea? How will we safeguard our national power grid against cyber attacks? How will we provide more equitable access to higher ed? While traditional professions like law and medicine will play a part in answering these big questions, they are only a piece of the puzzle. The questions of our future will also be answered by jobs that we’ve never heard of. These job will reach outside of the realm of traditional professional silos. And many of them don’t yet exist.

 

So, as Davidson students begin thinking about how to wield their liberal arts education post-Davidson, it’s important for them to remain conscious of and search for jobs and internships outside of the traditional career canon. It’s important for students to find and create jobs that give them the support, communities, and opportunities they need to change the world.

 

To accommodate that imperative, Davidson I&E, in collaboration with the CCD, runs the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, which is a fully-funded summer program that matches students with innovative jobs at entrepreneurial ventures across the world. And it furnishes them with the opportunity to develop a professional network and learn more about entrepreneurialism.

 

While many think of entrepreneurship as a sport reserved only for techies in Silicon Valley, it is more expansive than that. Entrepreneurship is about identifying a gap, nimbly prototyping solutions to fill the gap, and then quickly implementing a sustainable solution.

 

Indeed, there may be many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, but there are many more people across the nation wielding entrepreneurship to find sustainable solutions to big problems. In part, it’s entrepreneurs that are designing levees systems to protect cities against rising levels; it’s entrepreneurs that are creating new security algorithms to protect our power grid; and it’s entrepreneurs that are using digital solutions to make higher ed more equitable.

 

Students find opportunities like the aforementioned through the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Last year for instance, one student worked at a startup in Bulgaria to invent self-driven cargo aircraft. And, another worked in New York at an organization that works to increase office wellbeing. If students keep an eye on handshake this year, they’ll see a similar range of opportunities.

 

The Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Internship Program is open to everyone– you don’t have to be an economics or math major to apply. In fact, all you have to be is a Davidson student, because at Davidson students learn how to solve complex problems and be leaders in a changing world– students learn how to be the perfect entrepreneurs.  Applications will be due in early March, so keep your eye out for information from the Center for Career Development and Davidson I&E when you return from winter break!

 

john-michael Written by: John Michael Murphy
John Michael  is a Digital Learning & Innovation Fellow at Davidson College.

Training the Street

As College students, we have all probably encountered this classic conundrum in our job search:

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What if there were a way to gain on-the-job skills and training before you had a job? On Nov. 12, Training the Street will come to Davidson to offer a training program essential to any student wishing to pursue a career in finance or any business field requiring a deeper understanding of income and cash flow statements, balance sheets, public comparable analysis, and much more.

Training the Street works with many of the country’s top corporations to prepare their entry-level, new hires for success. By participating,you will be able to demonstrate to future employers both your preparation and your sustained interest in the business world. More than just teaching basic job skills, Training the Street is committed to cultivating the next generation of successful finance professionals. Through Training the Street’s program, you will master key concepts to reading financial statements and determining a company’s value, skills that you can apply immediately in interviews, internships and first full-time positions.

Training the Street is highly recognized and respected, and it is definitely worth highlighting directly on your résumé.

“Obviously nothing compares to actually doing the job first hand,” writes past participant J.B. Gough ’17, “but Training the Street definitely made me more comfortable especially in my shortcut excel skills, which are unbelievably valuable on the job. I was able to put Training the Street on my résumé and my employers were definitely pleased when they saw this.”

Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director at Davidson’s Center for Career Development, also acknowledges the value of this program.

“In my previous career, I was at the heart of financial services as a VP at State Street Corporation, so I’m confident that these skills in applied finance fundamentals are what our Davidson students need to differentiate themselves as candidates for any internship or entry-level role in banking or finance,” Ryan says. “Without this clear indicator of interest and skill development on their resume, it would be much more challenging for students to market themselves to a prospective employer for that first internship. The knowledge and confidence gleaned through this course will help students not only understand the finance fundamentals of corporate valuations, but completion of this course will serve as an asset on your resume, and open doors for your career options.”

Sign up in Handshake to attend this key opportunity! Lunch will be provided to all participants.

Career Treks: A new tool for your job search

Last week, myself and 11 other students participated in a Career Trek to Charlotte to learn about non-profit work and opportunities in ministry. Career Treks are a new initiative by the Center for Career Development in collaboration with other departments and groups on campus. These treks provide opportunities throughout the year for groups of students to visit a company or companies, learn more about those specific organizations, engage with industry professionals and gain first-hand knowledge of the environment and culture.

Music Director explains church history to students
Music Director, Anne Hunter Eidson, introduces Davidson students to Caldwell’s history of community building and social justice.

Last week’s Career Trek was hosted at Caldwell Presbyterian, a church and community known for its breadth of ministries focused on advocacy and community transformation. During our visit, we heard from members of Caldwell’s staff, as well as representatives from three non-profit organizations and initiatives.

The Third Place is a community coffee shop and common ground space run by QC Family Tree and hosted in Caldwell Presbyterian. The Third Place works not only to create economic opportunities for members of the community, but also to be a place where folks can come together to build the bonds that form deeper communities.

Hagar International is an organization committed to supporting the recovery of women and children who have been victims of trafficking and slavery in Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan. Their motto is “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life.”

End Slavery in Charlotte works to raise awareness about modern day slavery, and to support local anti-slavery organizations in Charlotte by filling gaps in the services available.

Over the course of an hour, we learned about the history and work of each organization. The representatives also spoke about the non-profit industry and offered their advice to us as students seeking to go into the non-profit industry. We asked questions about what to look for in job postings, how to choose between graduate schools and entry level job opportunities, and what they did to get to where they are today. Dr. Ray Casey, CEO of Hagar USA, told us that his work is guided by the questions “Who am I?” and “How can I give of that?” He said, of five degrees (one BA, three Masters and one PhD) the one he uses the most day-to-day is his Master of Arts in Non-Profit Management. Lisa, from Ending Slavery in Charlotte, spoke process and challenges of starting a non-profit. Leaving the Career Trek we had more answers, new industry contacts and a group of peers we knew shared our professional interests.

The Center for Career Development will be running Career Treks throughout the year, across a variety of industries. The next Trek will be to Red Ventures on October 21.  Students should register in Handshake by October 18.

Pro-tip for Trek participants: be ready to leverage the opportunity to be in-person with industry professionals. Ask focused questions and make sure to hold onto their contact information to follow up after the event.

networking cables with text: "Student perspectives on Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN)"

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.

Five Steps To Organize Your Post-Grad Search

Thinking

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.