All posts by Kayla Schlein

Looking for an Internship

Read about CCD Student Associate Anna French, and her advice on searching for an internship!

Internships. We hear about them all the time as students, from not only our parents but also our peers. It seems like all our fellow students around us have one or are waiting to hear back regarding their acceptances. If you have not started looking for an internship yet, do not worry. You have plenty of time. The best time to apply for internships as a student who is busy with school and extracurricular activities is winter break. Why? You no longer have schoolwork to bog down your afternoons and most of your extracurricular’s are probably on campus, giving you additional free time. If you return home to your family during winter break you also have the support and knowledge of those you love and trust.

Speaking of family, your families are a prime source of advice. If you are trying to write a cover letter for your internship and can’t find time to swing by the Career Center before you go home try asking your parents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins. Most likely they’ve all written cover letters before, if not for an internship then for a job application. Additionally, your families and family friends act as your first tier of networking. If you are having a hard time finding the type of internship you want on Handshake, try asking those you are close to whether or not they know of anyone who would like to have, or are accepting applications for, interns. Usually someone will say they know of a company who is looking for interns. You can then go and research the position and the company to see whether or not you think you would like to apply there.

As for the application process, you should remember that different companies have different requirements. Some only require your resume. More often than not, though, you will have to provide a cover letter stating who you are, why you want to work there, and why you think that you’re a good fit for the internship position. The key to writing a successful cover letter is doing your research on the company. For example, take a look at the About and Mission pages on the company’s website. These should tell you what sort of environment, work ethic, and goals the company likes to promote and uphold. Tailor your cover letter to reflect these qualities by pulling key descriptor terms from these pages to put into your letter; doing so will show the employer you have vested interest in their work and truly want to work for them. However, do not lie or exaggerate your personality or your experiences. If you are not energetic and the company portrays itself as fast-paced, don’t tell them you are upbeat all the time. Focus on other qualities about the company that you appreciate and be yourself. After all, if you get accepted, your employers will quickly discover any discrepancies between your words and your behaviors, so it is best to avoid them in the first place.

Finally, waiting to hear back can be excruciating and if you get rejected, painful. I just want to remind you: there are many other applicants who are applying for internships, all of them qualified. Yes, you were rejected, but you weren’t the only one who was rejected; others were too. Also, there are many internships out there, and new ones are being posted all the time, so don’t give up hope if you weren’t accepted. Who knows, maybe that internship wasn’t meant for you and a better one will come your way and change your life.

Research during your Undergraduate Experience

Read about CCD Student Associate David Thole, and his 2018 summer research experience!

Ever since beginning high school, there was a word – an idea, almost an unachievable goal for how fantastic it seemed at the time – that always fluttered out in some fantasy world for me. Research. It’s something that many colleges preach as a competitive factor at their school – ‘students have the opportunity to participate in faculty-led research, or generate ideas of their own, and pursue them through different programs’ – and it’s hailed as an almost necessary experience in order to pursue higher education.

And, for good reason! Research is hard. Seriously hard, and it teaches you a lot about yourself and the topic you’re researching. This past year, I began to discover a love for the field of chemistry and started a conversation with one of my professors, Dr. Mitchell Anstey, about a research position during the summer. After writing a mock proposal, I was accepted onto his research team and participated in a ten-week faculty-led research experience over the summer. During the ten weeks, I continued working on a project that had already been started by another student, Claudia Hernandez, involving the molecular synthesis of a complex ligand that had potential for electrochemical implementation (pun intended, for the physicists and chemists reading this). There are, of course, some nitty gritty details regarding the chemistry of the project, but I don’t want to focus on that (you can swing by Wall 246 and see my poster if you’re interested though!). Rather, this summer was the first time where this previously unattainable and idealized experience was suddenly thrust in front of me. Through the experience, I learned a lot more than just chemistry and I also started to really understand why research experience was regarded so highly by potential employers and graduate schools.

Patience was the first trait that was tested during the summer. Patience is a virtue, they say. Well, when you spend two weeks (80 hours!) trying to find the right conditions to run a reaction, and you can’t seem to find anything that works, patience definitely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, that’s the nature of research. Some things work, and some things are a complete bust. Kind of like life, right? I consider myself a pretty patient person, but kudos to my labmates this summer for tolerating my less-than-flowery word choice in situations where things didn’t quite go my way. If you get involved in a research project, failure and setbacks are inevitable, and people know that. This is one of the reasons why a research experience can be extremely valuable.

Obviously, another thing that research requires – and shows to higher institutions – is a supreme level of intellect that separates you from others, right? Wrong! Very wrong. I’ve said it before, and I maintain this perspective; I think anyone could’ve done exactly what I did this summer with similar results. In reality, what my research required – and what I think any research requires – is interest, a positive attitude, and a killer work ethic. You are the one in control of your project, so you decide how to use your time and what you accomplish is directly correlated to how much time you put into it. Now, I’m a big procrastinator, so research this summer was definitely a wake-up call. At times where I felt tired, or unsure of how to continue, what I had to do was push past that rather than let my fatigue or boredom control my decision. Because, face it, research can also be seriously boring. For the rest of our lives, we’re going to inevitably have times where we are at a fork in the road faced with decisions, and pushing through perceived discomfort will help us become stronger and more resilient people.

I just wanted to touch on one more aspect of research. Like I said earlier, there is such a huge emphasis on finding research opportunities – from your high school, from your undergraduate institution, and from institutions moving forward. However, from my experience this summer, I really don’t think that research should ever be this concept anyone holds on a pedestal and sees as a necessary requirement for continuing their educations or pursuing any dream (of course, if you want to do research for a living, it’s kind of important, but that’s a completely different story). I’m interested in PA school, and with that in mind, I think a clinical internship or some sort of medical experience would have been substantially more helpful towards my future career. Of course, I could’ve loved research and wanted to do it for the rest of my life. And research is such a crucial field for the betterment of society, which is another reason why it’s so highly regarded by higher institutions, so I am glad that I was able to learn more about myself and about research this past summer. However, I just want to affirm that you should never feel discouraged or disappointed if you are unable to get a research position during your undergraduate experience.

That being said, if you do want research, Davidson is an incredible place to get that process started! Study hard, latch onto something that seems super cool, go to office hours, and start that conversation with your professor. You should also never feel like you’re not good enough for research either, because I seriously believe that anyone can research and make some awesome discoveries. Also, research can be in any field, and there’s something so transformative about creating knowledge for yourself – and making a project personal – as opposed to just being fed information in a classroom setting. You’ll never know what you’ll discover when you take that extra step.

Changing Career Paths

Read about CCD Student Associate Charlee Rae Bender, and her 2018 summer experience!

It seems counterintuitive, but there is a certain peace that comes with uncertainty- especially in those moments where all the plans you set up for yourself change without warning.

This is a lesson I wasn’t forced to learn until this past summer living alone in New York City.

At the end of May, I had managed to secure an internship working for a Production and Public Relations firm located just north of the financial district in New York City. I didn’t know anyone, but I knew living on my own would not only provide valuable lessons in independence, but also meaningful work experience.

I landed in LaGuardia with Law School on my mind and Elle Woods as my professional role model. However, I found my plans and interests having radically shifted by the time I left.

Within a week, I was nestled in one of the skyscrapers of Times Square at 6:30 a.m. managing four phone lines, connecting our spokesperson to various news stations and figuring out how to put our camera’s picture up on satellite. The fast-paced energy on studio days was something I immediately loved. I was in awe of the caliber of work the studio managers, technical crew and camera men produced, while living a life untethered to a desk.

With each studio visit and every bit of exposure to the broadcasting and entertainment industry, I knew this was it. I had actual hands-on experience that confirmed my newfound passion and further encouraged me to pursue this path.

Each and every person with whom I worked had a different story and different journey to get to the same place. This meant that for the first time in my life, I had no exact steps I could follow that would bring me to my goal. It would take slow, incremental change and a lot of patience to build towards this new career path.

It wasn’t long before obstacles began to arise. How was I supposed to pursue journalism, broadcasting, production, directing and acting all at once? How would a Philosophy major get me there? What if I wanted to keep Law School as a viable option? These questions were paralyzing and halted any and all progress.

I needed to take a step back and re-focus my scope.

I was so narrowed in on what I envisioned ultimate success to be that I lost sight of what was in front of me. It was time to slow down and appreciate the opportunities as they came. I needed to trust and have faith in my own instincts when they told me this journey would slowly unfold as long as I was dedicated and committed to the pursuit.

If you take nothing else from this- please know that the plans to which you may have been committed are worth foregoing if you find yourself losing interest- even if the other option does not provide the same sense of security and requires working harder to get there. Davidson is type of place that allows for and supports this journey of slowly discerning passions and interests- so take advantage of the time and resources while they are available.

My Moment of Truth

Read about CCD Student Associate Timmy Douglas, and his experience with the Hurt Hub! 

Everybody loves to have money in their pocket, and I do too. For a few years now, I have been obsessed with the idea of financial freedom. In pursuit of this idea, I read a lot of success stories about people who have achieved financial freedom and want to share their journey. A lot of the stories I read involve entrepreneurship, but also about how important it is to control your time and not chase after frivolous things. I would love to own a business one day so I can control my time and spend most of it with the things of real value in my life.

An important aspect of owning a business is networking because the more people you know, the more opportunities you will find. Furthermore, you cannot do anything alone; everybody needs help. As a sophomore in college, I find it hard to make business connections without playing a part, or being somebody that I am not in an interview that puts me in a job I don’t want to be in. Where will I ever find this network?

My Professor, Dr. Martin, had the idea to have his office hours on Wednesday at the Hurt Hub. I was very confused because after being at Davidson for a year, you think you know all the local spots, but I had never heard of this before.

Conveniently, The Hurt Hub was established this year and is a site that is intended to connect local businesses and entrepreneurs with students that are looking to be involved with the business world. Also, the Hurt Hub encourages start-up culture.

I am very thankful that I attended Dr. Martin’s office hours because not only did I learn, but I got to experience the Hub and see the potential it had for my life. Now I can see if my money is where my mouth is. I know that I will be making time to attend the Hub and find out just how helpful it can be! I think the potential is unlimited and I would encourage you to join me in pursuing the Hurt Hub.

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To be a Part of Social Change and Involvement in the Community

This blog was written by Evelyn Morris ’18, 2018-2019 Davidson Impact Fellow for the Matthews Free Medical Clinic.

Less than three months ago I was walking across the graduation stage; fast forward a matter of weeks and here I am standing in a conference room at the head of long table surrounded by an educated and powerful group of people giving a presentation on statistics that I had researched and compiled. Halfway through my fourth week at the Matthews Free Medical Clinic I presented a mid-year report on key clinic statistics to the board of directors at their annual planning meeting.

Leading up to the presentation I was grappling with a mixture of emotions: excited for this incredible opportunity, nervous about whether or not I belonged in a space like this after just graduating, and confident since I had spent weeks researching and preparing materials. In retrospect, I had no reason to feel intimidated by the opportunity presented to me, and in fact, my newness might have even been a strength because it gave me a new perspective to draw upon during my presentation. I drew many lessons from this experience but one I want to share with you all is that any student coming out of Davidson does in fact belong in these spaces more typically reserved for more experienced, higher educated persons and we are more prepared than we know.

As evidenced by the fact that I presented to the board during my fourth week of work, this job has already given me incredible autonomy and responsibility. I am currently writing a grant application for the clinic to secure continuous glucose monitors for our diabetic patients to wear. These devices take blood glucose readings every 15 minutes and store the data until their next provider appointment. Data from the monitors are then used to make more personalized treatment recommendations, ultimately increasing patient quality of life. I have been in charge of drafting the grant after initial collaboration meetings with our pharmacist who I will be working with to implement the program if the funds are secured. Being continuously given important projects that require me to learn new skills has really reinforced the fact that we as Davidson graduates are capable and able to tackle most any project to come our way.