All posts by Sarah Williams

Exploring Your Interests: The Value of Events On and Off Campus

Have you ever wondered what career field is right for you? All of us at some point have considered our interests and how they may align with certain internships, jobs or positions in the future.  Oftentimes, the best way to identify where our interests may or may not lie is through experience.  Opportunities to get involved outside of the classroom can be our windows into different types of real world experiences.  These opportunities don’t always have to take form in a summer long internship.  Events found on Handshake like career treks and local competitions can be valuable learning experiences.

The Charlotte HACKathon hosted by Tresata was an overnight competition that sought to solve a problem presented by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte. Contestants were given a large dataset and tasked with identifying strategies or insights into how to improve matches between volunteer mentors and local students.

The competition gave contestants an opportunity to work as a group to help a local non-profit in a meaningful way as well as gain exposure into the world of Big Data analytics.  Overall, the event gave good insight into the skills and techniques used in a real-world application and allowed participants to put their own skills to the test.

These types of experiences are priceless when deciding what career field you may be interested in.  You learn what skills you want to obtain and what tasks you enjoy, as well as learning techniques for solving problems on the fly.

While you’re searching for a potential career field that might interest you, I urge you to consider events on campus or in the area that could help guide you in the future.  Investing your time in an event one afternoon can open the doors for future opportunities.   As a Davidson student, your time is valuable. Participating in and/or attending events like career treks, or the upcoming DataFest on campus, can be a quick and easy way to test your interests before taking on a summer internship in a field that you are unsure about.  Then, once an opportunity that aligns with your interests opens up, you can confidently pursue whatever comes your way.

Chris Cardwell ’18

Job Shadowing Externship Program

The opportunity to apply for the annual Job Shadowing Externship Program is upon us. I’ll lay out the pertinent information and dates so that you are best prepared to apply and succeed within the program.

What is it?

The Davidson Job Shadowing Externship Program provides one-day and multi-day shadowing opportunities for students to shadow professionals (many of whom are alumni and parents) in an industry of interest. Last year’s program had students shadowing in Communications, Media, Marketing, Education, Banking, Finance, Healthcare, Consulting, Public Policy, Law, and various other sectors. No matter what your major is at Davidson, there is an opportunity available within in the program for you.

Shadowing experiences are available across the United States and around the globe. Wherever you are headed this summer, you can find an opportunity near you. If students must travel and stay multiple nights, there are even homestay and funding opportunities available.

Information sessions will be hosted to provide more details about the program. As will be mentioned later, all interested applicants must attend at least one of the Job Shadowing Information Sessions on:

March 2 at 11:05 am in Room 313 of the Union

March 13 at 4:30 pm in Room 209 of the Union

March 14 at 11:05 am in Room 408 of the Union

The Experience

Last year 141 students participated in 195 unique shadowing experiences. 57% of the participants were underclassmen while 43% were upperclassmen. For younger students, it is a great opportunity to get your head in the door in an industry, and to see if that career path is the one for you. An interesting and stimulating experience in the workplace may guide the rest of your time at Davidson. For older students, the program is a very real day in the life experience of what work in a chosen field will be after graduation. Regardless of year, the program offers invaluable networking experiences and insights into potential careers.

Previous students have thoroughly enjoyed the program; 98% of last year’s participants would recommend job shadowing to a friend. A student, who graduated last year and reflected on her job shadowing experience via blog, left this advice to perspective students:

“So I end with an urgent message to Davidson underclassmen: please, if you do anything during your career search, USE THIS PROGRAM. You will learn so much. You will meet people willing to help you in your journey. And you will finally have a few answers in your pocket when someone asks that dreadful question “so what are you going to do with that major?” Oh, let me tell you.”” 

If you would like to read this student’s full experience, it can be found here.

The Application

In order to apply for the program, students must attend one of the aforementioned information sessions. Attendance at one of these sessions will allow students to access the application via Handshake. Here are the important dates:

March 2, 13, 14: Students must attend an information session in the Student Union.

March 6: Students with Handshake access may begin to fill out and submit the application.

March 19: The deadline for all job shadowing applications.

March 29: Hosts and Students are notified of their job shadowing match.

If you have any questions about the experience or application be sure to ask them in the information session, or stop by the Center for Career Development for a walk-in Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm.

Learn more: www.davidson.edu/job-shadowing

Pat Morris ’18 is a Political Science major at Davidson.

Up Close with Harman: Finance + Liberal Arts

This past summer I had a 9-week internship at Harman International in their finance department as a “Financial Planning and Analysis Intern.” Despite Harman’s significant size, many people are unaware of the scope of the company’s business. Harman is a large corporation (about $7 billion of revenue) based in Stamford, CT, and is best known for being an audio company that owns JBL, AKG, and Harman Kardon.  However, their main source of revenue and focus is in car audio and infotainment systems. The company is divided into four segments: infotainment systems for cars, consumer audio, professional audio, and something they call connected services, which does outsourced research and development (primarily writing software for telecom and auto companies). What makes Harman so interesting to me is that it joins hardware and software almost seamlessly and covers a wide array of products and services that makes for a constantly evolving company where there are always more to learn. While the company was just acquired by Samsung, they still function autonomously. The internship offered opportunity, flexibility, and value far more than I imagined.

At its most basic level, the internship offered the opportunity for me to refine my analytical and quantitative skills, as I performed market share and financial analysis, developed financial projections, valuations and risk assessments for the CFO.  Coming from Davidson and having an interest in a career in finance, developing my analytical skill set was important to me. However, the knowledge and skills I acquired during this internship went far beyond just what I gained from preforming the tasks I was assigned. I developed relationships with many of the incredibly smart people that surrounded me, even if they weren’t in my division. My manager was able to introduce me to people in areas where I expressed interest.  After getting acclimated to the environment, I started to do this on my own, and even got involved with projects in areas I wanted exposure. For example, I was curious to explore the concept and methods of valuation, so I reached out to the M&A group where I got involved in a valuation project – something that proved extremely interesting to me.  This internship gave me greater confidence to take this kind of initiative, a life skill that I know will be incredibly valuable to me as I pursue my future career.

Finally, this internship gave me the opportunity to use my knowledge (mostly analytical problem solving strategies gained as a liberal arts student at Davidson!), creativity, and newly acquired financial skills to engage in an entrepreneurial business project and interact with professionals at all levels of the company. The interns were divided into groups to create and execute a business plan to promote and sell Harman headphones to companies and then present this strategy and results to CEO. The “Campus to Corporate” project was an all-encompassing “challenge” in many ways.  It further developed and expanded many aspects of my business skill set, challenging my ability to strategize, collaborate, be creative, and execute, while also honing my presentation skills.  Working with my teammates in a constantly changing and dynamic setting forced us to be nimble with our strategy execution and think outside of the box while staying focused on the end result.  On top of everything else, the opportunity to present to the CEO and other executives was extraordinary!

Apply to Harman’s College to Corporate internship on Handshake

Annie Walker is in her junior year at Davidson College, majoring in political science with a minor in economics. Annie is interning this summer at Wells Fargo’s Investment bank in their NYC Technology Media and Telecom group. 

Up Close with Tresata: Big Data

As a senior, Math major and Computer Science minor from Shanghai, China, my career interest is Big Data and data analytics, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern at Tresata this past summer.

Because I am interested in using data analytics to unveil the hidden layers of pattern in data, Tresata was a great fit for me as a big data software intelligence company. Tresata believes that “data” is the theme of the next “industrial revolution” and aims to use data analytics to automate complex business problems.

The summer was rewarding because I was in a great position working with passion, but also challenging because this was my first professional experience in the field of data analytics. There was a lot to learn and quickly adjust to, such as the internal technologies and new programming languages. Moreover, after one and a half weeks of training, we (the interns) were then each given a project and related data; it was not easy for us rookies to approach those problems and massive datasets at first – my dataset was over 90G!

Fortunately, we had more than enough resources to help us succeed: everyone else at Tresata. We spent countless hours through discussion, mentoring, giving feedback and helping each other; it was truly a great working environment because everyone was a mentor and a friend at the same time. We enjoyed intellectual conversations on technical insights as well as discussions about one another’s personal life. Every month, the company sponsored a mandatory “Fun Event”: we went to attend a Knights baseball game in June and went bowling in July. Time flew by as we went from the clueless interns to seemingly experienced professionals, standing in front of everyone to present our projects in the last week.

Tresata has helped me get my first hands-on experience in the field of data analytics and also strengthened my pursuit of Big Data. Love your work and love who you work with!

Tresata currently has 3 internships posted. Visit Handshake to learn more and apply!

Tresata will also be on campus February 23 for a full day of events. Visit Handshake to RSVP.

Xudong “Brandon” Liang is a senior, Math major and Computer Science from Shanghai, China. He will join Tresata in the beginning of February in 2017.

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

Job Shadowing Program: Updates & Enhancements

 

job-shadowing-blog-header

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.