Category Archives: Alumni and Networking

Hands on a cell phone, tech and media icons floating in the background

Insider’s Look at Revenue Analytics

One of the companies recruiting at Davidson this year is a young & dynamic consulting firm named Revenue Analytics, which you may not have heard of… yet. Revenue Analytics, or RA, works with some of the world’s largest companies to help them solve their toughest challenges and grow their business. For an inside view, we turn to two Davidson grads, Addie Balenger (’15) & Gardner Rordam (’07):

Addie:

More than anything at Davidson, I learned to embrace complexity and distill a purpose in my daily work. At Revenue Analytics, I have discovered a company that pushes me to do both. The crux of RA’s work revolves around predicting supply and demand for many different businesses (don’t fret – non-Econ majors can still thrive at RA). Our teams design complex forecasting and optimization models for our clients to make better pricing and inventory decisions. Creating these solutions requires a unique combination of business strategy, data engineering, and statistical modeling. As I view it, we analyze and ultimately influence the axes on which the world’s largest companies turn.

RA also builds on my Davidson experience by equipping me with new technical skillsets. Because RA creates analytic technologies and new software systems, I must always keep learning.  My background in Economics and English coupled with co-workers who are software engineers, PhD statisticians, and industrial engineers makes for a dynamic team where we glean from each other’s expertise. Most importantly, my co-workers share an “intellectual curiosity” (as President Quillen would say) that I cultivated at Davidson, and that’s what makes me most excited for work every day. I view RA not as one stop within my career, but somewhere I can grow and thrive.

Gardner:

After Davidson, my career & life took a few unexpected turns. I couldn’t find (or define) what I was looking for after working at a huge company, with legal internships and in non-profits. Then, right around my law school graduation, I found an awesome company named Revenue Analytics. While on paper it didn’t make sense (Political Science/Law school background meets Econ, Statistics, & Data engineering), I felt a fit at RA similar to that feeling I got on my first visit to Davidson.

6 years later, I’m more inspired than ever to be here. I’ve watched the firm grow from 35 employees to over 100, and have been able to play in part in that growth and RA’s evolution. I’ve learned from an incredible array of colleagues, from new Strategy analysts to Operations Research PhDs to top tier executives. In those years, I’ve had a chance to partner with amazing clients at some of the largest companies in the world, working together with them to solve challenging problems and find new growth paths & strategies for their business. Just like my time at Davidson, I learn something new every day, collaborating with extraordinarily bright & inspiring co-workers to accomplish ambitious goals.

I’m truly excited for what the coming years will bring for RA and the impact we’ll be able to have on the lives of our employees and the growth of our clients.

There’s a lot more to RA than can fit in a blog post, but we think there are fantastic opportunities for Davidson grads to have successful careers here. If you’re interested in working for a growing company, in a culture that lives its values & enables its people to achieve their goals while also making a global impact, we’d love to talk to you.

Addie Balenger was an English and Economics double major wAddie Balengerho graduated in 2015. She started as a Business Analyst at Revenue Analytics in Atlanta, GA in January 2017. You can contact her at abalenger@revenueanalytics.com

Gardner Rordam
2015 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

Gardner Rordam was a Political Science major, graduating from Davidson in 2007. He started as a Strategist at RA in 2011, and now leads the Strategy Consulting Team as well as client engagements to generate organic revenue growth. You can contact him at grordam@revenueanalytics.com

To learn more about Revenue Analytics, please visit our website (www.revenueanalytics.com) or check out our job postings in Handshake.

People networking in a room with text "The Dos and Don'ts of Networking"

The DOs and DON’Ts of Networking

We all hear about networking in today’s professional environment. We are told it is a necessary skill, not an optional one. What though is networking and how does one go about doing it successfully?

According to many experts, networking means: To build relations on the basis of trust that involves a give and take. Although seemingly simple, this definition is easier said than done. Let’s break it down….

To build relations: To build a relationship means that you are developing a pattern of interactions with another person. In order for this to be true, making a good first impression is crucial.

On the basis of trust: Trust suggests confidence in someone or something to be reliable, valid and truthful. Trust in a person also involves seeing strength in him/her.

Involves a give and take: Networking involves helping others and providing something or some service to others while also looking for something or some service from others.

So, how does one go about doing all of this? Below are my top 3 dos and don’ts for professionally networking with others.

Dos

  1. Make a good first impression. This includes:
    1. Being on-time to your meeting
    2. Over-dressing as opposed to under-dressing
    3. Being appreciative
    4. Listening attentively
  2. Develop a goal and strategy:
    1. Prepare ahead of time by researching the person and organization you are meeting with.
    2. Contemplate in advance what you hope to gain from this meeting in terms of information and additional potential contacts.
    3. Strategize what you can offer the person you are meeting with so that you ensure you are completing the ‘give and take’ component of networking.
  3. Follow-up:
    1. Always follow-up immediately after the meeting with a handwritten note or personal email.
    2. Reach out to your contacts quarterly, semi-annually or even annually with a card, phone call or email in order to ensure you maintain the relationship.

Don’ts

  1. Ask for a job:
    1. Asking for advice and asking someone to employ you are two very different things. It is always safe to ask others about their professional experiences and how they made the choices they did. It is rarely safe to ask others if they can hire you!
    2. Asking for a job threatens your image of strength and confidence, both of which are key components of trust.
  2. Stop networking because you have a job:
    1. Networking is most effective for growing on the job or changing jobs. When you are in crisis and trying to find a job, you are going to want a network to reach out to, so make sure to continue networking even when things are going well.
    2. Growing your network and maintaining your network via intermittent follow-ups to others takes time and purposeful energy. Make networking part of your professional duties so that you have relationships to call upon when you are in need of help.
  3. Underestimate the power of networking:
    1. Finding a job takes more than filling out an application on line, attending a job fair or even having an amazing resume.
    2. In an August 2009 survey competed by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement firm, human resources executives were asked to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective). Networking averaged a 3.98. And, about half of the executives gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of 5.

In the end, networking has now become an essential part of everyone’s professional lives. Focusing on the importance of a network; networking with awareness and purpose; and following the do’s and don’ts listed above can all have a positive impact on your professional path and help you find success, satisfaction and opportunities in your career. To learn more about networking, see Rebecca’s segment on the Charlotte Today Show.

 

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. 

Person on phone with text "A look inside - Career Conversations"

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

Student using laptop computer with text: "From English Major to Software Developer: Up Close with McMaster-Carr"

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.

 

New Online Appointment Scheduling – Digital Transformation for the CCD

We heard your feedback and acted on it! One of the pieces of feedback that I heard through my listening tour with students is that you would like it to be easier to access the Center for Career Development (CCD). As you know, we immediately responded by enhancing opening hours for walk-ins to an all-day service, which has already resulted in a huge increase in the volume of students accessing the CCD and leveraging our resources daily. As our next step in the continued enhancement of your experience, we’re transforming the scheduling experience to make it simple, immediate and instantaneous to get your one-to-one career advisory appointments scheduled with Career Advisors.

We appreciate that as digitally-native students, you are seeking an automated and immediate appointment system where you can instantly identify available appointment times that work for your schedule, and immediately book your career advisory session!

Here at the CCD, we are excited to introduce an advanced appointment scheduling software system called Appointlet.

appointlet-button

Appointlet offers a variety of user-friendly features, including a mobile-friendly website that will deliver fast and convenient scheduling services, to aid you in scheduling your appointment with a Career Advisor. Whether you’re seeking a career assessment, a career counseling session, or a mock interview, you can readily filter through open appointment times to select and book an appointment with each of our dedicated Career Advisors. Furthermore, the software offers Google Calendar and Outlook integration, so your scheduled CCD appointment will conveniently sync to your personal calendar, should you choose to do so.

Studying abroad and wish to set up a meeting via Skype or phone? Appointlet also enables you to schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor without having to worry about translating time zones.  Browse by your time zone and book an appointment with us, so you can continue your career development planning while abroad. Get help in preparing for internship and research applications and interviews, even while you’re on your semester abroad.  You are a priority to us, and we aim to make the CCD resources readily accessible to you, even when you’re across the pond, we don’t want you to miss out!

By streamlining the system for appointment scheduling, we’re enhancing your access to the CCD team and resources, and empowering you to select the timeslots that work best for your schedule – instantly! Of course, you can still always drop by the Center in person to schedule an appointment, call or email us to do so, but now you have more options, including putting the power of scheduling at your own fingertips, all the time.

The CCD is here to empower all our students with the resources, confidence, competencies and access for successful professional and career development. Thank you for letting us know how we can continuously enhance our engagement with you – we are excited about launching this enhanced booking system and look forward to welcoming you to the Center for your career advisory session with us very soon!

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.

Up Close with Cigna’s Managed Care Rotational Program

up-close_cignas-mcrp

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up Close with Synchrony Financial’s BLP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

New Professionals: Lean In With Your Life

Contributed and adapted by Tiffany Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development (Original Post Featured in Eastern Association of Colleges & Employers Bridges Blog 2014)

Speak Up

 

A few months back, I grabbed a copy of Lean In since it seemed to be flooding my timeline as one of the (many) books targeting women want to live a more empowered and intentional lifestyle. I found that for me, while the book did have quite a few nuggets of knowledge I could put in my toolbelt – the context was a bit lofty from my seat. I am likely never going to be the CFO of a major tech company (not my intended career path or interest area) and that position and pedigree is laden with privilege and agency that I frankly do not hold [according to society’s standards] as a young black woman. However, the overarching message that still sticks with me months later? As a young professional, it is my duty to live and work on purpose – and encourage others around me to do the same. To be intentional, work hard, and not hide behind silence or wait to be asked to sit at the table. To operate in both word and deed as if I am at the table, always. Mentor those that come behind and beside me, and continue to exercise my voice so that there may be space for others to exercise theirs.

The landscape of Higher Education, despite the overwhelming saturation of women in the field, does not mirror our demographic in most cabinet-level or senior administration roles. So what does that mean for Millennial staffers? How do we secure our footing on the proverbial lattice of work, and pull other women up on the jungle gym with us – and not push them down? To me, it means we must choose to lean in with our lives – starting with our organizations and professional networks. How we choose to lead our professional and personal lives will set the tone for those around us – and it might not always look like what our parents thought it would. Below I have listed a few ways I try to lean in with my own life, in the hopes that it might assist or affirm you as you begin your post-Davidson journey.

Live Your Work Ethic

In the same way that “you are what you eat,” I believe that if you produce junk – people will consider you junk. This doesn’t mean there is no room for mistakes, but putting real effort into the work that you produce – how promptly you respond to emails and phone calls – and creating some semblance of organization in your life? These are the makings of your personal brand. When you peel back all the “hype” surrounding your formal title at work or past credentials, to me, what matters most is what remains: how you work and relate to others. Make it count.

Ask for Help – and Take It

I don’t know who came up with the myth that leadership means bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders all by yourself, but it is just that: a myth. Real leaders and effective people ask for help when they need it, and take it. Sometimes, two (or three or four!) heads is truly better than one. As a dominant intuitive and naturally independent person, I definitely struggle with this one. But it’s necessary for both personal and professional survival.

Seek Mentors

Identifying both men and women who have areas of expertise (or perspective/experience) in areas you don’t yet – or are stepping into – allows you to learn from the mistakes of others and identify resources to fill any skill gaps you might have. I find it odd that anyone would not seek out mentors. I recommend creating a professional life counsel, of sorts – people that you give full permission to be brutally honest with you about problems and situations. It doesn’t mean you will always take their advice or do what they say – but you will be open to listen and learn. You will almost always be better for it!

Support Your Peers

Whether you’re new to an organization or role – or have been somewhere for a very long time, one thing rings timeliness: professional development and achievement is both a combination of the work you produce and the relationships you build. I am not talking about parasitic relationships either, where all you do is take. I mean supporting colleagues by lending a helping hand on a team or across departments when you are able. Showing up when you are invited to meetings or functions. Giving your time to learn more about the stress points that are impacting your “work friends,” as I fondly refer to some of the best people I know in the field. Supporting others will always come back to you ten-fold. Learning who you can depend on starts by being dependable.

Be Bold

Appropriate and professional does not automatically mean compromising yourself. We challenge our students to think critically when sifting through career opportunities, weighing their values, and practicing for interviews and new opportunities. Why can’t we, as professionals, both think critically and be authentic at the same time? Who says that if you try something new and fail, that it’s a bad thing? Who says that we must compromise our expression of self and style to be taken seriously? Who says that if you challenge the status quo, that it’s automatically professional suicide? Wear bright colors – speak up when you have an idea – challenge yourself so that you can in turn, challenge others.