Category Archives: Career Exploration

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.

So, What Will You Do With That Major? Finally, An Answer.

%22What Will You Do WithThe British flag, an empty parking lot, and a long, glass wall: the first three things I saw when arriving to my job shadowing day. As I pulled into the “Visitor” space, I was still trying to determine why Oxford University Press has an office in Cary, North Carolina of all places. And I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous, and in need of a good distraction. I strode through the front door, anxious yet curious.

Prior to the day, I had no thoughts of pursuing a career in publishing. Being an English major at Davidson, I was taught that I could go anywhere, do anything with the skills I’ve accrued. The outside world, however, was not as encouraging. Instead, people asked me, “so what will you do with that major?” How do you answer that question?

In November of my senior year, I still had no satisfactory reply, and I figured taste-testing a few different jobs was a good place to start. So, I strode into the Oxford University Press reception area, half-excited, half-terrified, and completely ready to learn.

I expected there to be moments of down time, when my job shadowing host would have to complete a small task or run an errand, but not so. My job shadowing host planned a full day for me, filled with real meetings, discussions, and introductions to employees in various departments of the company. I even toured the massive warehouse, from which all OUP books and products are distributed in the United States. Fun fact: Amazon buys so many books from OUP that it has its own special section.

Katie Bennett '16 (right) with Molly Hansen, her job shadowing host at Oxford University Press.
Katie Bennett ’16 (right) with Molly Hansen, her job shadowing host at Oxford University Press.

The people I met at OUP proved to be invaluable. I gained access to an extensive network of working professionals willing to help, educate and inspire me in this line of work. I remained in contact with several of them after my visit, and my job shadowing host took a particular interest in my career aspirations, sending me potential job opportunities and lengthy emails containing critical advice. The connections I made at the Press enabled me to follow an entirely different path than I anticipated, and I only wish I could have participated in this program sooner than I did.

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.

A Chemistry Major Ready for Anything

Chem-Lab-1-702x336@2xOriginal story written by Adam Green ’17, participant in the DavidsonIE Internship Program.

My first month at MicroSio (which will undergo a name change soon) has been a really enjoyable learning experience. I’ve been tasked with everything from market research to designing experiments in the lab, and I’ve found my Davidson liberal arts education extremely helpful in preparing me for a Swiss Army knife-type of role within the company. At MicroSio, we make silicone microspheres for encapsulating active ingredients in cosmetic products in order to control their release onto the skin, and as I’ve become more comfortable with the preparation and properties of these microspheres, I’ve been allowed more freedom to experiment.

Read more.

What Does a Classics Major Know About Coding?

Book-in-Latin-702x336

Original post written by Amanda Lee ’17, participant in the DavidsonIE Internship Program.

My fall semester spent studying environmental policy in the EU opened my eyes to the intricacies and excitement of the energy industry. After one semester of readings and lectures, as well as a trip to the Paris Climate Summit, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to pursue an internship in the energy industry.

Great for me, right? I finally had an answer to the painful question, “What do you want to do after graduation?” The issue, however, was that I’m a classics major. I study Latin and Attic Greek; I read philosophy as homework; I perform poetry in Latin for tests. The energy industry, especially renewable energy, relies heavily on complex geographic information systems, data mapping, and countless hours of data manipulation and coding. I’m not even allowed to bring computers to some of my classes. I was overwhelmed with self-doubt as I filled out applications: Thoughts like, “This is a waste of time,” and “no one is going to take me seriously” stopped me mid-page in my cover letters. After all, what does a classics major know about geospatial coding?

 

Read more.

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.

Lessons Learned from Job Shadowing

Tiffany Ruan

Hi! My name is Tiffany Ruan and I’m a current junior at Davidson. I’m majoring in chemistry, concentrating in biochemistry, and I’m also on the premed track. I had my first experience with shadowing last year with a physician assistant at the Access Community Health Network in Chicago.

My experience last year was amazing; I had the opportunity to talk with the PA about his Davidson experience and how he had decided to become a PA. I also had the opportunity to see the interactions between the PA and his patients and I also interacted with the patients myself. Before the shadowing began, I made a list of questions that I wanted to ask the PA. I also did some research on what the clinic’s goal was in order to help their patients. If it is a career you’re interested in pursuing, I think it’s important to ask what the alumni did after Davidson that led them onto their career path.

From my shadowing experience, I learned that although the job can be repetitive (pull out the patient’s files, see the patient, and plug the data into a computer), every patient is different and you will be able to witness different interactions between the patient and the PA (or the interactions between whoever you are shadowing and a client, customer, etc.). The PA had friendly conversations with some of his patients while other conversations were solely surrounding the patient’s checkup.

This year, I will be shadowing at GBCHealth, a non-profit global health organization, in New York. Again, I will be making a list of questions to ask the person I’m shadowing so I can learn more about the global health sector since that is a career I’m interested in pursuing. I’m also going to make sure I dress more appropriately this time around. I wore casual jeans and a sweater with boots to shadow the PA last year and I felt underdressed since my PA was in dress pants, a dress shirt, dress shoes, and a tie. It really depends on where you are shadowing. If you’re shadowing at a business firm, an investment bank, a clinic, or something in a very professional setting, I’d recommend wearing dress pants, a dress shirt, dress shoes, and a tie if you’re a guy, or dress pants, a nice top, and flats if you’re a girl.

Before going in to shadow, I’d make a list of questions that you want to ask the person you’re shadowing. I would also do some research on the organization at which you are shadowing. Coming in prepared and knowing about the organization is key to making a good first impression because that may be where you will be working in the future. Also, DO NOT text, Snapchat, go on Facebook, tweet, or anything of that sort while you are shadowing. I left my phone in my backpack at the break room the entire time. You want to show that you’re interested in learning about the organization you are shadowing. Additionally, if you have your mind set on a career, do not let a bad shadowing experience change your mind. Do additional shadowing at other places because every organization is different. If the shadowing experience is just an opportunity to see if the career is worth pursuing, do not go in acting like you have no interest in the organization. Make sure to go in with an open mind!

Good luck to everyone shadowing this winter break! It’ll definitely give you a perspective of what type of career you want to pursue.

Why Use DCAN?

–Original blog contribution by: Beza Baheru (’16)

picture of DCAN

Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN) is one of the key resources for students to utilize in their journey to find a career they are interested in. It connects students with either alumni or parents who are willing to share their knowledge and previous experiences concerning their career and industry through a conference call or online. It is a great opportunity to network and receive career advice. The categories for consultations are career conversations, resume critique and mock interviews.

How do you navigate and access DCAN?

The first step is to register for an account through the register link. Post registration, you can login using your Davison e-mail user name and you don’t need to enter a password. On your DCAN page, you can filter through advisors by function, industry, employers, services, location, and languages.

What is the next step after you have identified advisors?

Every advisee has 10 credits which can be used to set up a consultation in the three categories above. Each consultation is one credit. For career conversations and resume critiques, the duration of the meeting is 30 minutes whereas it is an hour for mock interviews. In order to schedule a specific time that works for both the advisee and the advisor, the advisee will propose three separate times –  make sure the time is correctly added! For instance, I scheduled a career consultation with an advisor for 5:00 AM thinking that I set it up for 5:00 PM. On the day of the consultation, I received an e-mail notifying me that I have missed my appointment in the morning. My initial confusion while I opened the e-mail gradually turned into anger when I realized my mistake since I was looking forward to this the whole week. Fortunately, I apologized and was able to set-up another meeting but this goes to show you the importance of identifying the right time as to not waste a perfect career development opportunity.

What to do during the consultation?

It is vital that you are prepared for each consultation. For the career conversation, you will probably want to bring a couple of questions and perhaps research ahead of time the advisor’s job or industry to have a grasp of what their work entails. Similarly, wearing business formal attire and bringing your resume for the mock interview is a critical part of the interview experience. For the resume critique, you definitely want to bring your resume since that is what you will be modifying.

How to approach post-consultation?

Towards the end of the conversation or interview, you should ask the advisor for contact information, preferably their e-mail. Why you ask? A thank you note is always essential to demonstrate the advisor that it was an enriching practice in your career exploration. This also taps into establishing your networking skills so that if you have more questions in the future, you can reach out to the advisors.