All posts by Kayla Schlein

Say Yes

By Eboni Freeman ’21

When you are invited to do something or to go somewhere, how often do you find yourself saying yes? How often do you find yourself saying no or coming up with excuses for why you are unable to go? I would answer “pretty often” to both, however, I have found that I tend to say no or make-up excuses more often than I say yes. And until recently, I hadn’t completely understood how saying no and/or giving excuses for why I couldn’t do something has caused me to miss out on so many opportunities.

I would like to consider myself an adventurous person, and in some ways I am. But I have come to realize that I am not adventurous when it comes to putting myself out there and pursuing various opportunities that place me outside of my comfort zone. This realization came when I was in the midst of figuring out where I would study abroad, as well as while I was abroad.

In coming to Davidson, I knew I wanted to study abroad. When it finally came time for me to decide where I wanted to go and to apply to various programs, I was unsure of where I wanted to travel. I assumed I would travel to Germany because, at the time, I had been enrolled in German. But one day I was sitting in the Center for Career Development with my dear friend Haleena “Leena” Phillips.  She asked me if I wanted to study abroad in Denmark with her to which I responded with a joking, “No”. I responded in a joking way primarily because I knew nothing about the program.

Following that conversation, I researched the Danish study abroad program and as I learned more about the program and the courses, they offer I decided that I actually did want to study abroad in Denmark. I gathered all of the documentation the application required, I submitted the application and waited to hear whether I was accepted into the program. I received an email acceptance along with information on next steps. Leena was one of the first people I told that I had gotten accepted due to the fact that I wouldn’t have thought of studying abroad in Denmark if it wasn’t for our conversation.

When the day arrived for me to leave the United States, I was excited and sad. I was traveling to a new country, but I was also going to be away from my family and friends for about 4 months. When I landed in Denmark, Leena was the second person I contacted – the first was my mother to let her know I had made it safely. I was in communication with Leena up until the point when I spotted her at the program’s meetup location. The shenanigans began and continued from that point on.

During my time abroad there were countless moments when Leena would text and ask me if I wanted to go somewhere or do something with her. More often than not I would say no or provide an excuse for why I didn’t want to or couldn’t go. But the times I decided to say yes made for some of the most memorable moments of my time abroad. I decided, at the end of my time abroad, that when I returned to the United States that I would be saying yes instead of no.

I share my story to express the importance of putting yourself out there and removing yourself from your comfort zone. Davidson offers so many cool and amazing opportunities to try new things and to explore new places. Seize those opportunities. While you are seizing those opportunities, don’t be afraid to go on different adventures. Remember, you still have the right to say no if it’s something you truly do not want to do. But, start saying yes to your friends asking you to try new cuisines. Say yes to your friend asking you to go to the club or a new place they heard about. Say YES!

How to Travel the World on Davidson’s Dime

By Haleena Phillips ’21

I knew I wanted to travel the world when I saw the countless instagram posts of my peers in countries like Spain, Singapore, and Brazil while I stayed on the brick fort of what we know as Davidson College. With my tight schedule, I did not know how I could fit going abroad into my schedule and the biggest thing was figuring out how I would pay for it. That’s when I luckily came across a list of summer grants from the Center for Career Development’s (CCD) Weekly Digest. The Weekly Digest is a list of updates and information, provided by the CCD, that stem from academic events on campus all the way to summer internships and fellowships. MEET MY WORLD was staring back at me in big bold Times New Roman text as if it was demanding to be seen and I obliged.

Meet My World is a summer travel program, funded by alumni, that gives international students the opportunity to share their home country and culture with a friend from the United States. This program pays for 2 round trip tickets, daily costs of accommodations, and cost of cultural activities. My friend has been trying to get me to visit him in his hometown, Thessaloniki, and who doesn’t want a free trip to Greece? We filled out the application explaining why we wanted to go and should be chosen and were set to go to Greece a week after classes concluded!

 Participating in this program was probably one the best experiences of my life. The Meet My World Grant was not only a trip but a journey. Moving from a different state to attend Davidson was hard enough for me but I did not imagine how hard it was for my friend, Dimitrios, moving all the way across the world. I can kind of relate as I know what it feels like to move to an unfamiliar country but I was much younger so I was able to adapt much easier. I became the expert in his life, showing him around and trying to modify him to fit into American culture this past year and a half. He made me realize that he had no interest in trying to fit in and that his perspective and upbringing from his country has made him who he is. I was able to experience this, putting myself in his shoes and personally experiencing the culture that made him who he is during our stay. This trip made our friendship stronger as we bond over our love of travel. I was able to take back some perspectives and aspects about his country that I was able transfer back to other students who may not understand. If you are interested in this program, please visit The application is due April 3, 2020.

How My Experience at Davidson College Helped Get Me Through Law School

By Emily Palmer ’17

Davidson provided me with the opportunity to take law-related classes as an undergraduate, which confirmed my desire to go to law school. At Davidson, I took classes like Criminology, Legal Research and Writing, Constitutional Law, and Constitutional Police Procedure. These classes mirrored some of the most important classes I would take in law school, and my early experience with reading court cases put me well ahead of my peers during my first year at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

As a political science major, I was also able to study some of the greatest leaders in American political history. From studying politicians to civil rights leaders, my classes at Davidson always emphasized the importance of leadership and service. Helping others is a constant theme at Davidson—whether through philanthropic fundraisers or volunteer opportunities—and I believe that my time at Davidson is what sparked my interest in a career in public service and criminal prosecution.

Clerking in the Family Violence and Major Crimes Divisions of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, I have witnessed firsthand the suffering of domestic violence victims, and the deep, unfathomable pain of families of murder victims. I have watched victims find the incredible strength to testify against their abusers in pursuit of justice, and I have seen the overwhelming relief of victim’s families when justice has been served. These experiences with the LADA’s office have allowed me to grow as an individual and have made me deeply appreciate how public service benefits local communities. Davidson is responsible for instilling within me the values needed for prosecution: ethics, honor, and empathy, and for that I will always be grateful.

Davidson also provided me with an incredible mentor and advisor—Dr. Susan Roberts. Dr. Roberts supported me in every possible way during my years at Davidson. She was always a sounding board for my career aspirations and internship searches, a supporter of my extra-curricular activities, and is someone that even now I can go to for advice. My relationship with Dr. Roberts taught me the importance of having mentors in your life, and the value of surrounding yourself with people you can go to for guidance. I have been lucky enough to find mentors every step of the way through law school and working at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Without them, I know that I would not have made it through college or law school.

Survivor-themed Networking, Resume Reviews, & Employer Visits for the Davidson College Swim Team

Survivor-themed networking, resume reviews, & employer visits, are just to name a few of the career opportunities, the Davidson College Swim Team took part in over winter break as part of the Career Advantage program. Emily Bassett (‘20) and Frances Resweber (‘20) tell us more about their experience in Fort Lauderdale.

Over winter break on the Swimming and Diving team’s annual training trip, we had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities organized by Davidson’s Career Center that were geared toward some of our long-term career goals.

In the past, our training trip has always been heavily swim- or dive-driven: two practices a day for up to ten days in a row. With the exception of some beach down-time in between practices each day, we fell into the usual rhythm of eat, sleep, swim/dive. As seniors this year, however, we realized that our training trips would look a little different as we used our extra time to search for jobs, complete applications, or make some finishing touches on our resumés.

Thankfully, Josh King from the Career Center joined us in Florida this year to help us navigate this process. Josh organized several events to help not just the seniors, but everyone on the team begin to brainstorm and make steps toward our future career goals.

The first of these events was a Survivor-themed networking event for the entire team. Just like the reality TV show, we went through several competitive rounds of learning how to ask and respond to questions that we might encounter in a real networking event or an interview. After each round, we voted for the best networker on the island, culminating in a final round with a jury that consisted of former contestants. This was such a valuable event for our team because we had the opportunity to learn and practice networking skills that will prove to be valuable for the rest of our lives as we move beyond Davidson in a familiar setting with our teammates.

Some of the questions forced us to think critically about how our lifestyle and skills we’ve acquired as collegiate athletes will benefit us as employees. Throughout most of our time at Davidson, we’ve simply gone through the motions without much forethought on how this type of lifestyle will be advantageous to us after our undergraduate experience. We’ve realized that practicing morning and afternoon, amounting to about twenty hours per week, has turned us into advanced time managers. During practice or competition, we’ve learned how to be resilient and how to move on from a practice or race that doesn’t go our way. Finally, being an athlete at Davidson has taught us the value in communicating with our coaches, teammates, and professors that will translate well to our positions as co-workers.

In addition to the networking event, we had the opportunity to meet with Josh individually to review our resumés. Josh also scheduled three visits catered toward our team’s most popular career interests: a local non-profit (KID), Miami University’s School of Law, and Miami University’s School of Medicine.

About twenty members of the team took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about Kids in Distress (KID) and volunteer their time at the non-profit. KID is committed to providing support to abused children, providing counseling to parents in an attempt to preserve families, offering childcare and after-school care to children on a daily basis, and even has a foster care system on site. The swimmers and divers, along with head coach John Young, who volunteered at the non-profit were able to either work directly with children enrolled in their preschool or help to organize their warehouse which was full of toy donations for the holidays. Getting an inside look at the facility and the work that goes into running a successful non-profit, including the variety of ways you can take a career in the non-profit sector, was an eye-opening experience.

Other informative events that Josh organized included a trip to Miami University’s School of Law and their School of Medicine. Josh traveled with the team members to both an info session and tour of the respective campuses. During the visits, we got an inside look into what the school’s admissions offices are looking for by personally hearing from admissions officials. Gaining this face time with high up graduate school officials was invaluable, and the information they had to share will undoubtedly prove useful when the time comes to fill out applications to professional schools post-Davidson. Finally, receiving tours from current medical and law school students gave each of us the valuable perspective of current students and an understanding what going through these programs will really mean. Learning from students going through the med/law school process was one of the most meaningful parts of the trip to everyone who attended one of these graduate school visits.

The Swimming and Diving Team is very grateful to the Career Center and the unique opportunities they provided for us on this trip. We hope that our teammates will get to continue this experience for years to come!

Emily Bassett (‘20) and Frances Resweber (‘20)

Consider Culture – Why I Chose the Craddock Group by Emily Lynch ’19


When I moved to Washington, D.C. in June 2019 to begin my position as a Management Analyst with The Craddock Group, I did not fully understand government contracting and its role in supporting and managing the operations of so many federal and local government agencies. Over the last nine months working as a government contractor, I have learned that The Craddock Group is essentially a niche management consulting organization that specializes in advising government agencies. I have developed consulting, technical and analytical skills, and work towards mastery of the Microsoft Office applications. I interact regularly with clients, and help the team develop innovative solutions to our clients’ challenges. Working (indirectly) for the government alongside a team of private-sector professionals has already taught me many valuable personal and professional skills, including flexibility, patience, and persistence.


During my senior year at Davidson, I came across The Craddock Group’s Handshake posting for an entry-level “Management Analyst.” I felt inspired by the company’s mission and excited by the goals described on the company’s webpage – I knew I had found a good opportunity. The job description emphasized the firm’s specialties, which include real estate services, capital planning, strategy and management consulting, and federal budgeting and financial management. I liked that these capabilities were broad and would offer me exposure to multiple subject matter areas that aligned well with my interests and academic background.

I was immediately drawn to the firm’s focus on real estate services. With a background in residential real estate, I was eager to relate my personal experience to the real estate consulting services The Craddock Group provides to its government clients. While I was fully aware that residential real estate is an entirely different practice than public sector commercial real estate, this seemed like an opportunity for me to apply what I had learned through a prior summer internship and evolve it in the context of intergovernmental relations and navigating the challenges of federal agencies. As a political science and economics double major, I was excited about the interaction between the private sector and government entities. I was familiar with the vast complexities of the government bureaucracy and could envision the benefit of a private sector perspective in the strategic management and optimization of the government’s real property portfolio.


The Craddock Group is a small firm, comprised of less than 25 team members. The firm employs a talented group of private sector professionals and former members of the military and federal government, who support one another and are constantly learning from each other. The environment of The Craddock Group is a lot like the student body at Davidson – small in number, but rich in experience, skill, and the capacity to succeed in accomplishing any given objective. We operate in a supportive and collaborative community, that is welcoming and encouraging. The nature of the contract-based work splits the team into smaller project teams that support clients on different initiatives, yet there is unity and comradery across the entire team. I learned quickly that this was the type of company that takes pride in its people and whose goal is to teach new hires by immediately immersing them in ongoing projects and giving them direct, hands-on opportunities to contribute.

At The Craddock Group, we learn by doing. I was not, by any means, an expert in the subject matter, nor was it the expectation that I came to the firm with an extensive real estate and capital planning background. Instead, my value lay in the skills that Davidson teaches through its liberal arts coursework that prepares students to communicate effectively, accept challenges to master new skills, and learn quickly. As an analyst, I am tasked with projects that I have no prior experience with and given the freedom to tackle the project and learn the process firsthand. From the beginning, I have been directly involved in supporting ongoing projects by working on-site at the client’s office, participating in frequent meetings with internal team members and clients, and collaborating with my teammates to produce high quality materials and tools that are delivered to our clients. As with any new job, there was a learning curve, but my colleagues have answered all my questions, provided advice and feedback along the way, and helped me fully integrate into the company. Frequent interaction with senior team members has been an unparalleled tool that I will continue to benefit and learn from.

Day-to-Day Work

As analysts, we process information relating to the client or project at hand by organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing data, and then working to develop insights, strategies, and recommendations to streamline the client’s mission and operations. Tasks often involve developing PowerPoint presentations on thoroughly researched materials and information, and creating data tools that store information and manage the client’s records, allowing us to analyze trends, identify issues, and present graphics and reports that demonstrate the portfolio of assets and capital projects.

We operate in a project-based environment with a specific team assigned to carry out the tasks associated with a given contract. The diverse range of projects require a wide range of skills to produce deliverables that satisfy the unique requirements of a particular contract. The variety of work constantly exposes me to new challenges that we seek to resolve as a team. It also makes each day and each week very different from the next. The Craddock Group has provided me with the opportunity to develop invaluable technical and interpersonal skills in the workforce from mentors whose expertise I admire, while also learning in an environment that encourages innovation and creativity.

Advice to Current Davidson Students

As a recent college graduate, my advice in navigating the job search is to carefully consider a prospective firm’s culture to determine whether or not the type of work and work environment will be suitable for you. As I have experienced in my time as an analyst at The Craddock Group, you do not need to be an expert in the industry on day one, but instead, you need to be willing to learn, engage with new challenges, create connections, and be flexible in adapting to the project flow.

Annie Brockett ’17 – From Teach for America to Alliance Bernstein

As I reflect upon my senior year at Davidson, I can feel the stress of my post-grad job search.  At the time, I was balancing a full course load with my final season of Division I Lacrosse. If I was sure of anything, it was that I was unsure about my future career. My peers seemed to be following well-worn paths:  law, finance, business, medicine, consulting, and the like. It would have made perfect sense for me to jump on this bandwagon. Both of my parents are lawyers, and both of my brothers were working at large banks on Wall Street. Law school seemed a distant possibility, and finance had potential.  

I remained open to several opportunities while narrowing my location preference to NYC. In my attempts to leverage the limited NYC finance network, Teach for America (TFA) became increasingly attractive. It was an opportunity for me to lean into the discomfort of the educational nuances I might have overlooked as a child, and to acquire a differentiated skillset that would set me apart in my future professional endeavors. TFA was the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

After fulfilling my 2 year commitment to TFA, I decided to pivot to finance. The challenges I confronted while teaching in Brooklyn served me well in my transition to Sales and Trading at Alliance Bernstein. While teaching and finance may seem worlds apart, my interview preparation came easy given the plethora of anecdotes I could tailor to my process. I could speak to real-world experiences that put my strengths on display in a way that came off as polished yet authentic. While I didn’t have a finance background, I did have an eager spirit and unparalleled work ethic. I started at Alliance Bernstein in June as a Sales and Trading Associate on the High-Touch Institutional Equity Trading Desk. Each day I find myself in an uncomfortable, unfamiliar situation that forces my development and tests the steep upward trajectory I promised.

My best advice for Davidson students is to highlight your eagerness to learn. Davidson has gifted us with a unique liberal arts experience that sets us up for success in any opportunity we pursue. Be confident in what made you successful at Davidson but humble yourself to constructive criticism. Find ways to make yourself informed, marketable, and indispensable.

Eli Abernethy – DIF Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

This blog was written by Eli Abernethy ’19, 2019-2020 Davidson Impact Fellow for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

It is hard to capture in such a short reflection the extent to which I have enjoyed my time as an ethics fellow at the Winship Institute. The fellowship has exposed me to a broad range of bright and driven people within the Emory community, many of whom I collaborate with each day. These include clinical researchers, nurses, residents, pharmacologists, radiologists, oncologists, and patients themselves. These interactions have been formative on their own: I have grown more comfortable working in a fast-paced setting and collaborating with others, regardless of their position or rank in the medical field.
Moreover, the fellowship has provided me with empirical ethics research experience on multiple topics while also offering an equal amount of time observing the characteristics of what good clinical practice looks like. This has provided me with a tremendous amount to learn (and hopefully one day emulate).

Most of our work involves exploring ethical issues in cancer care, and this involves interviewing both doctors and patients. Speaking with both groups is extremely interesting. We hear from experienced and renowned oncologists about how they practice medicine and the characteristics they find most important for a strong relationship with their patients. Interviewing patients allows for them to reflect on their condition and attitude towards their treatment plan, while we have the honor of hearing just a small part of their life story and witnessing their strength. Moreover, the time spent with both doctors and patients has allowed me to better appreciate the complexities of the doctor-patient relationship, namely by giving me opportunities to study the relationship from both perspectives.

Overall, the fellowship has provided me with an excellent foundation of medical ethics and an appreciation for the importance of patient advocacy. I look forward to the rest of my time here and continuing to advocate for positive changes in cancer care in a clinical setting, however small they may be.

Underrated ✔️… Underappreciated ✔️✔️: Stephen Curry Inspires Davidson Intern at SC30

“‘Katie’ … I will forever remember that phone call from Davidson alum Bryant Barr ’10 … ‘We’ve thought it through, and we would love to have you join our team this summer.’ It changed my life.”

What if I told you that arguably the greatest point guard to ever play professional basketball is a better person and a better boss than he is a player? You probably wouldn’t believe me. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have believed myself either. 

But working alongside Stephen Curry, you’d never know he is a three-time NBA champion, two-time MVP (the NBA’s only unanimous selection), six-time All-Star, and holds so many three-point records you can hardly count them.  Stephen treats everyone as if they’re friends—colleagues, business partners, second graders, adoring and even obsessive fans; no one is ever an inconvenience. It’s also no surprise, then, that Stephen makes it a priority to surround himself with a team of likeminded people, all of whom welcomed me warmly to my new summer home.

That was my first clue the six-week internship with SC30 Inc. would be special.

My Story

July 8, 2019 | 7:30 a.m.

I walked into the office with my stomach in knots.  In minutes, I discovered my first project would be assisting with the launch of Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s new Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation … the first task: help organize an event for 900 underprivileged kids from Oakland that would take place in nine days. There was no time to be nervous.

Nine days seemed like nine hours. As is the case with everything the Currys touch, meticulous thought and preparation went into every detail, and their vision was fulfilled through a team effort. Stephen and Ayesha prioritized spending time with the campers, so we worked to coordinate perfectly the 12 different learning stations at the park at Lake Merritt.  Each station was run by one of their many partners—Under Armour, Google, JP Morgan Chase, Rakuten, PGA Reach, the Golden State Warriors and others—with one goal in mind: provide an unforgettable day filled with activities that would engage the kids in each of the Foundation’s three pillars—access to quality education, healthy eating and physical activity.

Underprivileged, Meet Underrated

The next four hours were magical. As if their quiet financial contribution wasn’t enough, Stephen and Ayesha visited every station and helped campers build Legos, learn golf, play virtual reality games and assemble healthy snack bags. But they saved the best for last, as both braved the cold water of the dunk tank and cheered for the kids (and their own daughters) to hit the bullseye. After the final dunk that left Stephen drenched, the Currys announced every camper would receive a brand-new pair of Stephen’s Under Armour basketball shoes as a back-to-school gift. I left that day inspired by the joy that surprise brought to the park full of adoring kids; it was a day unlike any other.

Over the next five weeks, I felt Stephen’s giving spirit everywhere as I worked with the SC30 team on a number of exciting projects within the company’s four pillars—brand partnerships, content & media, philanthropy and investments. 

Every strategy had one primary focus—improve the lives of those less fortunate. For instance, Foundation CEO Chris Helfrich and I went on a site visit to the East Oakland Boxing Association to discuss a partnership Stephen knew would create a lifeline for the club’s underprivileged youth and help close their opportunity gap; a place less about developing boxers and more about providing a critical refuge where disadvantaged kids could go to eat, learn, and play in a supportive and safe environment. That same passion to serve also resulted in SC30’s investment in an early-stage company called Guild Education, the funding of Howard University’s men’s AND women’s golf teams and so much more.

It’s no secret Stephen is also a huge advocate for gender equality, a subject that has become deeply personal for him, especially the pay gap and how to close it.  I was so honored to work with SC30 on some of those initiatives: coordinating Eat. Learn. Play.’s first class of college scholarships and running drills at Stephen’s annual all-girls basketball camp. It was gratifying to know that with each project, we were working toward Stephen’s “women deserve equality” goal. 

Underrated, Meet Inspired

Kids often dream about the future and where they see themselves as adults. Some want desperately to become astronauts, doctors, or Olympic gold-medalists. Growing up, I never thought, “That’s who I want to be in 20 years.” Apart from playing Division I basketball at a highly academic school, my dreams for the future were a mystery. 

But after this summer’s internship with SC30, I finally know …  I will make it my mission to work for, or as Stephen says, “WITH,” faithful partners who value integrity, compassion, ethics, generosity, humility and respect; a company with a deeper meaning and honorable mission of selfless service and helping others. A company like SC30 Inc. 

That’s how this undersized, small-town girl from Reno, Nevada plans to write the rest of her story.

This extraordinary opportunity would not have been possible without the support of Economics Professor Fred Smith, Men’s Basketball Coach Bob McKillop and my teammates and coaches.  Thank you!  And to Stephen, Bryant (’10) and Chris … the real-world business experience I gained was invaluable, but your incredible kindness, warmth and passion are what will stay with me forever.

Katie Turner ’21

Davidson Women’s Basketball #1

Nature is Calling

This blog was written by Jon White ’19, 2019-2020 Davidson Impact Fellow for Catawba Lands Conservancy.

The outdoors have been a part of my life since childhood. Beginning with summer camps around Durham, at the age of 5 I was introduced to the Piedmont’s creeks and streams and the magical creatures that might live there. At 8 I learned to build a fire, and at 11 I went on my first backpacking trip. When I was stuck at home my senior year of high school without a driver’s license, I would ride my bike to the Duke Forest and search for crayfish and salamanders. This past summer I worked at a camp at the base of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, and I concluded that the snow capped mountains were impressive and all, but the dank, swampy forest of the Carolina Piedmont is where I belong.

Yet my awakening to the wide array of social problems within the political turmoil of the past four years drew my attention away from environmental issues as I had previously conceived them. I switched my major from environmental studies to anthropology, and found myself with a dozen resumes submitted to legal jobs by the time the fellowship at Catawba Lands Conservancy crossed my path.

Living in a house, paying bills, and friendships with people outside my age demographic have all popped my Davidson bubble in expected ways, but my professional turn toward environmentalism–now in the “real world”, the world of creeks and trees but also a cubicle and fundraising goals–has required the crude reconciling of my romantic high school self and the socially-conscious, intellectual edge I gained at Davidson. From the reforestation of untended family farms to urban stream restoration and greenway construction, land conservation is a cause that cuts across many demographics and different issues in unexpected ways. As program coordinator, it’s my job to take people onto the land we’ve conserved and trails we’ve built. Though the content of the programs is always loosely educational, my primary goal is to foster a feeling of connection between people and places. In doing so, I aim not to dictate people’s relationship to the outdoors–I don’t think I could if I tried–and along the way I may uncover a greater understanding of how others appreciate and enjoy nature and outdoor spaces in diverse ways.

In fact, my cyclical return to environmental causes has further complicated the way I think of the interrelation of social issues, and their urgency. This isn’t even to mention how an individual land conservancy organization ought to find its niche within this grand social ecosystem (that’s something I hope to learn more about-and write more about-later). For now, I will keep my swampy woods and listen as both the cardinals and the winter program calendar calls.

Davidson Impact Fellow Jon White

Networking for Dummies

This blog was written by Jessica Moo Young ’19, 2019-2020 Davidson Impact Fellow for Habitat for Humanity International.

When I took the Myers-Briggs type indicator four years ago, it told me what I already knew: I’m an introvert. So as I started to think about a career, the idea of networking loomed. Work-related or not, I was always unlikely to approach a stranger and start talking; throw in name tags, job descriptions and business cards and the situation seemed even more strained. Striking up conversation with the sole purpose of making a contact or landing a business deal was just too transactional. With this understanding, I went 21 years without attending a single networking event. After starting my fellowship at Habitat for Humanity
International, my hard-earned streak was quickly broken. Within a month and a half, I had networked everywhere from DC to Bangkok and back.

Though I’m still nowhere close to being a networking aficionado, redefining my approach has helped me to start building a meaningful community for myself. Rather than stepping outside of my comfort zone, I’m extending its range in many senses of the phrase. Before walking into any work function, I find time to compose my thoughts and set a tangible goal for myself, for example, to meet 3 or 4 people and engage in great conversation with each. (Reminder: still an introvert.) It might take longer to meet people, but it also allows more time to connect with them on a deeper level and in more personal settings. Instead of going with the usual what-do-you-dos and who-do-you-knows, I focus on questions that I’m genuinely interested in asking. My go-to is, “How did you get to where you are now?”—a question that tends to cover a person’s career decisions, changes, journey and growth. The answers are always inspiring and help me to understand different thought processes and pathways to success.

Growing up, I thought that a career meant finding a job and sticking with it ‘til death do you part. But in speaking with others across different sectors and fields, I’ve found that people are dynamic, change is inevitable and there is not one way to pursue a career—which can be made up of several positions at various organizations en route. With these new findings and the ones to come, I’ve opened myself up to a world of opportunities, arguably much more daunting than casual conversations with colleagues.