Davidson Parent Robert Strauss Discusses Careers in Journalism

Robert and Ella Strauss '14
Robert and Ella Strauss ’14

On Friday afternoon, Davidson parent Robert Strauss held an informational session for students interested in pursuing a career in journalism. Father of Ella Strauss ’14 and Sylvia Strauss ‘17, Mr. Strauss has been published in numerous national publications, including Sports Illustrated, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the New York Times. In addition, Mr. Strauss served as an adjunct professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s English department for ten years, as well as the University of Delaware’s English department for five years. In 2011, Mr. Strauss published his first book Daddy’s Little Goalie and is currently in the early stages of his latest project, based on his New York Times article “What Do You Want to Be, Now That You’re Grown.”

Mr. Strauss spoke to students about his start in the field of journalism—although he had always had a love of newspapers and sports, he never considered them as a way to make a living. In college, he met a girl he was interested in, who turned out to be the upcoming editor of the college’s newspaper. She asked him to be the paper’s Sports Editor and as Mr. Strauss says, “You can guess why I said yes.” As it turns out, the girl transferred the next semester, and Mr. Strauss was left in charge of the Sports page.

This series of events prompted Mr. Strauss to apply to and attend graduate school at UC-Berkeley for one quarter, after which he dropped out. He bought a bus pass, knocked on doors, and got a newspaper job in Mankato, Minnesota.

Mr. Strauss emphasized that he started out small, and believes the process of entering the field today would be much the same. From there, Mr. Strauss notes, “Every job I’ve ever had had to do with connections.” He encouraged students to use their Davidson connections, family connections, and any other connection available to get a foot in the door. “Anybody can do entry-level jobs,” says Mr. Strauss. “The hard part is getting one.”

As a freelance journalist, Mr. Strauss shared with students the process of submitting a story idea to a publication. He stressed the importance in being interested in what you write, as well as the value of looking beyond the Internet for sources. “Even if you can get the story online, go out and see someone.”

Ultimately, Mr. Strauss noted, “It’s not necessarily a bad time to go into journalism. It’s just a different time.” He concluded by telling students that if journalism is their passion, they should pursue it, but never do anything for free!

Thank you to Mr. Strauss for taking time to speak with Davidson students and to Ella Strauss for keeping the conversation on track!

“Somebody Has to Run the Kennedy Center”: Sherburne Laughlin ’83 Discusses Careers in Arts Management

Sherburne Laughlin '83 shares arts management career resources with students

Sherburne Laughlin ’83, Director of the Arts Management Program at American University in Washington DC and a former member of Davidson’s Board of Trustees, visited campus last week to speak with students about careers in arts management.  An economics major at Davidson, Ms. Laughlin went on to work at a bank before earning her MBA from Yale University and launching her career in the arts management.  This is the third successive year that she has given this talk to a full room of students.

Ms. Laughlin started her talk by generating discussion on many pertinent issues in the arts today, such as the role of government funding for the arts and how to get that funding, ensuring that boards can make decisions for the sustainability of their organizations, censorship in the arts, and intellectual property issues with art.  She also commented on what she calls the “Arts and …” movement which encompasses arenas such as health, social justice, and business as well as technology and “gamification” in the arts.

As arts management graduate programs are looking for students with experience in the field, even at an assistant level, Ms. Laughlin advised joining the workforce for a few years before pursuing a graduate degree.  If you work first, she argues, you will ask better questions in graduate school and will have a better sense of why you want to pursue a career in arts management.  When looking for a first job in the field, look for various assistant level positions or internships in areas of arts management like development or marketing.  She suggests staying in contact with people who are in your network, including Davidson alumni.

Ms. Laughlin also guided students towards resources such as the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte and the North Carolina Arts Council that have their own job banks.  She also pointed out Americans for the Arts, which has a great professional development web page and services.  Laughlin explained the importance of keeping up to date with publications and blogs such as The Art Newspaper, Arts Journal and Createquity and advised students to register for the e-mail list You’ve Cott Mail.

There are many different places to look for jobs in the arts, including education, established arts organizations, service organizations, artist residencies, clubs, and festivals.  Laughlin encouraged students to look for opportunities that may not be obvious, giving an example of someone she knows who has a position in the arts with the National PTA (Parent Teacher Association).

Laughlin ended the presentation by giving more details about her program at American University, one of the oldest arts management programs in the country.  She pointed out that the older programs are beneficial due to the large alumni network that they create.  It provides an opportunity to graduate with certificates in Technology in Arts Management or International Arts Management.  The program is small, with twenty students in each class, and has a nearly 100% job placement rate.  They also have a special arrangement with Sotheby’s through which they send students to a very rigorous and fulfilling program in London.

If you would like to get in touch with Ms. Laughlin to discuss a potential careers in arts management, and/or the American University program specifically, feel free to send her an e-mail at slaughlin@american.edu.

Alumni in Publishing Share Career Advice

Carin Siegfried '95 (left) and Sarah Dotts Barley '07 discuss the different jobs in publishing.

Carin Siegfried ’95 (English) and Sarah Dotts Barley ’07 (English, German) came to campus Thursday, October 17 to give a workshop on careers in publishing.  Siegfried has worked as a buyer, editor, and sales rep and now runs her own business, Carin Siegfried Editorial; and Dotts Barley is an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Their main task was to be sure that everyone understood there are many jobs in publishing and that being an editor does not always mean what one would assume.  They explained the intricate web that makes up the publishing business, including buyers, sales and marketing staff, agents, publicists, art and design staff, editors and of course, authors.  Students should remember, both speakers agreed, that editorial jobs are typically the most competitive, pay the least and promote the most slowly.

The first advice that Siegfried and Dotts Barley gave to students interested in the field was read, read, read: paying particular attention to contemporary books.  “Way too many people want to work on literary fiction,” said Siegfried, suggesting that students pay attention to all kinds of books that are on the market.  She also suggested highlighting administrative experience when applying for entry-level positions, as you will likely be answering a lot of phones and watering plants in your first job.  In the process of applying for editorial assistant positions, you will be asked to complete a reader’s report – you will be given a manuscript and asked to write a one-page evaluation of it.  In this evaluation, you should be honest but remember that the publishing house has already bought this book, so you ultimately should recommend that they buy it.

Siegfried and Dotts Barley told some humorous stories about entry-level positions in publishing houses, explaining that you are essentially signing up for an apprenticeship. You are someone’s assistant, but it is important to remember that you are working under someone who has probably been in the business for a long time.  They recommend that you take the opportunity to learn from them, arguing that this will make you better at your job down the road.

The alumni concluded the talk by reminding students that if you can get through Davidson, you have the stamina and intelligence it takes to be successful in the publishing world.  Read, pursue internships, network and follow your passion, and you will have opportunities.

Students who missed the talk but would like the handouts from the session should e-mail careers@davidson.edu requesting them.


Red Ventures Recruits at Davidson for Multiple Positions

Senior Vice President of Red Ventures Jason Carlock ’97, and young alumni Anne Tab ’13, Nicolette Taggart ‘13, Lucy McMurry ’13, Robert Lorenzen ’13, and Jamie DyBuncio ’13, visited Davidson yesterday to hold an information session.  Red Ventures, located just south of Charlotte, is looking for Strategic Analyst Associates, Digital Media Marketing Associates, Web Developer Associates, and Strategic Analyst Summer Interns. The deadline to apply through WildcatLink is tonight (Wednesday, September 25) at 11:59 pm.

Red Ventures is a strategic marketing and sales firm that creates multi-channel marketing and sales strategies for partner companies.  They use original and comprehensive data technology in order to generate sales and create revenue. Carlock emphasized the great opportunity at Red Ventures, as the company is growing at a pace of 35% each year. The company works with internet, satellite, security, insurance, and energy firms and is currently partnered with well-known brands such as Verizon, Direct TV, ADT, Safeco Insurance, and Just Energy. Red Ventures has been named the Best Place to Work in Charlotte for two consecutive years and has ranked in the top 10 on the list for the past four years.

The Davidson alumni highlighted how Red Ventures is unique in that is was built to be “a company that people want to work for.”  In this sense, Red Ventures is characterized by a fun and quirky environment, where people will even play basketball or go bowling in the middle of the workday! The company has a work hard, play hard environment with a fast learning curve, where employees will constantly work in teams with people of multiple skill levels and positions.

For more information, visit the Red Ventures website and the multiple postings on WildcatLink.  Be sure not to miss the deadline tonight!

Young Alum Profile: Sara Davis ’12 Enters PR World Through Dream Fellowship

Sara Davis ’12 recently began a position as a Fellow with LEVICK, a Washington, DC-based communications firm.  She began her career as a Recruiting Analyst with Aon Hewitt in Charlotte in May 2012 and talked to us about how she landed her first dream job less than a year later.

 CCD: Congrats on the new position! How did you make the move from HR to PR?

SD: Upon deciding that I really wanted to make the transition from Human Resources into Public Relations/Marketing, I realized I would need to learn a lot more about these industries. I spent the first few months of 2013 using AlendaLinks and LinkedIn to connect with Davidson alumni, all of whom were extremely receptive to helping me out by chatting on the phone, sharing their advice and experience in these industries, and even revising my resume. I can’t say enough about the incredibly helpful and kind Davidson alumni network. My job search was specifically focused on Washington, DC and the Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations industries.

Through a mutual LinkedIn connection (and Davidson alum), I was able to connect with a Senior VP at LEVICK.  We were able to chat about the company, DC, and public relations in general. I was definitely interested in the firm after speaking with her and having scoped out their company website. I applied for their Fellowship position the next day, and interviewed and received an offer for the position as a Spring 2013 Fellow in May.

CCD: How has the experience gone so far?

SD: I have absolutely loved my first month here at LEVICK. The program itself has been heralded as perhaps the best (and most intense) introduction to Public Relations in DC. I’m in a class of four Fellows, all of whom are 2011 – 2013 college graduates eager to delve into the PR industry. We have three great supervisors who monitor our workload, give us advice, and schedule weekly Lunch & Learns for us to ask questions and learn more about PR. Additionally, given that this is a mid-size firm of about 50 employees, I’m able to work directly with all employees ranging from Account Coordinators to Senior Vice Presidents, which has been a thrilling experience. No workday is ever predictable here. As a Fellow, I can be tasked with anything that needs completing, which is great for getting a holistic view of the PR world.

CCD:  What are your responsibilities as a Fellow?

SD:  My general responsibilities include pitching media stories to reporters to give LEVICK executives and clients an opportunity to comment in top-tier news outlets, conducting and presenting research, reporting social media metrics, summarizing and analyzing the day’s media  for clients, developing new business ideas, and providing administrative support to all LEVICK employees.

The program is highly selective, paid, and for college graduates only. Fellows are hired seasonally.  LEVICK’s Fellowship program has a proven record of training its Fellows so quickly and comprehensively that they have no trouble finding positions at any premier PR firm following the Fellowship, if not a position at LEVICK itself.

In sum, it’s a fast-paced introduction to life in a highly-successful, full-service communications firm that covers many areas including crisis, strategic communications, public affairs, finance, and digital communications.  I’ve loved how open and encouraging everyone at LEVICK has been, and hope that this will be the start to a great career!  I spent 5 long months searching for an opportunity to transition into PR, and have been thrilled by how this has turned out.

CCD:  If you are interested in connecting with Sara, you can do so through LinkedIn or by e-mail at sardavis3@gmail.com.  She would be happy to share tips on how to network effectively during a marketing-related job search.

Interning With Guideposts

 By Paul Van Peursem, Career Services Ambassador
Elise Breda ’13 is an Economics Major who interned in the Consumer Marketing Dept. at Guideposts Magazine in New York City this past summer.  Elise took time out to talk with Paul Van Peursem ’13, Career Services Ambassador, about her experience.

Where did you intern this summer?
My summer internship was at Guideposts, a non-profit organization that publishes magazines such as Guideposts and an assortment of Christian books and devotionals. Guideposts was founded by Norman Vincent Peale in 1945 to encourage and uplift soldiers returning from the war. The organization’s purpose is reflected in its motto: “America’s Source of Inspiration.”

What sort of work were you doing at Guideposts?
As a Consumer Insights intern, I worked in Consumer Marketing with the marketing and editorial teams whose goal was to improve the company’s understanding of its target market and consumers. This group focuses on gaining a clear picture of the consumer’s decision-making process in order to deliver and position goods more efficiently and more competitively.

Can you describe the particular work you did at Guideposts?
My main project was designing a survey to collect consumer feedback on Guideposts’ newest devotional book. This involved creating a direct-to-consumer digital survey, and using social media platforms to select consumers to receive and review the marketing materials and devotional.

I compiled and analyzed all of the data and feedback from the surveys, looking for consumer trends in product preferences, expectations and responses. My findings were presented to the marketing and editorial teams in a product report, along with my recommendations for future development and positioning of the devotional.

Can you tell me about where you lived and worked in New York City?
This summer I lived in The Village in NYU student housing. The location could not have been more ideal — minutes from shopping in SoHo, walking the Highline in Chelsea, or kayaking along the Hudson River. I worked four days a week in the 34th Street Guideposts office (right beside the Empire State building) and commuted one day a week to the Danbury, CT office. The view from the 21st floor was spectacular. New York City certainly has a piece of my heart.

How has this experience impacted your job searching in the future?
I realized my passion for Behavioral Economics and fell in love with the blend of social science and mathematic foundation that was used in data analytics and consumer research. Moving forward, a big-city atmosphere is my first choice for living in — with any luck New York City will be my next home. After my internship experience, I feel confident and enthusiastic about my plans for the future; all thanks to Guideposts!

Iris Leung, Class of ’12, Talks About Her Internships and Job Search

Iris Leung
Major: History    Minor: Chinese
Davidson Class: May 2012

What internships have you had while you have been at Davidson?
During my freshman summer, I interned at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, assisting the museum’s Education Department in creating and leading interactive tours for summer camp visitors. I also translated their “Journey to the Stars” planetarium show from English to Chinese.  The following summer I taught English in Xian, China to kindergarteners using bilingual classroom exercises, drama performances, and songs.  During my junior summer, I interned with Emanate PR, a public relations firm that specializes in consumer, healthcare, and business communications. Not only did I create a business pitch proposal for a mock client, I also assisted in a product launch, blogged for the company website, and helped facilitate a social media contest for one of our products.

What are your plans after graduating this May?
After graduating in May, I will begin my first job as an Account Associate at Emanate PR—the public relations firm where I interned during my junior summer.

How did you find your internship?
To find my internship my junior year, I talked with my career counselor who suggested I use a variety of measures for seeking opportunities, such as LinkedIn and Alenda Links (our Davidson alumni networking system), as well as word of mouth.  She explained that by proactively demonstrating interest and seeking advice from alumni, professors, and even family friends, they could provide me with great tips on finding an internship. I connected with an alumna who recognized my great interest in the PR field and recommended me to the HR Director of the firm as an intern candidate, where I landed the internship and ultimately my full-time job.

What resources in Career Services have helped you the most?
Two resources that were helpful to me in Career Services were, first, the one-on-one sessions with career counselors who showed a genuine interest in helping students find not only jobs, but careers that match their passions and strengths. I did not know what I wanted to pursue when I first started my search, but after I listed my interests and  described my ideal workplace, my counselor helped me narrow down a list that allowed me to realize my dream job.

Second, the annual Etiquette Dinner was extremely useful. Since all Davidson students will undoubtedly have meetings or job interviews over meals in the future, this experience really helped me sharpen my table etiquette as well as the necessary communication skills for such stressful situations.

What other resource has helped you with internship searches?
A resource that helped me learn about opportunities is, surprisingly, Google. While students may know what they are capable of and interested in doing, many do not know what is available. When I wanted an internship that allowed me to interact with many people while constantly learning, I ran Internet searches seeking names of museums to get me started. I would never have been able to work at my favorite museum where it not for Google.

What advice do you have for fellow students?
If you know what you want, don’t be afraid to search online for something related, but more exciting. We’re Davidson students—the world is our oyster!

Careers in Publishing: Advice from Carin Siegfried ’95

On Thursday, October 27, Davidson alum Carin Siegfried ’95 spoke to a group of Davidson students about careers in publishing.  Here are just a few of the useful tips she provided during the 90-minute session!

Think past jobs in Editorial.  These are the jobs that everyone wants, and therefore are the most competitive and the lowest paid.  Look into other areas of publishing, like Subsidiary Rights, Production & Managing Editorial, Art & Design, Publicity, Marketing, and Sales.

Consider Agenting if the idea of discovering new writers and nurturing relationships with writers over time excites you.

Consider Publicity if you were the social chair of your eating house or fraternity.  This role involves someone outgoing and enthusiastic.

Consider Sales even if you have never seen yourself in a Sales role.  It’s not like selling used cars:  you are selling books to book people!  And starting salaries can be $10 – $20k more than Editorial starting salaries.

Yeah, you’re probably going to have to move to New York.  You don’t *have* to start in New York, but it is where most of the jobs are and where you can best network and will make lifelong industry connections.  Also, being close to broke in New York is much less painful when you are young.

If you’re looking at publishing internships, look at rotational programs that expose you to various aspects of the publishing business.  Seniors should look for paid fall internships (significantly less competition than for summer internships) in addition to entry-level assistant positions.

Don’t think you need a graduate degree or publishing certificate.  Maybe 25% of people who work in publishing have graduate degrees, but an undergraduate degree in the humanities the best preparation for most of the jobs.  Your employer will likely pay for you to take some relevant graduate courses once you get your foot in the door and prove your value.

Remember that Davidson has prepared you well to start this career!  When applying and interviewing, focus on the workload balance, time management, and organization skills that Davidson has taught you.

You may not get in to publishing right away, and that’s okay.  Focus on developing soft, transferable skills in whatever other job you land — like how to deal with difficult personalities.

Network, network, network.  Get on LinkedIn today, if you aren’t already (and link to Carin!) Remember that informational interviews are the next best thing to actual interviews.

Did you miss the session but are seriously interested in pursuing publishing as a career?  Contact Carin Siegfried at carinsiegfried@earthlink.net.  Also keep an eye out for opportunities for resume reviews that we’re looking to set up with Carin during the spring semester!

Launching a Career in Publishing

Many Davidson students express a vague interest in publishing as a career, but are unsure what the field entails or what specific career opportunities it provides.  If you’re one of these students, come to Union 313 next Thursday, October 27, at 4:30 pm, when we will welcome Carin Siegfried ’95 as a guest speaker.  Siegfried has worked in publishing as a buyer, editor, and sales rep, and recently started her own business, Carin Siegfried Editorial.  She will discuss four main things:  the different jobs in publishing, different publishing houses, how to get into publishing, and what Davidson students can do to facilitate starting a publishing career.

If you’re interested in learning more before the session, check out the Publishing and Journalism page of our website, which includes helpful basic resources.  You can also see Siegfried’s LinkedIn profile to get a better sense of her professional background.  If you are interested in networking with additional Davidson alumni working in publishing, stop by our office for an introduction to Alenda Links, Davidson’s internal networking system.  This system currently lists 78 Davidson alumni with the keyword “publishing” in their professional profile, all of whom are available for you to contact!