Myths of Job Searching

By Assistant Director for The Center for Career Development, Kelli Robinson

Graduating seniors are asking many questions about job search strategies. The CCD staff is here to support you. The biggest message we want to offer is: Relax and congratulate yourself. You’ve worked too hard not to do either. When doubt starts creeping about the future, know this: Pandemic or not, job search realities still exist, as do myths that cloud them. Let’s address some common fables that are surfacing. 

Myth #1: I need to know the exact job I am pursuing after graduation.

Reality: You don’t need to have it all figured out. Nothing is forever, including a chosen career path.

This myth paralyzes people into inaction. Remember, you are searching for your first full-time job after college. What it will be is a stepping stone in the career path you’re creating as you go.

Think about how much you’ve changed in the past 10 years, a pattern that will continue. Your skills and self-awareness will increase. You will assume new roles, personally and professionally. Your interests will change. Furthermore, the world of work will continue evolving with jobs yet to be invented. Podcast producer, app developer, sustainability manager are all jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

The question shouldn’t be “how could you change careers” but rather “how could you not?”

Myth #2: To consider a job it must meet all of my criteria.

Reality: It’s unlikely one job checks off all the boxes.

Establishing a “pros vs. cons list” helps evaluate job options. Understand that there will be cons. A job may be in your ideal location, but not in the industry on which you are focused. Another role may be a great professional fit but found in a city that doesn’t top your list. Something has to give. When searching for opportunities, less filters yield more options.   

Myth #3: Searching career sites is the best job search strategy.

Reality: Connecting with people is more productive in the long run.

Scrolling job boards gives a false sense of accomplishment. Sure, you are viewing job openings. But how many other job seekers are seeing those same positions? And how many opportunities aren’t you learning about because they’re never posted?

Regardless of a poor or stable job market, it’s a fact: Job boards can be helpful, but successful applicants spend more time pursuing career conversations than perusing job boards. Find a balance that favors networking.

#4: If I don’t know my career path, graduate school can help me figure it out.

Reality: Graduate school is purposeful, not exploratory.

Applying to graduate school should be done with intention, not by default. Know why you are pursuing the degree. Your graduate school professors hit the ground running the first day of class and you’re expected to keep pace. Knowing how the program fits your professional development is critical.

Don’t ponder job search questions and fears in a vacuum. Schedule an appointment with a career advisor to start the conversation. Seniors – we work with alumni too, so know that the CCD is available to chat after your status changes from student to graduate!

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.

Career Advice from Davidson College Scholar Athlete

Read about scholar athlete, Annie Beresheim ’19 and her career advice to current Davidson College students.

Annie Beresheim, previously part of the Davidson College Women’s Lacrosse team, just graduated from Davidson in May 2019, and was recently hired at BlackRock . Annie offered great advice meant to help current students prepare for life after Davidson. While Annie offered specific advice in regards to BlackRock, this advice can be applied to careers in other industries as well.

“I am thrilled to start my career at BlackRock!  I interned with BlackRock last summer and then received a full-time offer after that.  I would offer the following advice to students that are interested in applying- 

  • Reach out to anyone on DCAN that works for or has worked for BlackRock.  Learn about the culture and the company and make connections with people that you could potentially be working with.
  • Learn about the different groups. Do your research so that you know what groups sound interesting to you and which positions you are most qualified for. 
  • I think that each individual can apply to up to three groups. If you do not get selected for one of the positions but believe you had a strong interview, do not hesitate to reach out to your interviewer to ask what you can do better on your other interviews. This is a helpful way to make a connection with someone at the firm in addition to learning how to improve on future interviews. Not many people do this and it is definitely something that interviewers remember and respect.  
  • Make sure that you are on top of your deadlines and information sessions. Especially fall of junior year!”

Five Simple Tips for a Successful Job Search

Whether you’re seeking an internship, your first post-grad role, or a career in a new industry, the idea of job searching can cause anyone to sweat. While nerves are normal, keeping a cool head and thinking strategically can turn the process from stressful to seamless. As you look for your next position, remember these five simple tips built to set you up for success.

  1. Make sure your resume is in tip-top shape
    Think of your resume as your marketing tool. It doesn’t need to encompass everything you’ve ever done, but you’ll want to make sure that it highlights your strengths and key relevant experiences. When it comes to your bullet points, don’t just list what you did in each role. Use dynamic action verbs to convey how your skill set contributed to the overall organization. Let those transferable skills shine!
  2. Master that cover letter
    Hiring managers can tell when you’re using a generic cover letter, so don’t take a shortcut! Whereas your resume should highlight your key experiences, your cover letter should speak specifically to how your background and career interests make you an ideal candidate for the position. Do your research on the employer, pay close attention to the job description, and focus on what makes you uniquely qualified for the role. Don’t forget to proofread and make sure your writing is tight and effective.  Communication skills are just as important as content.
  3. Utilize those resources
    No matter your grad year, the Center for Career Development is here to support you, and we can point you to countless resources as well. Davidson students and alumni can search thousands of jobs, internships, and experiential learning opportunities through Handshake, and more postings are added every day. (Alums wishing to receive access to Handshake can contact us at Under the Handshake “Resources” page, you’ll also find industry-specific guides, as well as tips on becoming the Best Intern Ever and information on fellowships and scholarships. Of course, there is no substitute for one-on-one career advising, so we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a career advisor in person, over the phone, or via Skype!
  1. Connect for some career conversations
    If you’re looking to gain insight into a career or company, speaking directly with someone in the industry can be invaluable. A career conversation is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for an organization, ask a seasoned pro how they got their start, and even gain feedback as you prep for an interview. Davidson students and grads will find an unparalleled resource in the Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN), which is comprised of alumni, parents, and members of the Davidson community who are experts in their fields and are eager to support fellow Wildcats on their career journeys. If you’re on LinkedIn (and you should be!),  be sure to join the 6,000+ members of the Davidson College Network  and search for alums by company, class year, or industry through the Davidson Database.    
  1. Take a breather
    Searching for a job is a job itself. Take care of yourself during the process! Dedicate scheduled time to searching and applying for positions, but make sure that you are also carving out time to do the things you enjoy. Have lunch with a friend, see a movie, or simply take a walk. You’ll return to your search rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to see things with a clear perspective.

Some job searches are swift, some are lengthy. Have patience and remember that it’s all a normal part of the process. And when you land that position? Let us know about it! We love to hear your success stories and can’t wait to cheer you on as you embark on your next journey.

The DOs and DON’Ts of Networking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


Rebecca Glavin, Assistant Director for Career Development

Rebecca Glavin joins the Center for Career Development after having spent a number of years running her own practice, Glavin Counseling, as a clinician in Charlotte. She has an organizational psychology background and previously worked in leadership development consulting. Rebecca holds a BA in Psychology from Middlebury College, a Masters in Business Administration from UNC Charlotte, and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. 

5 Questions to Help You Find a Job You Love

Group of people using tablets and mobile phones with text "5 questions to help you find a job you love"

Sometimes I wish I could call someone and ask ‘what should I do with my life’? Wouldn’t it be great to have someone else tell you, if you do A, B, and C, you will feel happy, fulfilled and everything will work out? Wouldn’t it be great to have certainty related to your future, professionally and personally? Let’s be honest, I would be rich if I could be that person for others! What a gift that would be. Unfortunately, I have not figured how to precisely answer those questions for myself, much less for other people. I have, though, identified a few key questions that I think are worth asking yourself if you are interested in finding a career that feels less like a job and more like a passion.

  1. What does your ideal day look like? Your ideal week? In answering this question, think about whether or not you like to have your time structured or be more autonomous. Do you like to work alone or with people? Do you perform better if you leave your house? While you might not always get to choose your ideal day as part of your job, you can certainly seek out pieces of your ideal day in different roles that you consider.
  1. Before you retire, what do you want to be known for professionally and personally? What is your professional reputation right now? Do you want to change, expand or vary it? Sometimes thinking ahead and visualizing yourself at the end of your career can help to put your values, goals and objectives into perspective. Looking back on the bigger picture of your professional life can often refocus you on what is important to you and help you pass over things that aren’t.
  1. What do you most enjoy learning about? Thinking about? Talking about? Do you prefer to learn in a classroom environment or from a textbook? What topics do you love talking about? While not every person who loves race cars can, or should, work in the racing industry, reflecting on what it is about race cars that you love and trying to surround yourself with others who have similar passions can help to make you feel more engaged and excited about your own professional life.
  1. What emotion or sensation do you associate with success: Happiness? Excitement? Pride? Stress-free? Your answer to this question may determine what type of work you seek out and how often you hope to change your work. If you are someone who likes to be excited and constantly stimulated, you will likely benefit from a fast-paced, diverse job. If you consider your ideal job to be stress-free, then you will likely want a constant, low-intensity work environment. Departments and companies change, so while a job might have started as a good match for you, over time, it might become something else. It is important to continually check-in with yourself about how your work environment is affecting your emotions.
  1. What are you willing to give up? Continuing with the question above, if you are someone who seeks out fast-paced work environments, then you will likely give up a degree of control in your schedule and place of work. If you are someone who prefers to be in charge of your schedule and be an autonomous worker, then you will likely give up opportunities that exist in larger corporations because they are typically more bureaucratic. A person once told me: it is not comparing the pros that lead to a decision for someone, but rather comparing the cons. I thought that this was great advice, because in the end, whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, it is the cost of a decision to which a person pays the most attention to and remembers the longest.

Answers to these questions are not simple and often take time to work through. In truth, over the course of my career, my answers to these questions have changed. I do not think that they are stagnant or simple. Answers to these questions will not tell you what title or position you should seek out. However, they will help you to identify what role might be most likely to lead to a feeling of professional fulfillment. I recommend reviewing these questions on a yearly basis or when you feel a transition is coming. Reflecting on where you have been, where you are and where you hope to go in your professional path always behooves you and helps you to make informed decisions.


Rebecca Glavin, Assistant Director for Career Development

Rebecca Glavin joins the Center for Career Development after having spent a number of years running her own practice, Glavin Counseling, as a clinician in Charlotte. She has an organizational psychology background and previously worked in leadership development consulting. Rebecca holds a BA in Psychology from Middlebury College, a Masters in Business Administration from UNC Charlotte, and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. 

Maximizing Your Career Potential During Winter Break

Person at Desk with text "Maximizing Your Career Potential"

So you’ve made it through fall semester successfully! As you look ahead to a month of rest, reconnection, and reflection time, you may be wondering what to do with all of this free time?   This is a perfect opportunity to focus in on your career exploration and development to ensure ongoing success! Here are three tips to help you make the most of your career potential during winter break:

 Polish Your Resume

Whether this is your first semester at Davidson – or you’ve been here awhile – it’s important to create a collegiate resume and keep it updated! Not only does it mitigate stress later when you are applying to on campus positions, internships, or research initiatives, but it’s also a best practice for post-Davidson to keep that resume up to date and polished.  Not sure where to begin? Check out the Center for Career Development resume guide page for tips and advice on keeping your documents fresh. We even have editable templates to make it easy to get started today!

 Have a Career Conversation

Winter break is a great time to explore the world of work and what the myriad of possibilities are! Curious about a certain industry or job? The Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN) is a great way to connect with alumni and key stakeholders who are interested in supporting your career exploration and development through one-on-one coaching. You can search through advisors, send a request, and connect via conference call – all through the platform! These session topics can include resume reviews, mock interviews, or career conversations, which are designed to demystify specific professional paths of interest. Be sure to curate a short list of questions you want to ask before the conversation, to showcase your preparedness and interest in learning more. We’ve compiled a sample set of questions you might consider as you get started here.

Launch Your Internship Search

For many students, winter break is an ideal time to jumpstart (or continue) a strategic internship search. This doesn’t mean you will start and complete that search before classes start again in January, but it is a great time to peruse Handshake for opportunities and upcoming networking & on campus recruiting sessions.   The system gets updated regularly, so why not take stock now and start applying to opportunities of interest? Once you do this, you can continue the habit when you return to campus – designating time for yourself each week to work on your search. Have questions? Pop over to Appointlet to schedule a career advising session with a career coach in the Center in January!


About Tiffany Waddell

Tiffany Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development

Passionate about helping others develop themselves professionally and identify how their unique skills and interests can not only be cultivated, but add value to professional relationships, organizations, and the world, Tiffany has effectively coached hundreds of budding young professionals on how to create and launch strategic action plans to accomplish long and short-term goals.  She received her BA & MA from Wake Forest University.

Five Tips for Spring Success

Flower blossom with text "5 Tips for Spring Success and Making the Most of Winter Break"

Winter has descended, Thanksgiving break has passed and we are coming into the final leg of the semester. As we go into break, here are five tips that will help prepare you to hit the ground running in the spring semester:

1.     Get back on Handshake
Right now, you are probably focused on finals. But winter break is a great opportunity to research job and internship opportunities on Handshake. There are already more than 1200 postings, and more are being added every day. If you find an opportunity that peaks your interest, do not forget to “favorite” it, so it is easy to find and apply to later. Break is also a great chance to ensure your Handshake profile is up-to-date. If your LinkedIn profile is current, it is easy to copy the information over to Handshake. You can always drop into the Center for Career Development for a walk-in appointment if you want to review your LinkedIn profile with a career counselor or have a new headshot taken.

2.     Polish your resume
When was the last time you looked at your resume? If you have been putting off polishing or updating it, winter break can be a great time to check that off your list. If you are planning to apply for positions over break, or if you would like feedback on what you can polish to be prepared for next semester, you can come into the Center for a resume review. The CCD is open for walk-ins from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, including through exam week.

3.     Network on DCAN
There may not be on-campus events to network at over break, but you should not let that stop you from making connections and extending your network. DCAN makes that easy. With more than 1300 advisors, DCAN is one of the strongest networking tools you have. From career conversations to industry-specific resume reviews to mock interviews, DCAN advisors can help you at any stage in your job or internship search. It is fast and easy to use, but be sure to begin connecting with advisors early in break so you can schedule time to talk in early January before classes start.

4.     Pursue job shadowing opportunities
Break is particularly long this year – almost five weeks from the end of exams to the first day of classes. While the Career Center’s Job Shadowing Program has shifted to spring and summer [link to Sarah’s blog post], you can still take advantage of the break to gain experience in your field. Start by checking in with your network or connections at home to see if there would be opportunities to spend some time over break shadowing. If you have you developed relationships with any alumni on DCAN, you could also reach out to them about shadowing opportunities.

5.     Take time to reflect
The semester is busy, and we do not always take the time to reflect on what we have achieved and the progress we have made during the school year. Taking some time to reflect now, while the semester is still fresh in your mind, can help as you prepare to write cover letters and personal statements. It can also be an opportunity to notice whether your personal and professional goals have changed, or to celebrate the steps you have taken toward meeting those goals.

From English Major to Software Developer: Up Close with McMaster-Carr

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

“I just graduated with an English major, and now I’m a software developer.”

I have introduced myself this way many times over the last few months, and in response, I tend to receive looks of surprise and skepticism. I’m proving the skeptics wrong thanks to McMaster-Carr, a company that values liberal arts graduates and gives them the resources they need to become successful software developers.

As a rising senior, I was unsure about how I wanted to start my career. I had done my summer internships with nonprofit organizations, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start my career in the non-profit field. I began participating in programs through Davidson’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program and realized that I wanted a job through which I could pursue my newfound interests in technology and design. Without much background in either field, though, I wasn’t sure what my options were.

I applied on a whim for a Development and Design role at McMaster-Carr Supply Company. I did not know anything about the industrial supply industry, but I liked the job posting, which emphasized the opportunity to gain skills in technology, design, and business. I was surprised to find that for these entry-level software developer roles, McMaster was not exclusively seeking students with backgrounds in computer science. Throughout the interview process, McMaster employees confirmed the company’s stance that you can teach people to code, but you can’t teach people to learn, justifying their decision to seek out a start class with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Throughout the interview process, I articulated the ways in which my Davidson education, extracurricular roles, and internships taught me how to navigate ambiguous problems and learn new skills and content quickly; though my experiences had little to do with computer software, McMaster recognized my potential as a quick learner, and I received the job as an entry-level developer in McMaster’s Systems Department.

I’ve only been in my new role for two months, but I’m finding that the Systems Department at McMaster is an amazing place to start a career. Systems is responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the software that McMaster uses for both internal and customer-facing business operations. As a developer at McMaster, I am learning how to develop across the full stack – from front-end languages for designing websites, to back-end languages for managing databases, and everything in between. In my first six weeks, I participated in a rigorous training program to learn programming and design skills, and now I’m continuing to learn as a member of my project team. The company prioritizes skill building, so my assignments are framed as opportunities to both contribute to my team and develop as a programmer. Additionally, the technology our department creates touches every part of the business, so the developer role is a great vantage point from which to learn about business strategy and operations more broadly.

While the path from English major to software developer may seem like an unusual one, I’ve already seen how the skills gained from studying a language (or any other liberal arts subject) can lead to success in software development. In the world of software, technology is constantly changing, so over the course of a development career, the ability to learn new skills quickly is more important than the specific content knowledge with which you enter. Additionally, to design software for a business, you need to ask critical questions about who will use a tool, how they’ll use it, and what is most important from a business perspective; as liberal arts majors, we are trained to synthesize information quickly and cut straight to the important questions, a skill which can give us a unique and useful perspective on a programming team. The learning curve is certainly steep, but I’m confident that a lot of Wildcats have what it takes to make an unlikely transition like mine, from English major to software developer.

Seniors interested in McMaster-Carr should check out the Development and Design role, as well as the Management Development role.

emily-rapport-headshotEmily Rapport graduated from Davidson in 2016 with a major in English and a minor in Hispanic Studies.