How My Valuable Summer Experience Translated Into My Future Career

By Isabella Lozano ’21

This summer, I interned for the Public Communications team of Union County Government. I worked in Monroe, North Carolina, where the County Government offices are located. The Public Communications team works to convey important information to Union County’s employees as well as its 222,000 residents. The team is constantly working to enable community success and improve people’s lives in the county.

My interest in communications began with my classes at Davidson College, and this internship solidified my passion for this field. This experience in Public Communications allowed me to gain valuable experience with internal and external communications. This summer allowed me to further define my career goals and desire to play a role in bridging the gap between an organization and the people, just as Union County’s Public Communications team does.

I received the Falconi Family Internship Grant, which made this summer experience possible. With this grant, I was able to cover my living expenses and travel expenses since I was commuting to Monroe every day for work. Thank you to the Career Center and Falconi family for making this possible!

As an intern for the Public Communications team, I helped create, design, and execute marketing and communications plans to reach the employees of Union County Government and residents of the County. Some of my projects included researching best practices for social media, writing articles for the Union County website, and developing content for Union County’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I was also responsible for developing a Hurricane Season Communications Plan for the team to use during hurricane season. This communications plan included a timeline of key messages to relay to the residents and recommendations for the County website to make hurricane resources more accessible.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer was an especially interesting time to intern for a county government. I helped contribute to the team’s ongoing communications surrounding COVID-19. Some of the messages we focused on were where to go for testing in Union County, tips on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and where to go if you need resources. These messages were amplified on various platforms, including email blasts, the Union County website, social media, billboards, and radio ads. I was responsible for drafting some of these social media posts as well as radio ads. This project showed me the importance of clear and transparent messages, especially when communicating a prevalent issue such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

During my internship, I had the opportunity to meet with the directors of different Union County Government departments. I learned the details of their position and the role each department plays in Union County. I also gained insight into their unique career paths and how they ended up in their position. This was one of my favorite parts of the internship because I was able to learn more about Union County Government while also receiving career advice.

Overall, this was an awesome summer experience, and I am grateful for my time with Union County’s Public Communications team. I gained valuable experience and skills working in communications that I will be able to translate into my future career. I was able to work alongside great people who are experts in their respective fields. This internship was an experience I won’t forget!

Passion is Contagious.

By Chris Chao ’22

Passion is contagious. 

A collection of photographs, sporadic pieces of information, and a map with 123 points for each tree—that’s how I started as a Sustainability Scholar. My partner organization was TreesCharlotte, an environmental-preservation organization that is dedicated to preserving Charlotte’s tree canopy. My main project revolved around the Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree program. The Treasure Tree program started in the late ‘80s to identify the largest and most significant examples of each tree species in the county. The original program ended in 2000. With the massive development in the Charlotte area, a new committee was formed in 2017 with the goal of restarting the program.

My job was to track down trees, photograph them, interview the property owners to get the trees’ stories and then put all that information on a new website. About 55% of them are still standing today. Once I organized our information, my supervisor suggested I visit some sites to get photographs and interview the homeowners.

That’s when everything changed.

After I interviewed the first property owners about their trees, I realized I was working on something really special. Their stories inspired me. I became personally invested in telling the stories of these trees—trees which homeowners played on when they were children and trees that signified people’s parents, some of whom had passed. Through the passion in people’s recollection, I realized the importance of preserving these stories. 

My time with TreesCharlotte is almost over and soon the Treasure Tree website will be live. Moving forward, I’ll become a volunteer member of the Mecklenburg County Treasure Trees board. I hope to start a similar program in the Town of Davidson for my environmental studies capstone. I’ve experienced how contagious passion can be and I’d love to share that with the Davidson community.

Thank you to TreesCharlotte’s Jen Rothacker and Treasure Tree Committee member Brett Dupree for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this project. I only played a small part in the updated Treasure Tree program, but I loved it. 

A Glimpse into My Summer Virtual Internship

By: Kaizad Irani ’22

This summer, I am currently working as a remote intern with the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). They are a nonpartisan network of 120+ international organizations working to end violence and promote peace around the world. AfP advocates for conflict prevention in legislation, utilizes data to advance research in the peacebuilding field, and mobilizes the public by hosting events such as PeaceCon, the largest annual peacebuilding conference in the U.S. As an intern, I am researching AfP’s network of members and creating a data visualization that shows their global impact.

During my time at Davidson, I became interested in leveraging the power of data and technology in fields like international studies and political science. The courses at Davidson helped improve my quantitative and qualitative abilities in better understanding and questioning the world around me. Some of my favorite courses included CSC 110 “Data Science and Society,” where I learned R and created a research poster exploring democracy and governance in the Middle East. In that course, I applied both data science and political science skills towards finding governance and public opinion trends in the Arab World and presented my findings to my peers and professors at Davidson’s Verna Miller Case Symposium. In addition, as part of TheGovLab@Davidson, I conducted data-focused research exploring the effectiveness of the United Nations and other international, intergovernmental organizations. My internship with AfP closely aligns with my academic interests and provides me the opportunity to apply my understanding of data analytics and global studies in a professional setting. 

This opportunity was made possible by the Center for Career Development (CCD) and the Dean Rusk International Studies Programs. Coming into Davidson, I (like most students) was unsure of what I wanted to study and my career path. That spring, I went on the CCD’s DC Career Trek, a spring break trip to the nation’s capital where we visited various think-tanks, government agencies, and political organizations. From that trip, I learned about networking and connected with Davidson alumni working in fields such as political economics, governmental affairs, political lobbying, and international relations. I also got involved with the Dean Rusk Program during my first year at Davidson, through which I have had the chance to attend numerous teatime discussions, cultural events, and academic lectures related to a variety of international issues and topics. I am grateful for Ms. Jane Zimmerman, the Director of the Dean Rusk Program, and for the vast number of connections available through Davidson College which helped me obtain my internship.

Finally, I am thankful for receiving the Locke White Jr. grant through the CCD. My summer experience would not be possible without their generous funding and I am fortunate enough to have this internship where I am working towards creating a tangible and meaningful product that will impact the future of effective peacebuilding.

My Summer Research Experience

By Charlie Walsh ’22

This summer, I have been working remotely as a research assistant for Huron Gastroenterology Associates located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. So far, I’ve been extremely fortunate to get one paper and one abstract published.

The paper focuses on Telehealth, which can be defined as the use of telecommunication modalities, such as telephone and real-time video, to connect patients with clinicians for the purpose of providing healthcare. As of right now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) increased funding for reimbursement of telehealth communication in clinical visits but only until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this study, we hope to persuade CMS to continue funding these patient encounters beyond the pandemic due to the high levels of patient and provider satisfaction, ease of access to medical care and the positive economic impact of this system.

The abstract examines the extensive costs of mandatory pre-procedural COVID-19 testing prior to procedures in order to determine whether or not the current system is economically and practically beneficial for gastroenterology clinics and their patients around the United States. Along with the publication, I have recently been selected to present this research at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting in October.

Receiving the Juliana Tazewell Porter grant allowed me to focus on my research full-time and has given me experiences that wouldn’t be possible without it. I believe the projects I am involved in have been extremely educational in learning the process of conducting clinical research, as well as offering valuable experience before I apply to medical school.  Although the in-person limitations of the current pandemic have hindered the efficiency of our studies, it also provides an opportunity to observe how researchers persevere through these restrictions and utilize cutting edge technology to their advantage, giving me a unique perspective of the demands and resourcefulness required of individuals in the medical field.

Additionally, receiving this grant gave me the opportunity to move from my home state of Michigan to North Carolina and train as a part of the Davidson Swim and Dive team while continuing my research full-time. With the current guidelines and restrictions in Michigan, I was unable to train for about 3 months before moving down to Davidson. Now that I’m back on campus, I’ve been extremely happy to get back to training for our upcoming (hopefully) 2021 season!

How We Became Entrepreneurs in Just Three Weeks

By Kendall Bushick ’22 and Sam Cascio ’22

Like many Davidson students, our summer plans were canceled after the COVID-19 pandemic sent us home for quarantine. We didn’t know what we were going to do with all our extra time this summer until the Center for Career Development sent out an email about a 3-week virtual Business Bootcamp through Furman University. With this newly discovered chance to make our summer count, we attended one of the program’s information sessions, which ultimately persuaded us to apply for the Bootcamp. We also applied for the 2020 Summer Professional Development/Internship Grant, which we were both grateful to receive. We would like to give a special thanks to the Career Center and donors who made this opportunity possible! 

One of the program’s most appealing factors was that it’s designed for non-business majors. Both of us had little knowledge of the industry being Psychology and Economics majors. Coming from a liberal arts school with no business-specific courses, this program seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin educating ourselves.

Because this was a virtual experience, we were on Zoom from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The typical schedule was two sessions in the morning, lunch break with a guest speaker, two more sessions, and a quick debriefing session to end the day. Throughout the first two weeks, we experienced a variety of professors teaching us business fundamentals like accounting, finance, marketing, and business analytics. We also learned special topics like Professional Development, Excel Modeling, Career Planning, Productivity in a Remote World, and Photoshop and Presentation Skills. With such a wide range of coverage, we truly felt like we learned at least one completely new thing in each session. Not only did the variety help foster our learning, but each session was very interactive. Students were constantly encouraged to participate in group discussions throughout the sessions, whether it be in a large group or breakout rooms, which helped us learn from both the professors and one another. 

During the final week of the program, we were encouraged to apply all the skills and knowledge we gained from the first two weeks in order to create a pitch deck, a brief presentation describing our business plan. We were broken into teams to work as entrepreneurs creating our own unique and innovative service or product. This was a great opportunity to collaborate with a group of 5-6 students from other colleges and universities. In just 3.5 days, we went from ideation to presentation. It was very rewarding to see how we applied the knowledge learned in the previous weeks to collaborative problem solving in our 5-minute pitch deck and business model canvas. Once all the pitches were successfully delivered and we had completed the program, we were all encouraged to say, “I’m an Entrepreneur,” because now we are!

We both found the Bootcamp’s mentorship program to be a special part of the experience. Furman had reached out to 42 different professionals and matched each bootcamp participant to one mentor based on career interests. This was a great opportunity to learn the value of connections and also be able to learn from an individual currently working in the business world. Creating these personal and professional connections furthered our educational experience within the program, and we are now fortunate enough to have these everlasting bonds.

Not only did we learn from our personal mentors, we also learned from the daily guest speakers. We had the opportunity to hear from business professionals in other industries that may not have matched our career interests, or that we had no previous knowledge of.  We were able to further extend our network and learn about the different career paths.

The Program directors and professors commonly exclaimed “This is like drinking from a firehose!” Some days definitely felt this way. We never imagined we could learn so much and also apply our newfound knowledge in only 3 weeks! At the end of the program there was a virtual graduation, where we received our official business and entrepreneurship certificates.  This experience has opened our eyes to all the possible careers in the business world. Being rising juniors and not knowing exactly what we want to do after graduation, this program helped us learn more about all the opportunities out there. It helped each of us find new interests and directions with what we each potentially may want to do with our lives in the future. 

We also learned many skills that we plan to, and already have, applied in our lives. One of the biggest takeaways was the importance of reaching out to people and making meaningful and lasting connections. We have taken advantage of the many great and insightful professors and guest speakers from the program and have already reached out and connected with some. It is amazing how much you can learn from others and how willing people are to take the time to help you.

We would definitely recommend this program to any Davidson student who is not only interested in building on the foundations of business and entrepreneurship, but also looking for an unforgettable and rewarding educational experience!

Kendall Bushick ’22 (left) and Sam Cascio ’22 (right)

Welcome to the Team Ashley and Saleem

The Center for Career Development is excited to welcome two new members to the team. In March, we welcomed Ashley Bodie, Exploratory Career Adviser and just last week Saleem Clarke, Fellowships & Experiential Learning Adviser joined the team. Ashley, a North Carolina native, joins us from the Universal Technical Institute. Saleem joins us from Pennsylvania, after working as a Career Counselor at Penn State Career Services for the past five and half years.

A North Carolina native from High Point, Ashley Bodie earned her Master of Public Administration from Strayer University, Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Global Career Development Facilitator credential from Center for Credentialing Education and National Career Development Association.  Ashley has over five years of workforce development experience. She most recently served as Senior Employment Specialist for Universal Technical Institute, where she assisted students with post-graduate employment and employer engagement. Ashley also served as Career Facilitator for youth, ages 16-24, experiencing barriers to employment for Guilford County’s NC Works office.  At Davidson, Ashley will be serving as Exploratory Career Adviser. She is excited to join the Career Development team and continue to assist students with realizing and achieving their professional goals.  In her free time, Ashley enjoys attending concerts and spending time with family and friends.

Also, a North Carolina native, Saleem found his way back home after attending elementary, middle, and high school in New York (where his mother still resides) and working as a Career Counselor at Penn State Career Services for the past five and half years. Through his work at Penn State Career Services Saleem has worked with adult learners, undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni. Saleem worked across the University Park campus providing workshops to various student groups, provide students with individual career counseling, and has served as the instructor of CNED: Effective Career Decision Making (three-credit course). As an educator and counselor, Saleem believes student advocacy is one of the core elements of his work. Educators and counselors can serve as strong advocates for students who are learning to navigate their way through some of the more complex issues they may face in their academic, personal, and social landscapes. Saleem’s work as a career counselor, student-athlete mentor, and as a facilitator for Penn State’s Athletic Director’s Leadership Institute has provided him with the tools to be effective in helping students to navigate through their career development landscape.

Saleem has been constantly working to develop his skills as an educator and this Fellowships & Experiential Learning Adviser position at Davidson College is ideal because it allows him to help students in a practical sense. As a career counselor he has helped students navigate several career development topics including career decision-making, job/internship search strategies, and applying to graduate or professional school. Saleem also seeks to bring out the best in all the students he works with by highlighting their strengths, helping them to explore their interests, and encourage them to make informed decisions to help foster their growth as professionals. Saleem loves to write poetry and do photography. He also loves anything Purple!

We are excited to welcome Ashley and Saleem, as they are huge assets to the team and to the students of Davidson College. They are greatly looking forward to working with Davidson College students through advising, employer programming and professional development.

Ashley Bodie pictured left and Saleem Clarke pictured right.

My Unforgettable Experience at the Furman Business and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

By Tanya Nair ’19

My experience at the Furman Business and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp was unforgettable. I had no background in finance, business, or accounting and was quite intimidated about how I would be able to take in new “businessy” information in a short, three-week period. I was surprised to see that every session was designed thoughtfully and built on the previous session. The sessions ensured that novel business, accounting, leadership, and marketing concepts are introduced and explained in a way that they were easily understood by all students regardless of their majors. The program also had a pitch competition at the end, which required the students to work in teams on a business idea and present it to a group of potential investors at the end of the program. This part of the program enabled us to apply the information we gathered during our sessions to real life problems. It also trained us on how to give a business pitch.

The most unique part about the boot camp was that we had a new guest speaker, almost every day. The speakers were amazing entrepreneurs or what we called disruptors that were changing the game in their fields. It was deeply inspiring to get to meet these entrepreneurs and learn about their lives and their struggles. It was empowering to see how they overcame challenges in their businesses and created something valuable. Their stories of not giving up created a deep impact in how I viewed the success and failure of a business and taught me the importance of resilience.

I went to the boot camp within three weeks of graduating college and did not regret a minute of having to study again! The content was very well planned, the readings were relevant and interesting, the professors were engaging, the students built a great community and environment that fostered learning, and the entrepreneur mentors shared inspiring stories that highlighted how entrepreneurs doubt themselves and how they can overcome their limitations to be successful. I am grateful for the learning experience I received.

My Homework Was a Ticket Into The Professional World And a Paid Job

By Erin Papakostas ’23

My homework was a ticket into the professional world and a paid job. That’s right: because of a class assignment, I was presented with an opportunity to do freelance writing, and I now write for several magazine publications around the Lake Norman area.

Let me explain how I went from trying to get an A on an assignment to getting a job in freelance. This past semester I took Dr. Churchill’s class, Literary Analysis, which is the gateway course for English majors. Our final assignment was to write a profile of a Davidson alum who graduated with an English degree, and learn how their degree and Davidson experience prepared them for their career. To search for alumni with interesting careers, I used the Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN), a database of alumni who have volunteered as career resources for Davidson students.

Excited to learn about the professional world, I contacted alums with careers that piqued my curiosity. When I spoke with Delia McMullen ‘88, she was eager to talk about her career as content coordinator for neighborhood publications around Charlotte: Myers Park Life, SouthPark Life and Dilworth Life. I am especially interested in freelance writing, so McMullen’s experience caught my attention. After exhausting my questions, McMullen asked me if I would be interested in writing for her publications. As an aspiring writer (whose summer volunteer plans in Mexico had fallen through), I jumped at the chance to learn the ropes of professional magazine etiquette and see my writing published.

I have no ties to the Charlotte area, so we decided it would make more sense if I wrote for publications close to Davidson. McMullen put me in touch with a contact of hers, Tara Marshall, who works as content coordinator for three Lake Norman regional magazines: The Peninsula Navigator, The Talking Point, and River Talk. I sent Marshall my W9 paperwork and began taking assignments. My work consists of interviewing residents to write fun articles that highlight new families and accomplished kids in the communities.

My class assignment gave me the chance to network without even realizing it and receive professional experience while doing what I love most: writing.

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!

Davidson College Prepares Us to Change the World

By Natalie Naticchia ’23

Coming into Davidson as a first year, lots is left open-ended…your major, your career path, and the first steps you take to finding those important answers. It is normal, and natural to feel as though you transitioned from being a big fish in a small pond in high school, to now a small fish in the big new pond of Davidson College. How do you navigate this new “normal”? On top of schoolwork, sports practices, and trying to find a new social circle, it is easy for your future career endeavors to take the back burner. After all, it is four long years away – right?

I quickly discovered that Davidson’s mission was not only to create creative, open-minded, and strong students – but to also prepare us to change the world. It is no surprise that Davidson alumni have gone on to have successful careers, and ultimately, change the world. From the close relationships you develop with professors, to the lessons that are preached through my coaches, and the group work I do with fellow students in the library – it is about more than getting a high GPA, getting an A in the course, or memorizing information to regurgitate on an exam. It is about learning. True learning. It is about being curious, being engaged, and finding that when you sit down to find answers-most of the time you end up with more questions. These values are not only standard but are celebrated!

On top of this environment created by the college as a whole, I was introduced to the Center for Career Development (CCD) rather early through Career Advantage, a program run by Josh King, the Assistant Director for Athletic Career Development. The CCD’s mission is obvious: to prepare students for a successful future and pave the way during their time at Davidson. It can be hard to understand where to start in developing your career path. What are the first steps, when are the appropriate times to take them, and how do I know what I am doing is right? The CCD never hesitated in answering these questions. It was easy to make appointments with the office, where I could sit down with someone who would help me construct a powerful resume specific to my experiences, create a polished LinkedIn account, or find career events and opportunities that were tailored to me. The passion the CCD has for helping students is authentic, contagious, and inspiring. Never have I left their office defeated, but rather inspired, that I am on track to pave a successful career path for myself.

During this climate of chaos, the workforce is facing inevitable consequences. Instead of shying away from this, the Center for Career Development tackled it head on. To enhance the Career Advantage programming during these times, Josh thought it would be beneficial to create the position of Career Advantage Ambassadors: a role that promotes career events-from student, to student. I have been privileged to work as a Career Advantage Ambassador, along with 4 other student-athletes, to market virtual career events hosted by the Center for Career Development. The college as a whole, and more specifically the Center for Career Development, have done an incredible job in supporting students through this stressful time, and making sure none of their questions go unanswered. As a Career Advantage Ambassador, and a student-athlete at Davidson College, I am proud of the reaction that the Davidson community has had during this time.