Zama Coursen-Neff ’93 Discusses Careers in Human Rights

Zama Coursen-Neff speaks to a packed room on Monday afternoon.

Zama Coursen-Neff ’93, Executive Director of the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, gave a talk on careers related to human rights to a group of 39 Davidson students in Union 209 on Monday, September 16.  This session was just one event on a busy schedule for Coursen-Neff, who spent two days at Davidson talking to student groups, classes, and the public about her work.  In this session, she explained her path to her current position and gave advice for those interested in working in human rights or pursuing nonprofit legal work more generally.

Coursen-Neff emphasized that there are many possible paths to pursuing a career in human rights advocacy, and that students should focus on honing their writing and gaining field experience while at Davidson.  She recalled a study abroad trip in Spain her sophomore year and a trip the summer after her junior year to El Salvador (only four months after a war that had left the country shaken up) as two particularly meaningful experiences for her.  She worked in the field right after graduating from Davidson and before attending law school at New York University.  Although she did not love her time at law school and has not worked as an attorney aside from the year she clerked for a federal judge and an extensive pro-bono case she participated in after earning her JD, she told the group that going to law school gave her a valuable perspective.  She also shared work that she did at the U.S.-Mexican border and in Afghanistan, India, and Papua New Guinea.

In addition to sharing her own career story, Coursen-Neff gave the group a few specific pieces of advice.  She recommended cultivating mentors and role models, which were very inspiring to her both personally and professionally.  She also recommended that students simply “get out there and have experiences,” including field work, before deciding on a graduate field of study. She told students,  “If I had created a plan and stuck with it, I never would have seen all the things I didn’t know were out there.”  Most importantly, she said, students should “pursue work that is meaningful and fun.”  She stated that it is important not to martyr oneself for work that is not engaging and to reflect on the kinds of working conditions that will fulfill your needs before jumping into a job.

At least one paid summer internship at the Human Rights Watch headquarters in New York City will be available this summer for a Davidson student. The internship(s) will be funded by the Vann Center for Ethics at Davidson.  More details will be available on WildcatLink later this fall; the application deadline will likely be in early February.  Seniors should also search for Associate positions on the Human Rights Watch website.  These positions, often filled by new graduates of schools like Davidson, typically become available mid-to-late spring semester.

Learn more about Zama Coursen-Neff by reading her bio on the Human Rights Watch website, and stay tuned for information on the summer internship opportunity!

Taking a Gap Year Before Med School & Information on Fellowships

Taking a Gap Year Before Med School
Thursday, February 21st
 – 7:00pm, 900 Room
Meet alumni to learn about their gap year experiences before med school and learn about fellowships available before and after graduation.

Davidson Alumni: 

Devin Haddad ’10, Caroline Ludwig ’12, Malcolm Moses-Hampton ’12

Fellowships and Scholarships: 
Dr. Ted Ogaldez, Director of Graduate Fellowships at Davidson College, and Dr. Scott Denham, Chair of the Graduate Fellowships Committee.

Alumni Bios: |
Devin Haddad ’10 – A Center major at Davidson, Mr. Haddad moved to Washington, DC after graduation to work for an immunology lab at the FDA for two years. He is now a medical student at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Caroline Ludwig ’12 – A biology major and French minor, Ms. Ludwig is currently working at LifeStar Emergency Medical Services in Winston-Salem, NC, and volunteers at the Brenner Children’s Hospital.  She also teaches a dance exercise class at the local YMCA.  Ms. Ludwig plans to attend medical school next year.

Malcolm Moses-Hampton ‘12 – Mr. Moses-Hampton is currently a NSF Lab & Research Technician in Dr. Julio Ramirez’s Neuroscience Lab in the Davidson College Psychology Department.  As such, he manages and conducts grant projects with Dr. Ramirez. Mr. Moses-Hampton plans to attend medical school in 2014, eventually practicing as a neurosurgeon with specific application to traumatic brain injuries.


Pre-Med Major Carter Devlin ’13 Gives Business a Try

By Brennan McCormick, Career Services Ambassador

As a pre-med chemistry major, Carter Devlin ’13 has always had an interest in medicine. This past summer, however, he was given an opportunity to explore the business side of the healthcare industry. As a Business Development and Planning intern at Biologics, Inc. Carter was tasked with performing market research and competitor analysis for one of the most specialized drug distribution companies in the world. Carter’s summer culminated in a presentation delivered to the executive team and strategic planning committee meant to showcase his findings over the course of this summer.

“Carter’s experience serves as a reminder that one need not be a doctor to get involved in the healthcare industry.”

For those interested in medicine, but wary of medical school, a position like Carter’s is a great way to break into the healthcare industry.

Carter’s position placed a heavy emphasis on writing, research, and communication skills, all of which are developed by the Davidson curriculum. Carter reported that a position like this is also a valuable learning experience for anyone interested in medicine. By gaining exposure to various drug distribution channels and the clinical trial process, a position in the business side of the healthcare industry arms a Davidson student with the tools to continue in the healthcare industry or break off into a related field such as marketing or consulting.  Carter’s experience serves as a reminder that one need not be a doctor to get involved in the healthcare industry.

Summer Internship at an Auction House

 By Morgan Orangi, Career Services Ambassador

Senior Art History Major Kaitlyn McElwee spent the past summer working in the high intensity offices of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers. Sloans & Kenyon is located in Bethesda, MD and contains a consignment store in addition to their auction and exhibition spaces. They specialize in Asian art, but receive and auction items of various styles and media that range from $100-$100,000 in value.  

Kaitlyn found the Sloans & Kenyon internship through a family friend who recommended her to the owner. She had been in search of an auction house internship in order to round out her experience in art history related careers. The previous summer, she had interned in the education department at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and now, while at school, she works in the Van Every Smith Galleries at the Visual Arts Center. Through these experiences she covers the business, museum, academic, and gallery aspects of the art world. Kaitlyn hopes that her various experiences will prepare her for her long-term goal of receiving her doctorate in Art History.

While working at Sloans & Kenyon, Kaitlyn catalogued items, constructed and deconstructed exhibitions, assisted with appraisals, and worked as a telephone bidder. Although she enjoyed all of her responsibilities, Kaitlyn especially appreciated the opportunity to discover new works and learn from items that she wouldn’t necessarily have seen in an art history class. Preparing for the auctions proved very hectic, especially when compared to Kaitlyn’s experience at the Mint, which had focused on developing exhibitions over much longer periods. While she found telephone bidding exhilarating, the work leading up to the auction required long hours and unexpected changes.

Kaitlyn’s art history courses and work in the gallery provided her with the foundation she needed to determine mediums, catalogue items, and organize exhibitions. At Sloans & Kenyon she built on this foundation by learning about the business side of art. She learned what types of items are and aren’t desirable, what qualities to look for in specific types of items, and how to deal with (sometimes crazy) clients.  

After graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to find a job at a gallery in Charlotte where she can spend a couple of years orienting herself in the contemporary art market.

Kaitlyn McElwee is an Art History major who works in the Van Every Smith Galleries and trains her dog in obscure tricks. 

Summer Internship Opens Door to Career Path

By Alexa King, Career Services Ambassador

Joi Spaulding ’14 is an Africana Studies Major, Pre-Medicine from Stamford, Connecticut. She is a Strategies Mentor and member of the Upsilon Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

This past summer Joi Spaulding interned with a non-profit organization called REACH Prep, which prepares highly motivated black and Latino students from low to moderate income families enter independent schools located in Fairfield and Westchester counties, and the Bronx. As an advisor for the “Junior-Girls,” rising 5th graders, her day typically began at 7:45 a.m. with a daily lesson or activity that she prepared, often pertaining to character building.  Proactive and energetic, Joi sought out new tasks and assignments from her advisors, and usually assisted the teachers with science labs and lectures. If any student was struggling with a concept in class, Joi would also provide tutoring for them.

When asked about the most valuable lessons Joi learned through her internship, she alluded to the “art” of working with children. “Regardless of how they behave, you have to give a child a clean slate each day,” Joi said.  In addition, she said that her experience taught her the importance of having a positive impact on children, especially from an early age. She also indicated that she had “no idea how much they looked up to me” and viewed her as a role model. “With children, the little things are really important, whether it’s a fun lesson plan or a basketball game.” They were really enthusiastic about my interest in their success, she said.

This experience was so meaningful to Joi that in the future she wants to work with youth, hopefully in an education or health care related capacity. She found that “it really just takes one person who cares to show a child that she believes in him. That support and care is what can truly make an impact in a child’s life.”

Interning Her Way to Success: Christi Moore ’15

By Damian White, Career Services Ambassador

Christi Moore ’15  is a sophomore at Davidson College who aspires to become a practicing attorney.  This past summer she worked as a Legislative Assistant in the Public Affairs office for the United States Parcel Service (UPS) in Washington, D.C.  As an intern, she attended hearings on Capitol Hill, practiced memo writing, and tackled pertinent social justice issues with senators and congressmen.  Throughout this six-week experience, Christi had the opportunity to not only work with attorneys, but also learn about the UPS Foundation, which engages in community endeavors that closely align with her own personal values.

During our conversation, Christi made a critical distinction between her coursework at Davidson and the hands-on experience that she received during her summer internship experience.  For Christi, the networking opportunities and resources available to her helped to shape her perspective on the legal field in a way that her classes had not done up to this point.  She indicated that the most important things she learned were that “your hard work pays off, and you must always be prepared.”

Mentorship also played a crucial part in Christi’s summer experience.  She noted that her supervisor and mentor, Ms. Nicole Clifton (UPS VP, Public Affairs), had a welcoming and commanding presence both inside and outside of the office.  As her mentee, Christi recognized and resonated with these qualities.  Christi became an integral component of the UPS Public Affairs office; in fact, she has been asked to come back and work with a partnering law firm next summer.

After Davidson, Christi plans to enroll in law school and ultimately aspires to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Brillo Boxes and Campbell Soup: A Summer Experience at the Andy Warhol Museum

By McKenzie Roese, Career Services Ambassador

Claire Ittner '13 and one of the talented artists she met at the Andy Warhol Museum

Interested in art and its history? Looking to do something this summer outside the box that will get you hands-on experience in the art field? If this applies to you at all, then consider interning in the field of art management. It’s an experience that’s made a lasting impression on Claire Ittner ’13.

Being an English and Art History double major, Ittner has always been interested in learning about art culture and developing a better understanding of art and museum management. This past summer, she got the opportunity of a lifetime when she interned at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as their curatorial intern. She worked directly with both the Curator and Director’s office to receive a truly intimate understanding of the inner-workings of organizing and running a museum. While I chatted with her about her internship search, she reflected back stating, “I wanted to get some exposure to the curatorial side of the art world to see if that was a field I wanted to pursue long-term.” Fortunately, the Warhol gallery position provided the needed insight into museum work culture.

Claire poses with another artist and his work at the Warhol Museum

In terms of her day-to-day experience, the Warhol never ceased to keep her on her toes.
Her work would greatly depend on what events were happening at the Warhol at any given time. For her first month she helped prepare for the Warhol’s first-ever off-site exhibition. Reflecting on the experience, Ittner recalls: “I spent a lot of time at the beginning communicating with them, ordering materials for those who were international, checking on framing, etc. I helped with the install as well, which was really cool, because I was working literally next to the artists, handling their work. They were fantastic and explained their process and why it was that they made the piece they did.”

Ittner’s experience provided her with great insight into not only museum work, but also the field of art management – an experience that will help shape her long-term career pursuits in the art world. Plus, she also highlighted “It was quite fun to work with so many young, forward-thinking people!” So if you feel the urge to experience the art world this summer, the Andy Warhol Museum might just be the place for you.

An Unexpected Internship in Marketing

By Paul Van Peursem, Career Services Ambassador 

Accepting a summer internship in Marketing and Business Development at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, an accounting firm, felt weird. Since I’m an economics major, should I not be doing an accounting internship? This was the question everyone was asking me. I had no idea what the summer would hold; however, to my surprise, I not only used my economics knowledge, I also expanded my research and networking skills.

When one thinks about marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is consumer products – like popular drinks, food products, clothing lines. So how does marketing accounting services compare?

There are many similarities – like market research, analyzing data or trends and creating marketing materials. However, because this is a largely services-focused industry, the marketing department is primarily business development. So the main goal is expanding  clientele, which meant I did lots of research on how best to expand the geographical footprint and figuring out what service-line expansion would attract more business.

Business development also entails networking and lots of professional interaction. So, besides getting to produce reports and research, I had the opportunity to get face-to-face time with tax and marketing professionals. Even during the research process, I interacted with professionals within the firm – including the strategic planning committee, which used several of my reports. The job also allowed me to start out really general and help with marketing within several industries. However, I learned that after you’ve found your niche, you can choose a specific area of interest and really become invested in that sector and working with the clients in it.

What did I learn from this unexpected internship? If you ever hope to run your own business or hold a high-up position within a company, you’re going to need strong business development skills – i.e. the ability to sell your company and its services. Also, you can build a wide array of skills – research, quantitative analysis, communication, presentation, and networking. All this to say that, marketing internships can provide extremely relevant experience for those looking to enter the business world.

Paul’s internship with Dixon Hughes Goodman was made available through Davidson’s 100 Internship Challenge.  

Interview With an Angel – Mark Angel ’13

By Morgan Orangi, Career Services Ambassador

Mark Angel ’13 is a Biology major, senior admissions fellow, president of club tennis, Chidsey leadership fellow, philanthropy chair of fraternity, tutor in the writing center, private tutor, and Turner Prince Charming. He interned this past summer with Capital Group Companies, a position he found in WildcatLink that was posted at Davidson as part of its 100 Internship Challenge.

Mark Angel ’13 spent the past summer in LA interning for the Capital Group Companies, a top three investment management firm, as part of The Associates Program (TAP). He discovered this opportunity while browsing for internships on Wildcat Link. TAP intrigued Mark with the prompt “What would you change about Davidson?” rather than requesting a cover letter. After a phone interview and an interview with Capital in New York, Mark received the call offering him the position.

According to Mark, Capital is an “extremely complex organization,” whose ten-week training program is also considered by Capital as training for potential employees. One of the primary tasks for Mark and six of his fellow interns was to learn about Capital and the companies that support them. Each intern was assigned an individual project based on their interviews and personalities – Mark researched marketing for retirement plans. In addition, they collaborated with each other on three projects related to their TAP class.

In a typical day, Mark would arrive at the office at 7:30am, attend meetings for about two hours, work on his individual project, have lunch with someone who works in an area of interest, work on the group project for three to four hours, return to work on his project, and leave the office by 5pm or 6pm each day. Mark’s favorite aspect of the TAP program was working alongside such intelligent people. He reflects, “It’s very humbling to know that there are people in the room who are so much brighter than you, figuring out how you can learn from them and take their ideas and maybe add your own ‘biology major’ twist to it.”

Mark feels that his Davidson education greatly benefitted his performance. “Davidson teaches you to question, teaches you to poke holes, and teaches you to think outside of the box…I think that overall made the group project and my final presentation the best that it could be.” He adds that, “The interdisciplinary nature of the education at Davidson helps you to understand the downstream effects of something within the business world.”

During the final week of the internship, TAP employers interviewed each intern for a global rotational program that lasts two – three years after graduation. They do six rotations across various segments of the company (investment research, HR, marketing, etc.).  Although he ultimately chose to start his career with another company, Mark was excited to receive an offer from Capital Group for this program.


How to Become a Secret Agent

By Alexa King, Career Services Ambassador

I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have any leads on how to become Jason Bourne or any other fictional secret agent. However, I do have some tips about how you can protect our nation in a different, less fantasized way. A few weeks ago, I attended an exciting information session about the opportunities available to students, both undergraduate and graduate, working for the CIA.

While many of the employers currently visiting Davidson are targeting only seniors, the CIA has many great programs for current freshmen. That’s right, you, 2016! Also, during the fall of your sophomore year, you can apply for the CIA’s amazing two-summer-long internship program. It provides hands-on experience and allows you to be a part of the “the nation’s first line of defense.”

Those interested in the CIA should have “personal integrity, an active curiosity, and a high degree of motivation.” As an agency that collects foreign intelligence and analyzes data, the CIA presenters emphasized the need for candidates to possess strong communication and teamwork skills. As Davidson students, we already have many of these qualities, but they can be improved through courses such as public speaking, as well as extracurricular activities that encourage us to overcome challenges while working with others.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. If you are interested in knowing that the work you do everyday can contribute to ensuring the safety of our nation, consider working for the CIA. While it is extremely competitive to join, believing that your work can make a difference is worth the effort. For more information, visit .