Intern Spotlight: Cristina Goerdt

Intern Spotlight: Cristina Goerdt

“What I take from the responsibility of an internship is the importance of the little things–dress code, showing up on time, being polite, turning in work on time–and how they lead to big things,” Cristina Goerdt said about her internship in the summer of 2018. A UD junior majoring in history and politics, Goerdt was a Public Diplomacy intern at the US Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.

During her internship at the Embassy, Goerdt did research for and ran social media campaigns, photographed and wrote on official events, and made contributions to the Embassy’s website such as features on Dutch Fulbright Scholarship applicants.

The internship was a learning experience in several regards for Goerdt. Her assignments gave her experience in practical, real-world research and practice on concision, focus, and clarity in her writing. She found that the necessary research in her internship differed greatly from academic research; she had been accustomed to “researching on platforms such as JSTOR, but this research is a different kind. It is looking at companies you could partner with or looking for products.” She also described how it was interesting to observe culture in the workplace, “how much, say, the United States has abroad and how diplomacy is not something that you learn in textbooks. Real diplomacy is demonstrated in ways like the celebration of Dutch-French Friendship Day.”

Internships often provide some clarity and guidance in career choice. After this summer, Goerdt said that she is considering journalism more seriously and looking at a career in the State Department. The exposure to the political domain, networking opportunities, and experience with information gathering and synthesis were all valuable aspects of her internship.

Goerd highlighted her skills and experience in journalism, social media, and research when applying for the internship. Goerdt encouraged, “Don’t be scared to apply because you never know. Many people are discouraged before even trying to apply.”

When writing an essay for an internship application, she recommended focusing on your interests and what is important to you. While a company may be looking for a certain skill set, they also want to see that an intern demonstrates the capacity to learn new things. “I didn’t expect the variety of tasks I was asked to do and the amount of responsibility they gave me as an intern,” Goerdt said. “I also learned the importance of taking initiative. I continually asked for more work to do, which provided me with the opportunity to work on projects and learn skills I would not have otherwise learned.”

Goerdt enjoyed the internship so much that she has applied to work at the Embassy in Paris and several other State Department jobs for the summer of 2019.

Now is a good time for undergraduates to consider internships for the next summer, because many require early application deadlines. To schedule an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

UD Student Presents at Physics Conference

UD Student Presents at Physics Conference

The University of Dallas was proud to have Sophia Andaloro, a senior Physics major at the University of Dallas, recently present at the Fall Meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society in Hawaii. Andaloro’s submission to the conference was based on her research at the Cyclotron Institute at Texas A & Mrom the previous summer.

The conference had a selective acceptance process that narrowed applicants to 110 undergraduates, choosing only very involved applicants who had made an impactful contribution to research. Andaloro’s independent research project on machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, entailed the examination of neutron-gamma discrimination in their detectors. She investigated the best ways to use machine learning to improve current methods of this discrimination.

Andaloro described the Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting as a great learning experience. She enjoyed a two hour poster session, in which she conducted discussions and interacted with professors and experts in the physics community. Discussing her research and the physics behind it taught her a lot about her own project. The best thing, Andaloro said, was finding out “how and in what way my research was failing, and what I could do to improve.” Andaloro stated that she was encouraged her to consider it her duty to publish this for the rest of the scientific community in order to make her contribution to scientific progress.

Spending five days in a community that has the same enthusiasm for physics and is very supportive of undergraduate physics research was eye-opening and rewarding, according to Andaloro. She said this conference gave her perspective on how undergraduate research can have a big impact and is a great opportunity. “It is a chance to do something important,” she said. “The resources available to us as undergrads were surprising.”

Conferences provide students the opportunity to meet and connect with others who have similar interests. Although Andaloro said she hadn’t known anyone in the physics field before the conference, she now has contact with professors she would be excited to work with. While conferences can be a considerable commitment of time and money, it is always worth looking into whether there is funding available.

Andaloro had several pieces of advice for other undergraduates looking to attend a conference: “If you go to a conference, especially one in a field of science, have materials that supplement your presentation, have business cards, have a personal summary. Don’t be afraid to network and give people your name.” Andaloro also recommended that “the best way to prepare for a conference, especially one that is hard to get into, is to give it your all in your research project, admit your mistakes, and be honest.” After the Meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics, Andaloro said she is thinking more seriously about her career, and is especially interested in one in nuclear physics. She is currently applying to graduate school and for external fellowships.

For more information or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Marquel Plavan

Intern Spotlight: Marquel Plavan

“Being able to work in a foreign country is eye-opening,” Marquel Plavan remarked on her experience in Italy this past summer. Plavan, a senior Literature major at the University of Dallas, was a Public Affairs intern at the United States Consulate to Milan.

During her internship, Plavan routinely researched potential speakers for upcoming programs, events, and organizations to be sponsored by the State Department, and assisted in drafting a plan for the next year.  A major part of the experience was also networking. She would attend staff meetings and accompany Public Affair Officers in their endeavors to recruit speakers. Plavan remarked that this internship gave interns license to “get what you want out of it.” She had some freedom to work in an area of interest, and so she was able to “find a niche in an internship that wasn’t necessarily her cup of tea.” For Plavan, that niche was journalism. As part of a project, she recruited a speaker on slow journalism, the focus of which is “an authentic and diligent writing process and the return of truth to the forefront of journalism, instead of giving the quickest account of news.” Plavan edited the English writing of her fellow Italian interns, observed how journalism differs in Italy than in the United States, and strengthened her writing skills over the summer.

Plavan remarked on the lengthy application process and extensive security clearance process, but several past experiences prepared her for the challenge of this internship experience. Plavan held previous internships with Dallas magazines and is currently the Arts and Culture editor for the University News. A strong GPA and a semester abroad in Rome further strengthened her application. Plavan also mentioned, “UD connections make all the difference!” Because of previous UD student interns, UD has a growing relationship with the Consulate.

For those considering this internship or a similar one, Plavan recommended keeping a few things in mind. “If you are applying abroad, it can be expensive! But it is a wonderful experience and if you’re passionate about travelling, it’s worth it. Also, knowing as much Italian as possible would help!” Plavan also suggested talking to anyone who has done the internship before, so that “you can go into it with your eyes more open.”

To schedule an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Guidance on LinkedIn

Guidance on LinkedIn

Upon first joining LinkedIn, it’s difficult to know the best approach to navigating and taking advantage of all that the employment-oriented social and business network has to offer. At the OPCD’S latest Lunch and Learn, Todd Strosnider provided guidance on LinkedIn profile presentation and networking methods. An MBA graduate of the University of Dallas, Strosnider has accumulated extensive experience in HR management training and business consultation. He is also an active member of the Alumni Advisory Panel for the OPCD.

First and foremost, Strosnider encouraged undergraduates to take LinkedIn seriously: “As an employer, I go to search for someone on LinkedIn, because resumes are losing impact in my mind. LinkedIn has a lot of momentum right now, and it is definitely worthwhile investing time and energy into your presence there.” He commented that the network is growing, as 95% of job recruiters are focused on LinkedIn.

Strosnider offered a number of recommendations for creating a strong LinkedIn profile. There are many factors in cultivating a positive online image, and a profile picture is the first impression. “What do you want your presence to be online? Think about what your online reputation says about you. Be professional, but not stiff,” he recommended. In regard to the summary section on a LinkedIn profile, Strosnider suggested keeping it fairly short. If it is too long, viewers are less likely to read completely through. The headline of a LinkedIn profile should be concise and descriptive, or “what you want to be seen as.” As a student, highlight projects, volunteerism, leadership, and relevant coursework; try to make past experiences, even if it is not an extensive list, connect to future career aspirations.

Regarding networking opportunities on LinkedIn, Strosnider said that it is important to remember that the more active you are, the higher you’ll appear in searches, which increases the number of potential employers and contacts finding and seeing your profile. Reposting or sharing others’ content and adding tags to your profile picture, such as “sports marketing,” are examples of remaining searchable.  Strosnider also recommended making a regular practice of updating your LinkedIn profile, even by tweaking just one or two words; this activity will set you higher in searches. Unless you turn the setting off, notifications will be sent out to your entire network whenever you make an edit, so make sure you are confident in your profile. Another method of becoming searchable is joining virtual groups on LinkedIn and even creating a group for colleagues or classmates. When sending out an invitation to connect with another LinkedIn member, “be thoughtful about how you want to reach out. A quick little blurb could make the difference when reaching out to prospective employers. Be very intentional when networking.”

Strosnider provided further suggestions for using LinkedIn in the best way. The URL of every LinkedIn profile is editable, and appears most professional when it reads your name. LinkedIn is also a great avenue to search for jobs, and offers job notifications based on personal searches. When searching for jobs, use filters; for example, searching “University of Dallas” and the company with whom you are seeking employment reveals any UD alumni working at that company and provides an immediate contact to connect with.

Strosnider encouraged undergraduates to shop around for ideas when creating a profile, ask others for honest feedback, and search other great profiles. “Having no LinkedIn profile is worse than having a bad one,” Strosnider shared, and encouraged the investment of time and energy into LinkedIn in order to advance professional opportunities and goals.

UD students are welcome to stop by the OPCD to have a formal headshot for a LinkedIn profile picture taken. To schedule an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Yeabkal Wubshit

Intern Spotlight: Yeabkal Wubshit

Some of the most rewarding internship experiences are those that both implement already-learned skills and contribute to personal and intellectual growth in ways that an academic setting cannot stimulate. Yeabkal Wubshit, a junior Computer Science major, held an internship in which he was able to apply his knowledge on a real-world platform. Wubshit was an Engineering Practicum Intern with Google in Sunnyvale, California, in the summer of 2018. His primary responsibilities included building libraries for verification of Google service accounts, and ensuring the authentication and authorization of service accounts.

Wubshit described his experience as the “best internship, because you work with some of the best computer science specialists in the world, you do something significant, and you get a good experience with working with others in a relaxed environment. Everyone is very excited to be there and very passionate.”

450 out of 50,000 applicants are accepted for this internship with Google, making the acceptance rate less than one percent, but Wubshit made a competitive candidate. He had conducted an on-campus project with NASA and other personal projects on mobile applications, and he is a member of the soccer team and the Programming Team. After the initial application on the Google home site, Wubshit had two highly technical phone interviews, including doing online coding over the phone.

One unexpected aspect of the internship, in Wubshit’s opinion, was the level of responsibility and freedom afforded to Google’s interns.  While it was overwhelming at the beginning, he remarked that helpful coworkers, great resources, and a very positive environment all supported him. Accustomed to projects in an academic setting, he appreciated the challenge an internship in the computer science field presented: “If you write just one extra line of code, it could cost your company a million dollars, whereas it wouldn’t matter if you messed up in an academic setting.  Whatever you do truly matters and is being used everywhere.” Wubshit expressed how gratifying it was to be so involved. “It’s crazy to think that part of my project is being used millions of times every second. It’s awesome to think I am a part of something being used worldwide.”

Wubshit enjoyed the internship so much that he has applied again for summer 2019, looking forward to making even bigger steps in pursuit of a career in software engineering.

Wubshit offered several pieces of advice for undergraduate students considering an internship, especially one in computer science: “It is important to stay open-minded and be able to adapt. Products may change in this field and you can’t be discouraged by that.” Being passionate about what you do and using the opportunities that come your way are key. He also quoted the application as one of the biggest mental roadblocks for college students in the internship process. “There is no way you’ll get there without applying. You have to believe in yourself. You have to like what you’re doing, perform your best, and present your best self.”

For more information about internships or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Alum Advice: Dr. Elizabeth Sprague

Alum Advice: Dr. Elizabeth Sprague

In another successful, annual Alumni Family Weekend, the University of Dallas campus was happy to welcome back and reunite alumni from across the nation, including Dr. Elizabeth Sprague (’93). During her visit, Sprague offered a lecture, “Molecular Biophysics in Drug Discovery,” as a part of the Clare Blooth Luce Lecture series. She also took the time to sit down at a breakfast with students to talk one-on-one about science majors, career options, and the UD undergraduate experience.

Although she pursued a physics major at UD, Sprague completed her graduate studies in Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, leaning more towards biology by that point. With a specialty in structure biology, Sprague is currently involved in industrial research for a pharmaceutical company in Boston and her research focuses on early drug discovery in oncology. It is a constant work in progress, one in which she said there are endless opportunities to learn.

Sprague offered several pieces of advice to UD students considering a career in a scientific field. First, research experience is necessary before graduation, but the choice of area to research is relatively open-ended. She also stressed the great opportunity that a liberal arts education can afford, encouraging UD students to “take as many disciplines as possible” in order to prepare for anything and optimize career options. Sprague offered comfort to those worried about being unprepared post-graduation, saying, “You learn as you go. You can’t learn everything in college!” Finally, Dr. Sprague conveyed that it is not looked down upon to take a gap year as a science major before grad school; in fact, it is not advisable to jump into it without being certain of the decision.

Expressing gratitude for her alma mater and the chance to see its growth and development during the Alumni Weekend, Sprague remarked on the school’s continued dedication to the sciences: “It is fabulous to see UD’s energy and diversity.” When asked the ways in which an education from the University of Dallas prepared her for life, Sprague responded, “The diversity of the science background here at UD and the liberty in UD’s education to think and write fosters the ability to think critically and understand situations from different perspectives.”

She also offered insights to a career in research: “The process involves a lot of failure. What keeps me going is the memory of those ‘Eureka!’ moments. There is no better feeling than having a breakthrough for the first time, and being the only one to have made a new scientific discovery.”

For more information or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Paul Patton

Intern Spotlight: Paul Patton

An internship can be a fantastic opportunity to gain real world work experience, as well as a chance to get to know a new city or country. Paul Patton, a senior Economics major at UD, held such an internship in the summer of 2018 in Rome with the United States Embassy to the Holy See.

Patton provided support for the Embassy’s political and economic officers by preparing background briefing memos, attending meetings, taking notes, and drafting official memos to be sent back to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Patton became aware of the internship through one of the OPCD’s career and internship postings. The Embassy often reaches out to Catholic universities, such as University of Dallas, because its proximity to the Vatican appeals to students. With the increasing number of UD students who intern there over the years, UD has a growing relationship with the Embassy.

While the application on usajobs.gov was relatively simple, Patton said the security clearance process was extensive and complicated, lasting for months. A competitive candidate, Patton stood out amongst other applicants on account of his GPA, experience travelling abroad, campus involvement in student government and other clubs, and work experience. Paul describes himself as “an example of not having all of boxes on my resume checked”, but still being worthy of getting, and succeeding in, this internship position.

Highly recommending this internship position to others, Patton said it was “an amazing experience overall. Seeing how diplomacy works on a firsthand level is an experience that can’t be learned elsewhere.” The level of responsibility that was granted to him was unexpected, but “it was gratifying being trusted.” Because the Embassy is on the smaller side, they truly depend on their interns. Besides the work itself, 90 days of living in Rome is a great perk!

Patton had several words of advice for those considering an internship: “It is important to be proactive and be willing to ask if you don’t know how to do something. Clarify first, instead of having to clean up mistakes.” It was unexpected for Patton to notice how kind, approachable, and helpful everyone in the workplace was.

Already interested in foreign service, the experience Patton gained at the U.S. Embassy last summer “piqued his interest” and provided clarity on a line of work he had been considering after graduation. Getting firsthand experience through observation and hands-on involvement provides an understanding of what a future career actually entails and allows students and graduates to “go into it with eyes more open.”

For more information about internships or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Resumes and Cover Letters Made Easy

Resumes and Cover Letters Made Easy

Resumes and Cover Letters are sources of dread for every college student applying to jobs: “How will I catch an employer’s eye? Am I presenting myself in the best way possible?  What information should I include and how do I organize it?”

In the OPCD’s latest Lunch and Learn, Ashley Hamilton provided a walk-through of key aspects of a strong resume and cover letter. As the Community Engagement Director of City Year Dallas, Hamilton receives and reviews many applications, in which she notices reoccurring patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Her lecture, “Strong Resumes and Engaging Cover Letters,” maintains that these documents are not a daunting prospect if the following guidelines are understood.

Hamilton first named the seven building blocks to formatting a resume properly: Heading, Objective, Work Experience, Education, Awards and Recognition, Volunteer Experience, and Skills. Experiences should be listed in reverse chronological order, with concise descriptions that highlight skills.

Resume Example

Hamilton listed several recommendations to keep in mind while writing a resume. First, while there is no “best” way to format, it is important to remain consistent, and to stick to the recommended length of one page, maximum 2 pages. “Quality over quantity!,” Hamilton urged. There is a difference between listing off information and tastefully selecting experiences that are relevant and show one’s potential. Tailoring a resume to each job application is crucial in order to highlight the ways in which the applicant will be valuable to that specific company. Hamilton encouraged resumes to be read by friends, coworkers, or parents, because they can catch mistakes or incongruities that may otherwise go unnoticed; “the devil is in the details!” Another point she mentioned is to quantify experience, because numbers are more eye-catching and meaningful than words such as “a lot” and “often.” Hamilton added that depending on the type of organization or field, a stylized resume may be appreciated by hiring managers. While a business career calls for a clean-cut, professional format, a more artistic field could allow some creativity in style.

Cover Letter Example

While the resume states quantitative and qualitative details, or the “what,” the cover letter is the “how and why,” a chance to show how the applicant will fit this position. Hamilton addressed the myth that some employers do not take the time to read cover letters, by saying, “Even if nine out of ten don’t read it, one will, and that is why you must send it.” She also shared several tips on writing an engaging cover letter. She emphasized the importance of length being less than a page, the opportunity to name drop if applicable, and the necessity of expressing gratitude at the end for the time taken to read the application. Another small secret Hamilton shared was to address the letter to the Hiring Manager, and avoid the overused “To Whom it May Concern.” Hamilton recommended keeping a base cover letter accessible, and customizing it specifically for different job applications.

Lastly, it is recommended to send in a resume and cover letter as a PDF document.  Hamilton urges applicants to be specific, yet concise, in order to present the best and most truthful version of themselves, and with these guidelines, anyone is able to write a strong resume and an engaging cover letter.

For further guidance, schedule an appointment with a career counselor here.

Intern Spotlight: Valeria Hernandez

Intern Spotlight: Valeria Hernandez

Summertime can be the ideal time for college students to hold an internship, in order to gain experience in their field of interest and to build their resume. Valeria Hernandez spent this past summer in Washington, D.C., working as an intern at the U.S. Department of State. She was part of the Post Management Office for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, providing management support for foreign embassies. She would draft and send innovation memos for the Assistant Secretary of State, compute Business Process Maps, and do statistical analysis aimed at increasing the efficiency of the European Fleet.

Hernandez, a Psychology major, found the internship through a search on usajobs.gov. She had wanted experience in public diplomacy, something geared towards international relations, and her mindset when searching for the right internship was to dream big. She thought, “If I knew I could succeed at anything, what would I do? I had nothing to lose.” Hernandez expressed that college students tend to hold themselves back, that they don’t reach for goals they could well be suited for: “We tend to put limits on our own skills; we are our own detractors.”  She decided to test herself in this internship, and the positive experience was a verification of her own abilities and skills, giving her confidence for future pursuits.

The year-long application process was challenging. Although Hernandez applied the summer of 2017, she did not receive clearance until May 2018, when she was told that she was expected in D.C. the following week for the start of the program.  The screening process was extensive, but Hernandez made a competitive candidate for several reasons.  Strong academic performance, study and travel abroad experience from the UD Rome semester, knowledge of three languages, past management-training internships, a liberal arts education, and club leadership on campus were all qualifications that strengthened Hernandez’ application.

One of the biggest lessons Hernandez gained through this experience was learning about the power of the mindset and belief in individual ability. Realizing you actually are deserving of your internship, not just lucky to have gotten it, is an important step in believing that you are capable of achieving what you set out to do in the professional world. Employers appreciate a diverse workforce and encourage different backgrounds, meaning you should promote whatever makes you unique as a person and prospective employee. Your passions and commitment to those passions will make you stand out.

This internship has opened the door to more opportunities for Hernandez, including acting as the Public Affair Coordinator for the U.S. Department of State for UD, and she feels much better equipped for the future with this internship experience under her belt.

To make an appointment with a career counselor, click here.

 

 

Alumni Answers:
Jobs for Theology Majors

Alumni Answers:
Jobs for Theology Majors

Dear Alumni,
What jobs can you get with a degree in theology from UD? Have most paired theology with some “more practical” discipline? Hannah, Junior Theology Major

Victoria W. (BA Psychology, 2013), Scrum Master at Southwest Airlines

Hi Hannah, I would start with what you’re interested in. Do you want to teach, or be involved in pastoral ministry? If so, I’d talk to faculty in those departments, potentially the education department as well. If you’re more interested in the business world, I’d strongly suggest taking business classes and speaking with the business faculty. Look for internships where you can build real experiences. Many employers love liberal arts majors. I’d be prepared to speak to what your major brings (writing and research skills, true critical thinking skills, dispassionate arguing, etc.) beyond the content you’ve learned. I’d also suggest looking at the non-profit world. I can’t answer if most have paired it with a “more practical” discipline. But, I can say that UD will prepare you for a variety of jobs. You just have to be willing to search for the right opportunities (same as any business or “practical” major). Best of luck!

Bethany L. (BA Sculpture, 2003), Self-employed visual artist

Dear Junior Theology Major,
I was an art major and graduated in 2003. The classmates I know who were theology majors currently are employed as bankers, teachers, homemakers, priests, hmm, and that’s all I can think of. When I was a student, Fr. Lehrberger gave me some advice that I remember well. He suggested I find somewhere to do a year of service after graduation. I didn’t listen to him then, but years later, I was a missionary with an organization in the Bronx called LAMP that did evangelization with the materially poor. They supported me, and a theology degree would have been a nice thing to have earned prior to going there.
I’ve worked as a restaurant manager, office manager, missionary, postulant in religious life, and currently as a self-employed artist. My major was not particularly practical. It didn’t get me a job, but I didn’t really expect it to. My advice would be to focus on what it is you would like to do first. Maybe you don’t need to major in anything else. Maybe you go to technical school after UD or take an on-line course. And, make the most of your time at UD. An education can give you a lot more than a job.
All the best, and God bless you,
Bethany Lee, ’03

Wendy R. (BA English, 2007), Self-employed writer

The two obvious routes for a Theology major are teaching in a private school or working for a parish or non-profit; however, I think job searches depend more on the individual than on the major. If you have enough motivation and gumption, you can make any major work to your advantage. As a professional resume writer, I see countless resumes with degrees that do not pertain to the individual’s career. I see that you are a junior, so it may be difficult at this point to seek out a double major in something more “practical” as you mentioned in your question. If you do not want to follow the traditional track of theology majors, I would suggest focusing on internships in fields that interest you, networking (consider joining Young Catholic Professionals chapter in Dallas), and finding summer jobs that build actual skills and develop contacts. Best of luck.

Todd S. (MBA Organizational Development 2012), Self-employed Talent Development Consultant

I think you can get any job you want as long as you have good grades and can relate your learning to whatever discipline you are applying for. Degrees are important, but not as important as how you can show that the skills you learned and experiences you had in college translate directly to the job you are looking for.