Ask An Alum:
Should I Major in History or Business?

Ask An Alum:
Should I Major in History or Business?

Dear alumni,

I was wondering how the skills from a history major could be applied to other careers. Based on my experience with history classes, I think history develops critical reading/analyzing, critical thinking, and writing. I’ve heard these skills help especially in law, but I’m also wondering how they could be applied in business (especially management). At the moment, I’m trying to decide between majoring in history or business, and I would appreciate any advice y’all have. Thanks! John C., Junior, Business/History

Stephen L. (BA Political Philosophy), Chief Executive Officer at Dominus Commercial, Inc.

1st, UD teaches people to think regardless of your major. That is one of the most important lessons from UD in business. I was political philosophy and I own a commercial real estate brokerage company. My ability to think through complex transactions, relationships and business concerns is my strongest business quality. I would suspect the same would be true in history. My second thought would be don’t get to tied up in what direction the major will push you in. Go with what you love and are passionate about – that ultimately will put you in a business or position where you find purpose and that is the ultimate goal is finding your purpose.

John P. (BA Politics, 1987), Senior Analyst at Legislative Budget Board, State of Texas

I would major in history if I were you, just because it’s probably more interesting and fun! You are correct that majoring in history will help you develop critical thinking analytical and writing skills, and these things are in short supply. My manager has a history degree and our task is to analyze criminal justice data for the legislative budget board. So she has an undergraduate degree in history and basically run statistics for living, and she manages the team that analyzes data. If you have a graduate degree in a relevant field, your undergraduate degree in liberal arts will not hurt you in the least bit. Take the time as an undergraduate to study what is the most interesting and fun to you. In the working world you will miss those days immensely, and as I said as long as you have a relevant graduate degree it’s OK. I have an undergraduate degree in political philosophy from UD as well as a masters degree in political philosophy from UD. Eventually I got a masters degree of public affairs from UT Austin. I have been analyzing criminal justice data since 1994. The degrees in political philosophy help me learn how to write and think and analyze, and they were just incredibly interesting to me. The graduate degree got me the job. Studying political philosophy was much more interesting to me and it certainly didn’t prevent me from getting where I am now. Please contact me if you need more information.

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

Hi John, You’re absolutely correct, a history major (or any liberal arts major) will develop those critical thinking and writing skills. If you go this route, however, I would strongly recommend you have solid internships under your belt. If you know you want to go into business, consider taking business classes or getting a business minor. Work experience will be especially important when you’re looking for entry-level positions. Some employers, unfortunately, do have a bias towards certain majors (like business). However, if you have excellent work experience/internships, it really makes you stand out.

Joseph H. (BA English, 2000), Leadership Program Officer at Southern Methodist University

So, my general advice for anyone considering a major is to zero on two things: 1. Do you think the work will be worthwhile? 2. Do you feel you will be supported in doing that work? You definitely want to pick the major that will give you motivation that will work for you and that will give you the strongest individual support, particularly for life crises and for transitioning to post-graduation life. History majors do make good law students, but I know history majors in many walks of life and I don’t know of any kind of medium scale organization or larger that doesn’t need both formal historians and people who can do historical work. That cuts both ways, though, in that some of the best historians I know are people with training in business. Apart from looking at what is going to motivate you individually as a student I would add two pieces of advice: 1. Look at what potential for cross-over study either major may offer. Will history give you the space to take a business concentration? Will your business major let you take lots of courses focusing on case studies and other historically modes of understanding business and management? 2. What secondary skills and experiences will either program support you in pursuing? I was able to pick up some training in oral history work through one of my programs and every job I have ever had was interested in my experience with that sort of work. Similarly, many successful history programs across the nation have been lauded for training people in skills such as coding, for the digital humanities, or even accounting, which can be very useful for a lot of archival work as well as business. Business majors are often more explicit about what sub-skills they can help you develop, but that’s often because a generic business degree can be something of a trap. When my sister was at UD she faced a similar choice (between history and economics) and she chose economics because the advisor in history seemed to imply that she was only willing to support teachers who were going to be teachers or lawyers where the economics faculty seemed to be willing to support her in pursuing a variety of internships or even graduate options. That ties back to my first point about support, but if it’s still true at UD I would at least make certain that you have a strong advisor for a business concentration to go along with History so that you don’t feel trapped in either option.

Robert Z. (BA History, 1994), Associate Professor of History at Le Moyne College

Dear John, I graduated from UD with a BA in history, went on for a PhD, and now teach history at a Catholic liberal arts college. My own students and advisees ask me this question all the time. The skills you learn as a history major that you mentioned in your question (critical reading/analyzing, critical thinking, and writing), in addition to research and good oral skills, are all applicable in any field you would choose to pursue. Having spoken with many people in the business world, these are the skills they seek in their employees (unless you are looking to go into a technical field like accounting). They constantly repeat that they can and will teach their employees about the business, but they cannot teach them how to read, analyze data, write, and communicate effectively. I may be a bit biased, but a history degree paired with good foreign language skills and a few business classes (if I remember correctly, the UD history major allows for some free electives) would make you a superb candidate for a career in business. I would also strongly encourage you to seek out an internship or two. My history students here in NY who have gone onto successful business careers all benefitted from internship experiences. Good luck!

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

Hi John, My first suggestion is to follow your passion. You will do best with your classes and grades if you study something you really care about. Good grades will help you as you look for a job and talk with recruiters. Don’t limit yourself by listing your major area of study, but include your extracurricular activities, hobbies, volunteerism, etc. If you really want to get into business/management, look for internships, find a mentor that has a job you admire in a company or industry you are interested in. Also, join any professional organizations that align with what you are looking to do. Have a positive attitude and network! Have a positive online presence (LinkedIn, Facebook, Degreed, etc) and connect with your parents’ friends, professors, etc. Good luck and happy holidays! Todd

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

John, I was a sculpture major and am currently a studio artist, so my advice may mean very little given your particular situation. My advice to you would be to try to get a clearer understanding of what it is specifically that you would like to do. “Business management” covers a lot of territory. There are lots and lots of different kinds of business managers, and they need lots of different kinds of skills. There may or may not be any overlap. For instance, for myself, it took a long time for me to get from “I want to make things.” to “I want to run my own fine and decorative art stone carving studio.” I did a lot of running around doing random stuff while I was in the “I want to make stuff” phase. Now, I have a pretty clear idea of what skills I need to acquire. All the best, Bethany

Killian B. (BA History, 2015), Independent Consultant

John, As a history alumnus of UD, here is my recommendation: Major in History, but make sure to take the basic 101 marketing, management, and sales classes the Business department offers. As a junior, you may have already taken these classes…great! Additionally, use much of your spring semester to find a worthwhile and impressive summer internship in an area of business that intrigues you…maybe even something in Dallas that you could continue doing Senior year. If you need help finding one, feel free to contact me at killian.beeler@gmail.com or connect at linkedin.com/in/killianbeeler. Sabre, Fidelity, and Southwest Airlines are all local DFW companies that will often invest in UDers. Lastly, if you’ve already begun taking business classes, also consider combining your undergrad history degree with UD’s MBA or MS (Business Analytics, Cyber security, etc.) through the 4+1 program (https://udallas.edu/constantin/4_plus_1/index.php). Here’s my rationale: The undergrad business degree from UD is just fine, but doesn’t particularly stand out among the thousands of undergrad business programs across the nation. The history degree from UD however is truly special and unique and shouldn’t be discarded in favor of a generic business degree that you could get for free or nearly free online through youtube, Khan academy, and Udemy.com. Additionally, having a History degree with solid business internship experience (while possibly pursuing a business masters) will make your resume stand out against the thousands of recent business graduates. By just taking the basic the mgmt, marketing, and sales classes, you’ll have the lingo and concepts to hold your own in your first job. The History degree will give you the critical thinking skills, imagination, and emotional intelligence to stand out and thrive far into the future. Finally, I think the most important skill the History major gives you is through the thesis project process. That process will indirectly give you great intuitive project management and qualitative/quantitative data analysis skills. If you want to further harness those skills, consider taking self-paced Project Management Institute (PMI) Best Practices or Business/Data Analytics classes on udemy for $10 each. Best of luck. Killian Beeler, MBA Class of 2015

Justin L. (BA History, 2006), Chief Dispatcher at Southwest Airlines ‎

Hi John, A history degree can be a fantastic baseline for a career in business, especially if you want to progress into leadership. I was a history major in the Class of 2006, and now I’m a Chief Dispatcher at Southwest Airlines. My advice: pick the major you enjoy the most, unless you need a degree in a certain business field to “check the box” for a specific job or career field you want to break into. In general the further you are in your career, the less a hiring manager looks at your degree. Instead of just generalities, here’s how my career has unfolded so far in light of your questions. Please holler back if you have any questions. There’s a general rule of thumb that applies across all career fields. Whether your first job is an internship or full-time job, you have to build career capital: the experience and know-how that goes on your resume and adds to your skill set. Your degree can open the door, but it’s not career capital until you start doing things that people will pay you to do. Your internships or college jobs may have a bigger impact than your degree. I was an RA for two years, managed the campus pool, and worked in Student Life. That meant I handled staffing, budgets, bids, and contracts, among other things. Working my way through college also meant I picked an “easier” major. At your first job you’ll learn the basics of the industry and the particulars of that company or industry niche. What software do we use? How many people does it take to accomplish this task? Learn what to do and why it’s done. I started a management trainee program with a trucking company the week after graduation. That taught me payroll, profit and loss, operations, customer service, operational communication, safety, and a few other general business skills within the first four weeks. I picked it up because I had to read so much as a history major; it was just easy. I managed a fleet of trucks, drivers, and trailers, and acquired scheduling and logistics skills at that first job. If you’re curious and ask questions like a history major, you’ll be able to pick up a significant amount of business education through on the job training. There was plenty of reading, critical thinking, and discussion with colleagues. After that, I used those newly acquired skills–my career capital–to land a job scheduling pilots at Southwest. Some jobs might require a specific degree, so if you want to go into something more technical you might need specialized coursework or degrees (like a CPA, for example). After a few years I added a professional certification: FAA Aircraft Dispatcher. Plenty of people add licenses or certifications a few years out of school. That moved me into our dispatch office, where we plan each flight’s route, required fuel, cargo, and passenger weight. The job is like being a real-time lawyer for the airline and flight crews. There are volumes of manuals, FAA regulations, and directions from air traffic control that we have to sort through, analyze, and communicate to flight crews to legally operate a flight. A history major can analyze and communicate this stuff very well. Eventually I took a position in dispatch management, and I help oversee the safe and efficient completion of our daily flight schedule. We have a few hundred people in our department and a very large annual budget. It’s large enough that managers need general business skills but not a degree, because there’s a dedicated payroll team, a dedicated financial staff, and a dedicated team of business consultants. A colleague who shares my position has an MBA. When we talk about his business background he shrugs and calls it something that’s nice to have but not required. The critical thinking and analysis that you practice in history class helps managers stay ahead of problems. We’re constantly faced with new puzzles to solve that rarely have clearly defined boundaries: read something, determine the impact, and communicate that to other groups. Our group has to be proficient on jet operations, stay up-to-date with employment regulations, work with our legal team on a host of issues, give tours to high ranking government officials, and provide written communication that can be seen by thousands of people. That’s a very wide range of skills; it sounds like a night of studying as a history major. They analyze, point out conflict, communicate, self-educate, and tell a story about the business. Hopefully that helps a little bit, John. If you have more questions or you ever want to meet up for lunch or coffee, it’s on me. My number is (contact OPCD) and my e-mail is justin.lebon@gmail.com . Best of luck to you! Justin

Mathew C. (BA English, 1992), Structures Technician at SpaceX

Military intelligence or intelligence analysis are very viable career options. In fact, it’s the career path I followed as an English major. As long as there is government, there is a need for people with critical thinking and data analysis skills – as most government officials seem to lack those skills (that’s why they have personal staffs and think tanks in their employ). If you want to learn business, start a business. If you want to understand history, make history.

 

 

Don’t Sweat the Interview: A Guide for Successful Interviewing

Don’t Sweat the Interview: A Guide for Successful Interviewing

The University of Dallas’s OPCD was pleased to have Elliott Freise, a representative of Enterprise Holdings, speak at a recent Lunch and Learn event. As the Talent Acquisition Manager for Enterprise’s Dallas Group, Freise has accumulated a great deal of experience in the interviewing and recruiting process. She spoke to a group of UD students on interviewing successfully and shared common interview questions and ways to prepare. Freise presented five steps in the process: job hunting, resume crafting, applying, preparing through research and reflection, and finally, interviewing.

In respect to job hunting, Freise recommended reviewing job boards such as Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, Craigslist.com, and Glassdoor.com, “the Yelp of job hunting.” Reviewing company websites, peeking into company culture through social media, and finding sites and articles on BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com, Collegegrad.com, and Experience.com are all good ideas, she said. Finally, she stressed the importance of networking: “There is no such thing as bad networking. Practice interpersonal interaction, so that you become a pro by the time of the interview. Do all that you can now!”

The next step is crafting the resume. Freise encouraged checking multiple times that all information is correct, and admitted that when she sees typos, a resume becomes useless. “A recruiter spends approximately seven seconds looking at it. Why? It only takes that long to discern whether they want to either meet you or not meet you.” However, while a resume can secure an interview, it does not secure a job.  It is necessary to put thought and care into it, but the heavy preparation should be set aside for the job interview.

As for applications, Freise advised filling them out carefully, because errors are easily made. “Double and triple check contact information. Fill in every box, even if lengthy, and don’t say ‘see resume’, because that reflects laziness.”

Freise made several suggestions on how to prepare for a successful job interview. “Know the company and know yourself,” she said. Freise shared her routinely first questions when conducting an interview. Her first is, “Tell me about yourself.” To answer well, she said it is best to “practice your elevator pitch of who, what, why. Have three to five sentences about your education, experience, and career goals, short-term and long-term. What are your skills, qualifications, values, and weaknesses? Practice! Do a mock interview or film yourself so you know your nervous tics, such as not knowing what to do with your hands.”

In order to make a good impression, Freise stressed the importance of being conscientious of both non-verbal and verbal communication, saying, “Presentation is everything. Smile and offer a firm handshake. Show them you are happy to be there.” Recruiters will gauge delivery and animation, presentation of ideas, interest in the position, and desire to improve and have goals.

Freise’ second question is always, “What do you know about the company?” To prepare, she suggested doing research on the company beforehand. This includes looking for things that are personally important such as shared values and the company’s vision statement and having goals in mind.

Freise mentioned several questions to count on being asked in a job interview, so it’s best to put some thought into how you’ll answer them. Friese says that your answers should highlight your work ethic, leadership skills, flexibility and your career goals. She added that it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked what are called behavior-based questions, which begin with: “Can you tell me about a time when…”

When asked for an example of adversity and what you learned from it, provide a positive result and improvement. Freise shared that she had heard “awesome stories of improvement in interviews.” Another common question is, “Do you have any questions?” Freise advised having three to five ready, ones that showcase a willingness for growth and interest, such as “How quickly can I advance?,” or “What challenges might someone encounter in this position?”

Freise had several thoughts on wrapping up the interview: “Be prepared with questions, make sure you completely understand the position, and ask for the next step in the interview process. Express interest, and say that you are looking forward to the next step.” She also said to inquire when you can expect to hear back from them, so that you know when it is appropriate to follow up. She recommended sending a thank you note by mail or email, either the same day or next day, and following up by phone if the company has not called by the time they said they were going to.

A personal deal-breaker to Freise, as an experienced interviewer, is the interviewee’s professionalism, and a lot is included in that: simple details such as punctuality, bringing a resume, no profanity, and steady eye contact. “Those things go a long way.”

A thank you to Elliott Freise for her time and willingness to offer advice to UD students at the OPCD’s Lunch and Learn!

To schedule a mock interview, set up an appointment with a career counselor, or any other questions, click here.

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.