Browsed by
Author: Maura Bielinski

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.