Browsed by
Category: Alumni Answers

Alumni Answers:
Struggling to find an internship

Alumni Answers:
Struggling to find an internship

Dear Alumni: I’m struggling to find internship opportunities for the summer. I have previous work experience, and a resume ready. My issue is mostly with connections and knowing where to look. What are steps I can take to help me get on the right path? What did you do at my age? Edisson, Sophomore, Business

Chris G. (BA Business, 2015), Corporate Trainer at Trintech, Inc.

The best advice I can give you now that I didn’t have at that age is this: Your LinkedIn profile is your resume in 2018 and for the foreseeable future. Yes, you should still have your Microsoft Word or PDF resume, but recruiters these days are especially keen to look at your LinkedIn presence. Also most modern companies (esp. tech) allow you to simply link to your LinkedIn Profile webpage/URL. This helps tons when you are applying for a variety of internships. Also (and I cannot emphasize this enough), take advantage of LinkedIn job searching functionality. It allows you to see opportunities in companies that you have connections with in your network, and apply immediately with your LinkedIn profile, and often an additional Cover Letter. The powers of LinkedIn to get yourself the right internship or job cannot be underestimated!!

Cooper W. (BA Philosophy, 2012), Attorney at Malone Akerly Martin PLLC

Hi Edisson: First off, I want to commend you for trying to get some work experience over the summer. I know it can be difficult, but be persistent. My experience has been that the way you make connections and know where to look is by getting out there shaking some hands. There were many times when I was in law school that I went to different events where I knew attorneys would be present. I’d put on my best suit, bring some resumes, and talk to anyone who would give me their time. It was from those experiences that I began making connections and figured out where to go look for jobs. I’m not sure what kind of work you are looking for, but see if you can’t find a meeting or convention taking place in the field you are interested in. Show up, look nice, and have some resumes handy. I know doing that can be intimidating, but I’ve had my best experiences in situations such as this. Best of luck to you!

Killian B. (BA HIstory, 2015), Director of Annual Giving/Major Gift Officer at Diocese of Tyler

Edisson, What are you passionate about (outside of just wanting to be an entrepreneur)? Politics? Art? Writing? Music? Sports? Faith? Or what? It’s extremely valuable to keep your future career in mind and to prepare for it. But the majority of your time in college should be about pursuing the things you love for their own sake (not to necessarily get you to the next stepping stone). That’s what the “liberal” (meaning “free”) means in “liberal education” or “liberal arts”… you are “free” to pursue a passion for its own sake, not for the sake of making money, getting a job, etc. Ultimately, if you become an entrepreneur, there will always be someone better at a business or skill than you are. What will separate you from the pack is your passion/love for an industry, hobby, or art that drives you to continue pursuing a cause even when those better than you have given up. Think about how you’d ideally want to spend your summer. Then get back to us and we will try to help connect you to those that can help make that a reality. Peace, Killian Beeler, BA ’15

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

Hi Edisson, First, I would start with what you’re interested in and check out industry leaders. Most large companies will list internship opportunities on their websites. Another great starting place is employers in your desired location. If you’re looking to stay in Dallas, look at companies like USAA, Frito-Lay, or HP. See what looks interesting and go from there. Next year, I’d recommend starting your search in the first semester. Some employers, like Southwest Airlines, close their pipeline in November or December for the summer internship spots. Searching early will give you a chance to see what else is out there. Hope this helps! -Victoria, Class of 2013

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

I never messed around with internships because I was an English major, but you can make use of technological advances that did not exist when I was a student – you have access to websites and search engines. You have the world at your fingertips – your only limitations are your imagination and ambition. When I was a student, I went back home (Iowa, then later, Kentucky) for breaks in the academic year. I did seasonal agricultural work (working in the cornfields of Iowa) because I’d been doing that every summer since junior high. After my family relocated to Kentucky, that employment opportunity was no longer an option, so I looked elsewhere. I ended up as a night clerk in a convenience store. Not glamorous work, to be sure, but it kept me paid and I met a lot of interesting people. Big box retailers are always hiring. Fast food restaurants are always hiring. In spite of unemployment figures, there are plenty of jobs out there. Construction work is always an option, too, minimal experience required and you learn new skills. Don’t be afraid to take a job doing manual labor – you may discover that you have a knack for building things and can then develop an avenue in which to apply your business education. I studied English at UD and now I build rockets. Not much correlation between my chosen field of study and eventual career, so don’t discount stepping outside your comfort zone and maybe generating some sweat equity.

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

Edisson, Networking is the best place to start. Talk to your friends who work at companies you are interested in. Try to schedule “informational interviews” with leaders and HR in those companies. Also, use the career services at UD. They have connections to companies and can help get you in touch with places if there are not any specific internships they are currently aware of. Also, got to meetings, meet-up groups that focus on the area you want to intern in. You can just do a search online and a few events will likely pop-up. Good luck! Todd

Rachel L. (BS Biology, 2011), Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)  at Children’s Medical Center

Hi Edisson! You likely have connections you are unaware of! Speak with your professors and advisor. They often have connections in the field and can point you in the right direction. Consult the Career Services office as well; they have information about internship opportunities as well. Consider options outside of your comfort zone too–out of state or in an area that may not be your first choice. Often the experience will prove valuable and may result in new connections in your field of choice! Best of luck! Rachel

Alumni Answers: How do I know when a grad school is right for me?

Alumni Answers: How do I know when a grad school is right for me?

Dear Alumni, How do I know when a grad school is right for me? Francis, Physics, 2018.

Kevin M. (BS CHemistry, 1997), Medical Science Liaison at Genentech

Dear Francis, Hello. I was a Chemistry major and went on to graduate school so I have been there! There are a few things to think about when considering a scientific graduate program. First off ask yourself if you want to pursue a MS or PhD as your final degree? Beyond that, consider what specific discipline appeals most to you; some graduate programs excel at geophysics while others are better with astrophysics. If you aren’t sure what discipline you want in your next step, look for programs that are strong in most types of physics with strong publications from multiple faculty members. Those schools will get you a better chance at finding a good graduate advisor that really knows their science. When choosing a lab, look for where the recent graduates have gone on to. Did they go on to a great job or postdoc? If so, what is the percentage? This should tell you how good your potential advisor is at placing their students and how invested they are in developing those in their lab. This will be very important when looking for future positions once you graduate. Start reaching out now to schools on your short list. Try to make a connection to determine if the environment is one you think you’ll flourish in. Speak to current graduate students and/or recent graduates to get their take on things there. Their emails are fairly easy to find on either the department website or their lab’s homepage. It’s a big decision and your time in graduate school can be much longer than your time at UD, between 5-10 years if you’re considering a PhD. I hope this helps and I wish you the best with your current studies at UD and hope you find a fulfilling graduate program. Best Regards, Kevin

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

Well, first of all, get all the advice you an from your teachers at UD. Conditions can vary a _lot_ by both field and sub-specialty. So, for instance, when I was in grad school in English a department I was with had three open positions, one in Renaissance Lit and the other two in Rhetoric. 400 applications came in for the one position in Ren Lit, 8 applications came in for the 2 positions in Rhetoric. That said I think you want to look at at least three factors: 1. Prestige of the school and the program 2. Support 3. Local culture 4. Is the specific opportunity being offered to you a trap Prestige is important because it does a lot to dictate the types of opportunities available to you afterwards. There are a lot of factors to consider in terms of prestige, but baseline it says a lot about what the obvious routes forward are going to be for you afterwards. So you should always be aware of the reality of prestige even as you are aware that making a decision based on prestige alone probably isn’t the wisest thing to do. As a side note on prestige, you wanna be someplace where you will do well in the program. Someone who is bottom third at a great school will have tremendous advantages versus someone who is bottom third at a terrible school, but top third anywhere gets lots more of the options the institution actually has to give. Frequently, a top third two tiers down might end up someplace less prestigious, but a bottom third even from the same program will end up doing different work altogether. Support can take a lot of forms. There are three you always need to consider – (A) is the program itself stable and supported (B) will I be given sufficient work and/or benefits – will the department actually invest in me (C) is the infrastructure – libraries, labs, lectures, etc – here able to support my studies Local culture – two things here: first you’re going to need faculty who will actually work with you and have your back, and you’d like a department with a diversity of views where people can actually work together; second, you’re gonna be there for a while you don’t need to find a place that makes you feel like you’re in heaven, but you’re gonna need a place where you can find easy ways to feel at peace. Is it a trap? I did a lot of my research in grad school on people who didn’t finish grad school, three stories: (A) the special scholarship – friend who came from a great undergrad program went to an Ivy for grad school. They gave her an amazing fellowship. End of her first year they revealed – Oh, well, we wanted someone from Texas to demonstrate diversity, but we thought you wouldn’t make it a year since you were from Texas and therefore probably dumb so our plan is to give it to someone else – and then made her jump through hoops to keep any support at all. She made it out and is now a tenured professor, but, oh, she had a miserable time. (B) the program that makes so many patents – friend got to work in a lab that generated all of these patents and great stuff in material sciences, turns out that’s all the faculty cared about – they rarely actually graduated grad students and instead ran them into the ground and made them sign off all of their rights to their work. He’s now an IT guy with a PhD (a super advanced IT guy, but still not the science he’d thought he’d be doing). (C) the amazing new approach – I myself started out in a program that was trying something very new on the teaching end. A completely paradigm shattering program – which meant, of course, that there were tons of hiccoughs and misconceptions and the faculty had no time to actually do anything but teach and work the program. I taught in that program for two years and not once did I ever have a faculty member evaluate my work – which was not… ideal when the time for recommendations came around.

John L. (BA Business, 2016), General Ledger Accountant I at Associa

Hi Francis, One of the first things I would think about is the field you are interested in entering. Some fields require/advise a graduate degree more than others. If yours is one of those, then I would definitely want to pick a graduate school. I would also look at the financial viability of going to one school or another. You don’t want to saddle yourself with debt forever, so if one school is offering you a great opportunity with scholarships, fellowships, etc., I would strongly consider that school. When I was deciding whether to go to grad school or not, I was blessed to receive a very generous fellowship which made it a no-brainer for me to go to grad school. I know it may not always be that clear, but just like any decision, sometimes one path just makes the most sense. I would also go to your professors. Perhaps there is someone in the Physics department who specializes in something you’re interested in for grad school. They would know if you need to continue your education, and what schools would be good for your specialty. I’m sure they’ve seen and advised other students and they themselves had to make that decision at some point, so if you can give them a good idea of the pros and cons you’re weighing, they’re a great resource to lean on when deciding if to go and where. Hope that helps. Best of luck in your search.

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

Get to know the professors. Make sure you can get along with them. Make sure they like the type of work you’re doing and you like the type of work they are doing. Otherwise you are going to have a very unpleasant experience. See what happens if you disagree with them on something. How do they take it? Can you feel comfortable disagreeing with them on certain things and not feel like you’re getting yourself in trouble?

 

Dean C. (BA Mathematics 1994), Senior Consulting Actuary at Willis Towers Watson

Graduate school is a very personal thing. I visited Rice for a Master’s in Mathematics and was a bit overwhelmed at the size and formality after studying math at UD for 4 years. I settled on UTD because it is local, they offered me a TA opportunity and it felt like a personal approach to me. You have to visit a couple schools, talk to faculty and current graduate students and discern what the best fit is for your state in life. Sometimes you go to a school because it is close and feels right and other times you might choose a place because it can challenge you in new directions. Congratulations on your Physics degree – not an easy path at UD!

Randy B. (BA English, 1995), Life Coach/Tutor/Faculty at The Bearded Buddha

Hi, Francis! Many blessings to you as you study Physics! Given that major, you have two reasons to pursue grad school (presuming that you want to do grad work in Physics): Professional and Academic. – You pursue a Doctorate for almost exclusively Academic reasons (i.e., you KNOW you want to teach Physics in a college/university setting). While, yes, the aerospace industry does provide some applications for which a Doctorate is required/desirable, a Ph.D is exclusively the doorway to teach/research in an academic setting. – However, a Masters degree has both academic AND work-force/career utility. For one thing, you’ll have to get an MS in the course of obtaining a Ph.D. But, more importantly, MSes have routinely been a means of getting better entry-level positions in a given field and/or getting higher pay for a given position than you would if you had only a BS. Further, the wider array of Masters options open to you as a Physics major means that you can find more Masters programs offering an applied/practice-based pursuit of Physics, versus a theoretical/academic one. Furthermore, your Physics BS will empower you to entertain more than just Physics grad programs. TL;DR—Do you want to be a professor? Or are you looking to specialize your Physics knowledge in a way that will also make you more readily employable in a particular field(s)/career(s)? Answering those two questions will help you better know whether grad school is right for you. SOME CAVEATS— (1) Do NOT go to grad school unless THEY pay for it via fellowship/scholarship. Remember: you are delaying your entry into a paying work field. You have to count in the cost of grad school the fact that, while you’re not in the workforce, you’re not realizing the income you otherwise would be earning. (2) PREP for the GRE. Do NOT take it blind. Don’t just buy a book and scan over it. Instead, take a free practice test online to see where you stack up (Kaplan’s the best—https://www.kaptest.com/gre/free/instant-practice/free-gre-practice-test>). By looking at the web pages of the grad programs in which you’re interested, you’ll see the kind of scores that they’re expecting of viable applicants. The higher your score (and your GPA) is above what they’re expecting, the better chance you have of getting a free ride to grad school. Hope this helps! If you have further questions, just email me at randybeeler@thebeardedbuddha.com; Randy

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

Hi Francis, I’m sure you’ve received this answer before and it may drive you crazy, but it depends. Personally, I say start with what career path you want and decide from there. Does your field require an advanced degree, or does nearly everyone have at least a masters? Would obtaining a certain degree make you more marketable or open certain opportunities? If so, go to graduate school as soon as you are able. However, if very few people in your field have an advanced degree, do not waste your time or money. Some people say it’s best to go to grad school if you don’t know what you want to do. I strongly disagree with that. The purpose of grad school much more so than undergrad, is to prepare you for your career. If you do not know what you want to do, look at what jobs you might be interested in (that aren’t necessarily related to your field) and apply. Reach out to the alumni community or other people with a job you’re interested in. You can always go back to school later. Some degree programs actually require job experience (like MBAs). In short, do your research and see what jobs you’re interested in and go from there.

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

Hi Francis, It took me 10 years after getting my Bachelor’s degree too seriously to pursue and apply to grad school. I think there are a few factors/questions that should go into your decision. 1 – Why do you want/need an advanced degree? Are you unable to work in the field you want without one? What is the competitive advantage? Can you still get a good job without one? Do you want to go to grad school in the same area as your undergrad Degree or another area (MBA, IT, etc)? 2 – Will gaining work experience help you in completing your advanced degree? What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting another degree now versus later? Are there people in your field you know who have a grad degree and others who don’t and can help you understand why they did or did not pursue an advanced education? 3 – Are you ready and motivated to spend more time pursuing your formal education or is there a possibility you may burn out? Are there other ways (certificates, licenses, etc) that you can pursue instead of or before applying for grad school? Are you financially prepared to have additional loans or pay for the degree? Those are a few things I considered before going back for my MBA. I hope this helps…and GOOD LUCK!!

Alumni Answers: Should I get an engineering license?

Alumni Answers: Should I get an engineering license?

Dear Michael,

Did you obtain engineering license, and if so, did you find it necessary? Did you join any engineering clubs? (Maurice)

Michael H. (BS Physics, 2015), Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories

The specific field of engineering you decide to pursue will play a significant role in determining whether professional licensure is necessary or even useful. I will admit up front that I am a fairly green professional, and that any more senior advisory panel member who says differently from me should probably be given more credence; but as I understand it, an engineering license is only required if you wish to be the “final authority” to sign and certify the design and plans for any project funded for the use of the public – buildings and bridges, for instance. For this reason, civil engineers are usually the ones who find it useful to hold an engineering license. (You can still work as a civil engineer without holding an engineering license, you just can’t be the final authority to sign off on any plans that fall into the “for public use/benefit” category. I do not completely understand the delineation for “public use,” but it is not just as simple as “will a lot of people use it.” I expect that further investigation beyond that which I can provide will be helpful here.)

I am in electrical engineering, and I do not hold a license nor do I anticipate pursuing one. It is true that an EE who works on, say, a city’s power supply grid would likely benefit from having a license, but my work is at the microchip scale and therefore does not fall within that scope.
So, the simplified answer is: if you are not a civil engineer and do not wish to work on city-scale projects, very likely will not find an engineering license to be useful. If you do become a civil engineer, you *may* need one, and the it would be worthwhile to consult a professional in that engineering sub-field specifically.

 

Cheers to you, your continuing education, and your success in the field of your chosen profession!
Alumni Answers: How can I explain my major?

Alumni Answers: How can I explain my major?

Have you ever had a negative reaction to your choice of study, or felt the need to defend it? I am an art major (business concentration) and often have to let comments roll of my back or explain myself for choosing a major that is not widely considered “useful.” Any suggestions for how to tactfully and briefly explain why my liberal arts degree is useful, but in a way that makes a lasting impression with the person questioning it? (Mary Kate, Art 2018)

 

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

A liberal arts education is useful because it teaches you how to write and how to think about very difficult questions. That carries over to any profession. Internships are useful because they can teach you to work on the exact same things with the exact same software you might use in your first full time job. Almost every undergraduate major is going to cover a wide variety of topics at a high level. Graduate degrees tend to get more specialized.

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

Mary Kate, this happens every day of my life as a creative writer and literature major. I receive three responses to my chosen major and field. 1. So you are going to teach then? 2. What are you going to do with that? 3. Can you actually earn money writing? All of these questions suggest that my major exists inside of a box. No major exists inside of box. The person wielding the major is where the value lies. I know plenty of post MBA, PhD, MD, and JD candidates who have failed at their professions or ended up profoundly miserable in their chosen fields. I know an equal number of philosophy, art, history, and literature majors who have done the same. My point is, you are the value, you can do what you please with your education regardless of what university you attended and what major you chose. You define success and create your own path in the workforce. I speak from experience as a resume writer who has coached hundreds of job seekers; there is no single path to success in this life. It is often a combination of knowledge, luck, and hard work. I never change my response to these questions. I always answer that I am grateful for the depth and breadth of the knowledge I received during my undergraduate years, and that no degree could ever stop me from achieving my goals, and in fact, I am blessed that my degree has made me a more diverse and desirable candidate in every work environment I have ever been in. Hold your head, be proud of your major, and own your education. Best of luck to you.

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

Explain to them that everything they use in their day to day life – clothing, car, kitchenware, decorative items, cell phone – begins as an idea, then becomes an art project also known as a product design prototype. I was an English major. If someone criticizes my choice of study, I just correct their grammar and go about my day.

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

Certainly! I also find myself defending other people’s majors as well. In the case of art majors, I find I usually start with the fact that they are among the few majors on campus who actually work for their degrees. They’re out long hours, face serious review by faculty far earlier and more frequently than other majors, are forced to learn project management and presentation skills long before other students and rely on them in the public square, and at the end they have actually built things and have real accomplishments in their portfolio. That’s before you even get into broader applications like the importance of design and salesmanship in the marketplace.

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

Yes, sometimes there are people who question the value of certain degrees/majors. If you are learning about something you are passionate and can relate what you have learned to how you would (or have) applied that in a work setting, you will get less negativity. Also, as you get a few years out of school, the specific major holds less and less importance…unless something very technical (IT, accounting ,etc.).

John P. (BA Fine Art, 1968; MA Fine Art, 1972), Self-employed Fine Artist

Dear Mary Kate, Well, how “useful” are any of the arts: music, literature, sculpture, ceramics, painting? If we imagine that our existence has a transcendent purpose and meaning and is more than just a utilitarian exercise, then let’s acknowledge that the arts help us to express the transcendent in human nature. A worthy occupation. And, under certain circumstances, a master plumber’s license is more useful and valuable than many kinds of advanced degrees. Consider that you will always have more to learn in this life and that a liberal arts degree is an excellent preparation for that Please don’t worry about defending your choice of study. If you are committed to it, the negative reaction of others will fade in importance. Associate with those who will inspire, challenge and encourage. Best wishes to you, John P., B.A. Fine Arts ’68, M.A. Fine Arts ’72

Rachel L. (BS Biology, 2011), Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)  at Children’s Medical Center

Hi Mary Kate, This is a great question. When I chose my major, I chose the major that had the subject matter I was the most interested in learning. This subject happened to be biology, which was instrumental in my education to become a physician assistant. However, when choosing a major, I think pursuing a subject you are passionate about is more important than choosing a “useful” major. While some jobs may require specific skills, most likely you will learn a lot on-the-job in your first job out of college. Being a more well-rounded individual who studied a subject they are passionate about will be more useful to you in the long term! Best, Rachel L.

 

 

Alumni Answers: Getting a job with a History major

Alumni Answers: Getting a job with a History major

For the people who have History and majors that seem to not be so helpful when trying to get a job such as Art or Philosophy majors, how easy or applicable was your major to getting a job? Did it make it difficult to get a good job? (Gihad, History 2020)

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

It’s easy to get a good job with a history degree as long as you go to graduate school afterwards. My manager has a history degree from Columbia. She now manages a team that analyzes criminal justice data for the Texas legislature. She has a graduate degree in public affairs. My advice is get an undergraduate in something that you like, that is interesting to you. Many jobs prefer a masters degree. When that is the case, many times the focus will be on what your masters degree is in.

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

What you choose to study could be a hindrance should you choose to work outside that particular career field. Government service is always an option – and an especially good one for History majors. Pick an alphabet agency (CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.) where knowledge of history is an asset and do research on possible careers.

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

Some of that depends on what you mean by good job. My own major is in English and it has certainly proven to be an asset. The key aspect, in my experience and this was true for my friends in STEM as well, is that you need to be able to articulate and demonstrate specific competencies and accomplishments. In my case that involved setting up a portfolio and having a list of accomplishments beyond my major (working in the residence hall association, having various projects to my name, racking up a few awards, building professional experience, etc). I highly recommend getting the best advice you can on putting together a portfolio and on building your writing and project credits as broadly as you can – write for student publications where you can, build up some websites, etc. Eventually I went to graduate school in a more job specialized field – technical communication and rhetoric which I would readily recommend to communication and writing focused history majors as well – and while that was helpful in a great many ways, I found that unless you were very dedicated to following one of a couple of fairly lock step paths towards employment the issues weren’t much different. Similarly, I would not neglect at least considering what credentialing or helpful supplements to your major you can acquire at UD while it is convenient. A teaching certificate, for example, does not equal destiny but it can be an edifying experience to pursue that or a similar credential and it’s certainly more convenient getting it sooner rather than later. Plus that (or prelaw and premed) get you on the radar of some of the more employment oriented professors and professionals on campus and that’s no bad thing.

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

I think that your specific degree/major is helpful in finding the career that you want to get into, however it is becoming increasingly less important. Companies want to know that you fit culturally, share similar values to the organization and have experiences and skills that directly relate to what you want to do. Degrees often indicate that you are committed to education and learning. Companies want to see that you have applied your learning and can add value to the organization.

 

Hannah O., (BA History, 2011), Technical Services Librarian at City of Duncanville (Duncanville Public Library)

I ended up becoming a public librarian…for which a history degree works as well as any. For academic librarians, such a degree can be beneficial.

Alumni Answers: How have you used your liberal arts education?

Alumni Answers: How have you used your liberal arts education?

Having graduated from the University of Dallas, which prides itself in its liberal education, how useful is this type of education to you now? Can you see yourself where you are now having received a more focused and specialized education, rather than a liberal one? (Andy, Sophomore, Philosophy and Letters)

Dean C. (BA Mathematics 1994), Senior Consulting Actuary at Willis Towers Watson

Learning to think and reason is a tool which will serve you well in the future, regardless of your major or chosen career. Companies and organizations need leaders who can see the whole picture and reason through a range of possible outcomes to find the best paths forward. UD forms minds for rational thought and also forces us to be able to communicate our thoughts, both orally and written. Many young analysts (millennials) in my company struggle to focus on the task at hand and often defer to tacit agreement with other opinions rather than actually forming their own. Fight the urge to be agreeable and think outside the box. The moral aspect of your education will also make you shine as you will not spend half your day on Facebook or other social media sites when you are being paid to do a job. The ethical training inherent in a solid Catholic formation helps those of us who are disciplined by our Faith to succeed in a world which migrates to mediocrity.

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

The liberal education at UD taught me how to write and how to think carefully about very difficult questions. It also greatly improved my understanding of the world, and that is priceless. There’s precious little time for that after you graduate from college, get a full time job, and possibly start a family. Save the specialized education for graduate school. It will serve you just as well (if not better) then. For the moment (as an undergraduate), enjoy the precious opportunity to study important questions and read great books with thoughtful students and professors.

Phillip W. (BS Biology, 2015), Fulbright Research Scholar, Fulbright Organization (Madrid, Spain)

The education at UD is priceless. I work in medical research, and I use the critical thinking skills I learned from the Core everyday. You would be amazed at how many people in specialized industries regret not having had a broader education. They are highly skilled technicians, but they were never taught how to think, how to live an examined life, or (frankly) how to write coherently and build an argument. Most specialized fields require graduate degrees anyway, so you might as well study something you love and receive a philosophical formation, take your prerequisite courses for graduate programs, and then worry about getting into a specialized field. You’ll be happier and taken more seriously as a professional when you start applying for specialized jobs.

John L. (BA Business, 2016), General Ledger Accountant I at Associa

Hi Andy, One of the things I most appreciate about my education at UD is the breadth of things I studied. I was a business major and am now working in accounting, so obviously I do need to have a strong grasp of specific concepts relevant to my work, but I believe that UD really prepared me well despite perhaps a less specific/specialized education. After I’ve left UD, I’ve found myself drawing on topics from both regular core classes as well as things I learned in various business core classes. With a more specialized education, you get to know a lot about that one particular topic, but the world is much more than just one topic. Everything intertwines and if you are at least familiar with things other people are talking about, that is such a help. I know you’re a seminarian so this may not directly apply, but when I’ve had case studies about business situations or at work, I’ve discovered that I at least know generally speaking what others are talking about in many cases, even if it’s something I’m not specifically familiar with. Again, no discipline exists in a vacuum, so if you’ve at least been introduced and know a little about other disciplines, it will help you when you come across situations which deal with those disciplines or you have to interact with a specialist in those disciplines, and then you aren’t totally clueless when speaking with them.

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

Where I am now has nothing to do with my course of study at university, but it gave me a well-rounded background. This, in turn, makes it easier to find common ground with total strangers of varied backgrounds. Had I chosen a trade school to learn my current trade, I’d be much further along in my career, but again, would not have wealth of knowledge amassed in a classic education and extensive travel.

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

Very useful, what’s more it is the more liberal arts components of my education that continually prove the most useful and I wish I’d specialized less than I did. Currently I work in fundraising, communications, and stake holder relations for higher education, and my education beyond UD is in technical communication and rhetoric. In terms of my graduate education, a more specialized focus would have presented certain advantages (the old saw in technical communication is that where your major – presumably English – determines the work you do your minor determines where you do it – so people with a little background in Biology are more likely to work in the medical field, etc), but it was my liberal arts background that continually impressed and surprised people, opened doors for the better sorts of opportunities, and let my pursue my own interests rather than well-worn paths. For this career, it is, in fact, possible to major in Higher Education and while it is not as dire as it might sound, it’s actually less likely to give you a broad picture of the issues involved in the life of the university than actually taking classes in multiple disciplines and being in an environment where faculty collaborate openly and freely. When I say I wish I had been less specialized, it’s that I do wish I had pursued, say, more education in Education while at UD or taken the opportunity to pick up some programming chops. It’s not that those options aren’t available later, but that having a breadth beyond the core and a focus on discrete competencies helps to make the advantages of the core show up better – which was certainly my experience when I did began taking up such learning later. Thank you for your question.

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

A liberal arts education has helped me see things beyond one point of view or perspective. It has allowed me to make connections between work, faith and personal life. Liberal arts helped me build critical thinking skills and draw upon many types of viewpoints when making a decision…

Rachel L. (BS Biology, 2011), Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)  at Children’s Medical Center

Hi Andy, This is an excellent question. I was a biology major who had always planned to pursue a career in the medical field. That being said, part of the reason that I chose UD was for its strong core curriculum in the liberal arts. Now, that doesn’t mean it was easy. Being more “left-brained” and more adept at the sciences, I struggled through some of my literature, philosophy, and theology classes. However, in retrospect, these core classes were valuable to make me a well-rounded individual, for both my personal and professional goals. I am so glad I received a liberal arts education! Best, Rachel L.

Hannah O., (BA History, 2011), Technical Services Librarian at City of Duncanville (Duncanville Public Library)

I feel like my liberal education gave me a great general background, and a greater appreciation for all the different realms of knowledge. Since I’m a librarian, these are especially good things to have. The intangibles would have been worth it even if I didn’t end up in that profession, however.

 

Alumni Answers: Writing!

Alumni Answers: Writing!

Dear Wendy,

Is it feasible to become both a high school English teacher and a writer? If so, how, and would you have any advice for me on doing so? (Grace)

 

Dear Grace,

I am not sure if you mean a creative writer or a freelance writer; however, the answer is the same. It is absolutely feasible to become a high school English teacher and a writer. I personally know several English teachers who write poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, some of whom publish and are paid for their work regularly. I also know many freelancers who work traditional jobs until their freelance writing can bring in a replacement income. The key is to target the right kind of clients. You will not be available for day time calls most of the year. I suggest looking at resume writing, cover letters, professional bios, and speech writing. These are writing services offered to people who also work and cannot talk during the day, or prefer weekend calls. Additionally, you can work two to four hours in the evening or two hours in the early morning if you target a different time zone. I live in Texas, but work with numerous clients in California, Washington DC and the Midwest. This allows me to schedule calls around class time and children.

My biggest piece of advice is to build your business in the summer months so that you know what kind of workload you will face during the school year. There is a chapter or two on this very topic in Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well Fed Writer. Additionally, look for a book titled 102 Ways to Make Money Writing 1,500 Words or Less. It will give you numerous ideas on where to find small writing projects that you can handle while working full time.

Wendy R. (English), Self-employed Writer

Alumni Answers: Transition From Physics to Engineering (Beemnet, Physics 2020)

Alumni Answers: Transition From Physics to Engineering (Beemnet, Physics 2020)

Dear Zofia,

Hello! I was wandering what you think of the transition from pure Physics to Engineering studies. Do you think it is better to seek out for engineering experiences while at UD? Thank you, Beemnet (Physics 2020)

 

Hello Beemnet,

I absolutely think seeking out engineering while at UD would be great if that’s the direction you want to go. I think networking with engineers (try going to local events, you can find them on LinkedIn) can be very helpful. I also suggest working to learn relevant skills (such as proficiency in a CAD program and using micro-controllers such as Arduino). If you can find an engineering internship you will be really well off.

I chose to go to grad school afterwards because I didn’t know I wanted to do engineering until after UD. However, I was able to get an engineering internship the summer before grad school. I could have just continued to try to find work related to engineering, and might have even been better off that way. In engineering, often having practical experience is more valuable than schooling. Personally, grad school was not as useful to me as I would have hoped.

There are also companies that have programs for people with science backgrounds to transition to engineering. My company, National Instruments, will take physics grads (among other engineering disciplines) and give them the training and work experience to transition to R&D, systems engineering, marketing, and sales. I don’t personally know of other companies that do this, but I’m sure there are similar positions out there. If you are interested in National Instruments, please let me know.

Getting internships while in school would be the best possible thing you could do, though it can be tough to find them. This was something I didn’t do enough, and proved to make my job search much harder.

I hope that helps. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions.

Zofia K. (BS Physics, 2012), ELP Engineer at National Instruments

Alumni Answers: Finding and Pursuing Opportunities

Alumni Answers: Finding and Pursuing Opportunities

Dear Alumni,
I often find it difficult to be proactive about pursuing job opportunities on my own, especially when I am not sure what I want to do long term. This often results in my waiting for opportunities to fall into my lap, which does not always happen. Do you have any advice about how to be more successful in finding and pursuing job opportunities? Thanks! (Anne, Senior, English & Classical Philology-Latin)

Phillip W. (BS Biology, 2015), Fulbright Research Scholar, Fulbright Organization (Madrid, Spain)

Nobody is going to seek you out for great opportunities. If you’re in search of motivation, imagine a life in which no one cares whether you’re able to earn a comfortable living or not. Then, take a second and realize that that reality will be yours come graduation in May. People in the professional world pay for performance and results – you either deliver or they will find someone who will. John Wooden said “90% of life is showing up.” The first thing to do to find a job is ask. Send emails, make phone calls, and network. Meet with professionals to ask what they do, why they do it, and how they got to that position. Go with a specific set of questions that you want answered, and after a meeting, always follow up with an email. You also need to be proactive in joining listservs and job boards and monitor them closely (e.g. The Heritage Foundation Job Bank – 100+ pages of jobs in every imaginable field and position levels ranging from upper level executives to internships at organizations that share a UD philosophy). After that, just apply like your life depends on it.

Victoria W. (BA Psychology, 2013), Program Manager at Catalyst Health Network

Hi Anne, First of all, it’s perfectly fine that you don’t know what you want long term. You may not know until you enter the workforce. Rather than thinking of what job you want long term, focus on what you’re interested in. Explore jobs related to that interest. Be willing to be surprised, it’s one of the best parts of working! You should also think in terms of what you want out of your career. Do you want to be able to travel for your job? Do you want flexible hours? It’s okay to not know the answers now, but have those questions in mind. For example, if you know you prefer a flexible schedule, look for industries (such as tech) that tend to have them. You don’t have to figure everything out yet. Just think about your interests and find jobs related to that. Reach out to UD alums and utilize the school’s resources. You’ll be fine.

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

Look for internships, even if they are not paid. Unpaid internships can sometimes lead to paid work either at the same place or a different agency. It also helps you get contacts from people who might have a job or lnow about a job at a different place and this can help you in the long term. As for not being sure as to what you want to do in the long term, develop a plan B if you will . Think about something that even if it’s not your ideal job it’s something you would be willing to do for a living and develop some skills for that. When I left the University of Dallas many years ago my goal was to become a professor and I focused all my efforts in studying for that. When that did not work out, I really did not have a back up plan . It took me a while to switch career paths and this would have taken a much shorter time if I had taking advantage of an internship or otherwise had pursued skills earlier for another path in case this did not work out.

Cooper W. (BA Philosophy, 2012), Attorney at Malone Akerly Martin PLLC

Hi Anne, I hope you are well. Great question! It seems to me that you will continue to endure this struggle until you have decided what you would like to do long term (or at least have narrowed it down). In my experience, I have found that it is difficult to reach milestones if I do not have a specific goal. Until you decide what you would like to do, I’m afraid you will find it difficult to reach milestones in your professional life such as getting entry-level jobs in the field you would like to pursue. My suggestion for you would be to devote significant time to what you would like to do professionally. When deciding what I wanted to do, I started by figuring out what I wanted from my professional life (i.e., flexible hours, a challenge, good money, close to home, etc.). Spending time in prayer and meditation will be helpful was well. After determining what I wanted out of my professional life, it then became much easier to decide what career path I wanted to choose. Once I knew what I wanted to do, everything else fell into place. Hope this helps!

John P. (BA Fine Art, 1968; MA Fine Art, 1972), Self-employed Fine Artist

Dear Anne, This is an issue you share with most people, recent graduates and grizzled alumns. Blessed are those who have a clear idea of what they want to do, long term. For the rest of us, we aim for what seems best. Try to focus on values: meaningful, purposeful work, Specifics will become clearer in time. Job opportunities open through personal relationships. Talk with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and let them know that you are looking. Almost every job experience will be of benefit to you. Opportunities with “fall in your lap” after you let the world know that you are ready and able. Best wishes to you. It will all make sense later on.

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

You must somehow have money?? my first job out of UD was when i was living with 4 other ud grads and they were about to kick me out of the apartment due to lack of rent/food/gas money. That motivated me – Opportunities only fall in the laps of those that are running towards them and stop and sit down for a short rest.

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

The first step is to think seriously about what you want to do. Consider completing an online assessment that helps you identify your strengths and interests. Also, look into finding a mentor who you can talk to and someone that can guide you in discovering some fields and/or industries you may want to look into.

Rachel L. (BS Biology, 2011), Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)  at Children’s Medical Center

Hi Anne, I can understand your frustrations. Job searching can be so difficult. I see that you are an English and Classical Philology major. Do you plan to pursue a career in this field? Have there been topics in your classes that have fascinated you? Do you want to pursue further education in these areas? Think about the field you want to pursue. What do you love and what career do you see yourself pursuing? It can be hard to find the “perfect” job, especially as a new graduate. However, even if you start in a job that is not exactly your ideal job, you can make valuable contacts that can connect you to opportunities in the future. Keep an open mind. Apply to a wide range of jobs you may be interested in pursuing. Ask lots of questions in the interviews to find out if this is a good fit. Speak to your professors, too, they may have insight into career paths with your knowledge in these areas! I hope this helps! Best of luck! Rachel

Stan M. (BA Economics and MBA),  Retired, VP / Director, Sales Operations, Business Operations at Fujitsu, Cisco, HP, Compaq, and others

Anne, I know the feeling you are experiencing. It is difficult for people to reach out and sell themselves, and that goes for some of my friends who are excellent salespeople! The best way is to talk to people, network with your friends and their friends. You can have some wonderful conversations on this journey and can broaden your exposure and perspective on things you never dreamed of. Most of the jobs I’ve had have been directly due to, or supported by, connections to friends or institutions like UD. The first job I had, the President of the company knew a professor at UD. The second job was sponsored by a friend, fellow alum at UD. And another job the hiring manager had gone to school at UD and knew its quality reputation, and then he went on and hired me at 3 other companies in the last 25 years… Good luck and enjoy the journey as much as it may seem difficult.

John L. (BA Business, 2016), General Ledger Accountant I at Associa

Hi Anne, I believe that one of the best things you could do, particularly while at UD, would be to go to all the various job fairs that the career office holds as well as to sign up for the job alerts from the career office. There is a wide variety of employers that want UD students, and hopefully there are a few of them who you are intrigued by. When I was a senior and then later looking for a job after grad school, I knew generally what I wanted to do, so I was able to target my search towards a specific goal/area. But if you aren’t exactly sure what path you want to pursue, I think the wide variety of people that come through UD throughout the year should give you at least a good idea of paths you might consider that you otherwise wouldn’t or new ways to apply your knowledge and skills that you might not have thought of before.

Dean C. (BA Mathematics 1994), Senior Consulting Actuary at Willis Towers Watson

1. Career advancement office can be very helpful for resumes and they have numerous corporate contacts for internships and other opportunities 2. Find a company you like in the area and go to their careers page to find open positions, then craft a resume to suit a position which sounds interesting to you. There is no substitute for trying and failing a few times, so start getting interviews and see what floats to the top. Dallas is full of opportunities right now with very large companies coming to town recently and settling in for the long haul. Look at Toyota and State Farm in Plano, Kimberly Clark and Celanese in Las Colinas, as these are among some of the bigger players who are constantly looking for good talent. 3. Talk to friends at church and ask people about their job. Be social and step out of your comfort zone!

Alumni Answers: Building a Writing Portfolio

Alumni Answers: Building a Writing Portfolio

Dear Wendy,

When getting into the writing industry, did you find it necessary to have a writing portfolio or a showcase of your writing experience? If yes, what tips do you have for building a writing portfolio while still an undergraduate?

 

Hello Felicity,
You ask an important question regarding the writing industry. As a freelance writer,  it is absolutely necessary to have a writing portfolio. However, it is not always necessary to have a hard copy of the portfolio. In six years, I have used my physical portfolio once. You should post your portfolio online so potential clients can quickly and easily access your material. You can see an example at my website www.lighthousewriting.com/portfolio, or Google freelance writing portfolios. There are many ways to display your work.

Now for the tricky part, how does a young writer build a portfolio? I chose to volunteer my writing services for several non-profits and took smaller jobs for less pay at local companies. I also secured an internship at UD that focused heavily on writing and marketing. Once I had built a diverse portfolio with several successful pieces, I increased my fees to match industry prices in my area and targeted larger companies. Some writers choose to write spec pieces and add graphics to make them appear professional. I suggest you pick up a copy of The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman and The Writer’s Market. Both books have invaluable information about freelancing, including sections on portfolios.

Wendy R., (English) Self-employed Writer