Browsed by
Tag: English

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

UD Professors Address Human Dignity

UD Professors Address Human Dignity

This is the first post in a series based on the event “UD Interdisciplinary Celebration of Human Dignity,” held March 23, 2017.

How does the University of Dallas curriculum encourage us to live in community? A panel of UD professors addressed the question, joining a conversation with students, other faculty, staff and alumni about the call to preserve human dignity regardless of race, country of origin, gender, religion or beliefs.

Dr. John Norris, Associate Provost, introduced the panel and topic. “At UD, although we promote the search for truth, there are still prejudices and pride, both inside our community and out,” he said. “A guiding question, then, is how can we show humble respect for the viewpoint of the other without falling into the trap of a relativistic morality?” Norris said that each panel member would reflect on how they approach human dignity in their classrooms.

Dr. Eileen Gregory

Dr. Eileen Gregory, Professor of English, began her talk by acknowledging that it is the privilege of college campuses nationwide to reflect upon and discuss polarizing subjects, like immigration and refugees, that have surfaced a result of the extreme negativity of last year’s political campaign. “This kind of reflection cultivates in us a reflective life,” she said. “And reflection is our true work. We must learn that ideas have consequences.”

Gregory’s talk focused on welcoming the stranger, a foundational tenet of nearly all societies and religions and one that is reflected in the literature of UD’s Core Curriculum. “The notion of hospitality prohibiting the mistreatment of the stranger was protected by divine law for both the Greeks and the Jews,” she said. “It wasn’t just a matter of right, but the highest form of justice.”

But why was this hospitality so important to society? According to Gregory, to be pitiless to the stranger is to exhibit hubris in forgetting one’s own vulnerability. “The Odyssey is the great text of hospitality,” she said. “Characters reiterate again and again that if you violate the laws of hospitality, you are inhuman. Hospitality to strangers is a defining fundamental of humanity.”

The great literary works also show the poverty and vulnerability of the human condition, as well as our dependence on others. “We don’t like to imagine ourselves as dependent,” Gregory said. “Everything in our culture holds up self-sufficiency and imperviousness to feeling as the ultimate aim.” But although we would prefer to confront the world as if we are invulnerable, that self-sufficiency is an illusion. According to Gregory, this is reason for welcoming the stranger: to do is to acknowledge the precariousness of our existence and our true human fragility.

For more information about OPCD events or to RSVP, click here.

The Road Less Traveled: UD English Majors Talk About Various Paths to Success

The Road Less Traveled: UD English Majors Talk About Various Paths to Success

University of Dallas students often hear the remark, “You can do anything with a liberal arts degree.” But what exactly does that mean? A panel of UD alumni, all English majors, spoke on Friday, February 21, to a group of students about how they translated their degrees into successful careers and graduate studies.

Panelist Michael Traylor parlayed his degree into a career as a landman, a job that CNN Money calls the third best America. “I didn’t really have a big plan when I was a senior,” Traylor said. “I kept looking around for the perfect unicorn job.” Although some of Traylor’s friends had decided on law school, he wasn’t so sure. He eventually got job researching property rights and leases for oil and gas drilling. “It’s like lawyer-lite,” Traylor said. “I read deeds all day, and businesses rely on my interpretation of them.” A job as a landman might not be on every senior’s radar, but it is an example of one of myriad positions available to not only UD English majors, but to liberal arts majors in general. “Your education prepares you to do anything,” Traylor said, “But narrowing that down can be a difficult process.”

John Corrales, Social Media Editor for the New York Times, said he was idealistic but certainly not deliberate when he was a senior English major: “I had these vaguely romantic ambitions, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.” After graduation Corrales moved back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas and got a job working for the local newspaper. After realizing this wasn’t for him, he wandered about a bit trying different jobs until he finally reached out to a friend’s cousin, who helped him land a job at the New York Times. “You really have to trust yourself,” Corrales said. “You make your own luck. You just have to want it.” And as far as the job he left Odessa, Corrales encouraged students to take a job that’s it’s in front of them, even if it’s something they don’t necessarily like. “You’ll learn something from every experience,” he said.

Seth Gonzalez, videographer and Staff Writer for The Texas Catholic newspaper, also changed jobs a few times before settling in his current position. “You have to bring something to the table,” he said. “You can’t just say that you are passionate about something without bringing some kind of skill related to it. Develop your skills on your own time if you have to.” Seth agreed with Corrales that individuals make their own luck: “Someone told me once that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

Maria Walley has taken the entrepreneurial route as the co-founder and marketing director of Kandid.ly, a fledgling digital marketplace for photographers. “It’s kind of like Etsy for amateur photographers.” Walley said that liberal arts majors can have success in just about any field because they think differently than those graduates who have more specialized skills. “Instead of just learning a process, we’re trained to think about the process from the outside,” she said.

Megan Wadle, who taught middle school before pursuing PhD work at Southern Methodist University, said that although it’s sometimes difficult to narrow down career possibilities, the naïveté of not knowing one’s limits can be a good thing. “Sometimes, you sign up for things that are really too much for you, but you learn as you go,” she said.

Nate McCabe, also a graduate student at SMU said that he had to make a conscious decision to be aggressive in pursuing his goal of getting into graduate school. “I got waitlisted by SMU and was working as a barista. I decided that I had to go harder to get the door open,” he said. “I started emailing professors. I had just about given up, but as soon as I closed the door on graduate school, I got the call from SMU that I got in.” Nathan said that although he doesn’t get much choice in what he studies, he got a good piece of advice from UD’s Dr. Greg Roper that keeps him going. “You have to suffer the 90% you don’t like to get to do the 10% that you do,” he said.

In closing, the panelists each offered practical advice for soon-to-be graduates:
Corrales: Find an internship. Gain some sort of useful skill–it’ll make you unstoppable.
Gonzalez: Develop an insatiable appetite. Dig into what you’re passionate about.
Traylor: Find the person who has the job you want and find out how they got there.
Walley: Meet with people to learn about different careers. And surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Wadle: Talk to someone who’s actually in the profession you’re interested in. Nobody knows it better than they do.
McCabe: Don’t just analyze information. Learn to synthesize it.

To make an appointment to meet with an OPCD counselor, click here.

Gaining Experience: Mary McKenzie (’14)

Gaining Experience: Mary McKenzie (’14)

mary_mackenzie

Mary McKenzie, a 2014 graduate of the University of Dallas, says that getting involved with a variety of activities during her time at the UD helped her gain the experience that led to her permanent position as the Internship Program Coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. While at UD McKenzie worked as the Director in Charge of Student Programming. She says that potential employers looked favorably on her ability to hold leadership positions while maintaining a full academic load. “And I didn’t do just one internship,” McKenzie said. “I did several. I gained on-the-job, down to earth experience that helped me get a position right after graduation.” She says that these internships, along with her volunteer positions, gave her a wealth of experiences and situations upon which to draw when talking to an employer or in an interview situation.

For More information of the value of internships, visit the University of Dallas’ Office of Personal Career Development.

Scraping Together Something to Say: Will Frank

Scraping Together Something to Say: Will Frank

There are countless paths for English majors to follow. One of the most unique could be Will Frank’s (English ’06) as an artist in residence at Emil Frei & Associates, a leader in the field of stained glass and mosaics in the United States. Although his vocation may be atypical for an English major, Frank sees his time at UD as preparing him for his career as an artist. “English uses the same approach to ideas as the visual arts,” he said, noting that his work in Junior Poet taught him how to visualize a work of art in terms of its wholeness and unity. Frank also said that he thinks his UD education set him apart from the students of other universities he encountered in graduate school. “The students more fluent in the contemporary arts suffered from a lack of depth. Everyone is scraping together something to say, and my UD education gave me an entry into a deeper conversation,” he said.

Frank and Aaron Frei (B.A., Theology ’03; Masters, Theology ‘06–the great-great-grandson of the studio’s founder) were in Irving in September, 2014, to install a new chapel window at Cistercian Preparatory School. As they hammered the final supports in place, the morning sun passed through the stained glass casting blue, green, and yellow shadows on the concrete floor. “UD educates you to be open to ideas. Although it is a conservative, religious institution, it requires you to consider opposing ideas. You can’t be myopic.” Frank’s art certainly reflects a vision that is—like his career path—unique.