During Winter Break recently, more than 100 Davidson students spent a day at work by participating in the Office of Career Services' Job Shadowing Program. Through observation and conversation with alumni and parent hosts, these students had the opportunity to learn more about professions, receive career-related advice, and reflect on the ways their liberal arts education is preparing them for life after Davidson. While students gained valuable career insights, their hosts enjoyed catching up on news of their alma mater and finding how the institution has changed.
Ashley Neff, Assistant Director for Internships in the Office of Career Services, orchestrated the Job Shadowing Program. She said, "The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from both students and hosts. The program provided a unique opportunity for alumni and parent engagement."
Here are a few reports from students about their experiences.
Diane Girling '15 was one of two students who spent the day with Kelly Vaughn '93, the Senior Vice President of Special Olympics North Carolina. The experience contributed to her career interest in nonprofit administration. "I'm not sure if I want to be on the front line or a behind-the-scenes administrator," Girling said. "But this opportunity gave me an intimate feel for exactly what an administrator does and what is necessary to be effective at the job."
Girling accompanied Vaughn around Charlotte as Vaughn explored possible venues for statewide Special Olympics competitions. Discussing the logistics of hosting events at different types of venues was educational. "I didn't know much about the Special Olympics before the job shadowing experience," said Girling. "But I loved everything that I learned about the organization so much that I'm currently seeking a volunteer position there."
Micah Brown '16 visited Google, Inc.'s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., with host Clayton Schloss '99, the company's Workplace Services Program Manager. "I enjoyed following Clayton to his various meetings and taking an extended tour of the Google campus," said Brown, whose home is nearby Palo Alto, Calif. "Clayton works in the department responsible for providing services to Google employees, and shadowing him showed me how the company provides considerable resources in making sure employees are happy and healthy. Clayton explained to me that his work affects all 50,000 Google employees across the world, and by helping them do their job more efficiently, he affects the billions of customers who use Google products."
Ryan Kozlowski '16 shadowed Dr. Joseph Trask '79 of Mid-Carolina Cardiology in Huntersville Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Trask and Kozlowski toured the hospital, and Kozlowski was able to sit in on meetings with eleven of the doctor's patients. "My favorite part of the experience was viewing echocardiograms," said Kozlowski. "I learned how to identify valves, direction of blood flow, and calcium accumulation. The experience showed me how stressful yet rewarding a job in medicine can be." Kozlowski also appreciated Dr. Trask's advice on preparing for medical school and the challenges of a career in medicine.
Christopher Wood '16 shadowed Elias Kruger '02 at Wells Fargo in Charlotte. "I had a great time learning about the company and how it's structured, and how they aim to present themselves to the public," said Wood. Kruger, a marketing analytics consultant, also offered Wood advice on how to apply his major in economics towards a career. "Elias told me about the availability of jobs at Wells Fargo for recent graduates, and helped my understanding of how to use what I've learned at Davidson in my life post-graduation."
Kyi Phyu Nyein '13 participated in two job shadowing experiences about human resources work. She shadowed Todd Resly '10 at Cisco in San Jose, Calif., and Andre' Kennebrew '80 at Chick-fil-A in Atlanta. "It was great to learn about their career paths," said Nyein. "I also enjoyed learning what interviewers in the Human Resources department usually look for in applicants."
Based on the success of this year's winter break job shadowing program, Neff said that Career Services is considering expanding the program to other times of the year, such as fall break and summer. The office might also look into asking alumni and parents to provide longer, one-week externships in addition to the one-day experiences.