Career Moves: The SPDC helps Elon graduate lock in CDC fellowship

Networking with alumni and building relationships with Elon's Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) career advisors helped Caroline Snyder '20 evaluate possibilities and open doors to a world of opportunities beyond Elon.

Caroline Snyder ’20 first became interested in working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while growing up in Atlanta. Since graduation, Snyder has been taking part in the CDC’s Onrise Fellowship. Snyder credits Elon faculty mentors, career advisors, alumni and academic advisors for helping achieve her professional goals.

During her time at Elon, Snyder took advantage of many of the Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) resources and services, including resume and cover letter reviews, assistance with finding internships and jobs, and mock interviews.

Snyder recently answered questions from the SPDC about her experience:

What were you trying to accomplish when you met with the Student Professional Development Center’s professional staff, and what specific help did you receive?

Throughout my four years at Elon, I worked with the SPDC for resume and cover letter creation, job and internship searches, and LinkedIn profile development.

I also attended a graduate school prep class taught by [Associate Director of Career Services for Graduate School Programs] René Jackson. Anyone with the slightest interest in attending graduate school should take the course.

How did your interest in the organization develop?

It was difficult for me to find a career that mixed my majors in public health and biology.

Since I could not decide which direction I wanted to go, I started building connections with Elon alumni on LinkedIn who worked in these fields. They were all enthusiastic about helping me realize the different possibilities that I had.

Growing up in Atlanta, I always had an interest in working for the CDC. I connected with an Elon alumna, who was working as a contractor for the CDC. We talked about my future career aspirations, and then she started forwarding opportunities that matched my qualifications and interests. That is when I found this fellowship. I was so excited because it incorporated both my biology and public health majors.

Tell me about your experience in landing this opportunity at CDC.

Once I applied to the Onrise Fellowship at the CDC, I was invited for a preliminary phone interview. Before the interview, I researched the branch and got familiar with the responsibilities of the job.

After that, I was invited to an online interview with the team. To prepare, I scheduled a mock interview with the SPDC. The practice helped acclimate me to online interviews, build skills, and bolster my confidence. One month later, I was offered the position.

Coworkers said I was comfortable and engaged during the interview and stood out among other candidates due to the research I did before the interviews. During the interview, I talked about specific projects the team had published and the variety of experiences I had during my time at Elon.

[Assistant Director of Career Services – School of Communications] Alison Doherty, a career advisor who works in the SPDC, was terrific. Throughout the entire process, she answered my questions and offered support. I honestly do not think I would have been so prepared and ready if it was not for her help. She helped me with everything from resume review to interview prep to follow up emails. I am so thankful for her help and guidance.

Which faculty members did you work with to prepare, and what help did you receive?

While I was waiting to hear back about the fellowship, I received an offer from another company. Although I was excited about the proposal, I wanted the CDC fellowship more!  I did not know whether to wait to hear from the CDC or accept the other position.

I reached out to Caroline Ketcham, professor and chair of the Department of Exercise Science, who assured me that it was OK to wait for the opportunity that I truly loved. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to have a plan before graduation, and she helped me envision additional options for my future.

[Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology] Linda Niedziela, my academic advisor, was also a fantastic resource and continually helped me explore career options and was super encouraging.

When it comes to looking for careers, Associate Professor of Biology Yuko Miyamoto is super enthusiastic and directed me toward jobs that fit my passions and professional goals.

What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?

I remember not wanting to ask for help because I wanted to do the work myself, but all of the advice I received at the SPDC was so useful. Take advantage of all of the resources the SPDC has to offer! Everyone at the SPDC wants the best for you and are willing to assist you with anything. They encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and build new connections. The advice I received from career advisors helped me gain a multitude of perspectives from a professional standpoint.