From Liberal Arts to Tech Start-up

Last summer, I attended a conference in San Francisco that included leaders in education, media and technology; the purpose – to explore the hyper-connected world of work that is rapidly changing and for which we are preparing students to enter. It was fascinating. We heard from Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Goolge, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times all discussing how technology is changing the workplace and the impact that will have for students entering the job market.

According to college alumni office records, there are over 140 Whitman graduates working in the top technology-based organizations in Seattle and San Francisco alone. We will see that number continue to grow as current start-ups grow and new start-ups emerge. A liberal arts degree is highly relevant – and valuable – to these organizations. Start-ups move fast. They are rapidly changing, evolving to meet market demands, adjusting how and where they meet their customer and expanding to seek out new consumers. An employee that is adaptable, eager to learn and capable of applying their knowledge to new situations is invaluable in that climate.

How does a Whitman student or graduate find their fit in this ever-changing profession?

This is the focus of the 2015 Sava and Danica Andjelkovic Endowed Lectureship. This year, the SEC is hosting Stephanie Silver ’10 – an Art History major currently working as a Project Manager at Dynamit and Scott Silver ’05 – an English major currently working as a Front End Engineer at Square for a series of events to explore this topic from different viewpoints. Please join us, Monday, March 9th for any or all of the below events to discuss, explore, ask questions and get answers to your questions about how a Whittie can find their fit in start-up tech organizations.

March 9th, Noon-1:00P | Room 207

Positioning Yourself in a Tech Start-up workshop

Open to all students, faculty and staff. Lunch is provided.

RSVP here


March 9th, Noon-1:00P | Room 110

Becoming a Developer with a Humanities Background workshop

Open to all students, faculty and staff. Lunch is provided.

RSVP here


March 9th, 7:00-8:00P | Kimball Auditorium

Whitman in Tech discussion with the Silvers, Professor Albert Schueller and Professor Matt Reynolds
Open to the public. Reception to follow.

RSVP here

Adopt-A-Grandparent Multicultural Fair

The Adopt-A-Grandparent Multicultural Fair on Friday, February 20, brought together a wonderful group of AAG volunteers, Whitman students, and Odd Fellows residents in an educational and fun cultural experience. The Multicultural Fair consisted of presentations from students who studied abroad in Ecuador, China, Senegal, Spain, and Denmark; musical performances including a Chinese instrumental piece, a love song from India, and a Brazilian dance; and a world trivia Jeopardy style game. Residents were extremely impressed by all of the student performances and presentations and had a blast playing jeopardy with their adopted Whitman grandkids! DSC_0347

This event was a wonderful opportunity for adopted grandparents to learn more about their Whitman grandkids and made for a lot of interesting conversation in the room! It was especially fun to see the residents get competitive at the end during the jeopardy game as they competed in teams against one another. DSC_0368

An extra special thanks to all of the performers and presenters who attended the event – Aly Counsell, Wenjun Gao, Caitlyn Smith, Kamna Shastri, Rachel Palfini, Melissa Shaffer, Andrea Chin and Ludmila de Brito and her dance crew! You made this event possible and did an awesome job!

Student Shares Success with Job Shadow Experiences

When it came to internships, I had no idea where to start.  Yet after talking with other students and recent graduates, I discovered that job shadowing is an excellent way to look for future employment.  In order to get started, I needed to narrow down a goal.  Personally, it was important to expand my network in the local area, since I would love to intern from home.  I also wanted to experience different companies that offer careers in the field I am interested in going into once I graduate.

WHW RWhitman has excellent alumni resources that allow students to easily develop connections with alumni in their interest areas.  Whitman’s university page on LinkedIn is a very useful and intuitive tool to find alumni.  The LinkedIn page allows you to sort through the alumni listed based on your priorities.  For instance, I can easily navigate through all the alumni to find people who are working in engineering in the Portland area.  The only downfall to the LinkedIn page lies in the fact that little contact information is given.  Luckily, Whitman has its own online database of alumni including contact information, clubs and activities they participated in while attending Whitman, and whether or not they would like to be contacted.  These two online tools foster numerous opportunities for connections.

Aside from the online resources, in my opinion the fastest way to make connections and search for a job shadow or internship is in-person networking.  The Student Engagement Center holds numerous networking events in major cities during breaks.  I attended a Whitties Helping Whitties networking event during winter break resulting in a job shadow later that week.  Prior to this event, I figured asking for a job shadow or internship would be a difficult question to ask; however, it turned out to be rather simple.  After talking with many alumni, I met somebody who worked in my field of interest.  Intrigued, I continued talking with him, then asked “I’m interested in learning more about your job and your company, would you be interested in letting me job shadow sometime next week?”  He gave me his card and told me to contact him to set a date.  Though daunting at first, networking is a wonderful tool to explore opportunities.

The day after the networking event, I sent him an email that looked something like this:

Hello _____,

My name is Collin, we met last night at the Whitman networking event.  To refresh your memory, I’m currently studying physics at Whitman.  I’m in the process of looking for an internship this summer in the field of engineering.

You mentioned last night you would be willing to let me visit your workplace and possibly shadow you for an hour or two.  I would love to see what you do and be exposed to more possible careers.  Is that something you would be willing to do?  I am free anytime next week.

I’m very glad I met you last night, I really appreciate your advice and insight you gave me about liberal arts, rhetoric and graduate programs.

Feel free to contact me over email, or if you would rather call, my cell phone number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

Thank you for your time!

Collin Faunt

Student, Whitman College

For this specific job shadow experience, the company had some secrecy policies that didn’t allow non-employees beyond certain points, so my job shadow consisted mainly of an office tour and continued conversation from the networking event.  He also talked about his progression through school during and after Whitman, what he would recommend, and how his Whitman experience has benefitted him today.  Before I left I mentioned to him that I was looking for internship opportunities, asking if he know who I could get in contact with to inquire about my possibilities there.  He told me there were no opportunities in his department, but he would ask around in different departments to see if they were looking for an intern.

Leaving the job shadow with a lot of great advice and insight on the company and what a future there would look like, I emailed him after the job shadow thanking him for taking time out of his day to accommodate me.  I also reminded him to send along any contacts that might be looking for an intern.  This is just one example of a successful job shadow experience.  Job shadows can vary in length and information, but even realizing you don’t want to work somewhere is a successful job shadow.  I highly suggest looking for opportunities to job shadow.  The connections you make could possibly lead you to your future career.

The Spring Break Job Shadow Program is a more formally organized way for students to connect with Alumni and Whitman-affiliates about jobs/careers they might be interested for the future. Students will have the opportunity to reach out to professionals and shadow under them for any duration of time during Spring Break. If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved with the program, please visit Student Engagement Center website or email!

And Recruiters Continue Coming to Whitman…

  MedBridge… Koru… The Spur Group… Facebook

Organizations continue to recruit at Whitman this semester – on campus and via the NEW Virtual Recruiting program sponsored by the SEC.  Amazon, NW Mutual and College Pro shared programs for internships, summer business opportunities and post-grad positions last week.

Coming up, we’ll hear about roles in marketing, finance, consulting, business analytics, content strategy, human resources and more.  Paid internship programs are available at most; post-grad, full-time positions are on the table for all.

Here is a list of companies and dates that are confirmed right now:


February 12th Koru | Reid G02 | 12:00, Lunch Provided – Over 90% of Whitman alumni who have participated in the Koru program have been hired into full-time positions within 3-months of completing the program. Join this workshop to learn more about Koru and get a taste of what they do.  RSVP here.

Interested in a one-on-one interview with Courtney Sanford ’12 from Koru?  Sign-up for an interview time here.


February 18th MedBridge | Reid 110 | 12:00, Lunch Provided – One of the fastest growing medical tech companies, MedBridge is seeking smart, talented seniors for openings in finance, marketing, client services, and more!  Join this in-person session with Sarah Colton ’11 and recruiters to hear more about this rapidly growing organization, their openings and internship opportunities. RSVP here.

Interested in a one-on-one interview with MedBridge?  Sign-up for an interview time here.


February 20th The Spur Group | Reid G02 | 12:00, Lunch Provided – The Spur Group likes hiring at Whitman.  Currently, almost 20% of their staff are recent Whitman graduates.  Join this info session with Andrew Hawkins ’13 and Sylvie Luiten ’12 to learn more about the organization and how YOU can ace your next interview. RSVP here.

Interested in a one-on-one interview with The Spur Group?  Sign-up for an interview time here.

And yet to come… Facebook, PitchBook, Porch, Brighton Jones, Zulily and more!

Stay tuned to the SEC Events page for times, locations and more recruiters, or e-mail for more info.