Davis Connects: more than a new career center building

If you’ve enjoyed a meal at Bob’s or a concert in Bixler this year, you’ve most likely passed by the newly renovated Grossman Hall – home of DavisConnects. The programming for DavisConnects was made possible through the generosity of the Davis Family and the trustee of its charitable foundation Andrew A. Davis, `85, LL.D. `15. The funds are aimed to ensure that students have the opportunity to have meaningful global experiences, research opportunities, internship opportunities and access to a support system of staff and faculty that they can turn to with any questions regarding postgraduate planning.

A generous gift from a Colby alumni flips the Career Center model on its head. Students are guaranteed access to a global experience, regardless of financial status

Andy McGadney, Colby’s Vice President and Dean of Student Advancement, elaborates on DavisConnects’ commitment to allowing each student an international experience. “The promise of DavisConnects is that every student can engage in meaningful study, research or an internship opportunity abroad, regardless of their financial capability,” he said. Sup- port from the Davis Global Engagement Fellowships fund will encourage students to go back abroad to pursue sustained global experiences. There will also be expanded opportunities for Colby faculty through the Davis Fund for Global Innovation to support the development of creative and rigorous global experiences abroad for students. This January, for example, Professor Philip Nyhus, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies will lead a research-based course in Sri Lanka investigating conservation policy,wildlife behavior and ecology,and the interaction of religion, culture, and environment.

Carolyn Harney `17 is excited about the global aspect of the program: “The new DavisConnects program creates great potential for us students to connect with the world while planning our careers,” she said.

While traditional career centers are structured outside of the academic model, the current DavisConnects model is embedded within the academic community. As of this year, students have been assigned a Da- visConnects advisor along with their faculty advisor and advising dean. “This will be an integrated team of advisors who will be a key component and support system for students throughout their four years,” said Davis- Connects Advisor Sarah Whitfield `09. First years now have a community made up of their advisors and peers that can assist them with designing their futures. This model ensures that each student’s academic life and professional experiences are integrated. “These learning communities will then extend well beyond their first year at Colby,” Whitfield said.

In terms of resources and workshops available to students, DavisConnects continues with providing assistance that the Career Center did, helping with résumés, cover letters, internship searches, and interview preparation. However, with DavisConnects, these resources have been organized in a way that allows students to more effectively and efficiently receive the help they need. DavisConnects has implemented a new advising in model in which all of the advisors have their own area of specialty in terms of career paths. Advisors’ specialty areas range from pre-law and public policy to pre-health, pre-medical school, education, finance, and communications. Students are also encouraged to utilize Col- byConnect and Handshake, two online platforms that allow for engagement with Colby alumni as well as broader networking opportunities and internship and career searches.

The newly renovated Grossman Hall has also allowed for an expanded and improved community space. Grossman boasts outdoor study tables, a spacious front lobby complete with cozy couches, and interview rooms that students and employers can book for phone, Skype, and in-person interviews.

Students are also excited about the prospect of using the new space as a study spot. Chantal Naegeli `18 has already spent many hours poring over readings in the building’s sunny outdoor seating area: “The new DavisConnects study space is a wonderful addition to the various study spaces on campus! It’s open and very comfortable. I also love that there is outdoor seating. It’s a great spot to take advantage of when the weather is nice,” she said.

Gavin Blake `18 agreed, noting that “people don’t just come to DavisConnects for career, internship, and research assistance; it’s a great place to study and hang out with friends.” Blake has just started work as a Student Concierge for the building, and he says his favorite part about working at the front desk is “the opportunity to interact with so many students each day.”

In addition to making appointments with a DavisConnects advisor online through Handshake, students can stop by for short meetings during drop-in hours. This semester, drop-in hours are 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, with added hours from 5:00- 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday.