July 13, 2020

Connections Steer Geography Grad Toward New Tech Job

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

For his first virtual interview, James Fendley paired a freshly pressed shirt and tie with basketball shorts and asked his family for an hour of quiet. But the best preparation came from UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD).

Throughout his final semester, the 2020 University of Mary Washington graduate scheduled regular phone calls with the Center’s career counselors, who are charged with guiding students and recent grads toward employment, even during COVID-19.

“With each appointment, my résumé improved,” Fendley said. “Seeing my progress kept me motivated and helped me stay on track.”

His perseverance paid off. A month before he earned his degree, Fendley secured a job at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by 2014 alum Jonathan Steenberg. They’re two in a long line of UMW geography majors hired right out of college, thanks to solid programs, strong connections between faculty and students, and an active alumni network. Often landing employment in D.C.’s tech corridor, graduates of the program are the highest paid in the nation for the field, according to College Factual, which also recently ranked Mary Washington’s geography department No. 1 in the Southeast. Read more.

Paul Binkley: On the Job

Paul Binkley became the inaugural executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Development last summer. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Paul Binkley became the inaugural executive director of the Center for Career and Professional Development last summer. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Job searches can be stressful, but even more so for those entering the workforce in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s important to remind students they have “the strengths necessary to survive and thrive,” said Paul Binkley, who became the UMW Center for Career and Professional Development’s inaugural executive director last summer.

“Throughout my career, I’ve learned that students often already have the answers they’re looking for,” said Binkley, who has spent over 20 years in higher education in the U.S. and abroad, most recently leading the career development team at Johns Hopkins University. “But they need someone to help them ask the right questions.”

While the Mary Washington campus is closed and employees are teleworking due to the coronavirus threat, the career center is very much open for business, Binkley said – at least virtually. In fact, his team has ramped up efforts, holding online one-on-one coaching sessions and sending out opportunities via weekly newsletter and social media. Binkley himself will be presenting a UMW Alumni Relations Mary Talks event on May 6 to discuss job prospects during and after the pandemic.

His team is also rolling out a new service in which students can record answers to thousands of interview questions and get feedback from faculty or career coaches. “The key to interviews, online or in person,” he said, “is practice, practice, practice.”

Many graduating seniors at UMW already secured positions prior to COVID-19, Binkley said. For those who are still searching, plenty of employers are eager to connect and want to know how students are staying active and engaged during the quarantine. But for some, he recognizes that may be a challenge.

“If it’s difficult to feel motivated,” he said, “a great place to start is by doing small things every day to remind ourselves that we are still in control and moving forward.”

 

Though the UMW campus is closed and remote learning is taking place, Binkley said the career center is very much open for business. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Though the UMW campus is closed and remote learning is taking place, Binkley said the career center is very much open for business. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Q: What’s a typical day look like for you these days?
A: I get up later but dressing for work gets me in a professional mindset. I have lots of virtual meetings, and intersperse microbreaks to play with my cats, watch a quick video or throw in a load of laundry.

Q: What was your first job out of college?
A: I was a high school student teacher, but I quit after three months. Following that, I worked as an office manager for a psychologist, which was a great entry into the professional world because I had a boss who wanted me to succeed in whatever field I desired.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Watching my staff and students develop into professionals.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Recognizing that students need to experience the world for themselves at their own pace, without pressuring them to do what I think is right.

Q: What are you doing to keep busy?
A: I bought a house near campus and remodeling it has taken a lot of time. With the spring weather, I’m looking forward to working on the outside.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I HATE Brussels sprouts. I’ve had them cooked every way and still can’t stand them.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: Life is a process, not an outcome.

UMW Goes Global as Peace Corps Top Producer

Teenage boys can be a handful, no matter which country or culture they come from.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami learned that fact within her first few weeks of Peace Corps training in Morocco, when the 2019 alumna encountered a young man who refused to participate or follow the rules – when he even bothered to show up – but she wouldn’t give up on him.

“During training, we’re taught that we shouldn’t push these individuals away,” she said, “but instead, give them leadership responsibilities.” Soon the teen was stepping up and helping out. “He showed me that once you start encouraging people, the outcome will change.”

Hajjami is among a dozen Mary Washington graduates serving worldwide in the Peace Corps, to which the University of Mary Washington has once again been named a top contributor. UMW jumped to number seven – up from 15th last year – among small schools on the 2020 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools list, released this morning.

Securing this prestigious ranking is a longstanding tradition for the University, which has earned a spot on the list since 2005. For 12 consecutive years, UMW has been included among the top 25 colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 students. A total of 270 alumni have joined the Peace Corps since its 1961 inception.

“Mary Washington’s culture of service keeps fueling students’ interest in continuing their commitment to populations served by the Peace Corps,” said José A. Sainz, director of UMW’s Center for International Education (CIE). “It pushes their boundaries and offers many opportunities for them to become better global citizens.” Read more.

Upcoming Career & Professional Development Events

A message from the Center for Career & Professional Development. 

The second half of October is a busy time for career related events. There is something for every student happening over the next two weeks, not the least of which is the Job and Internship Fair on Thursday, October 24.

The Career Center would greatly appreciate your help encouraging students to attend the fair and all events. Thank you for all your help and support.

October Career Events

  • FRIDAY (10/18): Department of Defense Information Session: Session to provide information about available special employment programs (via roughly 100 positions) and how to connect with opportunities. With Q&A. Pre-registration is required.
  • 10/21: Resume Walk In Day: Come by the Career Center any time between 9am-3pm for a 15 minute resume review session! Work with our great staff, Peer Career Consultants and a guest employer to bring your resume to the next level. Perfect time to prepare for our upcoming Job & Internship Fair on Thursday, October 24!
  • 10/21: Mutual of Omaha Lunch & Learn: Representatives from Mutual of Omaha will provide information and answer any questions about the organization. Lunch provided! Registration required. Register for your chance to network with this great organization! — Only 3 students currently registered for this GREAT chance to learn about opportunities in business administration, finance, insurance, accounting and much more from a great organization. NOT just for Business students too.
  • 10/22: From Here to Career: A Job Fair Prep Event: Representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, GEICO, and other employers and alumni will help students prepare for the fair (resumes, introductions, choosing appropriate dress, and more). Students who visit each table at this event will be allowed into the fair one hour early.
  • 10/23: Resume Walk In Day: Come by the Career Center any time between 9am-3pm for a 15 minute resume review session! Work with our great staff, Peer Career Consultants and a guest employer to bring your resume to the next level. Perfect time to prepare for our upcoming Job & Internship Fair on Thursday, October 24!
  • 10/24: Job & Internship Fair: Over 50 employers are registered (some listed below) for the chance to meet our students. In many cases, they are looking forward to meeting First Years as much as Seniors. This is a good chance for all students to meet employers and learn new things
    • AnaVation
    • AXA Advisors
    • CACI
    • CIA
    • DC Internships
    • CloseUp Foundation
    • FEMA
    • GEICO
    • NCIS
    • New England Center for Children
    • Peace Corps
    • Target
    • Tech Wizards
    • Thriveworks
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Wegmans
    • 37 MORE!
  • 10/24: CIA Information Session: Representatives will be discussing opportunities within the CIA. Q&A. Pre-registration is required.
  • 10/25: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond On-Campus Interviews: The FED is hiring! Students can apply for their internship or full-time positions via Handshake and register for a time slot to interview with a recruiter.

 

As always, students can stop by the Career Center (UC 206) Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for resume reviews and other quick career questions with our Peer Career Consultants.

If you have questions about any of these events or need help registering, contact the Career Center at 540-654-5646 or email me or ccpd@umw.edu.

Bianca Hightower: Career Creator

Bianca Hightower, assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Bianca Hightower, assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Bianca Hightower has several meaningful mementos and family photos decorating her office. But for the assistant director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, what reminds her most of why she loves her job are the signed business cards from UMW graduates she’s guided toward careers.

“I work closely with students to help them develop the skills and experiences they need to pursue their career goals,” said Hightower, who came to Mary Washington in 2013 and began her current role two years later. “I cherish seeing how successful they have become.”

Hightower oversees UMW’s Peer Career Consultant Program and helps students navigate the internship and job search, in addition to teaching a course that helps job seekers learn how to communicate their personal brand to prospective employers. One might assume that Hightower and the Career and Professional Development staff have downtime during the summer. On the contrary, the office is bustling with activity, especially after commencement, during orientation and before the start of the school year. In the meantime, the staff is busy preparing to help the next crop of students plan their futures.

If that isn’t enough, Hightower also supports teenagers throughout the region in finding pathways to success. She leads the James Farmer Scholars, a college access program for 250 students in grades seven to 12.

“Juggling these dual roles has certainly challenged me to grow as a professional,” Hightower said. “I manage by staying organized and being efficient. But I couldn’t do it without the people around me.”

 

Q: How did you come to work in this field?
A: I completed several internships during graduate school to discover my interests and career services was where I found my niche.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When students are able to define and reach their goals. Figuring out a career path is a daunting task, so I applaud students for working through the process.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Finding time in the day to fit it all in. Our office is small, but we get the job done.

Q: Tell us about Handshake and how it works.
A: It’s a platform that students use to connect with potential mentors and employers, track their experiences and keep in touch with our office. The biggest use is for students to search for and apply to job and internships posted in the system by employers.

Q: How will the James Farmer Scholars celebrate the 100th anniversary of James Farmer’s birth next January?
A: We are planning a reunion for past Scholars and special activities for current participants.

Q: What was your favorite summer job as a teen or college student?
A: Working as an undergraduate RA during a summer school session at Wake Forest University. It was a different dynamic than during the academic year and helped solidify my desire to pursue a career in higher education.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am obsessed with cheerleading! I recently had knee surgery after being on an adult cheer team, but it was worth it.

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

Paul Binkley was recently named the inaugural director of UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development.

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and higher education management.

He comes to UMW from the Homewood Career Center at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), where he served as director of the Student Career Development Team. In that role, he managed a staff of career coaches who implemented an industry-based service model that included group, one-on-one and class-based services to all Homewood undergraduate and graduate students, and young alumni.

Binkley will work with similar constituents at Mary Washington. His arrival at UMW solidifies the University’s commitment to meeting statewide workforce needs as well as its conviction that a liberal arts education is the essence of career and life readiness.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with Dr. Binkley on bringing to life a vision that makes preparation for the transition from college to career and life after Mary Washington a central aspect of the student experience,” said Tim O’Donnell, associate provost for academic engagement and student success.

Prior to his job at JHU, Binkley worked in Monrovia, Liberia, for more than three years, first as an education officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and then as the resident director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

Before his tenure in Africa, Binkley spent 13 years working in career development at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the Elliott School of International Affairs. He has also worked in Afghanistan, Barbados, Iraq, Tajikistan and several other countries in Europe and Africa.

Recognized for his significant knowledge and expertise in the area of federal careers, Binkley teamed with Katherine Troutman, a noted federal careers expert, to author the book Students’ Federal Career Guide — How Students, Student Vets, and Recent Grads Land a Federal Job, now in its third edition. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration from The George Washington University, a master’s degree in international affairs from the University of Kentucky and a certificate in Human Performance Improvement. Originally from central Minnesota, Binkley is a certified MBTI facilitator, and a Board Certified Coach.

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and […]

UMW Names Inaugural Director of Center for Career and Professional Development

University of Mary Washington announces the fulfillment of one of its key strategic goals with the selection of the first executive director for its Center for Career and Professional Development. Paul Binkley, whose employment will begin June 25, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of career services, student affairs, international development and […]

Women’s Leadership Colloquium at Stevenson Ridge on May 7

The Women’s Leadership Colloquium @ UMW’s next networking event will be held on Tuesday, May 7 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Stevenson Ridge.

This Old Piece…Finding and Finishing Furniture

The Beginner’s Guide to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Be inspired as you learn from Sara Branner and Mindy Gray, Co-Owners of SaraGray Designs, LLC, how to find and refinish furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Participants will discover practical tips and gain the confidence to paint a piece on their own.  A finished piece will be given away to one lucky person! All attendees will also get to experience one of their DIY workshops.

SaraGray Designs, LLC is a “Pop Up” studio/shop in Remington that features painted and farmhouse furniture, home accessories, jewelry, artwork and paper crafting items.  DIY workshops are also held during the month.

Light food and wine will be provided. Cost per person: $15.

REGISTER TODAY! Space limited.

https://www.umw.edu/lcpw/

Kyle Danzey: Corps Values

Before Kyle Danzey can talk about his military service, or the GI bill that put him through college, or the work that funded his graduate degree in Norfolk, he must first talk about his family.

“My mom and dad grew up in the segregated South,” he said. “They didn’t have many opportunities.”

Yet they made them – paving the way for their son.

Kyle Danzey

Kyle Danzey is director of the new Peace Corps Prep program at UMW. Photo by Alex Sakes.

Danzey’s parents joined the military, which gave them the chance to go to college. His father was injured while serving in Vietnam. Together, they raised a son who would follow in their footsteps, fully appreciating the value of an education.

He got a bachelor’s degree, worked two years and then went to graduate school at Old Dominion University – paying his own way as a full-time vocational instructor for recipients of welfare benefits.

He arrived at UMW two years ago, taking on the role of assistant director for career and professional development. He also serves as coordinator of UMW’s brand new Peace Corps Prep program.

Q: The Peace Corps just recognized UMW as one of the top volunteer-producing colleges for the 10th year in a row. Why do so many join?

A: It’s just a culture that we have here at UMW. We’ve always had that tradition of being educators or providing a service. Our students want to contribute to society. They want to travel internationally.

Q: Tell me about the new Peace Corps Prep program.

A: It’s a pipeline program that combines targeted coursework, service-oriented field work and professional development to prepare undergraduates for future volunteer positions. Successful students receive a certificate from the Peace Corps, a graduation rope and help with applying to the Peace Corps.

Q: Tell me about your other roles here on campus.

A: I do all of the marketing within the Career Center. I do resume reviews, career assessments and presentations on resume building. I also teach local seventh through twelfth graders once a month as part of the James Farmer Scholars program. I teach a student transition program for incoming freshmen for under-represented students. I’m also coordinator for a workforce recruitment program for students with disabilities.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: Working with students and seeing them grow over time. It still shocks me sometimes when I’m walking across campus and I hear, “Hi, Mr. Danzey.” I made some impact on that student’s life for them to remember me. That’s the ultimate reward.

Q: What is the most challenging part?

A: Throughout my life, I’ve seen that one person others don’t see who may feel undervalued. I’ve always taken to that person. There are so many out there we just don’t know. It hurts my heart that there may be a student going through a situation that I can’t help.

Q: Is there a motto you live by?

A: Strengths lie in differences, not similarities. I think that can apply to everything.