Former App State Athlete Shares Career Advice


Drew Stewart ’13, is a former football player and Appalachian State alum.

Check out this guest blog post from former App State football player, Drew Stewart!  Thanks for sharing with us, Drew!

My experience at Appalachian State was a very good one.  I enjoyed being a part of a great university that provided me with the tools to be successful in the classroom and in the real world.  I graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, focusing on management and entrepreneurship.  I played for the football team during my time at Appalachian and stayed connected to campus through opportunities in the athletic department.

Following graduation, I took my first job at Arkansas State University and served as the Special Teams Quality Control Coach in their football program. After spending a little over a year in Jonesboro, Arkansas, I moved back to North Carolina to pursue a career in real estate.  I am currently the Senior Project Advisor for Providence Management in Gastonia, North Carolina.

The job search proved to be tough.  It took lots of e-mails and resume critiques to get my name in the hands of individuals in the college football profession.  I realized the power of networking. For my experience, the job search was heavily influenced by “who I knew” in addition to “what I knew” as a result of my college career at Appalachian.

The experiences in the Walker College of Business and on the football field prepared me for my current job.  While playing college football I learned valuable life lessons, discipline and responsibility.  I strongly believe that the relationships you make through your college career and through networking with professionals in the business of your interest will help you find success.

My advice to job-seeking students in any profession is to build relationships, ask questions and, most importantly, work harder than others seeking the job.  It is all about people and work ethic. If it was not for college football and the experiences I was provided at Appalachian, I would not be the person or professional I am today.

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Senior Psychology Major Shares Internship Experience at ASU’s Career Exploration Office

Jasmine Henderson

Jasmine Henderson is a senior at Appalachian State studying psychology.  Below she shares with us her experience as an intern in the Career Exploration Office on App’s campus and how that has shaped her future career plans!

Can you tell us about your internship experience?
My internship experience is with the Career Exploration Office that is located beside McAllister’s on the second floor of the Student Union. We help students decide on a major or what career they would like to pursue with their intended major by using different assessments both online and via paper. These assessments help the students acknowledge what their interests are, what skills they possess, and what their core values are, which is key for when your looking for a job.

What influenced you to apply for this internship position? How did you acquire this internship?
I actually completed a session with the Career Exploration Office my Junior year during my free-time, and I fell in love with helping students figure out what they wanted to do with their life and also the staff members that I worked with. When I attended an Internship Session with Dr. Hill and saw that Career Exploration Office was on the list of internship sites, I immediately requested to intern for them.

What aspect of the internship experience did you enjoy the most?
Something that I enjoy the most about my internship experience is the feeling of accomplishment and pride that I get whenever a student figures out a major that they are interested in and that I helped them with that accomplishment. Whenever someone leaves and says “Thank you so much for helping me figure this out,” I feel proud.

What surprised you about the internship?
Something that surprised me about the internship was how truly difficult it is for students to figure out what major they would like to pursue because so many students want to do so many things and having to narrow that down is a hard and thought-provoking process.

What did you learn about yourself?
Something that I learned about myself is that I have a natural counseling ability and am an easy person for students to talk to whenever they have problems. I found this out about myself after a couple students would confide in me and tell me personal things that were not necessary to tell me during our appointments, but the fact that they did gives me a sense of pride because I never thought people could confide in me.

What is next for you?
During my senior year, I intend to volunteer next fall semester during my free time at the Career Exploration. This internship has got me thinking that I want to go into Student Affairs for graduate school and become a Career Counselor for my career.

What advice do you have for other internship-seeking students in your major?
Some advice that I would give to students in my major who are seeking internship opportunities is to do something that you’re interested in and that will help you possibly develop that into a career.

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Don’t Discount the Extracurricular Activities!

Today’s guest blogger, Appalachian State University alumnus Elliott Kimball, shares his post-graduation journey and reminds students that it’s not just inside the classroom where growth and development occurs!

E. Kimball Photo

Tell us a bit about your experience at Appalachian State? What is your major? When did you graduate? How were you involved on campus?

Appalachian was the greatest four-year whirlwind of my life; chaotic and ever-changing more due to my outside involvement than my academic pursuits. I still remember sitting down with my Academic Advisor during Summer Orientation and saying, “I love marketing but math makes me violently ill,” and together we found Communication and Advertising. My faculty were engaged, attentive and accomplished, with just as many academic credentials as experiential. For those hands-on fields like advertising, having someone at the front of the room both able to articulate the theoretical approaches but also an “in-the-trenches” know-how from the agency perspective is invaluable.

What are you doing today?

Advertising, actually. Just kidding. Not there’s anything wrong with advertising, but I wish I knew as an undergraduate that it was advantageous to consider post-graduate opportunities outside of my field of study. Today, after a rather circuitous path, I’m back on a college campus. Currently I serve as the Assistant Director for Student Engagement: Greek Life & Off-Campus Student Programs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, within the office of Student Activities, Involvement & Leadership. If you feel the need to pause for a moment to remember the poor soul that had to fit that on to a nametag and business card, please do so now.

What experiences have best prepared you for your current professional role?

Because I now coordinate student activities, programming, involvement, and leadership opportunities on a daily basis, obviously a large part of what prepared me to do this work were my own endeavors outside of the classroom. I didn’t arrive on day one, unloading these lofty aspirations into my shoebox of a residence hall room proclaiming, “I will soon be the most overly involved student on this campus.” I went to the Club Expo, knew I wanted to meet new people and find new circles, and may have accidentally signed my name and email to every interest sheet in the room. Well, all those not pertaining to physical activity, the outdoors, or contact with wild animals – merely personal preference. All that interest eventually dwindled to membership in nine student organizations my first year, which dwindled to more like six mid-level responsibilities come sophomore year, which dwindled to those three most important and impactful for me by the latter half of my collegiate tenure. I think students should be reminded that this often unruly process of elimination is also acceptable, if not encouraged. College is not the time to know, it’s the time to try. I closed my time at Appalachian as Student Director of Orientation and president of my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. I also did a year-long sprint through Student Government, as well as served on the Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Cabinet; both experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. Ultimately, this led me to the understanding that fostering these experiences for other collegians, which I ultimately view as educating ‘the whole student,’ was what I wanted to dedicate my life to.

Can you tell us about your first job?

I began as a corporate copywriting intern for a major, multi-campus marketing giant in Charlotte. It took me six months in a cubicle to remember what I valued most about my college life, which was the engaging community and opportunities I had to be challenged and to grow through leadership and involvement. This led me to start my Master’s Degree in Education the following fall, working in tandem with Fraternity & Sorority Housing at the University of South Alabama and developing a foundation for a career in higher education.

What is next for you?

Similar to your undergraduate majors, those in various higher education career tracks also have natural paths to terminal positions carved out for them. I used to say, ‘I think one day I want to be a Vice Chancellor for Student Development,’ but that was half because recent history told me so and half because Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development at Appalachian, left her careful and personal touch on the greater part of my final two years on the mountaintop. I do know that I love to learn, and realize even more sitting so close to the academy on a college campus that you’ll never know it all, but try until you can’t. With this, I expect my next professional stop will find me still in student engagement, but working toward a doctoral degree in education. After that I’d like to think I’ll climb a rather traditional ladder into administration, but I’m not too proud to say I have many more trials to navigate before I’m certain.

What advice do you have for current students?

As cliché as it sounds – get involved!  Not because you might want to one day work in student affairs, but because clubs and organizations can provide entirely separate arenas in which to find yourself. Also, consciously refrain from comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.  And second to last, talk to anyone that will listen. If you think you may want to seek a particular opportunity after college, find as many people that do it and keep asking questions until you’re sure, starting early and often. Conversation is free. Think of every thing you do, both academic and otherwise in college, as an opportunity to realize your potential. And lastly, again more cliché than the first: be you. I promise that no warmer place awaits the bravest version of yourself than Appalachian State University. #ForeverAMountaineer

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Outdoor Jobs Fair Leads to Incredible Summer Experiences


Camp Lurecrest

Today’s guest blogger is Junior Recreation Management student, Weston Lawrence!  Weston attended the Outdoor Jobs Fair last year and was able to line up this amazing summer job at Camp Lurecrest.  Camp Lurecrest will be attending this year’s Outdoor Jobs Fair along with 60+ other camps, resorts, and parks on Wednesday, February 18th.  Be sure to stop by Grandfather Mountain Ballroom from 10am-2pm to line up your own summer internship, part-time job, or even full-time job!  See you there!

Can you tell us about your experience?

I had the distinct privilege of being a camp counselor at Camp Lurecrest in Lake Lure, NC. If you’ve never heard of this place, you aren’t alone; the Outdoor Jobs Fair was my first time coming in contact with this quaint town in the Appalachian Mountains. As a camp counselor, my duties were exactly what you would expect from a position with this title, but my experience was anything but. Each and every day was different, some good, some not so good, and all significant. I arrived at Camp Lurecrest on June 1, 2014 completely terrified of the fact that I knew about four staff members out of the 50+ that worked there. Fortunately, the first two weeks of camp are staff orientation for oblivious counselors like me to get acclimated to the beautiful chaos I’ve just made myself a part of. Every day of the summer is its own battle; a battle against the heat, exhaustion, hunger, thirst, and a surprisingly large amount of questions. Each and every day is also full of miracles and wonder that I would say could make even the most masculine of individuals shed a tear. For example, one week I had a camper who approached me on Sunday, crying his eyes out because he wanted to go home; I settled him down and got him back to sleep. Every day, he came to me with more and more questions about what it meant to follow Jesus and by Wednesday he had given his life to Christ; that was just one of the many miracles that happened in that one summer. At Camp Lurecrest I would say the priorities are Jesus, campers, and everything else. Ultimately the purpose of this gospel-centered camp is to show Jesus to campers (grades ranging from 3-12) in a safe, comfortable setting that allows them to have their own, personal experience with His love and grace. The motto of Lurecrest is “A Week can Change a Life,” so you can only imagine what an entire summer did for me.

What influenced you to apply for this position?

One of my friends here at Appalachian State told me to check it out as I walked in the Outdoor Jobs Fair. When I went to check it out, I met a fairly intimidating, large, bearded man named Jeremy White (the Camp Director). He turned out to be one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever spoken to. He seemed to actually care about what I had to say and was very helpful. He even emailed me after I applied and told me how glad he was that I did. I soon found out this attitude of going above and beyond what is expected is commonplace at Camp Lurecrest.

How did you acquire this job?

After speaking with Jeremy, I went on and filled out the summer staff application. I then did an interview on Skype and was offered the job roughly a week and a half later. The whole process was about 3 weeks.
What aspect of the job experience did you enjoy the most?
My favorite part of being a counselor at Lurecrest was watching campers conquer their fears on the Leap of Faith. For those of you who don’t know, the Leap of Faith is a 25-foot, wobbly telephone pole that campers climb up. Then once at the top, the campers jump off, trying to grab a trapeze bar. Many campers, much like myself when I was a kid, freeze at the top, unable to move or keep control of their emotions. The greatest moment of any week of camp is when the children overcame the psychological barrier that they had built between themselves and the trapeze bar and were able to jump; I lived for those moments.

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Rec Management Major Shares Summer Internship Experience with SOAR

Emily Harris Emily Harris is currently a senior at Appalachian State majoring in Recreation Management with a minor in Special Education.  Read below to see how she was able to find an internship that combined her love for the outdoors with her desire to work with children with special needs. 

My internship was working as part of the outdoor field staff for SOAR, which is an outdoor adventure camp for kids 8-18 years old with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities. SOAR has multiple base camps across the U.S. and offers so many awesome opportunities and experiences. With a minor in special education, my goal was to find a job that combined both my love for that population and recreation itself. I set out determined to nail down an internship that was unlike anything I’d ever done before. I wanted something totally out of my normal element. I wanted it to be something that I could thoroughly enjoy and also expand my knowledge and experience within the field. An internship at a camp seemed like a good avenue to explore since camp was brand new to me.

When I was first given some information about SOAR, it seemed like a perfect option for me. I researched the organization some on the internet just to get the general overview/understanding of the organization and what they try to do with these kids. The balsam base, which is where I worked, was 45 minutes from my hometown, and the ASU Recreation Management program already had a good relationship with SOAR. When I decided to apply for the internship, I got the director of operation’s contact information at the balsam base and emailed her about setting up a time to further discuss the position at the upcoming ASU outdoor jobs fair. At the jobs fair, I came prepared with my professional resume, letter of recommendation, and a cover letter. Laura, my eventual boss, and I sat down in the student union for about an hour and had a full blown interview. I was nervous, but Laura was very inviting and super easy to talk to. I felt confident in my performance at the interview and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Less than a week later, I got an email from Laura saying I had gotten the job. I was so thrilled to have landed the position so I accepted the offer. I immediately imagined a wonderful summer ahead full of adventures.

The internship turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, and it was definitely EmilyHarris2the best summer that I had had in my life. It was life changing in a way for me. The friendships that I made with the staff, the directors, the kids and their parents really impacted me in a positive way. I felt like I was a part of a family at SOAR. The things I got to do and experience with the staff and kids, and just working with that population of kids, really made me step back and take a look at my life. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I loved doing work like this. It filled me with a genuine happiness that I had never felt before. The summer wasn’t always filled with sunshine and roses and there were times that I was tested, but overall I wouldn’t trade a single thing that happened that entire summer. I felt like a completely changed person when I came back to school in August for my senior year. I was driven in my studies, excited for my future, and ready to put my skills to use. What it boiled down to was that I had a new found sense of confidence that I had never had in myself before. I came back with a whole new mindset and I was legitimately happy. I was even sad to leave SOAR because the three-month summer didn’t seem like long enough.

The aspect that I enjoyed most about the internship was being able to see and experience break-throughs with kids. Seeing them make a climb even though they were terrified of heights, take leadership of a group during an activity, or even just befriend another kid in the group was truly amazing. Most of the kids were completely different from when I met them on the first day to when the course ended. At the debriefs at the end of a course, I was so excited to share with the parents what strides and accomplishments their child had made throughout the course. It had such a big impact on some that the parents actually cried on me and thanked me and my staff partner for what we did. There’s not a better feeling than seeing improvements in a child who is normally just told about the things that he/she is not good at or can’t do.

What surprised me most about my internship experience was how much I loved it. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Even during the rough times or not so good days, I still laid down at night and in my heart, I still truly loved it. I learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I learned that I am extremely flexible in terms of dealing with situations and working with different people, patient, hardworking, physically and mentally tough, and that I have the ability to be a leader. I also learned that I want to work with persons with disabilities in some sort of outdoor setting for the rest of my life. It brings me so much joy!

My advice to other students looking for internships is don’t set the bar low for yourself. Set it high and go after something that will be totally new and be outside of your comfort zone. If you allow yourself to stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never really know what you can learn about yourself. Also set out hungry to nail down something. Don’t procrastinate and let opportunities pass you by.

As for me and my future, I am working again with SOAR this coming summer out at their base in Dubois, Wyoming. It’s been a dream of mine to get out west and this is my chance! I loved working for SOAR so much last summer that I decided that I wanted to work with them again this summer. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do after camp ends in August. I have a couple ideas that include continue working for SOAR, applying to an adaptive sports center somewhere out west and do different seasonal jobs, or find another special needs camp to explore. To me, the options are endless and I am excited to explore them!

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App State Alum Shares Valuable Advice for Current Students

App State grad Leah Thompson shares with us what"Leah Thompson" life looks like after graduation.  From world traveler to academic advisor, check out Leah’s post-grad experience and her advice to current ASU students below.  Enjoy!

Tell us a bit about your experience at Appalachian State? What is your major? When did you graduate? How were you involved on campus?
I graduated from Appalachian State University in May 2011 with a BS in Psychology. While at App, I was a Chancellor’s Scholar, Plemmons Leader Fellow, and active member of the honors college. I was also a Diversity Educator and a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, serving as the Academic Chair and Recruitment Information Manager. As a psychology major, I was very interested in research and served as a research assistant under the supervision of two faculty members. Additionally, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Greece and participate in two Alternative Break Experiences to Egypt and Bolivia. The opportunity to travel the world as an undergraduate student was a transformational experience that redirected my career plans from clinical and educational psychology to international education.

What are you doing today?
I am currently an academic advisor in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

Can you tell us about your first job search?
While a senior at ASU I began to research opportunities to work overseas. I decided to pursue teaching English as a second language overseas as a way to gain professional experience, earn a salary, travel the world, and prepare me for graduate studies in international education. I worked in Thailand for 6 months teaching high school English. After the completion of my contract, I returned to the States to begin graduate school at American University in Washington, DC. After completing graduate school in May 2014, I began the typical job search – including attending networking events, jobs fairs, visiting my university career center, contacting mentors/professors/supervisors to serve as references, and scanning online job boards multiple times per day. The job search was quite exhausting, and often frustrating, but also rewarding. I interviewed for a few jobs at different universities in the DC area, and found a great role as an Academic Advisor at George Mason University.

What experiences have best prepared you for your current professional role?
Having been a very involved undergraduate student at ASU, I have a keen understanding of the collegiate experience that aids me in understanding and better supporting the students with whom I work. My teaching experience overseas prepared me for public speaking and presentations to students and families (a responsibility in my current role). Working as a graduate assistant at American University provided me knowledge and skills to feel comfortable and succeed in a career in higher education.

What do you know now that you wish you knew as a student? Any advice?
Get as many quality experiences as you can while you have all of the wonderful resources and support available to you as a college student. Seek out research opportunities and internship opportunities, develop relationships with faculty members who know you personally and can serve as references during the job search and graduate school applications. Visit the Career Center to get feedback on your resume and cover letter – these documents must be flawless! And lastly, be open to diverse experiences and challenge yourself. Just because you were a psychology major doesn’t mean you will be a psychologist. Explore careers, discover who you are and what you are passionate about, and find a way to achieve your goals.

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ASU Grad Student Discusses Accounting Internships

Today’s blog post is written by one of the Career Development Center’s Career Information Officers, Christopher Carpenter, who interviewed an accounting graduate student here at Appalachian.  Enjoy her insights on internships and general career advice!


Today I’ll be writing about my interview with Grace Uzenski, an accounting graduate student at Appalachian State University. Grace received her undergraduate degree from Appalachian and somehow was able to do a total of THREE internships: two audit accounting internships with Cherry Bekaert, LLP and one tax accounting internship with Grant Thornton, LLP, all based out of Charlotte, NC.

Grace’s first two summers off from school were spent working in the accounting department for a packaging company, but the experience was not what she was looking for in a career, so she sought out the advice of one of her accounting professors. Grace tells me, “Dr. Brackney told me about leadership programs and I participated in one between my junior and senior year of college.” It was actually this conference that lead to Grace’s first internship with Cherry Bekeart, LLP. When asked what aspect of the internship she enjoyed most, Grace answered,

“The work, the people, the learning. All of that. I know that’s strange but I just loved getting to work with my co-workers on projects that were initially way above my head. The whole process allows for so much learning, and it was a pleasure to go from the beginning of the experience, where all of the material was brand new, to the end of the process when I was able to really contribute to projects and ask intelligent questions. It was a pleasure working with everyone that I encountered and I’m convinced that I learned something, be it crucial or seemingly trivial, from everyone I worked with.”

I’m sure we all would love some obviously relevant, on-the-job learning opportunities in areas that we are genuinely interested in.

I then asked Grace what, if anything, did she learn about herself through her experiences, and she said,

“I learned that it is important to laugh through the more difficult parts of your day. There will be days when the client is being difficult, or the problem in front of you is just baffling, and you won’t know where to start. Those are the times when it is most important to turn to your peers to find some relief. They will either help you get started on your problem, or share anecdotes about their own experiences. Regardless, everyone is in it together and they all understand that you have a million and one questions to ask. Ask them! It’s worth it.”

Grace brings up an excellent point here and offers spot-on advice.

When companies hire interns, they expect the individual to know very little about the day-to-day operations and how to handle all the different situations that come up. Companies want their interns engaging and asking questions. The interns that sit there twiddling their thumbs or staring at a computer screen hoping the answer will just present itself don’t get offered full-time positions. Don’t believe me? Just ask any one of the dozen recruiters that are constantly visiting our campus; they expect questions, too.

Every internship has its surprising aspects. Grace explains, “I was surprised by how quickly it flew by! When you’re finally out there doing the work that you’ve been learning throughout your college career, a twelve-hour day feels like three hours and the days just fly by. That might wear off after a couple of months of busy season hours, but it was still pretty exciting.” Which sounds to me like an excellent surprise.

Grace has already provided such great advice, but given that she did manage to do three internships, I asked if she had any additional advice to offer. Grace told me,

“Get to know your professors! If you’re going to them for questions, that’s excellent and they love that. If you feel confident about the subject matter, go ask them something else about their career in accounting, or any recommendations they have for your plan. They are here to help you, and thanks to my excellent professor, I was able to get a foot in the doorway sooner than is typical for other accounting majors. Work hard, study harder, and reach out to your teachers and your peers.”

Sometimes it’s difficult for us to realize that our professional network begins with our professors- Excellent advice from someone who has had success.

As Grace storms into the accounting profession, I had to know what was next for her. She told me, “I will be starting in the Fall of 2015 as a tax associate in Grant Thornton’s Charlotte office, once I finish with grad school.” Which was actually where she did her third internship. I’m sure we are all very thankful for Grace sharing her experience and wisdom and wish her luck in her future career.

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