This winter break, Gettysburg College hosted its inaugural virtual January Term (J-Term). The distinctive offering provided students with free, hands-on programming with a special focus on tangible life skills—specifically in the areas of networking, leadership, college and career preparation, and advocacy. With 96 percent of all student respondents in a recent College survey giving the experience a positive score, the sessions proved rewarding. For Ally Schnell ’23, her J-Term involvement even landed her an internship at Dell Technologies this summer.
A double major in mathematical economics and business, organizations, and management, Schnell decided to participate in the J-Term because she recognized the benefit of networking for career success and wanted to find out more about where her passion for data analytics and statistics could take her.
“I knew that the more people that I spoke to, the easier it would be for me to figure out what I want to do as a career,” said Schnell. “The Gettysburg network is so connected and I had heard that our alumni are very genuine in their offers to speak with students. I could really start developing some relationships.”
She chose to join the Business Meetup J-Term session, but not before preparing beforehand.
“The Center for Career Engagement sent over the profiles and biographies of the participating alumni, which was super helpful. I individually researched each person until I understood what their career was and reflected on how what they’re doing relates to what I would like to do.”
Afterwards, Schnell reached out to the alumni she had met at the Business Meetup on LinkedIn, explaining that the J-Term was a positive experience for her personal and professional growth, and that she had more questions for them. Many responded, eager to help.
Greg Pinchbeck ’90, Head of Enterprise Resiliency for Dell Technologies, was especially willing to offer his advice and support because of his own positive experiences at the College.
“I’ve volunteered for the Orange & Blue Club Committee, talked with current students before, and more recently helped set up the Michael K. Rawleigh Endowed Fund for Men’s and Women’s Swimming. I wanted to give back,” he reflected.
“Ally and several other students followed up after the Business Meetup through LinkedIn and email. Ally asked if we could meet over Zoom and I usually agree if students are professionally persistent,” said Pinchbeck. “During that discussion, I realized she had the skills and background we were interested in for our intern position. I explained the role to her and she expressed interest.”
Schnell added, “We went over in depth what working at Dell Technologies meant in terms of learning opportunities and shadowing, all of which sounded like an unmatched opportunity to me. I was more than eager to get the application process going.”
This summer, Schnell will be working as an Enterprise Resiliency Intern, looking at key locations globally, and helping the company assess the technological, man-made, and natural disaster-related risks in those locations.
“After speaking with Mr. Pinchbeck, I am definitely interested in pursuing a career in this field after graduation,” said Schnell. “I’m excited to develop my analytical skills and to grow at such an innovative company.”
Schnell continued, “Networking over Zoom is much different than meeting to speak with someone in person, but I think Gettysburg has done a great job with pushing students to build connections and to keep moving forward. The College is very committed to seeing its students succeed.”
“I recommend for students to go to any and all events offered by the Center for Career Engagement that interest you, and to use Handshake to look through postings frequently. And finally, don’t underestimate the willingness of alumni to help.”
That enthusiasm of alumni to give back and help current students is something that students can feel confident in when chasing professional opportunities.
“Be persistent and flexible; find a way to stick out amongst the masses,” added Pinchbeck. “Put thought into your LinkedIn profile and profile picture because it is an outsider’s first impression of you. Communicate professionally and use your education at the College as a connection.”
By Delaney Adams ’21
Photos courtesy of Ally Schnell and Greg Pinchbeck