Talene Dadian (’16) Learns HR Expertise with Biltmore

My name is Talene Dadian and I am currently a junior Psychology major and Management minor at UNC AsTalene Biltmoreheville. Like many students, I started feeling the pressure to get “real world” experience. I wanted an internship and thought HR sounded interesting. However, I had no idea where or what type of company, if any, would even offer this. Thankfully, I spoke with the career counselors at the Career Center and they were able to connect me with an awesome opportunity that I don’t think I would have come across on my own, or even have thought of applying to. This past summer, I had the AMAZING opportunity to intern at Biltmore. Within Human Resources, I specifically interned within Biltmore Staffing Services.

Right from the start, I quickly learned and was treated with Biltmore’s trademark “Gracious Hospitality” that is extended to not only guests, but to all employees. As expected, I was given a multitude of research projects aimed at identifying niche culinary, horticulture, and hospitality markets and job platforms. However, I could not have imagined the amount of actual experience my internship would provide.  I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be an active participant in nearly every step of the hiring process. From interviewing applicants to hiring new employees and getting all of their necessary pre-employment paperwork and trainings completed, I got to participate in everything!

One of my faBiltmore west sidevorite parts was conducting screening interviews with potential candidates. While initially terrified that I would be the interviewer for a change and not the interviewee, the Staffing Center worked with me to provide training and got me to feel more comfortable sharing details about the positions, Biltmore Estate history, the legal rules of conducting interviews, the types of questions to ask, and what answers to look for. The practice I gained through conducting interviews has been invaluable. I was able to not only see what an employer, such as Biltmore, looks for in a new hire, but I also had the chance to reflect on the way I interview and what I should and should definitely not do in the future.

I also learned about the tedious, time-consuming process of pre-employment onboarding that goes on behind the scenes before a new employee can start work. I was swimming up to my eyeballs in I-9 documents, tax forms, ordering of drug screens, background checks, physicals, scheduling of trainings, and making nametags and employee ID badges, etc. all of which must be completed for each new employee! As overwhelmed as I was at the beginning of all these endeavors, this was an excellent learning opportunity about the processes of staffing any company or organization. Being thrown into a new situation is part of life, school, or any job and I am so thankful that I was challenged to learn new skills and think critically about new processes.Biltmore Fall

Another awesome part about interning at Biltmore was the ability to interview other departments and areas of Biltmore Estate. I had the opportunity to complete informational interviews with the HR Safety Manager, Benefits Manager, as well as the Food & Beverage Manager for the Biltmore House, the Outdoor Center Director, and many other departments. From touring the house, test-tasting the delicious cuisine, interviewing different HR managers, to taking a trip to the west side of the estate to view the winery fields, I got to experience it all. Every moment and interview allowed me to see how staffing fit ibiltmorento each and every aspect of the estate and how interconnected each aspect must be for Biltmore Estate to run smoothly and provide the best guest experience.

I think the biggest challenge for me was wanting to do everything really well and not disappoint not only the Staffing Center, but also myself. The biggest tip I can give to anyone looking for experience with an internship is that an internship is a chance to learn, learn from mistakes, and learn how to quickly address mistakes. Ask questions, say “yes” to new projects. Take this opportunity to learn and challenge yourself!

When I first began my internship, I had no idea what type of Human Resources field I would like to go into. After completing my internship at Biltmore, I have found that I love working with people. Working in a talent acquisition and staffing center would be something I can see myself doing and enjoying as a future career.

Morgan Pearson Martin (’08) Blends Physical and Mental Health

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

My name is Morgan Martin and I graduated from UNC Asheville in 2008 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in health and wellness promotion. When I graduated, I only needed one or two more classes to receive a double major, but I was in such a rush to get my first real job I didn’t take the time to finish it!

At UNC-Asheville, I started out as an Environmental Studies major. After dabbling in those classes for a semester, I decided perhaps I would rather focus on teaching at the elementary school level. It didn’t take me long to determine that I didn’t have the passion needed to truly love the teaching field! It was during that time I had taken a few psychology classes and started to get hooked on learning more. I started adding in classes for the minor in health and wellness promotion, which had just been created, and I LOVED the combination! I enjoyed combining the two fields, which allowed me to learn how our physical health and wellbeing affects our mental state and vice versa. While delving deeper into these two areas, I began working and volunteering on campus in various capacities.

I served as a resident assistant my sophomore year in Founder’s Hall, which began to spark an interest in working in higher education. I also worked as a student activities assistant, where I helped with various activities focused on student entertainment and education. I was a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. I was also a member of Active Students for a Healthy Environment (ASHE).  I participated in service learning opportunities, which included a trip to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity one spring break. Additionally, I participated as a mentor when I was an upperclassmen, in a freshman colloquium course that was focused on Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and taught by Professor Merritt Moseley. During that class, I had the opportunity to serve in various capacities, including assisting students with finding resources on campus and with projects for the class. I also served on a student advisory council for campus health and wellness. It was through these opportunities that I started to really develop an interest in continuing to work in an academic setting, preferably with students. I loved my college years so much I wanted to focus my career in this area!

About two months before graduation, I started applying for jobs in Maryland. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband), who I met at UNC-Asheville, was from Maryland and we figured there would be more job opportunities in the D.C/Baltimore area than in Asheville. Although we both toyed with going directly to graduate school, we were eager to start supporting ourselves. I had also never lived outside the mountains of Western NC and was eager to live in the “big city.” I was able to secure a job before graduating in Maryland at University of Maryland University College (UMUC). My title was Community Relations Coordinator. In this position, I recruited community college students from all over the state and assisted them with transferring to UMUC.

While at UMUC, I was still thinking about graduate school. I applied and was admitted to Loyola College of Maryland (MA in Counseling) and to University of Baltimore (MS in Counseling Psychology). I took a course at University of Baltimore and decided I just wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do yet. After working at UMUC in the coordinator position for a year, I was promoted to Assistant Director, where my duties remained the same but I also began to oversee a large scholarship program. It was at that point, I realized that in order to continue an upward trajectory I would likely need to get serious about earning a master’s degree. The problem was that I still didn’t know “what I wanted to do when I grew up.” I decided I would pick a degree and go for it, so I found a subject area I was interested in that I thought could serve me well professionally, and I began a degree program. Two years later, I completed my MS in Management with a specialization in Non-Profit and Association Management with University of Maryland University College.

Getting the master’s degree seemed to serve me well, because while I was in the midst of earning it, I was honored to have the opportunity to begin serving as Director of College and University Partnerships at UMUC. In that position, I helped to form new articulation agreements and partnerships with community colleges across the country, in order to provide community college students with a seamless transition to UMUC that would save them time and money. I managed a team of tespeakingn people and got some wonderful experience as both a manager and a higher education professional. I also wanted to get back to my interests in health and wellness promotion. I decided to earn my yoga teaching certification so that I could continue to nurture my interests in health promotion while working full-time in higher education. The yoga teaching program was an excellent way to fulfill my interests in health, fuel my yoga practice, and explore other opportunities that I had not had the chance to focus on before.

-What are you doing today? In July 2013, I decided I was ready for a new challenge! I wanted to continue to expand my experience in higher education while also incorporating my interest in health and wellness. I applied to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) for the position of Associate Director of Alumni Relations. My work now is focused in higher education but takes place in the framework of public health.  JHSPH is the oldest, largest, and best school of public health in the world, and being surrounded by world class researchers and students from across the globe all focused on public health and saving people’s lives is extremely rewarding. Many of you probably know what alumni relations work consists of, since I’m sure you have probably been in contact with UNC-Asheville alumni office at some point in your time there! My work is primarily focused on engaging JHSPH alumni with the school and with each other through events, volunteer opportunities, and focused communications (such as social media, e-mail newsletters, website content, etc.)  

-What is next for you? I continue to explore my dual interests in health/wellness promotion and higher education. I have been working at JHSPH for one year now and have learned so very much. As I continue to grow in my position at the School, I am also nurturing my interests in health and wellness promotion. I now serve as secretary on the board of a recently formed non-profit group called Yoga for Parkinson’s, Inc. which aims to provide low-cost or free yoga classes to people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. I volunteer my time teaching yoga to people with Parkinson’s. I am also expanding to use yoga as a customized therapy  to people with specific and unique needs, such as fertility issues, mobility issues, etc.

-What do you know now that you wish you knew as a student? If I could return to being a student, I think I would take advantage of more opportunities that I thought were too difficult to attain. I would do a semester abroad and apply to graduate school right away after graduating. I would finish that dual major too! Overall, my experience at UNC-Asheville was a wonderful one and I have extremely fond memories of my time there. I enjoyed a balance of fun and academia, formal service and work activities and soaking up the sun on the quad.

-What advice do you have for job-seeking students who are pursuing your degree? You can do anything with a degree in psychology. I truly believe that my psychology degree has helped me to better understand how people work and to understand things from a different perspective than I would have otherwise. Utilize the Career Center! I used the career center in so many ways: career coaching, mock interviews, and resume reviews, to name a few. Start early in exploring your options if you aren’t 100% sure what direction you want to take. Volunteer, shadow, do internships, find any way that you can to explore every potential interest that you have. Keep an open mind because sometimes the most unlikely of jobs can lead you down a path that you never knew you were interested in but end up being fascinated with. And even if the first job you land isn’t exactly what you want, be comfortable knowing that you will still learn a myriad of transferrable and invaluable skills that can serve you as you continue to grow professionally.

Lauren Woodard (’07) helps the Cancer Community

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

Hello Bulldog family! My name is Lauren Woodard and I graduated from UNC Asheville in 2007 with a B.A. in psychology. After graduation, I  went to Western Carolina University, where I obtained my Master’s degree in Social Work in 2009.

While a student at UNCLauren Woodardheadshot Asheville, I was very involved in the psychology department. I was a member and eventual president of Club Psych and was a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. I was also a leader of the College Democrats and a member of Active Students for a Healthy Environment (ASHE).  Additionally, I took part in many service learning activities in the community that were offered through UNC Asheville, which very much inspired my passion for community stewardship.

-What are you doing today?In August 2013, I moved back to Asheville (from Washington, DC), and have been working at Park Ridge Health since September 2013. I work as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and certified oncology social worker (OSW-C) for Park Ridge Health’s outpatient cancer centers. My role includes assisting patients with all things psychosocial as they navigate through the cancer journey. A typical day at my job might include formal counseling sessions with patients and their families, facilitating a support group, assisting patients with financial needs and transportation to treatment, and meeting with the patient’s oncologist to review a patient’s prognosis. Previously, I worked in Washington, DC for 3 ½ years as an oncology social worker for the George Washington Cancer Institute and George Washington University Hospital.

-Can you tell us about your first job search? After graduate school I relocated to Washington, DC to begin my career in oncology social work. Being in a new and large city, my first job search was somewhat intimidating! I did not have any personal or professional contacts in the city, and quickly discovered that in a larger city your application can be one of 500 they receive for one open position. To better my odds, I contacted the director at my top choice for employment and requested an exploratory interview to obtain more information about the role. After the exploratory interview, I was asked back for a panel interview, a follow up interview and was then offered the position with the George Washington Cancer Institute. After I was hired, the director told me that a few hundred people had applied for the position and that my request for an exploratory interview was unique and therefore made me stand out from the other applicants.

 -What experiences have best prepared you for your current professional role? Through my education at UNC Asheville, I developed a genuine inspiration and desire to be a lifelong learner.  Being a lifelong learner benefits me as it motivates me to constantly seek opportunities to better myself professionally and personally, both of which enhance my career experience and proficiency. Since graduation, I have joined professional organizations and taken part in many continuing education classes, conferences and workshops. I also stay up to date with the newest research in oncology social work and counseling, which I believe has made me a better social worker. As a lifelong learner I have also developed specialty areas, such as cancer survivorship, within my job which has led to career growth and exciting opportunities. I credit this genuine thirst for knowledge to my liberal arts education and the emphasis UNC Asheville places on lifelong learning.

-What is next for you? I have recently been named “Oncology Survivorship Program Coordinator” at Park Ridge Health. This aspect of my position will allow me to develop and implement survivorship programming and supportive services for cancer patients who have completed their treatment. Survivorship is a relatively new area of focus in oncology, but one that I gained expertise in while working in Washington, DC. It is very exciting to apply my knowledge about survivorship at Park Ridge Health for our patients.

In addition, I am involved in the community as a member of the Junior League of Asheville. Being involved in the Junior League of Asheville is a wonderful way to give back to the community, gain leadership skills, and continue towards my goal of lifelong learning. I recommend that all graduates find a community organization to become involved with, as I believe it provides opportunities for professional and personal growth.

-What do you know now that you wish you knew as a student? That you don’t have to have it all figured out when you walk in the door! As a freshman, I entered college believing I knew exactly what career I wanted, what I wanted to major in (not psychology at the time), and all of the classes I was going to take for the next four years. Then, as fate would have it, I enrolled in my first psychology class and completely fell in love with the field. Although I think it is good to have a plan, allow for flexibility and your own personal growth and change. College is about finding out who you are, what your passion is, and what inspires you. Take full advantage of that and I believe you will grow leaps and bounds as a person, and your plan will ultimately find you.

Funny enough, I also wish I had known that group projects really do benefit you in the “real world.” As a student, I dreaded group projects and group presentations, but heard professor after professor tell our classes how applicable they were in job settings. I’m here to say that they were right! Being able to work effectively and efficiently as an individual and as a group is imperative to success in any job setting, so consider those group presentations “on the job” experience.

-What advice do you have for job-seeking students who are pursuing your degree? LaurenDCHelping professions in the psychology and social work fields are very diverse and there are a lot of paths to choose from – from community mental health with adolescents to a job like mine in a medical setting. My biggest piece of advice would be to seek out shadowing, volunteer and internship opportunities in varied settings early and often. Such “on the job” training experiences will show you first hand where your passion is and what kind of a helping profession role you would like to fill. Equally as important, volunteer or intern positions could lead to your dream job. In today’s job market, many organizations prefer hiring individuals who have completed an internship.

I also advise psychology majors to take in as many research and career talks as possible. My first exposure to providing counseling in a medical setting was in a lunch time lecture provided by the psychology department.

My final piece of advice is to realize that most social situations are great places to network. You never know who you will meet – it could be a future supervisor or coworker. I once had a supervisor who told me “in the professional world, networking is key, you have to tell people who you are and what you want to get where you are going.” She advised me to always carry a business card and to have an “elevator speech” prepared when people ask what I do. I let them know not only what my current job is, but also what my future goals are. This is a practice I still use to this day, and have had many great opportunities come from it.

-What is your advice when graduates begin their first job? After landing your first job, seek out a mentor in your field. I was advised to do this early in my career, and my mentor has been a truly valuable resource for me. Mentorship will provide you with ways to navigate your first job, as well as guidance on how to grow in your professional role. You will benefit from their years of expertise and gain priceless knowledge that often only comes with experience.

-Contact information:

I would love to be a mentor and am open to contact from students/graduates. My Linked In page: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lauren-woodard-lcsw-osw-c/25/470/96  or work email are the best way to contact me: lauren.woodard@ahss.org