by Joan Hawxhurst

In times of scarce employment opportunities, it matters more than ever whom you know. And who will go to bat for you.  As senior Daniel Pohanka can attest, having the Kalamazoo College community support your job search can literally mean you get the job.  His support team included a K professor, a Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) career counselor, and an alumni professional “on the inside.” The outcome: Daniel’s dream job with Compuware (Detroit) will begin soon after Commencement.

The success story began with Professor of Mathematics John Fink, who saw a Compuware job opportunity circulated by the CCPD and suggested the department reach out to his former student and current Compuware employee, Jerrod Howlett '09.  At K Jerrod had been a computer science major (with minors in mathematics and business), and he had parlayed a summer 2008 internship at Compuware into a full-time position after graduation.

When Jerrod heard from Professor Fink that Compuware was working with career centers and the Michigan Colleges Foundation to recruit liberal arts grads throughout the state, he immediately offered CCPD his help: “There are some great opportunities for smart and talented individuals at Compuware,” he said.  “Life-long learners who are patient, persistent, and sharp will be very successful here.”

Jerrod posted a description of his path from K to Compuware on the Kalamazoo College Guilds LinkedIn Web site.

When the CCPD forwarded résumés of interested students to a recruiter contact at Compuware, Jerrod was provided a copy of the e-mail.  When he saw the K student résumés, he wrote, “This is an incredible start to hopefully a great K pipeline to Compuware!”

Jerrod made a point of reaching out to his recruiting colleague, highlighting the excellent K candidates, and virtually introduced her to CCPD staff. 

Around the time of Jerrod’s LinkedIn post, senior Daniel Pohanka was engaged in a search for a U.S. job, which was complicated by his German citizenship.  He said, “Job hunting as a senior can be stressful, and even more so for me because immigration sets a very specific time limit for the search. I would have only a few months after graduation to find a job, so I started job hunting early on with internships that would set me up for success. Unfortunately, I often ran into the barrier of companies informing me that they do not sponsor visas, especially for entry-level positions.”

Daniel worked with the CIP’s Angela Gross for visa advising, and he had several appointments with CCPD career counselor Amy Auer to focus his search for an entry-level IT leadership development position which would include a sponsorship.  With Amy’s guidance, he polished his résumé and his interviewing skills, and he submitted his materials for a number of openings, including the one at Compuware.  Amy appreciated the opportunity to work with Daniel over the course of several months:  “It’s really fun when we get to support students repeatedly as they advance through their job search.  From narrowing the search to perfecting a résumé, from practicing an interview to negotiating a starting salary, we get great satisfaction from helping students build their skills and networks.”

With careful cultivation the K connection to Compuware began to pay off. Daniel was invited to Compuware to interview, and Jerrod connected with him on LinkedIn, talked with him by phone before the interview, and blocked off time to meet with him on the day of the interview.  In fact, it was Jerrod who first contacted the CCPD to announce that Daniel had received a job offer!

From Daniel’s perspective, having an alumni ally at Compuware was an enormous advantage.  “Only two days after I turned in my résumé, I received an e-mail from Jerrod. He told me he'd like to add me to
"Almost everything about my experience is replicable."
his professional network on LinkedIn and that he had a feeling I would be an excellent resource at Compuware. From that point on we connected frequently to discuss the application process and interviews. Jerrod forwarded my résumé to HR and to a manager who also forwarded it to HR.

“An alum as a resource makes a huge difference,” Daniel added. “Having my résumé sent to HR by a current employee made it stand out. Jerrod gave me a scouting report on the interviewing process and provided me information about the company. Often his simple words of advice were invaluable, like try to relax and be confident about my capabilities.

“When I went to Detroit to interview, I met with Jerrod to talk more about his experience at Compuware, and that did give me confidence in the company that I hoped I would be working for.”

Jerrod values the role he can play in the success of current K students:  “Sharing with the Guilds my thoughts on my career path to Compuware was a way to give back,” he said. “I remember how nerve-racking it was to find internships in my junior year, and how difficult it was to find job opportunities once senior year hit. Thankfully, I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to intern at Compuware, which later turned into a full-time position. Because of that experience, I want to help others that find themselves in positions similar to mine when I was in college.”

Daniel is quick to recommend the CCPD to his peers.  “Do not hesitate the use the resources available through the CCPD. Without its help I would have never heard about the position at Compuware to begin with. Nor would I have connected with Jerrod or Amy.

“I think almost everything about my experience is replicable,” Daniel added. “There are several other companies out there looking for future employees. Many of these companies employ Kalamazoo College alumni. All it takes sometimes is reaching out and making a connection.”

Photo - CCPD Career Counselor Amy Auer reviews Daniel Pohanka's application materials.

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