Dora Ditchfield

Published on July 6, 2017  

Position: Director, Career Development Center 

Working at Samford since 2016 

What is your favorite thing about your job at Samford? My job enables me to interact with such a wide variety of individuals, all for the cause of helping students and alumni. Not only do I have the opportunity to coach students and alumni on career-related topics such as résumé writing and job search, I also collaborate with Samford employees on initiatives and programming, and work with employers to connect them with students for internships and positions. At Samford, I have found the faculty and staff incredibly open to that collaboration, which is a joy. In addition, I appreciate the fact that faith can openly be a part of the conversation when working with students. 

What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you? I served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala after college, teaching health, nutrition and other topics to Quiche Indigenous girls. I lived among a poverty-stricken but amazingly rich community, experienced developing-nation health issues and challenges, and had to work to overcome prejudice and misconceptions. But, I also participated in traditions and activities that no tourist will ever see, grew close to the people I served and had all sorts of adventures. When I returned, people would often ask how I could give up two years of my life, but I told them it felt as if I had received 10 years’ of rich experiences. 

What is your favorite activity outside Samford? I enjoy the outdoors, so some of my favorite hobbies include hiking, camping, cycling and growing things. At the same time, I love traveling and experiencing different cultures, so I am happy any time I can combine traveling and outdoor activities. I’ve hiked while on many of my international trips, and have ridden my bike across Georgia with my father and brother, and across Florida with a friend. I also enjoy baking, which my neighbors seem to appreciate, and reading. 

How did your background prepare you for your current role at Samford? Prior to working in higher education, I was a corporate recruiter for Synovus Financial Corps, as well as its software subsidiary TSYS. I oversaw the company’s college recruiting program as a whole, and hired specifically for the technical and international divisions. That experience, including recruiting at career fairs, participating in on-campus interviewing days, and guiding managers in creating and asking interview questions, helped prepare me for what I do now. In the time between my recruiting days and Samford, I was an assistant director and director of career services at other institutions, so that is also a part of my background. 

What, specifically, does your job involve? In the Career Development Center, we help students choose or change majors, explore career options, and gain experience through internships or part-time work. Then we help students and alumni write résumés and cover letters, search for jobs, learn interviewing skills, choose graduate schools and more. We also work with employers to connect them to our students and to act as a resource to the campus as a whole. It is also my job to ensure we are assessing what we do, coordinate department goals and activities, look for ways we can improve our services, work on initiatives, and act as the spokesperson for the department. 

What is the biggest challenge you and your team face in helping students and alumni with their career considerations? One challenge is getting students and alumni to realize that we are here and can provide assistance as early as the freshman year, all the way through the senior year and beyond. Second, some students and alumni erroneously believe that we are able to tell them exactly what they should do or that we have the perfect job waiting for them when they come see us. Career exploration and the job search is a process in which they are the driver. We are here to teach them that process and coach them along the way, but they must be active in it. Of course, the sooner they start meeting with us, the better.

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.