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March 25, 2020

From Coffee to Career


Though they attended college years apart, Jamie Skjoldager ’18 and Mary Luong ’08 found a shared passion — and a successful partnership — through Guilford.

As graduation neared and Jamie’s time at Guilford was steadily dwindling, she was searching for the first step in her professional career. Through Guilford’s Guided Discovery team (formerly Career Services), she was able to connect with alumna Dr. Mary Luong — sitting down over coffee to discuss career paths, professional tips, and their shared love for Guilford.

“I never thought of our meeting as a job opportunity but was genuinely curious about her career. I had prepared pages and pages of questions about all sorts of things: why Guilford, what was UX (User Experience), grad school advice, and her current role at the company I now work for, UserZoom,” says Jamie, an English and Media Studies major with a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor. “At the end of the meeting, she asked if I would be interested in a six-month position. Excited and shocked, I gratefully accepted.”

The pair work remotely in Raleigh for UserZoom, a UX insights company that provides an integrated research platform, test participant panel, and other professional services to businesses. Mary quickly took Jamie under her wing, providing hands-on advice and experience to the new grad — often even working directly out of Mary’s living room. 

“Because I went to Guilford, I know the importance of community. I think Mary, too, knows this power because she offered me a beautiful community of learners and thinkers with nothing in return. It just so happens that Guilford was the same way. Hopefully one day I can offer that to someone,” Jamie says.

She just recently renewed her six-month contract for a third time, moving from an Early Career Researcher to Jr. UX Researcher. Mary works as a Research Partner, overseeing a portfolio of 30 high-profile tech clients. The women continue to work closely, encouraging each other to continue learning and building on their research knowledge.

“Guilford teaches you that nothing lives in a vacuum and no matter how you may answer something, there are always more questions to ask,” Jamie says. “Opening up that space to be curious is not just a stronghold of how Mary and I interact. It’s how I see Mary interact with her teams, and it’s something I want to be able to emulate as masterfully as her one day.”

Looking for a college that provides a quality education and a team of experts helping you succeed? Guilford is the place for you! Schedule your personalized visit today to learn more about Guided Discovery and the Guilford Edge.