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September 23, 2011

Students Have ‘Amazing, Truly Life-Changing Experiences’ through Intern Scholars Program

Meghan Baker ’07 and Rebecca Heslin ’12 at Fox News

Meghan Baker ’07 and Rebecca Heslin ’12 at Fox News

Six students learned the ins and outs of the working world this summer, with the assistance of alumni, through the Bob Beane ’58 Intern Scholars Program.

“This summer has been filled with amazing, truly life-changing experiences,” says Michelle Mariconda ’12 (Wayne, N.J.), an anthropology and sociology major who worked at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). “Working as an intern for LLS, I learned how a nonprofit works from the ground up. If nothing else, I learned how a successful organization functions on a day-to-day basis by observing and assisting those who managed the success of the branch.”

The Intern Scholars program, which is run by the Office of Career Services, provides students with a $4,000 stipend for internship expenses, and matches them up with an alum, who is not part of the internship, to serve as a summer career mentor.  George Whelan P’05 gave a generous gift to start the program in 2010, and Bob Beane ’58, a former trustee, has since provided ongoing support.

Brian Selvarajah ’12 at the National Institute of Health

Six students are accepted each year from a board range of fields, including arts and communication, business and entertainment, engineering, natural and life science, and the nonprofit sector.  Students and alumni communicate through email, Skype, phone, in-person meetings, and group meetings with all alumni and students in the program.

“Some students who are involved in this program continue on a certain path or they may change that path entirely,” explains Rachel Moeller, associate director of career services. “There is no substitute for getting out in the field and talking to people.  This program provides that valuable opportunity.”

Brian Selvarajah ’12 (Kendall Park, N.J.), a biology and international affairs double major, who interned at the National Institute of Health in Washington D.C., worked with Tom Dougherty ’91, a trial attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read Brian Selvarah’s student blog about his summer internship

“Not only did I have access behind the scenes at a government agency, but I had the rare chance of dealing exclusively with patent law as an undergraduate student,” says Selvarajah, who is considering attending law school. “Mr. Dougherty went beyond the call of duty. I visited the National Intellectual Property Rights Cooperation Center and met with him on a few occasions to discuss my future ambitions.  His extensive base of experience served as a great source of reference as I mulled over, and continue to mull over, life after Lafayette.”

According to Dougherty, the program broadens the possibilities for students who may not be able to afford to take an unpaid internship.

“The mentorship program allows the mentors to learn about what is going on at the College and the students learn about a particular profession in an informal setting,” he explains.  “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Brian and discussing his future plans, pros and cons of going to law school, practicing intellectual property law, his semester abroad in Paris and his classes, and his activities at Lafayette.”

Rebecca Heslin ’12 (Hellertown, Pa.), an anthropology & sociology major, spent the summer interning at WLVT PBS in Bethlehem.  She served as a production assistant for PBS39’s Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs minor league baseball documentary.  She helped with filming and setting up shoots, performed interviews, assisted with the ProductionU Program at a local elementary school, and transcribed interviews.

Her alumni mentor was Meghan Baker ’07, a reporter and news editor with Fox News in New York City.

“Meg has been beyond helpful,” says Heslin.  “Knowing how busy she is at Fox, I’m extra grateful for how available and supportive she has been.  Meg has a ton of experience in her few years since graduation, and she has been able to guide me as far as what it’s like to have a career in production, when to start applying to jobs, where to think about applying, and tips on living in New York City.”

Baker also gave Heslin a tour of Fox News and had her sit in the control room for Foxnews.com. Baker took part in the externship program while she was at Lafayette, and it led to her first job at ABC Family.  She has hosted externs at both ABC News and now Fox News.

“Senior year can be an emotional time—dealing with the fact that you have to leave the Lafayette campus, figuring out what you want to do post-graduation, and searching for a job—all while trying to enjoy your last days as a college student,” Baker says.  “Having someone to speak with who went through the same thing and is in a field of interest to you can help ease the stress and confusion.”

Others involved in the program included:

  • Kaitlin Ownes ’12, a civil engineering major who interned at Hardesty and Hanover in New York City, and her alumni mentor Martha Minogue ’82, who works in project management at Turner Construction;
  • Brent Hoagland ’12, a double major in biology and economics, who interned at Dialectic Capital Management in New York City, and mentor Michael Heaney ’86, managing director at Morgan Stanley;
  • Wesley von Dassow ’14, a neuroscience major, who interned at the Museum of the Rockies, and mentor Christopher Benonis ’08, who earned his master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University in May 2010;
  • Marianna Macri Reilly ’06, marketing manager at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, who mentored Mariconda.

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