For Joelle Neilson ’12, a summer internship and networking with Lafayette alumni directly led to her first job after graduation.
Neilson, who graduated with an A.B. in engineering, had a winter externship with Jim Fusco ’79, senior account executive at Boland Trane. The connections she formed during the job-shadowing experience led to an internship with Curt Allen ’79, vice president of operations at Clark Construction, and then a job offer.
That’s the power of alumni connections, one of the key networking strategies students learn through participating in Career Services’ Gateway program.
Gateway outlines four steps for students of any major and at any stage of the career search to prepare for life after graduation. Each step coordinates with a class year and is designed to help students explore options, gain experience, and plan for the future.
Gateway counselors and student ambassadors help first-year students complete their “first-year roadmap,” which evaluates how their interests, skills, and talents connect to specific career fields and opportunities for graduate studies. At a group Gateway orientation session, students learn how their whole Lafayette experience can benefit their long-term goals.
The program is one of the reasons that in its latest College Salary Report, PayScale.com ranks Lafayette fifth in the median salaries of graduates of the nation’s liberal arts colleges.
Brian Cantor ’15 (Westfield, N.J.) has found the Gateway program effective in guiding him to a career path.
“Gateway has been helpful to me so far by narrowing down my interests. I came here not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I realized, after participating in an externship through Career Services, that I would like to learn more about economics and business,” he says.
Sophomores receive help developing a network of contacts and securing their first major career experiences. Career Services strongly encourages alumni externship job-shadowing experiences, which allow students to make valuable connections and observe what a day in the life of someone with their desired career entails.
Melanie Ruderman ’14 (Valley Stream, N.Y.), who has a self-designed major in media and business communication, has taken advantage of internship and externship opportunities.
“My involvement in Gateway grows each semester. As a sophomore, I became the marketing intern for the Office of Career Services. The experience changed my life and made my passion for marketing even stronger. I also took part in a wonderful externship at ESPN with alumnus John Gassner ’88, who continues to be an excellent role model for me,” she says.
For juniors, the program helps them build their network of contacts, expand career-related skills, and focus on specific employers or graduate and professional schools. Juniors concentrate on serving internships, conducting informational interviews, and investigating schools.
Xiao Cui ’13 (Beijing, China), an economics and international affairs double major, is using Gateway to hone her interview skills.
“Doing mock interviews is especially helpful because the interviewers tell me what I’m good at compared with others they have interviewed. That’s especially helpful in figuring out my comparative advantage,” she says.
For seniors, Gateway’s counselors and resources assist with interview preparation and help students land the jobs and opportunities they want after graduation. Seniors begin their job search, research the organizations where they hope to interview, practice interviewing skills, and participate in on-campus and off-campus interviews and career fairs hosted by the Gateway program. For those who want to attend graduate school, Gateway can help them prepare applications and prepare for graduate school interviews.
Gateway helped Lindsay Sullivan ’12, who graduated with a B.S. in psychology, get into a master’s in public health program at the National University of Ireland Galway.
“This year, my Gateway experience included exploring graduate programs and seeking guidance about the application process and my personal statements,” she says.
English and American studies graduate JJ Houldin ’12 took advantage of everything Gateway had to offer, including networking events, externships, and internships with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Office and This Side Up Productions.
“Gateway networking events helped me realize my ability to be personable and an effective communicator, and I decided to pursue a career in sales,” he says. “I’ll start working in the Financial Sales and Analytics division of Bloomberg right after graduation.”