When David Kafafian ’13 graduated this spring, he already had a job lined up with IBM’s Consulting-by-Degrees program in Manhattan, an accomplishment he attributes to the networking and job-seeking skills he learned in Career Services’ Gateway program.
“Gateway has been my point of entry into Lafayette’s incredible alumni network,” says Kafafian, who earned an A.B. with majors in economics and government & law. “Due to Gateway, I can make professional connections at social events, use social media to market myself to employers, and walk into an office setting and show the value I can add.”
Tapping into the power of alumni connections is one of the key networking strategies taught to students in the 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.
Jolly Shi ’16 (Nantong, China) has found the Gateway program helpful in many ways.
“I’ve realized how to distinguish my interests from my passions. I’ve revised my résumé several times and conducted informational interviews with alumni. And I’ve served two externships and a great summer internship,” says Shi, who plans to major in American studies.
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.
Cory Spera ’15 (Fairfax, Va.), a biology major, signed up for Gateway with the goal of getting into medical school.
“I’ve been researching medical schools and putting my roadmap into action, from an externship with a surgeon to conducting biology research to preparing for shadowing opportunities with doctors,” Spera 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.
Economics major Karissa Ciliento ’14 (Bergen, N.J.) used internships and externships to gain job experience and learn where she would like to focus her career.
“My Gateway counselor has been there every step of the way since my first year, helping me discover what majors to choose, plus externships and internships related to my talents and interests. Through my externship with the Philadelphia Phillies, I’ve realized I want a career in advertising or marketing that will draw on my education in economics and business,” says Ciliento, who also had internships with Target Corporate Headquarters and Givaudan.
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.
When Liz Cole ’13 began the Gateway program, she wasn’t even sure what information to include in a résumé. Her Gateway counselor was there to help.
“She walked me through the whole process, and I’ve come so far since then. During my senior year, she has guided me through the graduate school application process—everything from deciding whom to ask for letters of recommendation to writing my personal statement,” says Cole, who graduated with majors in environmental studies and international economics & commerce.
Cole had summer internships with Accenture and GE, and was accepted to the master’s degree program in natural resources and sustainable development at American University.