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Paulo Coelho ’03 (Whippany, N.J.) spent three days watching Jeannine Fallon Anckaitis ’93 at her job as director of public information for in Santa Monica, Calif., an Internet site that provides pricing and other information to automotive consumers. He also spent time with the firm’s director of retail product marketing, manager of site analysis, human resources manager, a controller/accountant, and director of after-sales data.

Coelho was among more than 160 students who participated in Lafayette’s Alumni Externship program, in which students served two- to five-day externships with graduates who are seasoned professionals in business, the arts, education, healthcare, law, engineering, science, government, non-profits, and other fields.

“This externship definitely influenced me,” says Coelho, a double major in International Affairs and economics and business. “Meeting with the different people in the company, I got a good idea of their respective fields,” Coelho says. “More importantly, I learned their personal stories. They gave me a lot of advice on how to adapt to the business world.”

Coelho also wrote a press release about a new company service, gathered media highlights to place online, went through a mock interview with a human resources coordinator, and sat in on a telephone interview between the company president and a reporter from The Green Bay Gazette, a Gannett newspaper in Wisconsin.

When she was a student at Lafayette, Anckaitis quickly learned that the economics and business major she had chosen wasn’t for her. A public relations externship with Mark Staples ’68 at the former Genesis Communications in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., helped her find a new goal.

“It really set me on my path,” she says, explaining that she switched her major to English and focused on a career in public relations.

Anckaitis, who has hosted other externs at and in her former job at Volvo in Rockleigh, N.J., says she is glad to give them the kind of help she received from Staples more than a decade ago.

“It’s a way for me to give back,” she says. “I’m also intrigued hearing from the students. It’s always fascinating to hear their perspective on life at Lafayette. And, it’s reassuring to see how bright the Lafayette students are.”

Anckaitis adds that she was especially impressed with Coelho, who, in addition to sending her a prompt and well-written thank-you note, gave her a gift certificate to a restaurant where she took him to dinner.

“In the adult world, we show appreciation with those kinds of tokens, but I’ve never had a student do that,” Anckaitis says.

Coelho says that dinner gave him the chance to talk to Anckaitis’ husband, Todd Anckaitis ’95, about his experience switching from a banking career to a women’s soccer coach and student in an elite coaching graduate program at Smith College.

“I’m looking at going into many fields,” Coelho says, explaining that he is considering sports management, diplomacy, and media relations in the entertainment business.

Anckaitis is glad that Coelho had the chance to see that he can do many things in his career beyond what his degrees suggest.

“It’s critical to do something that will help you learn, but it’s not something that you need to focus solely on,” she says. “I think it’s absolutely critical for students to have real-world work experience.”

A graduate of Whippany Park High School, Coelho is captain of the men’s varsity soccer team.

Categorized in: Academic News