Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

An externship experience at Pfizer, Inc. in New York City gave Nurrani Alli ’06 (New York, N.Y.) and Caryn Donohue ’06 (Garden City, N.Y.) a look at some of the opportunities awaiting them outside the walls of Lafayette.

Alli, a mechanical engineering major, and Donohue, a psychology major and government and law minor, spent two days with Vincent J. Petitto ’89, manager of customer operations. The students not only learned about Petitto’s job responsibilities, they also met with several of his colleagues to talk about other types of jobs at the pharmaceutical firm.

Alli and Donohue were among more than 200 Lafayette students who gained first-hand knowledge of the professional world in January. They served externships with alumni and other experienced professionals in business, the arts, education, healthcare, law, engineering, science, government, non-profits, and other fields. The students observed work practices, learned about careers they may consider entering after college, and developed professional networking contacts.

“When I was a student, the real world was sort of a scary and mysterious place and it still seems like that to me sometimes,” Pettito says. “So I try to give the students a sense of what’s out there, the types of things people do with their lives.”

For Donohue, who is still unsure of what career she would like to pursue, the externship was an eye-opening experience.

“I grew up thinking that the only jobs out there were teachers, doctors, and lawyers and this experience showed me a little bit about how businesses work,” she explains. “I am interested in health care in general, which is why I wanted to see what Pfizer was all about, so I was just happy to see what goes on there.”

Alli says the experience showed him that a degree in mechanical engineering is not as restrictive as he had thought. For instance, one of the jobs at Pfizer involves creating databases that track inventories.

“I thought it was close to what we do in mechanical engineering with monitoring systems, so I was very taken with that,” he explains. “When I came back to Lafayette, I decided that I might want to get into financial forecasting and possibly get my MBA. The experience broadened my horizons to look beyond mechanical engineering internships.”

The students’ time at Pfizer included having directors of several departments review their resumes and talk about career goals.

The diversity of job positions Pettito exposed to her was exactly the sort of externship experience Donohue wanted, she says.

“Vincent went out of his way and asked people in different departments if they would work with us, even his own boss,” Donohue says. “He just wanted to give us a little taste of everything, which was exactly what I was looking for, just a little introduction to everything, and he was dead on. I think he understood that and he really put a lot of time into making that happen.”

The value of what they learned is immeasurable, Pettito says.

“It becomes very apparent, when I’m interviewing students, who has had some experience in the real world and who has only been working at The Gap or the local pool,” he explains. “A corporate environment is a very different world and even a couple days of exposure gives them the confidence in going back out there — even those few days gives them a lot to talk about during an interview.”

Alli couldn’t agree more.

“I believe that this is one of the few chances that students get to explore the outside world and I want to take every opportunity to see the outside before I go into it,” Alli says.

Alli is president of the Muslim Students Association. He is a graduate of the School of the Future high school.

Donohue co-chairs Lafayette Activities Forum, oversees two volunteer programs at Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, supervises the College’s phonathon, and is a member of Alpha Pi sorority and Marquis Players, a student group that produces an annual musical to benefit charity. She graduated from Garden City High School.

Donohue also is a Trustee Scholar. Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholars have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 (totaling $30,000 over four years) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

Categorized in: Academic News