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For one hectic and exhilarating week in January, Alexis Siemons ’05(Moorestown, N.J.) and Caitlin Chandler ’06 (Durham, N.H.) watched and participated in the activities of the largest advertising firm in Philadelphia.

Their externships were hosted by Mary Stengel Austen ’86, a founding member, president, and chief executive officer of the Tierney Agency.

Siemons and Chandler are 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.

“We were always either doing or learning something,” says Siemons, who has an individualized communications and culture major that includes English, graphic design, and American studies courses. “There was never a dull moment.”

“They had something planned for us always,” says Chandler, an art major.

During the externship, Siemons and Chandler visited a recording studio that produces commercials, television series, and introductions for films and an Internet advertising firm that designs web sites.

“The most interesting aspect was seeing how they manage so many people and companies working together,” says Chandler. “One project could have someone from the advertising department, two from the PR department, and two from the client company all working together. Lots of good communication skills are needed.”

Siemons says that even though she had already completed a copywriting internship at Tierney last summer, the externship offered her the chance to watch and learn from employees in all areas at the agency, including creative services, production, media, account management, and public relations.

“We went with individuals from the PR department on morning photo shoots with clients. We sat in on information sessions for companies. We met with individuals in the company and asked them about their jobs,” she says.

A founding member of the firm in 1989, Austen began mentoring interns from Lafayette and other schools about five years ago. Siemons and Chandler were the first Lafayette externs she has mentored.

“Everybody has to start somewhere,” she says. “In the advertising business, the only way you can break in is with an internship or some kind of experience.”

Austen says both students showed a strong interest in everything they did.

“The most important thing is they were enthusiastic and passionate about the field,” she says. “They both demonstrated that they were hungry and willing to ask questions.”

Austen, an English and government & law graduate, says she served several internships that helped her shape her career by ruling out what she did not want to do. She adds that Lafayette’s close-knit liberal arts environment helped her develop a perspective different than that of advertising majors from larger schools.

“In a smaller environment, I gained a lot of confidence,” she says. “In that kind of environment, you can kind of go at a certain pace and build as you go.”

Although she is most interested in copywriting, Siemons welcomed the opportunity to observe all parts of the advertising business.

“I didn’t realize how much there was to learn,” she says. “If I want to go into this business, I should know as much as possible.”

Chandler says that she too ruled a few things out during her externship.

“To be honest, I learned that I am more interested in pursuing a visual career and less of a ‘people person’ career,” she says.

Last spring Siemons conducted research with Robert Saltonstall Mattison, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History and head of art, for his fifth book on six mid-career, contemporary artists. They collaborated through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend.

Siemons is a student leadership intern and member of Cadence, Lafayette’s all-female a capella singing group. She founded a campus group called Students, Professors Engage in Active Communications (SPEAK), which held its first luncheon meeting last semester. During her junior year, she participated in a Technology Clinic course that created an automobile tour on CD to boost tourism and local awareness of historical assets in rural areas of Northampton County.

This semester, Chandler is studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, taking courses in music, contemporary Australia, mass media and communication, and sociology. At Lafayette, she is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and manager of the men’s ice hockey team. She worked as an EXCEL Scholar in Lafayette’s art department last summer. During her sophomore year, she worked with Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art and founding director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute, on an exhibit entitled A Celebration of Color.

Categorized in: Academic News