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Marquis Scholar Jeffery Silvan ’07 (West Barnstable, Mass.) has always been interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Thanks to an externship at Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Bethlehem, Pa., he knows exactly what it will take to design a successful business.

Silvan, a mechanical engineering major with an economics and business minor, spent three days shadowing Joe Lane ’73, vice president for enterprise development at the firm. He learned about how new companies gain financial support by attending meetings with prospective technology companies and participating in sessions where Ben Franklin associates evaluated their investments and discussed whether and to what extent to support new companies.

He is 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.

“I’ve always been intrigued by entrepreneurship. I thought it would be cool to have my own business,” he says. “But I never quite realized how much there was to being an entrepreneur and what it takes to start your own business. Although I don’t necessarily have a particular idea of what I want to start up with, this experience definitely made me think that if I ever do want to start up something, I’d better put some thought into it before I leave a full-time job. It gave me more of an awareness of how things work in the real world.”

Lane says the externship program is a great way to give undergraduates valuable time with professionals in career paths they might one day want to pursue.

“I recognize externships and internships have become very important in terms of having experience of the sort you can put on a resume,” he says. “Companies looking for people right out of college are looking for students with experience that shows they have put forth a certain amount of effort.”

Silvan believes his externship experience was enhanced by Lane’s history with the College.

“I feel as though an alumnus would have a stronger desire to really make sure you know what is going on and to work with you to ensure you understand everything. They were once in the same spot you were and I think when a current student has success it casts a better light on everyone’s successes – there’s sort of an unspoken connection there,” he says.

He believes that Lane’s interest in the program was evident in his desire to make the experience as rewarding as possible.

“There were a vast number of topics we had to deal with in three days and for him to cover all of those topics in the amount of time we had took a lot of work and planning – he really had to think a lot about what he needed to have put together long beyond the actual event,” Silvan says.

Lane says he participates in the externship program because of its value to the students.

“If you really want to know what a certain career path is like or at least a point in that career path, this is one thing that can dispel the myths and give you a taste of reality,” he says.

Silvan is a member of the student chapter of Society of Automotive Engineers and the track team.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Silvan receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course during January’s interim session between semesters. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

Categorized in: Academic News