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When Nkrumah Pierre ’06 (Glen Head, N.Y.) graduates and finds a job in pharmaceutical sales, he will know exactly what he is getting into, thanks to an externship.

An economics and business major with a minor in government and law, Pierre spent two days at Pfizer, Inc., in New York City, observing employees at work and discussing his career goals with Pfizer senior management. Tim Hylan ’88, a senior director/team leader, hosted the student, pairing him with a sales representative at the company.

“What this did was reinforce that as long as you have good short- and long-term goals and stick to them, you can do just about anything, regardless of the sector that you want to go into,” Pierre says.

He was among more than 200 Lafayette students who recently gained first-hand knowledge of the professional world. 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.

“Unlike a lot of externships, I didn’t work directly with Pierre during the course of the experience,” Hylan says. “The specific job that I have is not really one he would get right out of college. You need a couple of advanced degrees and internal promotions, so I gave him exposure to something closer to what he could potentially apply for when he got out of college.”

Hylan adds, “Last year I hosted someone in a similar externship who actually ended up getting a job at a pharmacological company.”

A participant in the externship program for a number of years, Hylan decided to become involved in the program after benefiting from a positive externship experience as a student. He notes that the employee who led Pierre on his appointments reported that he definitely was sales material

Pierre has been working with Lafayette’s career services since his first year at Lafayette. His internship and externship experiences have helped steer his career path, he says.

For example, his experience shadowing the Pfizer sales representative helped him decide to participate in an internship in Morgan Stanley’s asset management department.

“Ultimately I want to be at Pfizer,” Pierre explains. “The thing about working at Pfizer, it is like a mini-degree program. After you go through the interviews and are hired as a pharmaceutical representative, you go through a comprehensive training program. It’s purported that the percentage of people accepted for this is along the same lines as the percentage accepted into Ivy League schools.

“If I can complete the Pfizer training program, I will be able to stay on as a sales representative and hopefully go on to get a master’s degree, which is why I want as much externship experience as possible now.”

While his aspirations may seem lofty, Hylan says Pierre’s motivation and training will take him far.

“One of the things that stood out with him was that he was super-prepared,” Hylan says. “This guy was really polished in how he carried himself and how he acted. He had read up on the company and knew what was going on in the media. You could tell based on the questions he was asking that he knew his stuff, and in a way it made me look good and feel good. The way that Lafayette screens its students and pairs them with companies, we knew we weren’t getting just anyone.”

A graduate of North Shore High School, Pierre is vice president of Brothers of Lafayette and a member of Association of Black Collegians. He played varsity lacrosse during his sophomore year.

Categorized in: Academic News