An innovative program introduces students to careers in Chicago, Boston, and New York City. Twitter
By Katie Neitz
A deep and passionate network of alumni, parents, and friends of the College provides opportunities that enable students to hit the ground running upon graduation and have an edge in a highly competitive job market.
That generosity is what fueled Home for the Holidays, a unique career-exploration program 61 students participated in over winter break. Through this four-day rotational career trek, students experienced professional life in one of three vibrant urban environments: six students visited Chicago, 41 traveled to Boston, and 14 went to Manhattan. This complemented the College’s long-standing externship job-shadowing program, which was also held in January.
Students in each city learned practical advice and skills (such as writing a résumé and making a stock pitch) while also gaining a sense for what careers, employers, and graduate-school opportunities are available in each locale. In addition, students had the chance to network with professionals—relationships that can forge the way to future internships and employment.
Each Home for the Holidays program was organized and orchestrated by the College’s Regional Advisory Councils in partnership with the Offices of Career Services and Alumni Relations. Alumni, parents, and friends of the College joined forces to provide an experience that would prepare students for the job market while also increasing local employers’ awareness of the Lafayette talent pool.
The pilot Home for the Holidays program was run in January 2017 by Bram Bluestein ’69, managing partner of Bluestein & Associates in Chicago. The success of that inaugural session, which Bluestein branded “A Taste of Chicago,” became the model for additional programs in Boston and Manhattan, which were spearheaded by Regional Advisory Council chairman Todd Wiltshire ’86, vice president of capital markets with Fidelity, and vice chairman Sebastian “Benny” Crapanzano ’97, managing director in Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities Group, respectively.
“It struck me that with the College’s goals to achieve more geographic and student diversification, and with the rapidly growing student population from Chicago, it would be valuable to create a program here,” Bluestein says. “My goal was to give students a better understanding of the job market, the economy, and the alumni network here in Chicago, and to provide them with tools to help them find summer internships and full-time jobs.”
While each city’s programming was unique and independent of the others, Bluestein, Wiltshire, and Crapanzano all worked with a similar goal: to unite their local Pard communities to enhance students’ educational experience and encourage their future employment within their local professional networks.
“Employers had the opportunity to meet students and get a sense of what they can offer; many collected résumés,” Wiltshire says. “It is good to help raise the profile of the College in these markets and give those students who pursue internships and jobs with those employers a competitive advantage.”
Indeed, feedback from hosts and participants alike has been so overwhelmingly positive that Bluestein, Wiltshire, and Crapanzano are discussing how they can work with career services to deepen and broaden the program in the three cities and also expand into additional ones.
Another area for further discussion is how this particular experience fits within the other career-exploration programs offered by Career Services—externships, internships, and InternShifts. “It may make sense for a freshman or sophomore to participate in Home for the Holidays to get a broad brush on a variety of jobs,” Crapanzano says. “That would then set them up nicely for a job-shadowing externship the following year, and then an internship that summer, where they can delve deeper. I think that approach would work well for the future.”
As organizers look ahead to plan for January 2019, here’s a look back at their successful 2018 programming.
Why Chicago? “We have a very diversified and balanced economy here in Chicago,” Bluestein says. “There is not one industry that dominates our economy, and I wanted to make students aware of that: that no matter their major or what field they want to go into, they have a lot of choices here.”
The format: Bluestein created an agenda that had a balance of skill development and industry exposure. “We had professionals from a variety of industries come in and talk about their careers and offer advice,” he says. “But this year, I wanted to do more skill development because we got good feedback on that from last year. We did sessions on how to research an internship, how to write a résumé that will attract employers, and we did mock-interview sessions.”
The professionals: Students had the opportunity to learn from and network with professionals from Chicago’s Federal Reserve, HERE (global software technology company), Matter (health care incubator), Connectory (digital startup incubator), McNally Capital (private equity firm), and Bluestein and Associates (venture capital firm).
The highlights: “One of the corporate presenters said to me that he thought the Lafayette students were as sharp as some people who have already graduated college,” Bluestein says.
The takeaway: “The highlight of this experience was having the opportunity to travel and explore businesses in downtown Chicago,” says Lucia Romano ’20, a sociology and anthropology major from Chicago. “Traveling to MATTER and HERE Technologies was not only interesting but enlightening because I never understood how innovative and progressive businesses are in Chicago until this experience. I also learned the value of networking. In order to be involved in a competitive field, you have to make yourself known and communicate with others. I would highly recommend this opportunity to any student who has an interest in working in Chicago.”
Why Boston? “There is a strong network of alumni and parents in Boston, and there is a wealth of opportunities in the finance, life sciences, and technology industries, as well as many excellent graduate schools for those looking to continue their education,” Wiltshire says.
The format: Wiltshire created three unique career tracks for students to choose from: finance, technology, and life sciences. Each of the programs had its own itinerary of expert speakers (a mix of alumni, parents, and other Boston-based professionals), interactive skill-development activities, and tours of facilities relevant to each field. While each agenda was geared specifically toward a particular track, Wiltshire brought the tech and finance tracks together for a tour of Fidelity’s Center for Applied Technology, where students learned how his firm coalesces the fields of computer science, engineering, and finance—similar to the interdisciplinary approach of the College.
The professionals: Wiltshire arranged an extensive lineup of speakers and hosts for students across all three tracks to gain insight from. They represented Harvard Business School, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Associates, Fidelity, Thermo Fisher Scientific, MassBio, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Lantheus Medical Imaging, Citibank, and Modera Wealth Management, among others.
The highlight: “The feedback we received was extremely positive from all parties: the hosts, the speakers, the parents, and the students,” Wiltshire says. “One thing that really pleased me is that Citizens Bank sent a recruiter to our networking event. It was out of the blue; they didn’t participate as a host, so we hadn’t been expecting that. The recruiter interviewed a few students, so students definitely benefited, and we picked up a new host for next year as well.”
The takeaway: “The networking event was particularly valuable to me because it gave me a chance to have many one-on-one and small group conversations with alumni and parents,” says Mackenzie Erb ’20, an economics major from New Hampshire. “Through those conversations, I was able to gain a much greater understanding of the benefits and purpose of pursuing both an MBA at a business school and a CFA. It was a great opportunity to practice my networking skills and grow my professional network. I would highly recommend this experience to students who want to gain a wide range of exposure to different firms and areas of employment. It also gives you a great chance to get a feel for life in Boston.”
Why Manhattan? “Beyond being the financial capital of the world, Manhattan’s close proximity to Lafayette makes it a likely location students will end up in for internships, employment, or graduate school,” Crapanzano says.
The format: Crapanzano’s programming was specifically designed for students interested in a finance career. He drew upon the rich network of alumni and parents who work in the industry to serve as guest speakers, expert panelists, and interactive tour guides who gave students an overview of the various careers available—from corporate finance to commercial banking to financial planning to private equity. “It was a priority for us to create a program that was participatory,” he says. “We didn’t just want students to sit and listen. We wanted them to be actively engaged throughout and really interact with the professionals. I think keeping it to a small group of students was the right approach and made it personal.”
The professionals: The expert participants and hosts represented a variety of occupations and firms in the Manhattan financial industry, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Ernst & Young, BlackRock, Brown Brothers Harriman, and Morgan Stanley.
The highlight: “I think one of the most successful things we did was to have a coaching session on how to deliver a stock pitch,” Crapanzano says. “It’s something you need to be prepared to do during a job interview. You are asked on the spot why someone should buy or sell a particular stock or make a particular investment. We had two young alums come here and coach students on how to do it. The students had 24 hours to rehearse and refine their presentations before delivering them to our group. They did an awesome job. It was really an impressive thing to see come together.”
The takeaway: “This is one of the most interesting things I have done in my life,” says Kristian Karadzhov ’19, an economics major from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. “There is no better way to get an inside perspective on the financial services industry. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know these professionals and get to build lasting relationships that might eventually help me get an internship or job. It was a unique opportunity to get to visit top-ranked companies and get to know what people do in their everyday lives. One of the most valuable experiences was the stock-pitch training. It’s something that we might one day have to do on a job interview, so it was valuable to go through the exercise and get guidance.”
Whether you are an alum, parent, or friend of the College, your support and participation in externship, internship, InternShift, and rotational career treks are valuable. Learn more about Lafayette’s career-exploration programs.