Stags For Hire

Stags For Hire

Students pictured with alumna mentor working at WebMD

Participating as a student in the Alumni Job Shadow Program inspired Jessica Estrada ’15 (far left), supervisor for global sales operations at WebMD, to volunteer as an alumna mentor. Pictured with her in this pre-pandemic photo are (l-r): Olivia Salinger ’19, Victoria Conte ’20, Arianna Palmeri ’20, Katherine Mullen ’20, and Chris Gerver ’18.

Fairfield’s alumni job shadow program gives students a taste of the workplace, and leads to job offers after graduation.

Fairfield Stags really want to help Stags. when you hire someone from Fairfield you know you are hiring someone who is smart, hardworking, and has good values. the concept of ‘men and women for others’ is really something you feel and don’t necessarily see in other candidates.

— Jennifer Tomosivitch ’91

When Emma Antoine-Portinari ’20 entered her senior year, she envisioned herself graduating in May with a job lined up. 

But things didn’t go according to plan due to the global pandemic.

“It just made the job search that much harder than it was going to be,” said Antoine-Portinari who studied psychology during her time at Fairfield.

With a graduation post on LinkedIn about her availability for work, Antoine-Portinari caught the attention of Jennifer Tomosivitch ’91 — an alumna she had connected with during the Alumni Job Shadow Program her junior year. Tomosivitch, who is senior vice president of global marketing at the education tech company Skillsoft, has since hired Antoine-Portinari as a communications assistant.

“Fairfield Stags really want to help Stags,” said Tomosivitch who has volunteered as an alumna mentor in the program since 2012. “When you hire someone from Fairfield you know you are hiring someone who is smart, hardworking, and has good values. The concept of ‘men and women for others’ is really something you feel and don’t necessarily see in other candidates.”

Similar to Antoine-Portinari, Eileen Plaehn ’18 also connected with Tomosivitch as a student participant in the Job Shadow Program. After shadowing Tomosivitch at Thermo Fisher Scientific (her former employer), Plaehn accepted a job there and later followed her mentor to Skillsoft, where she is currently a senior global marketing programs specialist on Tomosivitch’s team.

Pejay Lucky (right) catches up with Mahfouz Soumare ’22 on the steps of The Tully in the Barone Campus Center.

Emma Antoine-Portinari ’20 participated in job shadow both her junior and senior year.

Since the start of the pandemic, new college graduates are turning to their alumni networks more than ever for help in the job market. Fairfield graduates often have a leg up on the competition, thanks to the University’s Alumni Job Shadow Program.

Launched in 2011 as a collaboration between the Alumni Association, Alumni Relations, and the Career Center, in its first year the program paired 60 students with 49 alumni professionals across the country for a week of career exploration during winter break. Since then, the Alumni Job Shadow Program has grown in popularity every year.

This year’s program placed 256 students with 132 alumni in businesses and organizations across a variety of industries. During a single week over winter break, students spent shadow days at Boston Children’s Hospital, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Inspira Marketing Group, Mastercard Worldwide, Hartford Wolfpack, Facebook, HP Inc., Tesla, Bloomberg, A&E Television, Meriden Public Schools, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Hubspot, Pfizer, Novartis, Save the Children, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and more.

“Job Shadow is such a rewarding program for all involved. Students learn about careers and make vital career connections, alumni and parents are excited to give back to current Stags, and we in the Career Center are so pleased when students land jobs as a result of connections they made,” said the program’s employer relations manager, Deirdre Bennett.

During a typical Alumni Job Shadow day, alumni and students talk about career paths, participate in informational interviews, meet with human resources representatives, join client and internal meetings, and tour work facilities. Alumni mentors review students’ résumés and students often explore brief projects relevant to their career interests.

Rheannon Loffredo ’20 felt an instant connection with alumna Maureen Murray ’78, a content manager at the fin-tech firm DailyPay, when they were paired for a job shadow during her senior year.

“We immediately clicked,” said Loffredo, “and I was comfortable asking her all sorts of questions about the company. We even discovered that we both lived in the same exact room when we were first-years at Fairfield. We both lived in Campion 414 — 42 years apart from each other!”

Though she initially wished to pursue a career at an entertainment-related company, the experience opened up Loffredo’s eyes to other industries.

“When shadowing at DailyPay, the significance of a startup’s tight-knit community became apparent to me. Going into college, I had picked Fairfield because of the tight-knit community I felt when coming onto campus the first time,” she said. “It made sense that I would be drawn to a company with the same type of community.”

By the end of her job shadow day, Loffredo knew she wanted to work for DailyPay following graduation. She touched base with Murray monthly, and once the pandemic hit and hiring freezes were implemented, she began communicating even more frequently with Murray to stay top of mind. She kept at it and in August 2020, Murray offered her an associate content writer position, which she quickly accepted.

“Get to know people in the company where you do your job shadow” advised Murray. “Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Be persistent! Rheannon’s persistence is what ultimately got her the job — she was always top of mind for me.”

Jessica Estrada ’15, supervisor for global sales operations at WebMD, participated in the Alumni Job Shadow Program as a student during her junior and senior years. When she interviewed at WebMD for a job with the sales operations team, “This is what I want to do,” she remembered thinking, describing it as a lightbulb going off. “I was able to have that revelation because this industry was accessible to me through the Job Shadow Program,” she noted.

Her positive experience as a student inspired her to volunteer as an alumna mentor.

Ibanez  Iceman electric guitar, commissioned and played by Paul Stanley of Kiss.

Eileen Plaehn ’18 and Emma Antoine-Portinari ’20 connected with Jennifer Tomosivitch ’91 during this year’s Alumni Job Shadow.

“After starting my own career, I wanted to give current Fairfield University students the opportunity to learn about the work that we do at WebMD, and also provide advice and guidance,” she explained. “Participating as a mentor in the Job Shadow Program helps me still feel connected to the University. It feels great to give back.” 

Since joining WebMD and volunteering in the Alumni Job Shadow Program, five student mentees have interviewed and joined WebMD in full-time positions within the marketing and sales teams, including Christopher Gerver ’18, Olivia Salinger ’19, and Vanessa Medrano ’18. Estrada noted that student participants who were actively involved during their on-site visits stood out among their peers.

The Stags helping Stags ethos is alive and well in Fairfield University’s alumni network, as evidenced by volunteers in the Alumni Job Shadow Program. “I would not be here if it had not been for them,” noted Antoine-Portinari, who described her job at Skillsoft as “the shining light at the end of the tunnel I had been looking for.”

Other Articles in the Spring 2021 Issue

Alumni Profile: Frank Figliuzzi '84

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Alumni Profile: Jodi Sommers '97

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The Love Bugs

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A Real Keeper

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A Titanic Dream

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Life Changing

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Letter from the President

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