Students Make Connections through Alumni Job Shadow Program
Over winter break earlier this month, more than 125 juniors and seniors and 115 alumni spent a workday “in the field”—touring a clean room, visiting the set of a television show, fine-tuning resumes and, most importantly, generating a network for students to tap into after graduation.
Participation in the second annual Job Shadow Week from January 7-11 doubled from the previous year. The program is coordinated by the University’s Career Planning Center, the Office of Alumni Relations, and the Alumni Association Board.
It’s clear that Fairfield alumni are working in exciting fields, all around the country, and they are generous in sharing their expertise, and their contacts.
Touring the Clean Room
Three senior engineering students spent the day in Wilton, Conn., with Tim O’Neil ’84, chair of the University’s School of Engineering Advisory Council, and vice president of program management at ASML, a provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry.
O’Neil is responsible for the EUV (Extended Ultraviolet) program, and leads a team of development and integration engineers who develop technology, design modules, integrate first units, and deliver a design to production ready for manufacturing. He had set up a busy day with the students, each of whom shadowed engineers who had studied in their major. In the afternoon they were assigned different engineers to shadow for another perspective. O’Neil toured them around ASML’s clean room, glass polishing facilities, and optical metrology labs.
“I got to experience firsthand what I might expect in an engineering firm,” said Huytien Tran ’13. “I collected business cards from some of the managers, and it went really well.”
O’Neil also felt the time was well spent. “The students commented that their day was well organized, interesting, and that they able to relate to the engineering exposures throughout the day. I think we at the company had even more fun at times than the students.”
Let’s Talk Advertising
Ken Nippes ’94 read about Job Shadow in Fairfield University Magazine last year and immediately e-mailed to see how he could be a part of it. Margaret Smith ’13, a finance major, and Laura Ballanco ’14, a communications major, spent the day with him at Cramer Krasselt in Manhattan, one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the country. Nippes is vice president and media director, charged with placing marketing messages created by other departments and determining whether messages should be on TV, Facebook, mobile devices, or in print.
Besides reviewing their resumes and offering tips for improvement, Nippes set up meetings for the two students with all the other departments so they could gain a fuller picture of how an ad agency works. He also had them sit in on a couple of meetings about a new upcoming business pitch.
“Finally and probably most importantly,” Nippes said, “I recently hired another Fairfield grad, Breena Goldberg ’12, and the students got to shadow Breena and see what the typical day of a media planner consists of… I think that Maggie and Laura got a lot out of the experience”.
The week was a huge success for both alumni and students. “It’s great to be able to give something back to a University that gave me so much,” said Nippes.
On the Set in L.A.
Most participating alumni said they had a lot of fun with their students. The “fun” quotient was especially high for Kimberly (“Kimi”) Kurata ’14 and Kristen Filicia ’14, communications and marketing majors, who had the chance to visit the set of “The New Girl” during their job shadow day with Aimee Hoffman ’95, a recruitment manager for Fox Filmed Entertainment in Los Angeles.
After the set visit, they had lunch and talked about the students’ resumes, internships, and interviewing. Two executives in the Fox Sports regional marketing group talked with them about their work, answered questions, and showed the students a promotional video. “The girls shined,” noted Hoffman. “They asked thoughtful questions, responded well to the information that was provided, and showed great appreciation of the time the executives provided.”
“The most significant lesson I learned is the importance of networking in the business world,” said Kurata. “When I’m looking for the right internship for this summer or career choice after I graduate, it is all about who I know and who can help.”
“Kimi definitely added to her network while visiting Fox,” said Hoffman. “She made three or four solid contacts for when she is ready to start her job search. I was happy to help.”
Time to Explore
Even though her offices were relocating during Job Shadow Week, Aamina Awan ’07, program manager for the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, took the time to meet with Laura Johnson ’14, an English major, for lunch at a restaurant downtown.
“When I met with Laura, she reminded me of myself—so excited for the opportunity, with lots of questions. I could see her mind racing,” said Awan. “I told her to go ahead and take a risk and challenge herself. There is time to explore, and plan, and try things.”
They discussed Laura’s resume and career aspirations in the field of education. “I was impressed at how knowledgeable Laura was about the organization. She had done her homework, so we could spend our time talking about Laura’s interests and concerns.”
“Aamina was so thoughtful and generous with her time,” Johnson commented. “She’s been hugely successful in her field—and she really inspired me to view life after Fairfield as a wealth of possibilities if you have a good sense of your interests and goals for the future.”
Besides being a mentor herself, Awan was instrumental in coordinating Job Shadow Week this year, along with Michelle Schmidt ’07, another member of the Alumni Association Board. They worked closely with the University’s Career Planning office and Julie Tuozzoli ’85 from the Alumni Career Services office. “Cath (Borgman) and her team did a great job helping the students get prepped. Laura’s resume was up to my expectations—which are high! And Julie worked magic pulling the right alumni for the students.”
As an undergraduate, Aamina said she was well-advised to network with older students as well as alumni. Their advice helped her in her own career.
“Today I am still in touch with a lot of the upperclassmen I spoke to. Even though the Job Shadow program didn’t officially exist then, I consider myself a ‘graduate’ of the program. You see so much of yourself in the student—and that makes it interesting and rewarding… As alumni, somebody opened the doors for us, and we owe it to today’s students to pay it forward.”