Each year during winter break, Fairfield University’s Alumni Job Shadow Program pairs students with alumni professionals across the country for a day of career exploration.
Students not only get the opportunity to practice their skills in networking in the workplace, they also receive invaluable career advice and
— Kim Nickolenko, director of Experiential Learning and Internships
The program first launched in 2011 in collaboration with the Alumni Association, Alumni Relations, and the Career Planning Center. The Alumni Association Board envisioned this new program to be an experience, which gave Fairfield’s alumni across the country opportunities to provide career guidance to undergraduate students. The inaugural year began with 49 alumni who matched with 60 students. Since then, the program has become more popular every year. This year’s Alumni Job Shadow week grew to 260 students and 141 alumni in business and organizations across various industries. Throughout winter break, students spent the day at ESPN, Facebook, GE, Anne Inc., Spectrum, Jet, Daversa Partners, Fitch Group, WFSB, Waterbury Hospital, and many more.
The Alumni Job Shadow Program is designed to give students a unique and up-close look into an industry and career that interests them. “The Job Shadow Program, now in its sixth year, is such an impactful program. Students not only get the opportunity to practice their skills in communication and networking in the workplace, they also receive invaluable career advice and mentorship,” stated Kim Nickolenko, director of Experiential Learning and Internships. “Plus, the connections they make with alumni sometimes lead to internship and job offers.”
Several members of the senior class spent the day at WebMD. Juliana Hoffmann ’18, Vanessa Medrano ’18, Caroline Haeberle ’18, and Chris Gerver ’18 had the opportunity to shadow Jessica Estrada ’15, sales operations analyst for the company. Throughout the day, the students toured the office and were able to meet other employees in various departments including Human Resources, Sales, and Marketing, and were able to speak to Estrada about career opportunities within marketing. They also received resume and interviewing advice.
Hoffman spoke about the day, saying, “This experience is so rare to have because not only were we in an environment where we could have an open and honest conversation but also network with these very established people at the company,”
Many of the alumni mentors reported that they got more than they gave from visits with the students. This is something that makes the program a successful venture for everyone involved.
“I had a great experience working with the Fairfield University students that matched with WebMD this year. I enjoyed being able to offer career advice and introduce the students to working in a business environment. I thoroughly enjoy staying connected to Fairfield University. Working with current students is a highlight of the year for me.” said Alumni Mentor Estrada.
This is Estrada’s second year participating as an alumni mentor in the program. As a student at Fairfield, she participated in the program twice, shadowing at Simon & Schuster and OMD. Estrada believes that both of these experiences helped her find her own career path.
This year’s Job Shadow Program proved to be successful for both the students and alumni. Nickolenko remarked, “The alumni love the program because it’s an opportunity for them to give back and help current Stags get on the right career path. Many of them have already expressed interest to participate next year!”
For more information about the Job Shadow Program, please visit fairfield.edu/jobshadow.