When Professor Ron Leone started Stonehill’s Los Angeles Internship Program in 2010, the focus was on Stonehill students who hoped to be tomorrow’s Oscar contenders and Hollywood tastemakers. But it soon became apparent that the program was capable of playing a much bigger role and now attracts everyone from future doctors and lawyers to prospective psychologists and accountants.
“Students continue to secure positions with major media companies and smaller, boutique production and promotional houses,” said the former chair of Stonehill’s Communication Department, who launched the program with the help of internship coordinator Chris Gagne ’09. “Moreover, students from a variety of majors are increasingly finding opportunities to develop their leadership skills through the program.”
Participants of the program, which is run jointly by Stonehill’s Communication Department and Career Development Center, live in LA for 14 weeks while completing full-time internships.
“By complementing classroom experiences with an immersive semester in LA, students cultivate professional relationships with leaders in many industries,” Leone said. “We hope they leave the program with a clear sense of their strengths, abilities and career goals, including the leadership roles they envision for themselves.”
For many in the program, their internships mark the first step in a long journey on the West Coast. Ally Mielnicki ’11 currently serves as the Highlights Manager at Fox Sports in LA. She said if it had not been for Stonehill’s LA program, through which she interned in CBS’s Publicity and Media Relations Department, she never would have considered moving to California.
“I fell in love with LA,” Mielnicki said. “By working in the industry, I made great connections through networking that enabled me to move from CBS to Fox.”
Kristine Shatas, employer relations manager in the Career Development Center, says alumni like Mielnicki play a large role in the program’s continued success.
“Each semester, students connect with our alumni in LA for advice and assistance with their internship search,” she said. “They remember what it was like to move across the country and start from scratch, making them eager to pay it forward.”
Providing opportunities for students from all disciplines
Though many Stonehill students travel to LA with dreams of careers in the entertainment industry, others, such as Healthcare Administration major Geovanny Sequeira ’19, use the opportunity to explore different paths.
Sequeira recently completed an internship at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in LA, where he rotated through various departments that make up human resources, including talent acquisition and employee relations. He had the opportunity to shadow HR professionals and develop presentations for meetings attended by the AHF’s board of directors.
Sequeira chose to intern at the AHF after learning they provide services to anyone, regardless of finances.
“I woke up every day excited to go to my internship,” he said. “It was rewarding to work for an organization advocating for underserved populations.”
Shatas notes that the LA experience gives students a taste of their post-graduate potential.
“The students are treated like regular employees, so there is often a realization that not only are they part of a much bigger picture, but also that they have the potential to have a positive impact on the world,” she said.