Boston Externship Program promotes professional, personal growth

August 10, 2018


Graphic design and marketing major Taylor Robertson ’21 found herself in an unlikely position during a recent Stonehill-sponsored trip to the Massachusetts State House.  

Robertson, an aspiring advertising art director, has little formal experience arguing for gun control. To give her and her classmates a taste of working at the State House, legislative aides engaged them in a debate over the Second Amendment, forcing many outside their comfort zones.   

Completing the task taught Robertson something about herself and her career interests. “I realized I’m capable of thinking on my feet and crafting a solid argument,” she says. “And I enjoyed the State House’s bustling work environment.” 

This experience was part of the Boston Externship Program, an exploratory networking opportunity for first-year students. Run by the Career Development Center (CDC), this program exposes participants to viable career options. Students visit a dozen employers in the Boston area, including the Boston Celtics, Dana-Farber, Brown Brothers Harriman and W.B. Mason, during spring break. They have the opportunity to network and ask professional development questions.  

Prior to these visits, students spend weeks honing career readiness skills — from network building to crafting the perfect elevator pitch. Employer Relations Manager Kristine Shatas, who runs the Boston Externship Program with CDC Director Christina Burney, says it is amazing to witness students’ progress.  

“When we start meeting with them, some students are unsure of their career path or [they] lack confidence in public speaking,” Shatas says. “We look for students motivated to grow through this experience.” 

Alumni giving back, making a difference 

Externs see firsthand how a Stonehill education can be applied to countless real-world settings. Many externship hosts are alumni who donate valuable time to show students the possibilities awaiting them after they walk down Donahue Hill at Commencement.  

Stacy Gardner ’03 is the senior human resources recruiter at Massachusetts General Hospital. When students visited MGH, Gardner hosted a panel discussion with employees from various hospital departments, from nurses to human resources representatives. Gardner hoped to demonstrate that there are opportunities for graduates from a variety of majors.  

“Not everyone knows what they want to do when they grow up, and this program allows students to explore that in a way like no other,” Gardner says. “Allowing our employees to talk about their paths since graduation and what they love about their career now causes lightbulbs to [turn on] for students with similar interests.” 

Shatas says alumni like Gardner are willing to share their experiences with students because the Stonehill community is close-knit. “Most alumni remember someone who made an impact on them during their time here,” she says. “They want to pay it forward.”