On the final day of this year’s inaugural Silicon Valley Externship Program, Stonehill’s Career Development Center (CDC) staff took the externs on a detour after their last site visit. They stopped at a beach, where students – dressed for success – took off their shoes to splash around in the light surf after a week of intense networking.
CDC director Christina Burney said seeing the externs during this moment of levity made her realize how seriously they took this immersive professional program.
“They exhibited such professionalism during our site visits that I almost forgot they were students.”
The Silicon Valley Externship Program is designed to help rising seniors explore viable career options. Over the course of a week, students visit a dozen companies, including Google, Uber and SiriusDecisions, often meeting with Stonehill alumni who work there. They also have opportunities to meet employers and ask career development questions.
“Our externs have a focused agenda,” Burney said. “They want to make professional connections and learn how to apply skills gained at Stonehill to specific employment opportunities.”
Exploring the Impact of Technology
Visiting a digital hub like Silicon Valley exposes externs to emerging opportunities in technology. Dean of the Meehan School of Business Debra Salvucci, who developed this externship with CDC staff, said students come to realize they are entering a changing workforce.
“Our externs come from various majors,” she said. “Regardless of their field, technology impacts all careers. It’s transforming employment opportunities and the skills students need.”
Biology major Samir Usuman ’20 said visiting companies such as Google and Speck helped him see how technology will play a role in his future career.
“We asked our hosts what classes we should be taking to prepare ourselves for the future. They made it clear that developing data analytics skills is important in all lines of work. Knowing how to interpret data will only benefit you these days.”
Alumni Paying It Forward, Giving Back to Stonehill
An important element in this success of this program is the participation of alumni who live and work in the region.
“Nothing would come together without our graduates,” Burney said. “They are so generous with their resources and time.”
This year’s externs stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Los Altos, California, free of charge. Their visit was sponsored by Erik Robertson ’99, who works in the hospitality industry.
Many externship site hosts are alumni, who give students valuable insight into life after Stonehill.
“Hearing graduates’ personal stories benefits externs. It is reassuring to see these alumni found confidence in their work, even though they may not have had all the answers when they were getting their feet wet in their respective industries,” said CDC’s Omar Rodriguez, assistant director of engagement and inclusion.
Thomas Alaimo ’15 is a sales manager at TechTarget, a technology marketing company. When the externs visited this year, Alaimo discussed his work, and also addressed transitioning from Stonehill to the West Coast.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without Stonehill,” he said. “I found work at TechTarget through a Stonehill connection. I’m happy to give back by sharing my experience with students.”