The Ultimate Boston Career Tool
Personal growth, professional clarity are at the heart of the Boston Externship Program.
As an undeclared student, Nicole Walsh ’23 came to Stonehill ready to explore a variety of possible careers. So it was almost a given that she would apply to the Boston Externship Program, a unique opportunity to explore possible careers and establish professional contacts with Stonehill alumni already working in the field.
“I hoped the externship program could help me narrow things down,” said Walsh, who is from Huntington, New York. “I was nervous because everyone else in the program had declared a major and I was unsure what I was doing. But we were all in the same boat.”
Students who come to Stonehill without a clear career path have ample opportunities to learn and research new industries they may not have previously considered. The one-week Boston Externship Program, offered every March, is among the best.
“I have a ton of interests and I am open to a ton of career fields, so this was a good opportunity to learn about different industries and how they operate,” said Cameron Parker ’23, a biology major from Taunton, Massachusetts.
During the program, first- and second-year students meet with successful Stonehill alumni at 15 companies in the Boston area. It’s a chance to visit and learn about different organizations as well as the positions and departments within each company.
“Getting exposure to a wide variety of industries and fields is, to me, one of the most important reasons that you go to college, aside from academics,” said Christina Burney, associate dean for Academic Achievement and Student Success. “Taking advantage of this experience early on means you have time to implement what you’ve learned.”
Program Provides Chance for Students to Explore Upcoming Industries
The externship is run by the Career Development Center (CDC). Each year, the CDC looks at fields experiencing explosive growth and curates site visits that will allow students to learn more about those industries.
“We spend the six weeks prior thinking about where we are going, doing research, coming together as a team, and trying to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. Then we put all that prep work into action,” said Burney.
This year, the program ran a General Exploration track and a Finance track. Students on the Finance track visited organizations such as Ocean Spray Cranberries, Samsonite and State Street Bank.
Torn between science and business, Fiona Lu ’22, a native of Zhengzhou, China, who moved to Dedham, Massachusetts, at age 8, said the Finance track helped her gain clarity on which major to choose.
“There’s a wide range of what you can do with your finance or economics degree,” said Lu, an economics major with a minor in business administration. “The opportunity to hear the personal experiences of Stonehill alumni and learn more about the options helped guide me to what I see myself doing in the future.”
The General Exploration track brought students to ’47 Brand, W.B. Mason, Converse and the Massachusetts State House, among others.
Tye Skeldon ’23, a marketing major from Cumberland, Rhode Island, says one of the more surprising visits was to the Boston Celtics.
“It was beneficial to learn about ticket sales and the inner functions of the organization as opposed to just the operations, which is what I was expecting,” said Skeldon.
Unique Experiences and Preparation Increase Career Readiness
In preparation for the Boston Externship Program, students work on professional communication skills, including how to make an elevator pitch. Students also learn how to write a resume and cover letter as well as how to apply for internships.
“I wasn’t sure about what I was doing in the professional workplace,” said Lu. “After the externship and all our prep meetings, I felt confident talking about myself as well as about topics in finance and economics.”
Burney compares the experience to a weeklong career coaching appointment. “It’s exhaustive professional development,” she said. “We’re helping students connect the dots to see how this experience is personally changing them and changing their plans.”
During the visits, students hear from Stonehill alumni about their careers and responsibilities, but they also spend time chatting about their shared love of Stonehill, including favorite professors and living in O’Hara Hall.
“I built valuable connections and relationships, beyond a simple LinkedIn invitation, at every company we visited,” said Skeldon, who envisions himself going into corporate recruiting. “The alumni care about where we end up.”
Weeklong Experience Leads to Tremendous Growth
While the experience is about cultivating professional relationships at a wide variety of companies in the Boston area, the students also see personal growth.
“The transformation just in terms of how students communicate is dramatic,” said Burney. “And students walk away with this deep understanding that your major doesn’t define you.”
Through speaking with more than 30 Stonehill alumni throughout the week, each of whom has taken a different path to success, students see and hear how a Stonehill education leads to career resilience.
“My biggest takeaway was learning what’s out there and that whatever I have in my head might not be where I end up,” said Parker. “It reminds you to be open-minded, keep working hard and trust in yourself.”
“Many of the alums told us to not be afraid to seize an opportunity when it presents itself, even if you’re unsure if you have the skills for it,” said Walsh. “It was reassuring to hear that my education at Stonehill will be applicable in any field I go into.”