A deep and passionate network of alumni, parents, and friends of the College provides opportunities that enable students to hit the ground running upon graduation and have an edge in a highly competitive job market.
That generosity is what fueled Home for the Holidays, a unique career-exploration program 61 students participated in over winter break. Through this four-day rotational career trek, students experienced professional life in one of three vibrant urban environments: Six students visited Chicago, 41 traveled to Boston, and 14 went to Manhattan. This complemented the College’s long-standing externship job-shadowing program, which was also held in January.
Students in each city learned practical advice and skills (such as writing a résumé and making a stock pitch) while also gaining a sense for what careers, employers, and graduate-school opportunities are available in each locale. In addition, students had the chance to network with professionals—relationships that can forge the way to future internships and employment.
Each Home for the Holidays program was organized and orchestrated by the College’s regional advisory councils in partnership with the Offices of Career Services and Alumni Relations. Alumni, parents, and friends of the College joined forces to provide an experience that would prepare students for the job market while also increasing local employers’ awareness of the Lafayette talent pool.
The pilot Home for the Holidays program was run in January 2017 by Bram Bluestein ’69, managing partner of Bluestein & Associates in Chicago. The success of that inaugural session, which Bluestein branded “A Taste of Chicago,” became the model for additional programs in Boston and Manhattan, which were spearheaded by regional advisory council chairman Todd Wiltshire ’86, vice president of capital markets with Fidelity, and vice chairman Sebastian “Benny” Crapanzano ’97, managing director in Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities Group, respectively.
“It struck me that with the College’s goals to achieve more geographic and student diversification, and with the rapidly growing student population from Chicago, it would be valuable to create a program here,” Bluestein says. “My goal was to give students a better understanding of the job market, the economy, and the alumni network here in Chicago, and to provide them with tools to help them find summer internships and full-time jobs.”
While each city’s programming was unique and independent of the others, Bluestein, Wiltshire, and Crapanzano all worked with a similar goal: to unite their local Pard communities to enhance students’ educational experience and encourage their future employment within their local professional networks.
“Employers had the opportunity to meet students and get a sense of what they can offer; many collected résumés,” Wiltshire says. “It is good to help raise the profile of the College in these markets and give those students who pursue internships and jobs with those employers a competitive advantage.”
Indeed, feedback from hosts and participants alike has been so overwhelmingly positive that Bluestein, Wiltshire, and Crapanzano are discussing how they can work with career services to deepen and broaden the program in the three cities and also expand into additional ones.
Another area for further discussion is how this particular experience fits within the other career-exploration programs offered by career services—externships, internships, and InternShifts. “It may make sense for a freshman or sophomore to participate in Home for the Holidays to get a broad brush on a variety of jobs,” Crapanzano says. “That would then set them up nicely for a job-shadowing externship the following year, and then an internship that summer, where they can delve deeper. I think that approach would work well for the future.”