Experiential learning enables students to gain valuable work experience through Gateway Career Center
Mila Temnyalova ’19 spent spring semester 2018 in Washington, D.C., where she interned at the Bulgarian Embassy. The experience left the Bulgarian native eager for more.
“I wanted to continue my time in D.C.,” says Temnyalova, who graduated in May with majors in international affairs and economics. “I took such amazing classes. I was networking and meeting people. There were so many opportunities.”
The dilemma? The internship she had the opportunity to extend through the summer was an unpaid position. Without financial assistance, Temnyalova would not be able to afford to live in one of the country’s most expensive cities.
The solution: A friend told her about the internship stipend program offered by Lafayette’s Gateway Career Center.
“When I went on the website, I saw the Robert Beane ’58 Intern Scholar Program,” she says. “It not only provided financial assistance, it also offered the opportunity to be paired with a mentor for the summer. At that point in my life, I felt confused about what I wanted to do in the future. I thought it would be really beneficial to have a mentor.”
Temnyalova completed the competitive application process and became one of four students selected as a 2018 Beane Scholar. The award covered her summer housing and transportation costs. That financial security enabled Temnyalova to devote 40 hours a week to working closely with Bulgarian diplomats. “The internship gave me the world at my fingertips,” she says.
Temnyalova is just one of many students who benefited from the generosity of alumni support throughout the College’s Live Connected, Lead Change Campaign.
“The campaign energized an alumni base to become involved in advancing Gateway Career Center’s mission of providing experiential learning opportunities to students throughout their Lafayette career,” says Mike Summers, assistant vice president and director of Gateway Career Center.
The campaign energized an alumni base to become involved in advancing Gateway Career Center’s mission
assistant vice president and director of Gateway Career Center
Several groups came together to make collective gifts, including the West Coast Advisory Council, Class of 1974, and Marquis Parents Council, among others. Stipend funds provided by these benefactors enable students to take advantage of unpaid or underpaid internships. This levels the playing field and allows all students to pursue the hands-on, real-life work opportunities considered essential to career development.
Another example of the alumni community’s generosity is the InternShift program. This was created by a group of alumni leaders who came together to support well-paid, immersive, meaningful internship experiences where students gain access to senior-level mentors. The program benefits both the student and the host organization.
“The InternShift program has elevated the types of work experiences that our students gain across the board,” Summers says. “All experiential learning opportunities now, from externships (job shadowing) to internships, strive to be immersive and meaningful with opportunities to make significant contributions and build professional relationships.”
Gateway Career Center also has expanded its offerings to include the innovative Career Tracks. In January 2019, the program took students into the marketplace where they participated in extensive career exploration and professional development across a variety of targeted industries in Chicago, Boston, New York City, and the Lehigh Valley. Students gained an understanding of what it takes to work in a particular field(s) and what the work culture is like while also getting a taste for life in an urban environment.
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“Employers had the opportunity to meet students and get a sense of what they can offer; many collected résumés,” says Northeast Advisory Council chair Todd Wiltshire ’86, vice president of capital markets with Fidelity, who spearheaded Career Tracks programming in Boston and Manhattan. “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.”
Summers adds, “Career Tracks has been successful because of the engagement and support our alumni provide. They are instrumental in developing the programming, hosting students, providing professional guidance and development opportunities, and donating a great deal of resources to make it happen. The experiences Lafayette students are able to receive thanks to this dedicated, passionate, and generous alumni network is at levels that other schools would only aspire to achieve.”