New program connects Harpur students with alumni
October 12, 2011Tweet
A joint program from four campus units is helping Harpur College of Arts and Sciences sophomores explore careers while allowing alumni to stay closely connected to the University.
The Liberal Arts to Careers Externship (LACE), sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Harpur College, the Career Development Center and the Alumni Association, connects liberal arts students with accomplished Harpur College alumni for job-shadowing experiences over winter or summer breaks.
“The goal of the program is to provide students with an opportunity to see first-hand what they can do with a liberal arts education and to help their career exploration process,” LACE Coordinator Wendy Neuberger said. “After the experience is a perfect time for them to go back and talk to their Harpur academic advisors about what additional coursework they should be thinking about.”
LACE began last summer with a pilot program that matched 16 students with alumni sponsors. This winter’s session is expected to draw 20 student-alumni matches. A long-term goal is to increase the number of students and host sites to 150 matches, Neuberger said.
Students and alumni are required to meet face-to-face at the workplace of the alumni sponsor. LACE recommends that the student and sponsor meet five times for at least a half day per session, but informal mentoring can continue to take place into the semester and beyond.
“That’s a perfect example of extending your network and extending your professional experiential learning,” Neuberger said.
Students must submit an essay, letter of recommendation and a resume – and have at least a 2.75 grade point average – to apply for LACE. Students are then selected and placed with alumni based on career and geographic preferences.
Sophomores are “the perfect demographic” for the program, Neuberger said, as juniors are focusing on internships and seniors are preparing for the job market or graduate school.
“When you are a freshman, you come in and there is orientation and the first-year experience program,” she said. “There are programs geared toward getting you acclimated to college life. Sophomores are at a point where they are saying ‘I’ve chosen my major’ or ‘I need to choose my major.’ As they go through this process, they say ‘If I pick history, what can I do with it? What are the career possibilities?’
“The benefits of the externship are that it is not a huge time investment and they have the opportunity to see first-hand what you can do with a liberal arts degree,” she said.
The program also is beneficial for alumni, Neuberger said.
“This is a different kind of way to give back to the University,” she said. “This is a hands-on, gratifying way to give back because you are really making a difference in the life of a student. … It’s a way for Harpur alumni to show the passion for their career and make a real connection with the University.”
About 30 alumni have already indicated that they would like to volunteer, Neuberger said. Alumni from all over the country – especially those in the Binghamton region - are encouraged to sponsor. Sponsors now range from upstate New York to the New York City area to Washington, D.C.
“The more diverse (sponsors) we have, the richer the program will be,” Neuberger said.