Spring break, for 11 Ohio Wesleyan students, meant ushering in a new externship program and the opportunity to gain experience in and exposure to an array of job options and what could be future careers for these students. And for the several OWU alumni/employers who served as hosts, advisers, role models, and at times, work partners during their brief time together, it also was an opportunity for alumni to appreciate the intellectual qualities, creativity, and high caliber of the Ohio Wesleyan student externs.
“These externships benefit students and alumni,” explains Leslie Melton, director of OWU’s Career Services office. Externships, as she explains, offer more of a shadowing experience for students during their one to five days with their alumni employers. By talking with these alumni about their work, completing assigned projects, sitting in on office meetings, and being part of various site visits relevant to each externship, students learn the value of networking, being with professionals in the field, and gaining insight into the inner workings of agencies, foundations, government offices, and places of business. First to “jump on board” to support OWU’s externship program was alumnus Denis Nock ’58, adds Melton.
Alumni who participated in the first round of externships were: Tom Goodman ’76, president and CEO of Goodman Media International, Inc. in New York; Shannon Russo ’88, CEO of Kinetix in Atlanta, Georgia; Bill Jennings ’84, CEO of Precision Health Media in New York; Dan Sharpe ’06, community research and grants management officer at The Columbus Foundation in Columbus, Ohio; Megan Ellis ’05, director of development and outreach at CASA of Franklin County in Columbus, Ohio; and Jenny Flores and Bill Batchelder ’64 at the Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus, Ohio.
“We were very impressed with our student, Moomal Shaikh ’13,” says Jennings, “She helped us research advertiser leads, including hospital marketing managers and also did research on the advertisers on our competitors’ sites like WebMD. I was amazed at how fast Moomal grasped the technology that Precision Health uses to target advertising for our pharmaceutical brands. She asked great questions.” For Shaikh, an economics management major with a focus in marketing, the experience was an opportunity to get acquainted with a corporate environment and learn about a growing industry. “I was able to learn more than I expected about the healthcare and network industry in just three says,” she says. “It was great to connect with and work alongside a passionate OWU alumnus such as Bill and compare our campus experiences!” From healthcare to experiencing what it is like to work in a state government environment, two OWU students gained a great deal of insight. Corey Castelli ’13, externed in the Ohio House of Representatives office with State Representative Michael Stinziano of the 18th District in downtown Columbus. “In addition to viewing the proceedings of the Ohio General Assembly, I sat in on a meeting with visiting government officials from China about an educational trip across the United States,” says Castelli. He also helped out in the office by drafting emails and filling out forms for award commendations to outstanding constituents. “The experience was very interesting as I was able to get a brief look at the inner workings of state government.” Similarly, Daniel Blanchard ’16 also externed at the House of Representatives, but for State Representative Jim Buchy. “I wrote legislative letters, outlined bills, and learned how to mail merge,” says Blanchard, who also attended a reception held by lobbyists for an Ohio steel company.
Shadowing Ellis were Jija Dutt ’14 and Katherine Berger ’16. Berger worked with CASA staff attorneys, observing procedures in the Franklin County Courthouse. She interviewed an attorney and case manager and wrote an article for a staff newsletter and annual report, about the CASA experience—from their perspectives. “I was impressed by how well she took direction and she created a beautiful story,” says Ellis. Dutt worked more closely with Ellis. “She interviewed CASA’s executive director and Board of Trustees president, developing a beautiful story and learned how to write press releases. “Both ladies really impressed our team and added a lot to our office in the five days they spent with us.” From Columbus, Ohio to Times Square in New York, three students Carly Hallal, Laura Finkler, and Gaby Melgar, all seniors, spent their week as externs with Goodman Media International, Inc. Earlier in the week, Goodman emailed Melton’s office saying how well everything was going: “Our students are wonderful; great choices,” he wrote. The students assisted with research, spent time talking with Goodman and several staff members, and observed how people worked intensely as they remained tuned into televised news updates. “We got a feel for working in that kind of office environment,” says Melger. Everyone agreed that it was interesting to see how staff members went about finding stories. “I am leaning toward going into public relations work for a non-profit agency, so it was interesting for me to experience this office environment,” notes Hallal. All agreed that the view from Goodman’s office located on the 28th floor of a building in the middle of Times Square was “spectacular.”
Externing at The Columbus Foundation, Hayley Cook ’14 learned about the process of developing grants for non-profits and servicing donors with funds set up for that purpose. “I met with the staff, toured the Weinland Park, an urban neighborhood undergoing huge revitalization with donations made through the foundation, and visited non-profit sites for groups applying for grants,” says Cook. She also attended workshops and meetings, and says she valued her experiences and the opportunity to learn about a career field that can at times go unnoticed. “Our time together flew and Hayley was engaged, asked questions, and shined as you would expect a high caliber OWU student would do,” says Sharpe. It is because of an internship with the foundation during his junior year at OWU, that Sharpe attained summer employment that led to full-time work after he graduated.
“I was thrilled to see the strong response from alumni and students to the opportunities presented by our new externship program,” says OWU President Rock Jones. “It is clear from the students who spent their spring break in these externship settings, that they gained important new insights about various career options and directions they might pursue in their lives. This is a wonderful example of the benefits alumni offer to current students and of the value students gain from opportunities that allow them to connect theory to practice.”