Monica Dillon '18 knew she wanted to study the field of genetic counseling for her summer internship. So she turned to Lori Balantic, senior associate director and adviser in Connecticut College's Office of Career and Professional Development.
“She showed me which alumni are currently working in the field of genetic science and how to get in touch with them,” Dillon said.
Dillon is now spending her summer break working with genetic specialists to pinpoint the causes of patients’ mysterious symptoms through the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN).
As the first intern to work with the UDN in Boston, Dillon is working alongside fellow Camels Elizabeth Krieg ’12 and Lauren Briere ’02, who serve as clinical coordinators for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I sent Lauren and Elizabeth an email asking if they knew of any internship opportunities for undergraduate students interested in the field. Elizabeth replied, and with Lauren's help, created the internship for me.”
Through the College’s award-winning four-year career program, students like Dillon work with alumni to learn networking, resume-building and interviewing skills that help them secure relevant internships tailored to their academic interests. Connecticut College students and alumni are working side by side in increasing numbers, often starting with internships that lead to job offers.
"From day one, alumni are helping students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in highly competitive industries," said Hale Family Director of Career and Professional Development Persephone Hall, who oversees the four-year program. “With more than 25,000 alumni in our network, students have incredible opportunities to collaborate and innovate.”
And the best part is that Conn is one of a handful of schools in the country that offers every student a funded internship up to $3,000. In 2016, nearly 75 percent of Conn students took advantage of the funded internship program. This is why our exceptional career program has been ranked among the top 20 in North America, and one more way that Conn students can synthesize a relevant education with powerful results.
As a result, Conn alumni have joined other Camels at top investment firms, real estate companies and research institutions situated around the country and across the world.
"Tapping into our alumni network to gain real world experiences and skills is extremely motivating and gives our students an edge as they embark on the job search process," said Noel Garrett, dean for academic support and director of Conn’s Academic Resource Center.
James Gellert ’90 is CEO and chairman of Rapid Ratings International, which enables clients to assess the financial health of public and private firms. Gellert hired Lilah Raptopoulos ’11 in 2011, paving the way for internship and career opportunities for other Camels. Since then, Rapid Ratings has given 10 Conn students internship opportunities and hired five alumni to work full time after graduation.
“We hired Conn graduates because the liberal arts-imbued education has been something we’ve wanted for their roles with the company,” Gellert said. “Our interns and employees have to be good critical thinkers, and the kind of education you get from Conn can be applied practically and creatively. We’ve been fortunate to be able to tap into a great pool of candidates consistently over the years.”
In addition to Gellert, there are five alumni at Rapid Ratings: Will Powell ’11, Kevin Burt ’14, Zach Jones ’15, Dennis Maloy ’15 and Libby Thomas ’16. Burt and Thomas were both offered positions after interning at the company. Other past interns include Chris Pielock ’13, Noelle Surprise ’14, Prashanth Selvam ’14, Tim Flannery ’16, Muneeba Alam ’16, Mohammed Ibrahim ’16, Nicole DellaPasqua ’17 and Umar Zulifqar ’17.
“For a company that is now 105 people but was smaller when many of these people interned or began work, it is a surprisingly large percentage,” Gellert said. “They all have made an impact, have done well, and care about the work they are doing. Employers should take note.”
Jones Lang LaSalle
Trustee Emeritus Bill Barrack ’81 is managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a commercial real estate firm in Boston. Offering internships to Conn students became a priority during his years of service as a trustee, and JLL started hiring summer interns about 10 years ago. One internship has been consistently offered each year, with the understanding that internships can lead to careers.
“We attribute the success of our Connecticut College interns and employees to the career preparation they receive starting as first-year students,” Barrack said. “Having internship experience between their junior and senior year ensures they are ready to enter careers, and is invaluable both to their professional development and to our company.”
For three of those interns, the challenging full-time summer internship turned into offers of full-time employment upon graduation. Currently at JLL are Edward “Ned” Rogers ’16 is a facilities coordinator; Brynn Lokyer ’14 works as a senior analyst; and Robert Jangro ’11 is a commercial real estate advisor.
This summer, three more Connecticut College students have joined the JLL team as paid interns: Adam Goldberg ’18, Matthew Edwards ’18 and John Kompson ’18 who will offer support within the company’s facility, research and brokerage departments.
Working for a global commercial real estate firm gives students the chance “to differentiate their skills, get a leg up and be better prepared after graduating,” Barrack said. “We’re giving students the opportunity and the experience. Even if they don’t end up working in real estate, it’s important for them to experience the real world.”
Alexandra Felfle ’10 is a Latin America corporate and investment banking associate at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, one of the largest and top performing investment banks in the world. Felfle worked with her coworkers and fellow Camels Conor Sheehy ’11 and Van Dusenbury ’77 P’12 to make Conn a target school when a new internship program was launched at MUFG.
In the first year of the highly competitive program, two student interns—Ines Finol ’15 and James Spencer ’15— went on to secure full-time positions. Zach Larson ’16 also interned with the bank and is now an investment banking analyst in MUFG’s securitization group.
Recently, Felfle, Larson and Finol returned to campus to meet with students and recruit more interns from Conn.
“The goal now is to grow the Conn alumni network within the bank,” Felfle said. “We have shown that if we get a Conn intern in here, they are going to be one of the best.”
Chicago Lab of Emotion and Physiology
At the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Lab of Emotion and Physiology, Carter Funkhouser ’15 is a research associate who is working with summer interns Grace Hand ’18, Youyang Wang ’18 and Christian Whitaker ’18. Together, they are studying the mechanisms that lead to depression and anxiety within families to support early prevention and treatment.
“I've really enjoyed working with Conn students in my lab,” Funkhouser said. “Their academic and research experiences at Conn have prepared them to conduct research professionally, and they have demonstrated a strong intellectual curiosity and the ability to think critically and adapt to the demands of working in a fast-moving, multidimensional research environment.
“I was an intern in a similar psychophysiological lab for my career internship in 2014, and I strongly believe that having that experience allowed me to get my current job,” added Funkhouser, who will start a clinical psychology Ph.D. program at UIC this fall. “I firmly believe the funded-internship program played a huge role in helping me get my current job, which in turn allowed me to attend a top graduate program in my field.”