As a recent extern, Psychology major Douglas Hickey ’15, had the benefit of an alumna mentor who understood what he needed as he was considering careers. “My week at Foundations Behavioral Health really exposed me to many of the types of positions there are in my field of study,” he says.
Hickey’s mentor, Monica Fielder ’95, Director of Intake at the Doylestown, PA organization, believes it is important to assist an Ursinus student in exploring options. “Psychology can be such a broad field, and offer many career options that are unknown to students,” she says. “I wanted to be able to share my experiences on how I ended up in my current career and position.”
Exploring career paths is one goal of the relatively new externship program through the office of Career and Professional Development, which, in its second year, sent 37 students out with 36 alumni and one Ursinus parent.
During the last week of winter break, Hickey visited several mental health facilities and was able to shadow and speak with the director of education for the facility’s alternative school for students with mental health diagnoses. He also spoke with the director of the residential mental health program to learn more about the psychological inpatient units at Foundations. “I also spent most of my time helping my sponsor, Monica, and the team she oversees by aiding in the staffing of cases in their ‘wrap around’ psychological services,” he says.
But perhaps most meaningful part of the externship for Hickey was “seeing the real positive impact on the families. I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to discuss the career and academic trajectories and paths that some of their employees had taken prior to arriving at Foundations.”
This year, the externship program “grew in both number of participants and enthusiasm,” says Carla Mollins Rinde, Director of Career and Professional Development. “Alumni and friends of the college provided outstanding opportunities and exposure to a variety of work environments.”
Among them was Blaine McEvoy ’07, who mentored Media and Communications Studies major Hope Charney ’15, at Federated Media in New York, a comprehensive media agency.
“Agencies like Federated Media are always looking for the best and brightest when it comes to recruiting,”McEvoy says. “Hope expressed an interest in marketing, so I made sure that she had an afternoon reserved to shadow associates from that department. But I wanted her to meet with salespeople, project managers and strategists to get a fuller sense of the opportunities available to liberal arts students.”
Like many sponsors, McEvoy sees his week as a sponsor as one way of giving back to Ursinus. As a young alumni representative on the National Council, “the externship program felt like a natural extension of that: we’re building the National Council here to show current students that a network exists for them in what’s generally seen as the world’s most intimidating city. (Trust us: it’s not!) Hosting an extern — and having her meet and mingle with as many coworkers as possible — was my first small step in making that a reality.”
Externs not only infiltrated New York, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and D.C., but one special externship took place in Gainesville, Fla. Senior Joshua Williams brought his observations back to the Ursinus U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, which supported his externship at the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub with alumnus Sean C. McCoy 1999, an exercise sports science major turned science and technology innovator and entrepreneur.
Externs seemed to appreciate the opportunity to be on the ground level in a field of interest. Holly Yost ’18 wrote to her sponsor, Dr. Paul Wagner ’92, at Harleysville Veterinary Hospital, that she enjoyed accompanying him on appointments and “listening to owners’ questions and how you answered them. I knew that being a veterinarian involved interacting with the owners, but I never truly realized just how much time vets spend speaking with them and listening to their concerns. I can see now that you have to find the right amount of empathy to have in order to act in the best interest of the animal while keeping the owners satisfied.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience,” she adds.