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Executive Intern Program Welcomes New Students

December 14, 2017

Last fall, President Gerard J. Rooney introduced the Executive Intern program for juniors and seniors who had an interest in higher education administration. Now in its second year, four new students—Anna Harmer ’18, Melissa Lennon ’18, James Nguyen ’19, and Stephanie Sortino ’18—were welcomed to the program and have one semester behind them.

The Executive Interns meet regularly with President Rooney througout the academic year.

During a visit to Elon University, Rooney learned about their program, and was intrigued by the initiative.

“I really liked the idea of providing opportunities for current students to work with senior leaders on the campus and learn about specific aspects of higher education work, which could ultimately lead to a career,” he explained.

At Fisher, interns hold positions with the Offices of the President, Marketing and Communications, Student Affairs, and Institutional Advancement, and after learning some insights in the program’s first year, an additional role of a program coordinator was added this fall. 

“The first year we were together with the executive interns, we laid out a plan of work, but as the year progressed, we saw opportunities for ways that it could improve, or ways that their work might be more impactful,” said Rooney.

Kelsey Michener ’18, who served as the executive intern in the Office of the President as a junior, stayed on this year to serve as the program coordinator.  

“This on-campus internship gives students the opportunity to explore careers in higher education. As an intern, you work on real projects – not just copying and filing. You have the opportunity to attend professional events where you can network,” said Michener, an accounting and business management dual major, who also serves as president of the Student Government Association.

For Nguyen, a current executive intern in the Office of the President and First Generation Scholar, this opportunity is his first internship experience and it’s one he’s found very valuable.

“I think that this is a great opportunity. It has opened up a lot of doors and I get to meet people inside and outside of the College I don’t think I would have ever met if I were not part of this internship,” said Nguyen, who is a legal studies and political science major, and president of Students Who Advocate Volunteering.

Pictured from Left to Right: James Nguyen, Kelsey Michener, Stephanie Sortino, Anna Harmer, and Melissa Lennon.

Pictured from Left to Right: James Nguyen, Kelsey Michener, Stephanie Sortino, Anna Harmer, and Melissa Lennon.

Junior marketing major Harmer works closely with Kate Torok, director of marketing and communications. In addition to writing articles for the College, Harmer is currently spearheading the development and launch of the College’s presence on Snapchat. When she is not writing pieces for College News and Collegium, she works on brochure copy, develops videos, and attends meetings at Jay Advertising, the College’s agency of record, where she gets hands-on experience that complements what she learns in class.

“What I learn in class goes hand-in-hand with what they discuss at Jay Advertising,” she said. “I get to meet professionals and CEOs while building my skills in marketing.”

Harmer, who has had to learn how to manage time effectively, also served as a marketing intern at Rainbow Shores in Pulaski, New York, and she currently holds two work-study positions in the Processing Center and the Office of Campus Life.

Diane Tran ’17, an alumna of the Executive Intern program, worked closely with Phil Castleberry, vice president for institutional advancement, to learn about his role and develop projects in the Office of Institutional Advancement opened more doors than she originally thought. A business management major with a French minor, Tran graduated in spring 2017 and landed a job as an admissions counselor on campus shortly after Commencement.

She had already discovered a passion for working within higher education as a student ambassador, but being an executive intern opened her eyes to her passion for philanthropy.

“I was able to learn more about what role the advancement department plays at our institution. I also had a better understanding of what philanthropy meant,” she said. “Being able to be a part of Philanthropy Week made me realize how much I love the idea of giving back, which can be done is small and big ways. I now have a new found interest in philanthropy and I'm currently finding a way I can give back to the Rochester community.”

As the program gets more exposure, President Rooney hopes to steadily expand the number of interns and number of areas the interns can work. He hopes to provide opportunities that will ensure a meaningful experience for the students who choose to participate.

“First and foremost, I hope students who are interns come to a greater understanding of the areas in which they are working. I would hope, too, that they would find avenues for their thoughts and ideas to have impact on those areas,” he said. “ Collectively, I think the group of interns would—if not have a goal to work in higher education—have a better appreciation for the way higher education works, and to have that benefit them in their progression in their life after Fisher.”