Pilot program allows second-years to shadow alumni in the workplaceBy Josh Schonwald
Second-year Indivar Dutta-Gupta did not choose an unusual Spring Break destination; he went to Miami. But he did not lounge on the beach, nor did he go for a swim. Dressed in a business suit, Dutta-Gupta spent his five Spring Break days, from roughly 8:45 a.m to 6:30 p.m., in a downtown Miami office building. He spent his vacation watching Chicago alumna Caroline Heck Miller (A.B., 71), a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorneys office, draft memos on her computer, conduct legal research, and discuss criminal cases with other lawyers and public officials.
It was a great experience, said Dutta-Gupta, who does not regret sacrificing his leisure time. In fact, he said, working Spring Break helped him answer an important question about his future. Yes, Im definitely more interested in a career in public service law. And specifically, within the law, Dutta-Gupta said, I might be interested in working on appeals.
Dutta-Gupta is one of eight College students who spent Spring Break at work as part of the Alumni Board of Governors Career Externship Program, a pilot program, co-sponsored by the Alumni Board of Governors and CAPS (Career and Placement Services).
The externship program, which paired second-years with alumni, gave the students a first-hand glimpse at a wide range of work environments. While Gupta spent a week in the U.S Attorneys office, other students got a chance to enter the worlds of finance, journalism, software development and medical research. And the second-years did not merely visit the general work environment of alumni, but shadowed them and gained full access to important meetings, research and every other aspect of their workdays.
For instance, Neeta Nadkarny observed Daniel Hertzberg (A.B., 68), deputy managing editor, and five other leading editors of The Wall Street Journal plan the papers coverage of the war in Iraq and discuss such concerns as an endangered reporter in southern Iraq.
The externships are not to be confused with internships, said Nancy Beach, Associate Director of Class and Campus Programs at the Alumni Office and one of the program organizers. Unlike summer internships, where students are assigned projects and asked to provide support to staff, externships have two requirements of students: to watch and to ask questions. It was more like take-a-student-to-work week,