Like many students of her generation, Deborah Broderick '81 didn't immerse herself in Binghamton University extracurricular activities. She went to class, studied and hung out with friends, but she didn't go to athletic events or write for the school paper. She wasn't a "club joiner."
"But that's not to mean as an alum, I don't feel a strong connection with the University," she says. "I absolutely do." Through her work as associate vice president of marketing communications at New York University, Broderick uses her skills to serve her alma mater by sitting on the alumni magazine's advisory council and, most recently, sharing her devotion to her work with Binghamton sophomore Gina Aufiero through the Liberal Arts to Careers Externship (LACE) program.
As an anthropology major in Harpur College, Aufiero was impeded from exploring a career interest in marketing because formal classes on the subject are generally reserved for School of Management students. But through the LACE program, Broderick put Aufiero in a real-world marketing environment. During the summer, she shadowed Broderick's colleagues, attended meetings, went to lunch with employees and saw how projects evolved. Aufiero quickly realized how her major related to the field.
"It's really all about understanding people and your audience and communicating your product in the right way," she says. "That's all about understanding culture." By making that connection, Aufiero can now make informed choices about electives, internships, minors and other academic options during her junior and senior years, which is precisely the aim of LACE.
This summer, 16 students and 16 alumni participated in the pilot program, with more matches planned for winter break and next summer. Sophomores and juniors with a minimum grade-point average of 2.75 are eligible to apply, though selection is based on an evaluation of their application, résumé and a letter of recommendation, and preference is given to sophomores. Selected students are matched with alumni in careers in which the students have shown an interest.
Jess Lorden '83, associate general counsel at IBM, was one of a team of alumni who mentored Aleksandar Vukasinovic through LACE. A quadruple major — human development, financial economics, political science and computer science — Vukasinovic is considering a career in law but, obviously, has wide interests. Lorden took that into account when designing his externship, seeking to expose him to IBM's business culture, computer manufacturing and her own passion for corporate law practice.
"It's such a rare opportunity to get an insight into the legal world at the stage that I am and to see how business in conducted," Vukasinovic says. "And when we were going to the chip factory, it was eye-opening to see this process done. You read about it in a textbook and you see a picture, but it's different when you actually go there and get into the white suit and start interacting with the environment."
By the end of his externship, Vukasinovic felt part of the team, like he had been at IBM far longer than his handful of visits. He appreciates his new friendships with the alumni and knows they will last well into the future. The alumni feel the same way. "We all felt really good about what we did and we got to meet a current student who we now have a connection with, that we can continue to help going forward," Lorden says. "It was really fun to have someone who is living it now at Binghamton."
For more information or to participate, contact Wendy Neuberger '81, MBA '84,
at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Last Updated: 12/10/14