When I applied for externships back in October, I truly had no idea what I was in for. The application process was easy, I had time to spare over winter break, it might be nice to add to my résumé... None of my reasons reflected the amazing experience that lay ahead of me. I was assigned a two-day January externship with Matt Gay, the Associate Vice President of Advertising Operations at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. We played phone tag for a week or so before finally making contact, but after our first conversation I remember thinking right away that maybe this would be more fun than I had thought.
As a sophomore French major with absolutely no clue what I want to do with my life, I hadn't really considered how valuable a learning experience this experience could be. But Matt got right to work, arranging for me to meet with various MSLO employees in different departments so I could really make the most of my externship. Matt wound up being able to sponsor me for only one day due to his hectic post-holidays schedule. Despite my initial disappointment, I can now say with absolute certainty that Matt managed to pack more insights and introductions into one day than I thought I would ever experience in two. Every conversation with every MSLO employee was, in one way or another, a reaffirmation that I had been placed in the right company for my externship. Every new person I met had inspiring stories about past work experience, witty insight into the media industry, and useful advice for courses that might complement my French major while better preparing for life after graduation.
Halfway through the day, Matt and I made our way to the CBS offices, where we met with Human Resources executives and representatives from Bucknell's Career Development Center who were working together to plan a bicoastal launch party for the Bucknell Media and Technology Network, of which Matt is the co-chair. Sitting in on the planning of such a huge event, which would take place simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles and feature CBS executive and Bucknell alumni Leslie Moonves as the keynote speaker, was one of several highlights of my day with Matt.
On the walk back from CBS, Matt walked me by the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and treated me to a slice of pizza before heading back to work. I remember thinking how lucky I was to fall into the hands of someone so willing to take a full day out of his busy workweek to show me the best experience possible - how truly lucky we as Bucknell students are to have such devoted alumni. After several more conversations and business card exchanges, Matt and I took a shuttle across the city to Martha Stewart's offices in Chelsea Piers. On the way, we chatted about the dormitories where he had lived on campus and his time as a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. The shared experiences as downhill residents and members of Greek life made me feel even more comfortable with my sponsor and even more proud to be a Bucknellian.
The tour of the Chelsea offices, where MSLO eventually hopes to move all its operations, was another highlight. Matt showed me the sets for photo shoots for Martha Stewart Living magazine and mock-ups for Martha's bed and bath line at K-Mart, not to mention stunning views of the Hudson River. I was absolutely exhausted after a day of running around the city and trying to keep up with Matt's energy and enthusiasm, but I could hardly wait to get home and tell my parents about my unbelievable experience. Their jaws dropped when I rattled off the names of people I had met and tidbits of the conversations we had had. And of course they could not help but smile when I told them that the experience had completely reaffirmed my decision to major in French and had given me great suggestions for classes I wanted to take in my remaining years at Bucknell.
My externship experience made me anxious to get more involved with more industry-related events upon my return to campus. I eagerly signed up for and attended the Communications and Arts Fair in New York City in February, started applying for summer internships on the Bridge, and signed up for a graphic design class for the fall semester. At the end of February, I received word from Carole Bourgeacq-Hardt in Alumni Relations that Matt had recommended for a position as the Student Liaison for the Media and Technology Network given the insight I had gained during that first meeting at CBS. I accepted the offer gleefully and immediately thanked Matt again for all he had done for me, both that day in January and since.
Formerly an indifferent participant in the program, I now cannot say enough about this unique opportunity to gain exposure into a particular company or industry. In addition to receiving invaluable career and education advice and getting to know an industry professional, I made several incredible business contacts and came back to campus excited to participate in similar networking opportunities. I can't promise that every externship experience will end in a campus job or internship offer, but I strongly advise all sophomores to participate in Bucknell's externship program.
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