Tricia Linderman ’91 remembers how important mentors and business contacts were to her as a newly minted SMU graduate.
“I was very fortunate to have a lot of executives who made time for me early in my career, and I believe in paying that forward,” she says.
Linderman, executive vice president of recruiting and corporate communications at Texas Capital Bank, shared her time and expertise with psychology major Lauren Gonzalez ’16 as a volunteer with the SMU Connection externship program over winter break. A collaboration between SMU’s Alumni Relations and Engagement team and the Hegi Family Career Development Center, the program matches alumni across the country with SMU undergraduates for a one-day job-shadowing opportunity.
The externships had been offered during winter break only, but the program was recently expanded to the spring. For the first time, approximately 50 students and alumni have been matched for externships in May.
For consultant Matt Samler ’04, who hosted business major Taylor Press ’18, the volunteer experience allowed him “to give back to SMU in a more personal way and help a student in the process.” Samler serves as vice president of site selection and location economics for JLL, a commercial real estate services and investment management firm. He believes the externship program is “a great way for students to expand their professional network, which will help lead to employment opportunities when they graduate.”
Spending a day on the job can be revelatory for students as they consider career possibilities, says Sandy Speegle Nobles ’75, director of education at the Momentous Institute, which provides educational and therapeutic services for children and families. She was shadowed by psychology and sociology major Melissa Kraft ’19.
“Knowing how we are building and repairing social and emotional health in children growing up in poverty was a good fit for what she is passionate about studying at SMU,” Nobles says. “She was able to walk away with an understanding of what we do at the intersection of education and mental health.”
An externship can help students discover job options they may not have considered, Linderman says. “Initially, Lauren thought about going to law school, but had recently decided to pursue a role in human resources. I told her that employment law is a fascinating area where she could combine both her passions.”
Gonzalez says Linderman “opened my eyes to employment law. It wasn’t ever something I considered, but I am looking into now.”
Find out more about serving as an externship host and other SMU Connection alumni volunteer opportunities online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.