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A Tale of Two Field Periods

According to two Keuka College juniors, the Field Period internships they conducted in the human resource divisions of different global corporations were the best of times.

While she went to a Boston bio-tech company of 5,000, he went to the U.S. headquarters (Pittsburgh) of a global chemical corporation that employs 17,500 people. Both are juniors, both worked May – August 2013, and both were paid – an uncommon occurrence in the arena of collegiate internships.

She is Sini Ngobese, a business and organizational communication major from Durban, South Africa. He is Devon Locher, a business major from Baden, Pa. Both students are pursuing human resources (HR) concentrations in their business majors, while Locher’s second concentration is in marketing. While Ngobese conducted her Field Period at Biogen Idec, Locher conducted his at Lanxess, a corporation focused on development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber and specialty chemicals. While she researched best-practice policies for redrafting an internal human resources (HR) manual, he worked on internal surveys covering employee and international intern integration into the city and company culture.

Locher said he was able to visit a production site in Ohio once which allowed him to see some of the manufacturing side of the company – with its setting and safety protocols – as well as the corporate side. The Pittsburgh workplace was positive and upbeat, he said, and while Locher already conducted two HR-related field periods, confirming that HR is the field he wants to work in, his two prior internships were at much smaller corporations.

At a prior Field Period, Locher learned he didn’t enjoy accounting work, but at Lanxess, no two days were ever the same,” he said. “There was always something different going on, even if some of the tasks were the same. That’s what I liked about it.”

In addition to developing what turned out to be a 30-page PowerPoint for managers to review, Locher also researched other company plans to ensure affirmative action laws and other HR standards comply with a wide variety of state and federal guidelines.

Locher with VP of HR Ludovico Martin, of Lanxess

“I learned a lot through research,” Locher said. “I think that’s why Keuka does the Field Period, because you can only do so much in the classroom and then you have to get out out there and work and see how it applies.”

According to Ngobese, Biogen Idec is the second largest bio-tech company in the world, manufacturing drugs for those suffering from autoimmune diseases.  Ngobese was stationed in its Weston branch office, although the company has locations “all over the globe,” she said.

Ngobese said her duties focused on the capture and synchronization of all U.S., European, and Canadian HR policies, to be shared on a new self-service portal for employees.

“It was, by far, the greatest career experience I’ve had thus far and truly fulfilled what the Field Period mission and vision strives to achieve,” said Ngobese. In addition to confirming her career aspirations and the type of company culture she hopes to find, Ngobese said her Field Period also helped her find a professional role model: Elizabeth Abbott, her supervisor.

“All of us were “wowed” by Sini’s professionalism, communication, work ethic and work product,” said Abbott. “Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communications is what really stands out to me. I was proud to have her represent my department and proud to call her a member of my team. She will be a strong contributor, I believe, wherever she goes.”

Thanks to Abbott, Ngobese said she now knows exactly what kind of female leader she wants to be, and has a clear sense what future purpose she can have within the HR field. She befriended other HR interns and was able to benchmark herself against those coming from bigger schools and gain confidence that she could still hold her own with them. The experience was so fulfilling, Ngobese may be invited to return to intern a second time, and if so, that would be in the company’s Cambridge, Mass., offices where the HR department will be moved.

Ngobese with fellow Biogen Idec interns at a Red Sox game in Boston, one of several company-provided treats for interns.

“It was intrinsically rewarding in that it truly helped me see that this is what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life,” she said. “I woke up thrilled to go to work and that really was an amazing experience for me.”

Snapshot of a Graduate: Jose Cervantes

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the seventh in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.

jose, degree, 2013, benefit, value, graduateJose Cervantes ’13 was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco-Mexico, but grew up in Horseheads. With aspirations of working for Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in its Madrid, Spain branch office, Cervantes earned a degree in business management with a marketing concentration and will pursue a second degree through Keuka: a master’s of management with a concentration in international business.

Cervantes played midfield on Keuka’s men’s soccer team in his junior and senior years after transferring in from Corning Community College, where he played as a sophomore. He’ll compete one more year for Keuka while grad school is underway. Indeed, sports have played a major role in the internship experiences Cervantes pursued through Keuka’s Field Period program. His senior year internship was conducted at Watkins Glen International Speedway.

“I benefited the most from the Field Periods,” Cervantes said of Keuka. “Having [job] experience before graduation is a great plus in the ‘real world.’”

While grad school is underway, Cervantes will branch out in his new role as restaurant chain supervisor at Garcia’s Mexican restaurant (his family’s business), where he will also oversee marketing.

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.

Finger Lakes Field Period

For junior Devin Filipiak, spending his January Field Period at the Finger Lakes Museum was a chance to build on past Field Period experiences, classroom work, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team participation, and his work-study position to expand his marketing portfolio.

It was also an opportunity for the marketing and management major to continue his volunteer work with the museum.

“SIFE’s focus this year is to be more hands-on in the community, and since the museum is so close to the College, this was a good place to volunteer,” said Filipiak, a resident of Orchard Park. “Last summer, I helped with the museum’s signature series, Back from the Brink: The Story of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, that took place around the Finger Lakes, including at Keuka College. This year’s signature series event is called Dreams into Nectar.” (more…)

A Taste of France

Just like the many wines sampled, senior marketing major Jennifer O’Donnell got a taste of France itself on an independent tour of the country during January.

O’Donnell conducted her final Field Period—the 140-hour real-world investment Keuka students make in career, world and life exploration – overseas and visited spots such as the World War II battlefield cemeteries at Normandy, the Louvre art museum, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Mediterranean Sea in Cannes.

Hosted by her great-uncle, who holds triple citizenship in America, France and Ireland and his wife, a French native, O’Donnell said her goal was simply to experience the country, especially its food and wine, during her time there. At the suggestion of her faculty adviser, she also observed how the French market and sell their wines.

A World War II cemetery at Normandy.

While O’Donnell’s relatives did not take her on tours of French wineries, each day they would visit a different café for lunch and try a different wine with the meal, she said. The 21-year-old was introduced to a sparkling red wine, Lambrusco, as well as a specialty wine, Kir, to which flavored syrups can be added, such as blackberry or cassis.

The country also has a strong tradition in the culinary arts.

And while the French eat lots of fish, pasta and chicken, O’Donnell said she noticed that “they’re very health-conscious and there are almost no fried foods at all. I had some fries, but they had no salt on them—they tasted very plain. It is just very different [cuisine].” (more…)

Grape-ful for the Opportunity

She may be just 19, but sophomore Mackenzie Green already has her eye on a career in the wine industry.

The Rushville resident spent January conducting a Field Period internship with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, a non-profit agency that advocates for New York grape growers, wine-makers, and wineries of all sizes. The foundation offices are housed in the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, and its “Uncork New York!” motto is becoming familiar to wine-lovers statewide.

“I know a lot about wine production and grape-growing because of my degree in viticulture and wine technology from Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), so it’s interesting to see the other side of it, how to actually market the wine and reach out to customers,” said Green, who transferred to Keuka to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

To that end, Green worked primarily with foundation staffers on a new campaign, “New York Drinks New York,” promoting Finger Lakes wines to New York City restaurant owners and sommeliers, the credentialed wine experts at restaurants or winery tasting rooms who manage the wine inventory and recommend food and wine pairings. (more…)