Alumni introduce students to the working world.

Alumni introduce students to the working world.

Pictured above: Dr. Rock Ferrigno ’94 and Kimberly Bukoski ’13. Photo by Nick Lacy

by Virginia Weir

This January, Fairfield alumni from across the country shared their daily work experience with 60 current students during the University’s first annual Job Shadow program.

The program connected students with alumni in their hometowns over winter break. Alumni introduced assigned students to their working world, helping them imagine future careers in a wide range of fields, from marketing and finance to nursing and even stand-up comedy. They took them to meetings and lunch, made introductions to colleagues, and reviewed their resumes.

“The Fairfield alumni network is strong and loyal. There are many alumni across the country who enjoy helping students with career advice,” said Bill Crean Jr. ’91, president of the Alumni Association. He conceived the idea for the Job Shadow program when a student interested in commercial real estate asked to spend some time with Crean on the job during January break. The student ended up with an internship at the firm that summer.

Cath Borgman ’80, director of Career Planning, recruited students, while Julie Tuozzoli ’85, director of Alumni Career Services, and Michelle Schmidt ’07, a member of the Alumni Association Board, advertised the opportunity to Fairfield alumni.

A DAY IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

Kimberly Bukoski ’13, a biology major in Fairfield’s pre-med program, had the unusual experience of shadowing Dr. Rock Ferrigno ’94, a physician at Bridgeport Hospital in the Emergency Room. “I followed him all throughout the hospital and met various patients, watched him listen to their story, and observed physical exams.” Bukoski examined Xrays, CAT scans, and ultrasounds, and listened to heart palpitations while Dr. Ferrigno explained the results.

Bukoski has turned the one-day experience into an ongoing mentorship with Dr. Ferrigno, meeting him once a week at the hospital. Recently, he has allowed her to go into patients’ rooms by herself to gather information and then report back to him. Together, they discuss the medical problems indicated and appropriate treatments.

“The Job Shadow experience was so exciting!” Bukoski said. “I learned a lot about emergency medicine and how doctors work together as a team.” In the Emergency Department she was exposed to several options in the medical field, from cardiology to physicians’ assistantship. “It has given me a taste of what a real doctor does and I honestly cannot see myself doing anything else.”

Dr. Ferrigno was actually an accounting major at Fairfield before he changed his major to pre-med, eventually ending up at Yale University School of Medicine, followed by the position at Bridgeport Hospital. Fairfield University allowed Ferrigno the flexibility to complete a semester of study by mail while he was sailing with the Americas Cup competition in the early 1990s. While on that trip, Ferrigno admired the expertise of the sailing team doctors. When he came back to campus, he met with the late Dr. Donald Ross, chair of the Biology Department, and told him he wanted to be a doctor. “He laughed,” said Ferrigno. “And he laughed harder when I told him I wanted to go to Yale for med school. But he paved the way. The pre-med track provided all the tools I needed to pass my MCATs.”

“The University’s flexibility allowed me to see a whole new career I never expected to be in,” said Ferrigno. “I’m grateful for that.”

For his part, he thinks Bukoski has what it takes to make a good doctor, and is now helping her with medical school applications. “Kim is industrious. She sought out the experience and made the best of it.”

A DAY AT GE

Johanna Ortiz ’13 and Jim Kellerk ’91 spent their shadow day together at GE’s offices in Norwalk. Kellerk, who is a senior vice president at GE Equity Capital Markets, heard about the Job Shadow program through Bill Crean ’91, his former housemate while at Fairfield.

Kellerk described to Ortiz how he got his position at GE, rising through the ranks over the past 21 years in positions all over the U.S. “The Career Center [at Fairfield] was helpful, but you had to be engaged enough in your future to think to go there,” he said. Relationships with former graduates was key. Kellerk had a pivotal opportunity to talk with another Fairfield graduate, and former University Trustee, Maeve Scully ’76, at the career fair when GE came to the Fairfield campus.

Kellerk introduced Ortiz to his colleagues at GE, several of whom are also Fairfield graduates. “We went to a compliance meeting, and Johanna had a good time watching dynamics of senior leadership,” he said.


Jim Kellerk ’91 and Johanna Ortiz ’13 at GE’s offices. Ortiz has an internship in GE’s Financial Management Program this summer.

“Mr. Kellerk was open and made me feel comfortable. He talked to me about his most challenging experiences and what he did to overcome those situations,” said Ortiz. “He also talked about being a father and a husband. I was happy to know that he had been at some point a student like me with very ambitious goals, a plan, and great hopes. He attributes a lot of his success to his parents’ support and to the moral and ethical values he learned while at Fairfield.”

Ortiz, who has a double-major in math and psychology, said the Job Shadow experience helped her consider different areas where she could use her math major, such as accounting, management, finance, and even human resources. She has since applied for and received an internship in GE’s Financial Management Program this summer. “This activity has opened so many doors for me.”

JOB SHADOWING ON THE WEST COAST

The Job Shadow experience benefited students even as far away from campus as Santa Monica, Calif., where Grayson Phillips ’13, a finance major, met with Mitch Clarfield ’82 for a day at the offices of Deutsche Bank Berkshire Mortgage. Clarfield initiated Phillips into the loan origination process, and had him sit in on a “pipeline meeting” with clients across the country.

“The best part of the experience was just to see a different part of finance and actually go and do it,” said Phillips. “Mitch is a great salesman. We talked about good business practices — being honest, maintaining relationships, and how that develops into referrals.”

Clarfield felt similarly about his day with Phillips. “It was great to see a new generation of Fairfield graduates — and amazing to see what kinds of skills they possess relative to what we knew and could do when we graduated. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help mold students’ career paths and assist them in making contacts.”

Most of the 60 alumni who participated in the inaugural Job Shadow program expressed the desire to do it again for students next year. “Students had wonderful experiences meeting with Fairfield alumni, seeing how they spend their days, and getting advice from seasoned professionals,” said Cath Borgman. “Some students have even secured internships at the firms they visited. Hopefully, they’ve gained some insight into their field of interest which will motivate them to prepare as much as they can now while in school.”

The second annual Job Shadow program will take place the week of January 7-11, 2013, during the University’s winter break. If you would like to host a Fairfield student at your place of business, contact Julie Tuozzoli ’85, director of Alumni Career Services, at jtuozzoli@fairfield.edu, or visit www.fairfield.edu/jobshadow.