Leticia Osei-Bonsu ’17 spent a day immersed in salty caramel, Bangkok peanut, brambleberry crisp and other exotic flavors at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio, where she got a taste of the ice cream business with Jeni’s brand ambassador coordinator Elizabeth McLees ’12.
Osei-Bonsu was among dozens of students this year who participated in Kenyon’s job shadow program, which allows students to explore a variety of career opportunities by observing a Kenyon graduate, parent or volunteer. At Jeni’s, which has grown from a local business to a national brand since its founding in 2002, Osei-Bonsu toured the corporate office and interacted with employees in production, sales and other departments.
“I got to see what real life will be like after college,” said Osei-Bonsu, an undeclared major from Columbus. “I learned that good communication is a key job skill and the connections I make with others will help me in the long run.”
Besides, she added, “I had a chance to sample lots of different flavors, just like the employees.”
The job shadow program lists more than 250 alumni, parents and friends of the College willing to mentor students in their workplaces. Mentors this year included a U.S. District Court judge, emergency room physician, speech pathologist, editor, social worker and research wildlife biologist.
“The program is designed to allow students to explore multiple career paths,” Lee Schott, assistant director of career development, said. “We hope students walk away with a better understanding of an industry or profession and the steps they need to take in order to be successful should they choose to pursue that career path. Most industries are represented.”
Whitney Simon ’15, a sociology and women’s and gender studies double major from Laguna Beach, Calif., logged three days in New York at Friends of the Highline railway preservation charity with Louise Eddleston Lewis ’01, the nonprofit’s director of capital projects. Lewis arranged meetings for Simon with firms that worked on restoring the Highline and employees who maintain the landmark city park. “The experience gave me tons of exposure to a variety of fields related to the Highline, such as urban development and landscape architecture,” Simon said.
Tianqi Luo ’17, a political science major from Beijing, embraced the opportunity to dive into the world of international finance with sponsor Jack Au ’73 at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in New York. “He arranged a full schedule for me so I got to see how financial services worked,” Luo said. “He introduced me to different people who explained how each of their sections operated. It was like taking a mini course in economics.”
The program depends on sponsors like McLees, Au and Lewis, who are eager to open their work worlds to students. “Many of the alumni are interested in paying forward,” Schott said. “They participated in the program during their time at Kenyon and want to help the next generation of students. Other sponsors love their jobs and want to help students become established in their fields.”