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An Immaculata education is important not just for the knowledge, but for the network. It’s commonplace for professors, alumni and students to not only share internship and job opportunities, but to offer advice and recommendations for positions. Here are just a few examples of how alumni have found and filled openings in various fields, thanks to their Immaculata connections.

She was ready for the challenge of teaching

André McLaurin ’19 Ed.D., Erdenheim Elementary School principal, appreciated the support he received throughout his doctoral studies. Sister Claudine Hagerty, IHM, former assistant director of the writing center, gave him feedback on his work and, to his surprise, came to see him defend his dissertation. “She was invested in me, and she didn’t have to be. That was the feeling that I got from Immaculata.”

At an alumni event last year for Immaculata education alumni, Melissa Reed, Ed.D., education division chair, introduced McLaurin to Rachel Holmes ’20, a long-term substitute teacher for fifth grade who was applying for permanent jobs. McLaurin’s school needed a fifth-grade teacher, and he encouraged Holmes to apply.

“She was ready to take on the challenge,” said McLaurin. “What I look for from a candidate is someone who has a unique story, someone who’s passionate about kids, about education, and someone who I can sense will continue to push themselves to grow.”

“I was so lucky to meet him at that event,” Holmes said. Many school districts prefer candidates who have more than her one year of experience. But McLaurin noted that her energy and maturity stood out. He hired her last August, and not just because they share the same alma mater. “She stands on her own merit,” he said.

From canceled internship to full-time job in fashion

Alexis Lessley ’21 appreciates her professors’ experience in the fashion industry. “It allowed me to network with them and gain further insight on what to expect within this career,” she said. In 2020, Lessley wanted an internship in buying, so Lina Castro, fashion merchandising program director, reached out to Shannon Coughlin ’19, an assistant buyer at Burlington Stores. When COVID hit, Burlington canceled internships, but Lessley later got a shot at a full-time assistant buyer job instead.

Coughlin gave Lessley the scoop on skills Burlington typically looks for. “After talking with Shannon, I felt a lot more comfortable and prepared going into the interview,” Lessley said. Coughlin also put in a good word for Lessley with the hiring department. They are now both assistant buyers at Burlington for different areas, helping to select merchandise, building relationships with vendors and ensuring that goods reach stores on time.

Hurry to hire for holidays

When Mikayla Persing ’19 got promoted to e-commerce merchandiser at Boscov’s, she contacted Castro, looking for an Immaculata alum to take her previous position as internet coordinator. “We were in the midst of Black Friday and holiday prep,” Persing said. “We wanted to find someone as quickly as we could.”

Castro suggested Laura Manes ’21, whom Persing knew as a classmate and fellow IU cheerleader. With Persing’s recommendation, Manes applied and received the position. “It is great to work with a familiar face, and as Immaculata alumni, we share similar experiences,” said Manes, adding that she hopes to pay it forward by helping other Immaculata students.

“We get to work together as a team to get items in our categories live and on our website,” Persing explained. She trained Manes and gave her tips and insights about the job. “I knew Lina [Castro] would recommend someone great. The program really prepared me for life in the fashion industry, and I’m so happy that I got to extend the opportunity for a fellow IU fashion grad.”

A foot in the door at the big four

Immaculata’s business faculty are proud to say that their alumni work for all the “big four” accounting and auditing firms, the largest professional services networks in the world. Accounting and Finance Instructor Eileen Raffaele said many of her former students have helped each other get a foot in the door at those companies.

Claudia Valverde Millan ’19 is a tax consultant at Deloitte, one of the big four firms, and was instrumental in helping Olive Monye ’22 get two internships as well as a job. Millan interned at a local tax firm and recommended the opportunity to Monye, who followed suit.

Monye knew she needed another internship to qualify to work at one of the big four companies. Raffaele connected Monye with Don Schiffer ’17, senior tax consultant at Deloitte, who passed her resume along and, with Millan, helped her land an internship with Deloitte’s audit and assurance group last summer. Monye excelled in her internship so much that Deloitte offered her a full-time job as an audit associate this year.

Monye is grateful for the opportunities her relationships with Raffaele, Millan and Schiffer have given her. “The one-on-one connection is everything,” Monye reflected.

Aligned values

Raffaele said a string of alumni have helped each other land jobs at EY, another big four firm. Kaitlin O’Reilly ’17, who worked in assurance at EY, helped Jocelyn Love ’20 join the assurance staff there.

Love then gave Molly Ulsh ’22 some interview tips, encouraging her to mention her leadership roles and the alignment she saw between her values and EY’s. “The values that aligned were respect, teamwork, inclusiveness and the ability to build relationships on doing the right things,” Ulsh said. O’Reilly, who is now an experience management consultant with EY, also offered to give Ulsh advice or answer questions. Ulsh interviewed for an auditing position and started this summer.

These psychology majors jumped right in

Rita Cola Carroll ’77, ’87 M.A., Ph.D., studied psychology and education at Immaculata and went on to found Main Line Rehabilitation Associates in 1986, serving adults with traumatic brain injuries and other neurological conditions resulting in cognitive disabilities. Before she sold the company in 2020, she took more than 30 IU psychology majors as interns and hired many of them as neurocognitive specialists.

Carroll first helped interns understand how brain injuries and other neurological conditions, such as autism and multiple sclerosis, can affect people’s cognition, day-to-day function, community engagement and quality of life. She and her team of cognitive rehabilitation therapists then taught interns clinical and communications skills and mentored them as they learned to work with people in the program.

“I’ve worked with a number of schools providing internships over the years, but we eventually decided to work only with Immaculata students,” Carroll said. “They seemed to jump in feet first and be hungry for information, connection and interaction.” Such engaged interns not only made Carroll’s work easier; it was better for the people they served.

She provided additional training when interns became paid employees, helping them earn certification as brain injury specialists. Many Immaculata students went on for advanced degrees or higher-level clinical work, and Carroll wrote them recommendation letters for master’s programs and jobs.

Reflecting on her decades-long relationship with Immaculata, Carroll said, “It’s a place of quality and commitment and caring.”