Liz Lombard ’18G, associate director for
diversity, inclusion, and early engagement
in the Chirico Career Center.
Liz Lombard ’18G, associate director for diversity, inclusion, and early engagement in the Chirico Career Center.

Nationally recognized Chirico Career Center prepares students for success after Providence College

Editor’s Note: The Chirico Career Center was recognized in May 2024 with the Career Service Excellence Award (Small School) by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

By Liz F. Kay

Regardless of what Providence College students want to do after graduation, the coaches at the Chirico Career Center are ready to help them explore professions and graduate schools, network with alumni, find internships, earn certifications, refine resumes and cover letters, practice for job interviews, and

In the last decade, the college has nearly doubled the number of career center staff to 12 to help students achieve post-graduate success, recognizing that it’s a reason why students and families make the financial sacrifice to invest in a college education.

Eileen Wisnewski, director of Chirico Career Center
Eileen Wisnewski

“The topic of college return on investment continues to dominate higher education conversations,” said Eileen Wisnewski, the career center’s executive director, who has worked at PC since 2011. “The resources, programs, and services offered by the Chirico Career Center are a critical component of how the college demonstrates a commitment to ensuring a return on a family’s investment in a PC education.”

Taking advantage of the opportunities pays off — literally. The data show that college students who use career services receive more job offers than those who don’t. According to a nationwide survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates in the Class of 2022 who used at least one service at their career centers received an average of 1.24 job offers compared to just one for those who didn’t utilize them.

According to the college’s Office of Institutional Research, 97% of graduates in PC’s Class of 2023 were employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation, with 88% working in their chosen fields.

The Chirico Career Center, located in Slavin Center, is named in recognition of a 2019 gift from Jim Chirico ’80 and his wife, Bridget. Alumni support through the Friar alumni network is integral to the post-graduate success of PC students. Students and alumni can connect through an online networking platform. Another online platform provides a database of internships, jobs, and other opportunities that alumni and students can search.

The opportunities aren’t just virtual. Career center staff accompany students on four-day trips to learn more about professions and talk with alumni about their careers, including PC in Hollywood, which takes place in January, and PC in DC, which happens in May. There are also trips to Boston and New York City. Alumni host students for in-person job shadowing during school breaks and visit campus to participate in career panels.

At the career center’s Career Expo, held each fall and spring, students can meet potential employers at the job and internship fair, consider education options at the graduate and professional school fair, learn more about volunteer service opportunities, and have a professional photograph taken for a LinkedIn profile.

The career center offers daily drop-in hours so students can receive feedback on resumes and cover letters, get answers to quick questions about jobs, internships, or fellowships, and help create or update a career plan. It provides Microsoft certification courses in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Students can reserve quiet rooms for virtual or telephone job and internship interviews. They chat informally with employers who come to campus to participate in “Snacks with Students.” The center also hosts events such as “The Masked Major,” modeled on “The Masked Singer” game show, in which students ask alumni questions to try to figure out their undergraduate major.

There’s a lot to be done. That’s why “Don’t Wait … Slavin 108” is emblazoned on the center’s T-shirts and why students meet career coaches right from the start, during the summer and fall orientation sessions as first-year students.

“The ‘Don’t Wait’ message is directed toward all students — don’t wait to have a coaching appointment or participate in one of our programs or events,” Wisnewski said. “The sooner students step on the career development pathway, the easier it will be for them.”

An increasingly important component of the college experience is a career-related internship. At PC, 94% of students in the Class of 2023 reported participating in at least one internship or career-related experience. Because some internships are unpaid, the college offers grants to make the experiences possible. For example, the Veritas Funded Internship Program offers $4,000 stipends to qualifying students.

While some Friars visit the Career Center as first-year students, the coaches recognize that not everyone does.

“We believe that each person’s journey is individual and should be treated as such,” Wisnewski said. “A junior may visit the center for the first time and still need to go through some of the earlier steps. Our coaches are dedicated to meeting students where they are and assisting and encouraging them as they move through the process.”

Each of the college’s four schools — Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Social Work, and Nursing and Health Sciences — has a dedicated career coach who understands the requirements for the school’s majors, the expectations of industries, and the most common professions that students pursue.

Liz Lombard ’18G, who has worked at the career center in a variety of roles since 2013, serves in the newly created role of associate director for diversity, inclusion, and early engagement. She coordinates outreach to students who may be less likely to take advantage of services, such as students of color, students who are the first in their families to attend college, and students who are otherwise underrepresented on campus.

Lombard grew up in a Cabo Verdean family in Newport and was a first-generation college student herself.

“My work with first-generation students is extremely natural, because I can definitely relate,” she said.

Lombard began her outreach by working with students in the Friar Foundations Program, a summer bridge program that helps first-year students with the transition to college. Now she is a regularly scheduled guest during Transitions, a preorientation program for multicultural students, and for Horizons, a mentoring program for first-year students of color. Lombard has also worked with clubs such as the college’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.

As an internship for her master’s degree in higher education counseling, Lombard created a “Real Talk” series at PC for sophomores, juniors, and seniors to help them understand the resources available to them throughout campus. Staff from the Student Success Center presented about time management, study skills, and how to manage advising. Representatives from the Personal Counseling Center discussed mental and physical health.

Inspired by the success of Real Talk, Lombard worked with students to develop the first Thrive Summit, a day-long conference held in March to help students “thrive in life” after graduation. Students from all class years attended workshops on personal and professional development.

The goal is to get students to come to a one-on-one meeting with a career coach such as Lombard. Once they are in the room, the conversations are much more holistic.

“It’s not just a resume and a cover letter. I’m trying to help them navigate,” Lombard said.

She asks students who have not chosen a major about their passions and interests, why they chose PC, and where else they applied. Even if PC was not their first choice, she wants to help them make the most of the college.

The follow up is always key. Before students leave, she reviews their “homework” — tasks they need to complete before they return for another meeting, which she also schedules on the spot.

The reward is the relationships built with students, especially as they continue their careers as alumni.

“I get to celebrate their wins, and I work with them through their losses, too,” Lombard said.

Learn about student interns

Aidan Arone ’23
The Bulfinch Group,
Needham, MA

Aidan Arone ’23

Aidan Arone ’23 is a financial representative with The Bulfinch Group, a wealth management firm headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts. The offer of a full-time job came after he completed a paid summer internship in 2022 in the financial advisor –wealth manager internship program. A double major in finance and management at PC, Aidan forged a connection with Bulfinch in his sophomore year of college while working at a hockey supply store. His boss introduced him to Amy Lampert, founder of the WomensWorth nonprofit and a Bulfinch associate. Aidan worked remotely for Lampert for two years before interning with Bulfinch before his senior year. In February 2024, he came full circle, representing Bulfinch at the Chirico Career Center’s Career Expo to recruit PC students as prospective interns and employees.

Jenna Cobb ’24
Boston Red Sox,

Jenna Cobb at Fenway Park for internship

An enthusiastic Boston Red Sox season ticket holder from Revere, Massachusetts, Jenna Cobb ’24 realized a dream come true with a paid internship with the Red Sox during the summer of 2023. A double major in management and marketing, she networked ahead of time with two Friars — BriAnne Newman ’05 of Fenway Sports Management, her mentor in PC’s Benjamin Family Social Media Fellows program, and Katherine Seibel Kelly ’15, talent acquisition specialist with the Red Sox, who spoke on campus. As an intern with the Game Events and Services
team, Jenna worked every game and concert at Fenway Park from June to October. “My office was in the basement next to the opposing team’s dugout,” she said. “I would walk out onto the field and think, ‘Is this even real?’”

A day in the life of a Celtics intern

Santiago Najarro Cano ’24
L’Oréal USA,
New York City

Santiago Najarro Cano ’24

Santiago Najarro Cano ’24, a marketing major and theatre minor from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, turned to Liz Lombard ’18G, associate director for diversity, inclusion, and early engagement in the Chirico Career Center, for advice about intern- ships for the summer of 2023. Lombard mentioned a connection at L’Oréal USA. “She set the foundation and I had to execute,” said Santi — including three interviews in a single day, one of them a case study with other candidates on Zoom. Santi was selected to be a brand engagement intern for Thayers, a L’Oréal facial toner brand, developing Instagram and TikTok content. As a summer project, he helped execute a Generation Z content incubator campaign for Thayers — and was rewarded with a full-time job as a marketing and management trainee in September 2024.

Connor Flynn ’25
Massachusetts Governor’s Office,
State House, Boston

Connor Flynn at the Boston state house

Connor Flynn ’25, a double major in history and political science and president of the Class of 2025, volunteered with the U.S. Senate campaign of Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III while a student at Natick High School. An internship with Governor Maura Healey at the State House in Boston after his sophomore year at PC seemed a natural step. The 10-week internship was unpaid, but a $4,000 Veritas grant through the Chirico Career Center made it feasible. Connor worked in the Office of Constituent Services, answering phone calls, letters, and email, and meeting constituents. “That is government at its best, helping people,” said Connor. “I was most impressed that so many of the governor’s staff were young people. It shows the faith she has in them and the future.”

Penelope Tejada ’26
The White House,
Washington, D.C.

Penelope Tejada ’26

Penelope Tejada ’26 began college in September 2022 determined to explore career opportunities and experience hands-on learning. By the time the academic year ended, she had landed a paid summer internship on the White House campus. For 10 weeks, Penelope was an accounting intern in the Office of Administration, reporting to the chief financial officer, while assisting the Office of Travel and Events in managing the travel of the president and first lady. She attended the state arrival ceremony for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and worked on the South Lawn during the White House’s Independence Day celebration. The School of Business assisted with housing costs at American University. “They were the best 10 weeks of my life,” said Penelope, a finance major and economics minor from East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Myles Johnson ’24
BNY Mellon,
New York City

Myles Johnson

Financial services corporation BNY Mellon selected Myles Johnson ’24 for a paid summer internship in 2023 because of his range of academic interests. He is an economics major with minors in finance, political science, and Asian studies — including four semesters of Chinese. His experience thinking in new ways helped him grasp the vocabulary and methods of a corporate tax intern — and the results so impressed his supervisors that he was offered a full-time position after graduation. Myles, from Lawrence, New Jersey, found the internship through economics professor MaryJane Lenon, Ph.D., at the recommendation of Liz Lombard, the Chirico Career Center’s associate director for diversity, inclusion, and early engagement. “BNY Mellon’s values align with my personal values — courage to lead, strength in diversity, passion for excellence, and integrity,” Myles said.

Helping students find their paths to personal and professional success is at the heart of The Fund for Providence College. Your gift to this annual fund makes it possible for the Chirico Career Center to run professional development programs, foster networking with PC alumni, and support career coaches to assist students on their journeys.

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More from the Spring 2024 magazine