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Alumni Mentors share their workplace and knowledge with rising seniors.

Debbie Kane
October 26, 2023
collage of Exeter students involved in their alumni internships

Anne Rankin ’92, the current Bates-Russell Distinguished Faculty Professor and an instructor in science, embraces her role as a change agent at Exeter. Inspired by conversations with current and former students over her nearly 25 years with the Academy, Rankin spent months brainstorming ways to build meaningful connections between the groups. “Students often talk about how valuable it is to have perspective from someone working in a career they’re interested in,” she says.

To provide those opportunities, Rankin coordinated nine new summer internships that pair students with alumni mentors in the workplace. Open by application to rising seniors, the internships placed students in diverse professional settings, including assisting with eye exams at a retinal clinic, helping a sustainable clothing brand prepare its 2024 collection, and collaborating virtually to develop an artificial intelligence module for older adults.

Rankin’s initiative complements the Academy’s robust summer internship program, which includes an 11-year partnership with Dr. Seung Kim ’81, director of the Stanford Diabetes Research Center. Students work alongside Kim in his lab, conducting hands-on biomedical research, creating and characterizing new strains of fruit flies.

Rankin stresses that the internships are more than ways for students to work in interesting settings for a month or so. “It’s also an opportunity to learn from someone other than teachers,” Rankin says. “It’s about human relationships and learning how to be mentored. Putting the students in touch with a caring adult and having them talk to you about your next steps. That’s important.”

The alumni benefit as well. Mentoring students who share their Exeter experience is an opportunity to share real-world experiences as well as insight into their business or area of expertise. “We don’t coddle anyone,” says mentor Dennis Whittle ’79, co-founder of consulting firm Normal>Next. “They’re doing real work with real leaders in real time.”

Ultimately, for Whittle and other alumni, the mentorship opportunity was as rewarding for them as for the students. “It’s a chance to learn how to be mentors,” Rankin says, “and give back to Exeter in a meaningful way beyond financial contributions.”


Take a look at a few of these newly created internships

Exploring sustainable fashion

Katelyn Cui ’24 worked alongside Heiji Black ’96 at Jeune Otte, Black’s sustainable women’s clothing brand, based in Chicago.

Go to the page titled Exploring sustainable fashion

Exploring social media marketing

Offering hands-on experience working for a solo-preneur is exactly what Dr. Shelly Bhowmik ’03 had in mind with Exeter interns

Go to the page titled Exploring social media marketing

Exploring clinical medicine

Dr. Raghu Murthy ’81, an eye surgeon and founder of Retina Eye Specialists in South Pasadena, California worked with rising senior, Jett Goetz

Go to the page titled Exploring clinical medicine

Exploring investing

Leela Gandhi ’24 joined Ben Gerig ’90 at Northlight Capital Partners, the commercial real estate investment firm he founded in Westport, Connecticut.

Go to the page titled Exploring investing

Exploring synthetic chemistry

Nora Sharma ’24 and Charles Potjer ’24 worked alongside Manuel Montori ’12 in the lab at his Austin, Texas, startup, Spero Technologies

Go to the page titled Exploring synthetic chemistry

Exploring public policy and development

Five Exeter students worked together to help close the growing gap between generations and foster meaningful intergenerational connections outside the family at Normal>Next,

Go to the page titled Exploring public policy and development

This story was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.

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