Pathways program graduates feel prepped for careers

A new program that offered students a guaranteed career-related experience, has led to competitive job offers for its first graduating class. The Pathways Internship Program (PIP), beginning in 2019, opens doors for first-generation students to pursue summer work opportunities by granting them career guidance and financial support. Students in the Class of 2021 were the first cohort and are now ready to enter the workforce.  

Estefania Perez ’21 and Kamla Arshad ’21 said they have gained more confidence and personal growth through their involvement in PIP. Perez interned at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and will be working as a legal assistant after graduation.

Estefania Perez ’21 in a suit on capitol hill.
Estefania Perez ’21

“I have grown more confident in applying for opportunities,” Perez said. “My experience in the program allowed me to view my dreams as realistic goals. Thanks to PIP, I would like to believe that I became a competitive applicant as I entered the job search this past year.”

Arshad, who was able to hone her career interests after working in a research lab at the University of California Berkeley, has accepted a full-time management position at an industrial supplier company.

“I love research, and I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. before this experience, but my time at the lab helped me realize that it was more important to me to see my research being applied somewhere other than in an academic paper,” Arshad said.

Program advisor Ana Adinolfi, senior career associate at Arts & Sciences Career Development, works closely with Pathways interns. From providing resources on resume building to practice interviews, Adinolfi gives each student individualized sessions catered toward their career goals.

“Although the data is young, we’re seeing for many that the professional experience they gained through their PIP summer internship, as well as their networking connections, can be directly linked to their first destination after Cornell,” Adinolfi said.

The Pathways Internship Program is designed for first-generation rising sophomores interested in exploring careers in the humanities or social sciences. Accepted students are supported by Career Development and receive a summer experience grant up to $8,000 to cover an unpaid/minimally paid experience and their student contribution for the following academic year. Applications are now open on the Experience Cornell website. The priority deadline is May 18 and applications will be reviewed until Aug. 2.

“PIP is unique in that students begin their sophomore year knowing they have funding secured for the summer. They can dream big about what they might want to do – taking an unpaid or underpaid experience, exploring a new area of the country or world – without worrying about how they’re going to pay for it all,” Adinolfi said. “PIP students have support from A&S Career Development staff to make those big dreams happen. We work with them their entire sophomore year to guarantee that they’ll find a summer experience.”

Kamla Arshad ’21 in a blue blouse with the clocktower in the background.
Kamla Arshad ’21

Arshad and Perez offer advice for undergraduates looking to apply to the program.

“Being a first-generation student, it always feels like you are trying to catch up to others,” Arshad said. “My advice is don't make all your summer experiences about trying to just add to your resume. Sometimes, let your summer help you grow as a person and teach you something about yourself through meaningful activities.”

Perez encourages students to take a leap of faith when preparing their application.

“Definitely go for it! This is an incredible opportunity that alleviates financial barriers and allows you to apply to wherever you set your mind to,” she said. “Be open to your goals and make sure to make them known so that you are able to get the funding and resources that PIP provides.”

Amaris Janel Henderson is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.

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Estefania Perez ’21 in front of the Supreme Court.
Estefania Perez ’21 in front of the Supreme Court.