A Unique Experience for the Summer W.I.S.E. Fellows

This summer, 22 young women participated remotely in the third installment of the Women Inspiring Successful Enterprise program offered by the Center for Career Development.

-Written by 2019 W.I.S.E. fellow, Madison Smith ’21


“W.I.S.E. is one of the Center for Career Development’s premier programs that is a truly transformative experience for the women who participate in it,” says Rachel Cirelli, director of the program.

This highly competitive, paid summer internship program matches a handful of female undergraduate students with an internship opportunity correlating to their major and area of interest. 

Fellows also attend weekly professional development sessions with guest speakers in which they discuss their experiences, any challenges they’ve encountered, and how to best prepare themselves for entering the workforce full time.

W.I.S.E. concludes with a professional women’s symposium in the fall where fellows are given the opportunity to present what they learned throughout the summer. This year, the symposium will be held in person on Friday, September 18, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“I want to give our female students every advantage possible, and give them the tools to hit the ground running in the work world,” Cirelli adds.

Ultimately, the W.I.S.E. program has provided this year’s fellows with exciting new opportunities and experiences, despite the challenges presented by the current circumstances. “Just like with most things, practice makes perfect,” Cirelli says.

“While I’m not saying there’s ‘perfection’ to be gained in the leadership and empowerment arena, by our students working at internships, participating in professional development, and taking part in interactive sessions and assignments, they are honing in on important skills that will continue to serve them. We are so pleased and proud that the program is still here and has adjusted to the changes.” 

W.I.S.E. promotes professional and personal growth for successful female students both on campus and in their respective industries. Rising juniors and seniors across all schools with a minimum 3.0 GPA are encouraged to apply to the W.I.S.E. internship program.

Meet the Summer 2020 W.I.S.E. Fellows

  • Guadalupe Cabrera ’22, Financial Analyst Intern at American Express

    Guadalupe working from home, smiling and holding a notepad with the words thank you on it

    Guadalupe Cabrera has certainly been able to expand her networking and professional development skills through her participation in W.I.S.E. A financial analyst intern at American Express this summer, Cabrera has taken the switch to virtual interning in stride. 

    “We usually attend a variety of events that offer networking opportunities and give us all kinds of insight on AmEx and its functions,” she says.

    During her internship, Cabrera is responsible for a project that entails building a suite of Dashboard solutions that delivers vigorous financial planning and results analysis (FP&A) and insights to the company.” 

    Even though the experience has been a remote one, Cabrera is enthusiastic about her internship and learning from an industry leader.  Her favorite aspect of her internship thus far has been the people.

    “They have all been so kind and willing to go the extra mile just to help me out,” she says. “I'm so grateful to be working at a company with such a wholesome culture; it really adds to my excitement logging on every morning.”

    In addition to her daily tasks, Cabrera has also engaged in American Express development seminars and cohort meetings to network and gain further insight into the finance industry. 

    I've had the opportunity to attend a lot of enriching webinars and increase my knowledge on what my team, the Corporate Segment FP&A, is working on,” she says.

    The W.I.S.E. Wednesday sessions have also proven valuable.  “W.I.S.E. allows you to network with other women and gain outstanding exposure in the field of your choice,” Cabrera says. “It allows women to take a step toward the future they desire in addition to participating in weekly enrichment sessions.”

    In addition to being a 2020 W.I.S.E. fellow, Cabrera is also the vice president of the Women in Business club, and a member of the women’s rowing team, the O’Malley School of Business Student Advisory Council and honors program.

  • Ciara Coyle ’22, Chemical Engineering Intern at Mutch Associates

    Ciara smiling at her make-shift office at home

    Ciara Coyle knew that she was destined to be a W.I.S.E. fellow as soon as she learned about the program. 

    “I came from an all-girls high school with the slogan, where smart girls become intelligent women,” she says. “It was a high school of high-achieving young women with ambitious goals, and I was sure that the W.I.S.E. program could provide me with the same community I missed.” 

    Coyle is a chemical engineering intern at Mutch Associates, an environmental engineering and science firm. She’s responsible for completing a project over the eight-week program. “My research project is focused on In Situ Chemical Oxidation of chlorinated solvents,” she says. “My goal is to establish a relationship between natural oxidant demand and total organic carbon and chemical oxidant demand.”

    Coyle notes that she has grown professionally and learned new skills that will benefit her in the future.

    “One of my favorite things I have learned is Digitizer, which is an online software that can calibrate plots from published scholarly articles and extract the raw data,” she says. “It’s a great resource to take with me further into my academic and professional career.”

    Coyle aspires to be a chemical engineer for a consumer goods company, and has participated in the utilized the Center for Career Development’s Mentor Program to further explore her future career.

    “My aspirations are in the world of consumer goods, in either cosmetics or food and beverage,” she says. “I would love to work in any part of the process: research and development, manufacturing and supply chain.” 

    Coyle is also a project development intern for the Manhattan College men’s crew team, where she is responsible for managing projects and administrative/communications tasks for the team, vice president of finance for Sigma Delta Tau sorority, vice president of the Irish dance team, social media chair for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a community outreach event coordinator for the annual SWE for Scouts event, and was a volunteer for the L.O.V.E. El Paso 2020 Service Immersion Trip.

  • Jana Clark ’22, Communications Intern at the Fresh Air Fund

    Jana smiling with her laptop at her hands

    Jana Clark’s W.I.S.E. experience certainly looks different than what she initially anticipated; typically, W.I.S.E. fellows are given housing on campus for the summer, so students who live across the country can participate in competitive New York City-based internships. However, Clark, an international student, is conducting her internship remotely — from her hometown in Germany.

    “I start at 12 in the afternoon, which is nice because I do not have to start early in the morning but because of the time difference, I have about three hours of independent work before anyone else is ‘active’,” she shares. “I work from 12 to 8 pm so it is a long workday, but I always have something to do and have enjoyed everything about it thus far.”

    Clark is a communications intern at the Fresh Air Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for New York City children from low-income areas to experience nature through summer development programs and camps.

    Her daily tasks include Zoom meetings, writing blog posts, assisting with developing public relations strategies, and conducting social media research on similar nonprofit organizations.. 

    A communication major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in environmental studies, Clark knew she wanted to work for an organization that is environmentally conscious. 

    I have always wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, whether for environmental justice or other social justice issues, but to be involved in a field that would allow me to write about these issues and raise awareness of them,” she says. 

    W.I.S.E. has proved to be an invaluable experience for Clark. 

    “I decided to apply not only because of the career development and networking opportunities, but because it would be a place where women were empowering women to be their best selves and develop our confidence as leaders in the professional world,” she says.

    In addition to being a 2020 W.I.S.E. fellow, Clark is vice president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), assistant to the vice president of philanthropy for the Sigma Delta Tau sorority, publicity and marketing chair, and a staff writer for Her Campus Manhattan. She is also a student worker in the Communication department and is actively involved in Campus Ministry and Social Action and the L.O.V.E. program.

  • Khaitlyn Figueroa ’21, Undergraduate Research Assistant at New York Medical College

    Khaitlyn working on her laptop wearing a face mask

    In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals and healthcare facilities are operating far differently than they used to. Through her W.I.S.E. internship, Khaitlyn Figueroa has gotten a firsthand look at these changes.

    As an undergraduate research assistant at New York Medical College, Figueroa is experiencing firsthand what the healthcare system looks like during a time of crisis. Her internship program has been moved to an online format.

    “There is limited access to the hospital, so I cannot shadow a doctor or assist other research students in their medical lab,” she notes.

    However, Figueroa is still able to sit in on important meetings and complete necessary tasks, such as morning rounds, observing therapy sessions for pediatric oncology patients and assisting with research.

    “My favorite part of this internship is rounds,” she says. “Listening to rounds has allowed me to understand the dynamics of a medical team. I find myself getting to know the patients — not just their illness — through these meetings.”

    W.I.S.E. has been particularly valuable to Figueroa, as it has helped her gain a leg up in the male-dominated healthcare industry.

    “I knew that this program would help me become confident and heard,” she shares. “I am already used to not being heard by doctors as a patient, and I do not wish to repeat the same circumstances when I am a doctor.”

    Figueroa plans on attending medical school after completing her undergraduate degree in biology, and is set on using her drive and determination to make the greatest impact possible.

    “I am particularly interested in osteopathic medicine, but completing biochemical research on campus made me realize the importance of research and improving existing conditions,” she says. “Rather than choosing between the two, I plan to apply to D.O/Ph.D programs to fulfill both my desire to help patients and lead a research project.”

    In addition to being a 2020 W.I.S.E. fellow, Figueroa is the co-president of Just Peace, treasurer of Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-health honor society, and a member of Beta Beta Beta honor society and Sigma Xi honor society. In 2019, she was selected to be a Jasper Summer Research Scholar..

  • Patricia Wright ’21, Curriculum Development Intern at NYC Together

    Patricia smiling from her desk

    Patricia Wright has been able to fulfill her dream of helping children become the best versions of themselves this summer. As a curriculum development intern at NYC Together, Wright is getting to collaborate with her supervisors and fellow interns to create a summer youth employment program.

    “Project LEAD is a six-week summer youth employment program of 45 students to learn about disparities that impact communities of color with a new topic each week leading up to the youth's launch of a campaign for their community,” she says. “I am solely creating the curriculum for each day of the six-week program.”

    A dual childhood and special education major currently in the five-year program, Wright has felt like she has been able to gain a unique perspective on education through this experience.

    I really like the creativity and freedom I have to make the lesson plans,” she says. “Because I was only given the topic for each week, I have had the opportunity to learn how to create structure in lessons and built from scratch. It is a very unique opportunity to become ‘the teacher’ in this program.”

    NYC Together is a nonprofit organization, founded by a Manhattan College alum, Dana Rachlin ’08, which works on creating beneficial relationships between NYC youth and the New York Police Department (NYPD) through development programs. 

    Upon graduation, Wright plans to work in education for the New York City public school system, and she is thrilled that she’s been able to apply what she has learned in her classes to creating the curriculum for Project LEAD.

    “I want to be a special education teacher with the Department of Education in NYC so I get to apply what I have learned about culturally responsive teaching, creating learning outcomes, assessing students and more to an actual classroom setting,” she adds. “I couldn't have asked for a job that provides a more accurate teaching experience.”

    In addition to being a 2020 W.I.S.E. Fellow, Wright is the president of Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, new member educator for Sigma Delta Tau sorority, education liaison for Engineering Ambassadors, and a staff writer for Her Campus Manhattan.

About Madison Smith '21 

2019 W.I.S.E Fellow


By the end of my freshman year, I had already changed my major three times. I was nervous, confused and frustrated by my indecisiveness–why wasn’t I able to pick something that I liked during my first semester, like some of my friends had?

I started as a psychology major, dabbled in the O’Malley School of Business for a semester, considered political science, and almost bought an LSAT prep book as I was sure I wanted to go to law school. Beginning my sophomore year, I had finally settled on communication, and I selected public relations as my concentration.

Even though I had chosen my major, I still had absolutely no idea how to go about entering the industry. I knew about the importance of internships, but how was I supposed to find one I liked? How was I to develop necessary professional skills while simultaneously trying to figure out what facet of communication was for me?

During my sophomore year, I found out about the W.I.S.E. internship program, which has been a staple of Manhattan College’s Center for Career Development for the past three years.

As a 2019 W.I.S.E. fellow, I can confidently say that the program changed my entire outlook on my career. I worked as a public relations intern at 3D PR & Marketing, a public relations firm that focuses on clients in the beauty and lifestyle sectors. 

I was not only able to gain essential skills related to my major, but I also explored different facets of public relations and learned both what I liked, and what I didn’t like. 

The W.I.S.E. development sessions also instilled in me a strong passion for becoming the best professional version of myself, and I was given guidance on a myriad of different topics, from salary negotiation to finding confidence as a woman in the workplace.

Most importantly, the W.I.S.E. program helped me establish concrete career goals, gave me the confidence to actively seek more professional opportunities, and allowed me to recognize that indecisiveness is okay especially when it helps lead you to where you’re supposed to be.

I am in the midst of wrapping up my summer internship with the publicity department of The Dr. Oz Show, a position that I couldn’t imagine excelling in without the lessons and support I gained in W.I.S.E. Most importantly, as a rising senior, I can confidently say that W.I.S.E. helped me discover my passions for public relations and strategic communication, learn more about myself and fully take advantage of the amazing resources that Manhattan College has to offer.
By MC Staff