It’s the fall of 2014, and Spike the Bulldog is the mascot for the Round Rock Express, the Austin area’s minor-league baseball team. Spike routinely appears at games and community events in his striped overalls and hat, like an old-timey train conductor. He has hanging jowls, cartooney eyes, and a mouth that gapes open in a pleasantly lopsided smile.

And behind that toothy grin is a Southwestern student.

Yes, that was Lauren Boone ’14 on the less glamorous interior of the Spike costume during her final semester at Southwestern, and you’re probably wondering how she ended up in that situation. Well, a lot of the credit goes to Southwestern University’s Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD).

The CCPD plays an important part in Southwestern’s focus on high-impact experiences—meaning those in which students develop professional skills that will prepare them for their postgraduate lives—such as study-abroad programs, faculty-mentored research, and internships. The CCPD has a reputation for leveraging its resources to connect students with the most competitive internships. The office, directed by Daniel Orozco, consistently ranks high in the Princeton Review’s Best Colleges for Career Services list. It currently holds first place in Texas and is ranked sixth nationwide.

Lauren Boone '14 Lauren Boone ’14An express trip to success

Before working for the Round Rock Express, Boone entered Southwestern as a golfer and chemistry major. The golfing stuck; the chemistry didn’t. She switched over to business her sophomore year. As soon as she changed majors, she knew she wanted to work in sports marketing.

Boone set her sights on a corporate-development internship with the Houston Texans. She hustled to get it, doing an eye-opening practice interview and résumé session with the CCPD, then called the Office of Career Services. She pestered a family connection with the Texans to give her an introduction. At one point, she drove between Houston and Austin three times in one week just to meet face to face for lunch with them.

She got the gig. During the internship, she worked at the training camp. She woke up every day at 3:00 a.m. to set up, assisted during the camp, and then left at 7:00 p.m. She loved it.

When the school year began again, she went back to the CCPD, where she found out about a different internship, this one with the Round Rock Express. Boone didn’t have a connection with the team but was hired nonetheless. “It was pretty amazing that Southwestern was able to set that up,” says Boone. “Not many people can say that, especially in sports, because it’s really about who you know.”

Boone did everything related to marketing at the Round Rock Express, including the aforementioned role of being the mascot. Meanwhile, she maintained a full class schedule, played golf, and participated in her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. She double majored in business and Spanish and graduated a semester early, in the winter of 2014.

Blair Orr '19 also interned at the Round Rock Express in summer 2019. He says, One thing that I ... Blair Orr ’19 also interned at the Round Rock Express in summer 2019. He says, “One thing that I learned while working with the Express is how vital it is to be well-rounded and proficient at different things."

After Boone graduated, she contacted the Texans’ human-resources manager, who suggested she apply for a yearlong ticketing internship. After her year finished, the Texans had an opening for a position in the department running marketing for college football and international soccer. Her internship experiences made them take her seriously, and the Texans entrusted her—at the age of 23—with the enormous job of coordinating the entire marketing department.

The job was time consuming. She often worked more than 80 hours a week and didn’t get weekends off, but Boone says she enjoyed the work and her colleagues.

Her experience came full circle when she needed to hire her own interns for the Texans. She picked three from Southwestern. “My boss went to UT, and everyone in the office went to A&M,” Boone said. “We had to get some Southwestern in there.”

After three years with the Texans, where she learned every facet of marketing, Boone wanted to specialize in a single area. She is now back in Austin, working part-time as a marketing and research project coordinator for an executive recruiting agency and going to school at the University of Texas to get her certification in the UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface) Boot Camp, which is focused on web and app design.

Nick Sivon '15 Nick Sivon ’15Trading up

Boone’s contemporary, Nick Sivon ’15, was a first-year student at Southwestern during the era of reckoning that followed the 2008 recession. “We were at the peak of hindsight being 20/20,” he says. “It was so obvious what went wrong in 2008.”

Focused initially on playing lacrosse, Sivon became more interested in the recession, inspired by professors at Southwestern who had compelling insights into how to avoid such a catastrophe in the future. His coursework, in turn, piqued his curiosity in finance. At Southwestern, he participated in the Financial Analyst Program, which allows SU economics and business majors to collectively manage $600,000 of the University’s financial portfolio. Sivon shares that every week, a member would prepare a pitch recommending the University invest in certain stocks or industries. The presentation was followed by a grilling from the group as they debated whether the stock was a smart investment.

Sivon took economics courses from professors like Patrick Van Horn, a financial historian with a reputation of being intensely challenging. Sivon says his corporate finance class was “the first class that business majors would fail out of.”

During the spring of 2014, Sivon was Van Horn’s research assistant, which set the stage for his economics capstone
on depositor behavior during the Panics of 1854 and 1857.

It was a busy spring. Sivon also interned at Avalon Advisors, a Houston-based investment management firm. He took his résumé to the CCPD and did mock interviews. He then got his foot in the door with the help of Board of Trustees member Steve Raben ’63. Raben is a “super alumnus,” in Sivon’s words, of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, of which Sivon was president. The internship allowed Sivon to break into the competitive financial field. When he graduated, he took a job in Dallas at the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation.

“Think of it as the plumbing of the financial system,” Sivon explains, describing how his company facilitates operations during the three-day time period in between submitting a trade for a stock and the trade actually occurring.

But Sivon wanted to try living outside of Texas. After three years in Dallas, he applied to the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). The company was interested not just in his previous work experience but also in his research with Van Horn and his capstone project. In the post-2008 financial landscape, regulations require banks to have mechanisms in place should the market crash again. UBS hired Sivon in their New York branch as part of the team working to design and implement hypothetical scenarios designed to imitate severe stress on the market.

“Basically, we try to reenact 2008 [in simulation],” Sivon says.

Sivon moved to New York, where the 42-story UBS skyscraper on Park Avenue towers above Midtown.

“It’s very much taken  me outside of my comfort zone,” Sivon says, adding that he’s had to develop a thicker skin but that he’s also gotten much better at jaywalking.

Markell Henderson '19 Markell Henderson ’19E.M.P.I.R.E. of trust

A few years later, a sharply dressed running back for the Southwestern football team aspired to get a job in Chicago. Markell Henderson ’19 was drawn to Southwestern by the quality of academics, the average class size of 18 students, and the opportunity to play football. He recognized that he wouldn’t have to sacrifice his education to play the sport he loved.

Henderson was wildly active in academic and campus life. He majored in economics and business, and he jokes that he almost counts football as a third major for the amount of time it took up.

He cofounded Established Men Promoting Intelligence, Respect, and Efficacy (E.M.P.I.R.E.), an organization which combats racism, builds community, and forms positive male role models on campus.

“Many minority men had negative experiences of students or faculty who limited [the minority students’] abilities to athletics and looked at that as the only reasons they were at Southwestern, recalls Henderson. “We wanted to change that narrative.”

Henderson was also in the Kemper Scholars Program, which allows students to acquire professional skills during summer internships, as well as offering scholarships and mentoring.

“All of that kept me busy,” says Henderson, in his unassuming way.

As a Kemper Scholar, Henderson interned in Chicago with the local Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate, WTTW, after his sophomore year. There, he experienced the fast-paced city life and Chicago’s breezy, temperate summers so unlike the swampy heat of Texas. After that summer, he knew he wanted to get back to the Windy City.

During his time at PBS, Henderson had noticed that many trustees and donors worked at Northern Trust, an international wealth and investment management
corporation. He researched the company, realized it aligned with his interests, and interned there the next summer.

“One of the reasons that I really like working with the stock market is that it’s very much like sports,” Henderson comments. “Especially football, because there’s constantly new information being thrown at you. You have to see what the other team is doing and then adjust your game plan accordingly.”

You have to see what the other team is doing and then adjust your game plan accordingly.

Before graduating, Henderson applied for a job at Northern Trust. He used resources from Southwestern’s CCPD to help him prepare for the grueling interview process—mock interviews, résumé assistance, professional
headshots, and books borrowed from the office’s collection. He was ultimately able to cross the stage at graduation in May with a job already in hand: because of his internship, the company hired Henderson as part of an 18-month-long rotational program. He’s back in Chicago, where he’s enjoying the public transportation, the coffee shops, and reading on the beach during the fleeting warm weekends.

“I just bought my first coat two weeks ago,” Henderson says. “But I think they call what I just bought a jacket. I don’t think they consider this a coat.”

Alumni like Boone, Sivon, and Henderson collectively say they wouldn’t be where they are today without the opportunities provided by Southwestern, the Center for Career & Professional Development, and their crucial internships. If you’d like to help connect students to experiential-learning opportunities (e.g., internships, research, and shadowing), please contact the CCPD at or 512.863.1346. The CCPD team is happy to visit with you about how to connect Southwestern students to your organization.