September 18, 2023

During the summer, Dominick Lazzauri ’24 and John Alexander ’24 interned for alumnus Greg Seamster ’97, vice president of sales at Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Company.

Students and alumnus standing in a tobacco warehouseHampden-Sydney College students have a unique advantage when pursuing their career dreams, thanks to the unwavering support of the Ferguson Career Center. Ranked 12 th in the nation for “Best Career Services” by the Princeton Review, the Career Center serves as a gateway for students, guiding them toward their desired career paths and establishing crucial connections with potential employers. One of the Career Center's notable endeavors is the semesterly career fair that brings together students and potential employers.

During these events, students often meet alumni and discuss their interests while building a valuable connection. In the spring of 2023, history major Dominick Lazzauri ’24 and economics and business major John Alexander ’24 connected with Greg Seamster ’97, the vice president of sales at Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Intrigued by the company's offerings, Dominick and John wasted no time inquiring about internship possibilities. Seamster, who was eager to welcome Hampden-Sydney talent, returned a month later to conduct interviews, ultimately selecting Dominick and John as management trainees for the summer.

“The Career Center was an invaluable resource from the beginning,” Dominick said. “Without their wisdom and guidance, I wouldn’t have ended up in this internship.” Dominick and John acknowledged the pivotal role of Assistant Director of Career Education Patrick Jourdain ’88, who facilitated their internship acquisition through effective communication and diligent advising.

With support from the Career Center, Dominick and John, who are Kappa Alpha Order fraternity brothers, applied for and received Compass Program funding and $1500 from the Circle Internship Fund, awarded to undergraduate members in a fraternity at Hampden-Sydney.

“Having the necessary funding while embarking on an out-of-state internship was huge,” John said. "The funding helped us with housing, food, and out-of-state expenses, and overall, it provided an extra sense of stability."

Dominick echoed John’s sentiments: “It was a testament to the Hampden-Sydney attitude. If you have an opportunity, the College will make it happen and support you 100 percent through career advice, funding, or overall support of goals.”

Arriving in Lancaster in mid-May, Dominick and John immersed themselves in the work within Seamster’s uniquely designed internship program. They were the company’s first interns to arrive in Pennsylvania, and the program was tailored to encompass everything Seamster wished he had learned as an undergraduate, as well as what he believed Dominick and John should understand from his current perspective.

The Hampden-Sydney alumni network is truly incredible. It was amazing to see the alumni in Pennsylvania and the bonds between everyone. By the end, we all developed a strong relationship and created new connections that will serve us well in the future.

John Alexander ’24

The first month saw Dominick and John becoming acquainted with the factory in Lancaster, shadowing management, rotating through various stations, and filling in where necessary. Although they usually worked full eight-hour days, the emphasis was on learning. Dominick and John recalled memorable moments of testing products, working in by-products, and flipping tobacco.

“After transitioning from job to job, we could put the whole picture together of how all the jobs interact and help to create the final product,” John said. “We were lucky to see customers inspect the finished product during our time there and gain a valuable understanding of all sides of the business.”

The following month consisted of agronomy work. Dominick and John traveled to various farms, interacted with tobacco farmers, and learned about the plant, aligning the program's objectives to learn about the beginning of the process.

“The transition of learning on campus to learning on the job was seamless,” Dominick said. “When we are at Hampden-Sydney, we are always learning, so it was pleasant to be at an internship where we could expand on that.”

The internship culminated with Seamster taking them on a trip to the Dominican Republic, a fresh experience that allowed them to strengthen their bonds, witness some of the company’s operations abroad, and tour a cigar-rolling factory.

“All the pieces clicked together at the end of the internship,” Dominick said. “We understood how everything came together to create the final piece, and it was great to have that learning process so clearly in front of us the whole time.”

Throughout their internship, Dominck and John forged a strong bond with Seamster, strengthening their relationship further. Even when Seamster was away from Lancaster for portions of the internship, he stayed connected with Dominick and John. While in Lancaster, Seamster went the extra mile by inviting them to his home and introducing them to other coworkers and alumni in the area, helping them integrate seamlessly.

“The Hampden-Sydney alumni network is truly incredible,” John exclaimed. “It was amazing to see the alumni in Pennsylvania and the bonds between everyone. By the end, we all developed a strong relationship and created new connections that will serve us well in the future.”

Dominick added to John’s sentiments: “It was great to see how close everyone was and how much interest they had in the College.” The experience of meeting various alumni brought the experience full circle, reminding them why they embarked on this incredible experience.

Along with making connections in their free time, Dominick and John were able to explore Lancaster and indulge in activities like fishing, visiting various restaurants, and attending a cigar festival with their coworkers, noting that the company was inclusive and welcoming from day one.

Nothing can compare to the valuable experiences of growing as a Hampden-Sydney man through the exploration of culture, adventure, and personal growth. Dominick and John reiterated the importance of staying connected with the Career Center and having the confidence to seize the unique opportunities that one has at the College.

With the steadfast support of alumni and the invaluable resources offered by the Ferguson Career Center, our College community will continue to thrive, and its students will continue to evolve as well-rounded Hampden-Sydney men, ready to make a meaningful impact in the world.

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