by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson once provided a home away from home to Mark '71 and Harriet Marcus Lehman ’72, who met and fell in love as undergrads. Now, they’re giving back to the college in a way that brings Dickinson into the Southern California home they share.
For seven weeks each summer, the Lehmans open their door and hearts to Dickinson students who are serving internships at Mark’s company, Horizon Brands. By providing meals, lodging and a sense of Dickinson community, the couple helps students build successful futures in a personally satisfying way.
“Internships are so important for students,” says Harriet. “But because it’s very expensive to live in our area, we knew that students who interned here would spend most of the money they make on housing—or may not be able to afford to stay out here at all. We have the extra space, and we wanted to help.”
Mark alerts the college of coming internship opportunities at Horizon, and he reviews applications collected through Handshake, the college’s networking app. He interviews the interns over Zoom. After selecting a lucky intern or interns, the Lehmans speak with the parents via video call. Because Mark periodically visits the college as a Dickinson trustee, he and Harriet also enjoy a chance to meet with the students in person, on campus, before the summer begins.
Once in California, the interns work full days, five days a week. Toward the end of their stay, they present a major project to the company’s executive committee, complete with a detailed business plan.
High-skill internships give an edge to students like Luke Spellman '23, who stayed with the Lehmans last summer while completing an internship at Horizon Brands. At the end of his stay, he delivered a business proposal to company leadership. Photo by Dan Loh.
That was a highlight for last summer’s Horizon intern, Luke Spellman ’23 (international business & management), who delivered his proposal not only to a roomful of execs but also remotely to the company’s overseas employees. “It wasn’t your typical internship—it really allowed me to learn a lot,” Spellman says, “and I’m able to share that experience with potential employers. That gives me an edge, because they can see what I’m able to do.”
Past interns’ successes bear that out. Clare Taben ’20, who stayed with the Lehmans while interning at Horizon Brands in summer 2018, is now an account executive at Oracle Netsuite. Kirsten Brodeen ’20 (summer 2019) works as an ESG associate at S&P Global. Veronica Loria ’21 (summer 2020) is a litigation assistant with an international law firm—a perfect fit, as she preps for law school. Jooeun Song ’22 (summer 2021) is an analyst for Cornerstone Research, an economics consulting firm.
Bonus: Throughout the stay, the Lehmans introduce the students to friends and colleagues, helping to build the young Dickinsonians’ growing professional network. The couple also enjoys showing the students around their area. Spellman, for example, particularly enjoyed taking in an Angels game with the Lehmans and visiting Lego Land with the couple’s grandson.
As the Lehmans note, alumni, parents and friends of the college do not need to own or work with a company that’s hiring interns in order to host young Dickinsonians completing internships in their area. And those without the extra room may opt to support an internship fund that covers food, travel and housing costs to students who’ve earned high-skill internships and cannot accept them without financial assistance. There are also ample opportunities to share career advice and mentor students all throughout the year.
Shane Mundorf '25 (left) and Ashley Kim '24 will begin their internships this summer. Above, they meet with the couple at a local eatery, prior to their trip. Photo by Dan Loh.
All of this can make a huge difference in a young person’s career trajectory. That’s a thrilling notion for this summer’s interns with Horizon Brands, Ashley Kim ’24 (data analytics, quantitative economics), who will intern as part of the operations team, and Shane Mundorf ’25 (international business & management), who’ll work as a product marketing intern. Kim, an international student, is excited to make her first visit to Southern California as she takes full advantage of the professional opportunities to come. Mundorf also looks forward to applying what he’s learned in class on the job—and he intends to get some time in on the soccer field too.
It’s also fun for the hosts, the Lehmans are quick to point out. “We get as much out of the experience as the students do,” says Mark. “It keeps us young, it’s a great way to deepen our connection with the college and it allows us to have a meaningful impact on someone’s life.”
Published May 24, 2023