YOUNGSTOWN – Alumni and local employers connected with Youngstown State University students Friday at the Williamson College of Business Professional Development Summit.
During the half-day event, students had the opportunity to ask questions of members of two panel groups and learn from their experiences as they prepare to transition from being business students to finding success in the workforce.
“We’re pretty proud of Penguin,” said Tim Petrie, managing partner at HD Davis CPAs, when asked during a discussion about what on a resume can set someone apart. Petrie and others on the panels pointed out that graduate resumes often look the same, and students need to differentiate themselves by volunteering and networking through organizations like Mahoning Valley Young Professionals and student organizations.
Going through the pandemic, the panelists also talked about the importance of overcoming social anxiety and talking to others in person. This can be practice for those future interviews as well.
Chris Allen of Ultium Cells in Lordstown emphasized the importance of making personal connections, noting that all of his jobs in his 30-year career have come through friends in his network. He has never had to apply for a job because he believes that good jobs come from those connections.
The panelists talked about the importance of connecting through social media platforms like LinkedIn and the courage to ask a professional to meet for coffee so they can learn more about their company. Many of the panelists work for companies with internships and were looking for students who showed interest in their business. They told the students not only what they do every day, but also what someone doing an internship or starting a job at the company can do.
“In our world in the public accounting and payroll business, we teach our employees, our team members, to think like entrepreneurs … we teach them to be that consulting strategist solving problems for their clients,” Petrie said.
Emma Komlank, Area Community Resource Manager at Walmart, told the students not to be afraid to take an entry-level job at a company where they can learn different roles and work hard as they grow into their dream career.
Some of the important skills that Brian Rosenberg, a supervisory expert at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, said are necessary for his job include good leadership, organization, problem solving and the ability to communicate well with others. With their knowledge as YSU alumni, those important skills and initiative, he said, they can be trained in the more technical aspects of the career.
James McConnell, a talent acquisition specialist at Enterprise, said he doesn’t expect interns to know much about the car rental business. But he wants to see them ready to learn.
Many on the panel discussed the importance of a willingness to continue learning throughout one’s career.
“Many of our interns say, ‘I’ve learned more in the six months I’ve been here than I ever did in school,'” Petrie said. “This is not a dig against education here. The difference is that when you apply that knowledge practically in the real world, you learn differently. You learn faster. You absorb things faster. So just be ready for this challenge. Your learning is just beginning.”
Angelina Henderson, early talent program manager for Goodyear, suggested taking advantage of career services resources offered by YSU, which can give students job interview practice, advice and networking opportunities. She talked about Goodyear’s recruiting process for both internships and after-school jobs, urging students to start looking for those jobs well before graduation.
The panelists also talked about one of the big fashion topics of the day – work-life balance. Rosenberg stressed the importance of knowing your values and whether what’s important to you is also important to your employer. If a company doesn’t work with you, you may have to look for another job, he said.
Petrey noted that work-life balance means something different to everyone, and it’s important to understand the culture of your workplace. As for telecommuting, Petrie said it can be more difficult at first to learn a new job remotely, and it requires good communication and dedication. But more time to work outside the office might be something that’s easier to earn down the road, he said.
It was impactful for YSU business students to hear stories of how employers and alumni found their career paths.
“I think they put a lot of emphasis on values,” Grace Swaney said, which she doesn’t think is something the college specifically addresses. She feels that this event is more about real life.
“I know you’re planning after graduation, but you don’t really know what that is until [someone says], ‘Hey, don’t do that.’ This is what you should prioritize. This will get you there faster. You will benefit and the company will benefit,” Sweeney said.
Mandy McIntosh, an accounting major, said she learned the importance of defining what you want in your career and the importance of being flexible, being willing to change careers or career directions.
William Whitu, also an accounting major, said he learned about different accounting fields in his classes, but it was good to meet and hear from people who actually work in those fields.
Michael Davis, a business management major, said he likes knowing what employers want from their employees and interns so he knows what to expect in the future.
“Just hearing their stories, it was all super interesting,” said Dylan Shields, business administration major. “It gave a real inside look at how they [think] when they hire people and how they run their business.’
Petrie said the Professional Development Summit, an annual event, is extremely important not only for the future of students, but also for creating new opportunities in the Youngstown area.
“What kids need to see is that you can be successful here in Youngstown. Our biggest problem locally is kids dropping out. It’s our job as local professionals who have done something in some shape or form to go back and share that with people. Because then they realize, “I can build something here.”
Pictured above: The Williamson College of Business Administration Professional Development Summit was held on Friday.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.