YSU Students Get Tips from Potential Employers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Although only starting their sophomore or junior year at Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration, students attending the Professional Development Summit Sept. 8 are already looking at the internships or jobs they will have as early as next summer.

Students asked questions about interviewing, including how to stand out and make a good impression while still being genuine.

Potential employers on the panel had some wise responses: Dress professionally, be on time, research the company, ask questions, be confident and be yourself.

“When you have a conversation, and this is tough, you’ve got to look people in the eye,” said Ted Schmidt, regional president of PNC Bank. “We had a candidate who had a 4.0 [grade-point average] and a great résumé, and he was just looking at his hands and wouldn’t look up.”

Schmidt said he determined maybe this candidate would be better in an analytical role behind the scenes.

The way to get over that fear and awkwardness of talking is to just do it, repeatedly, he said.

“You’ve got nothing to lose. If you’re not going for a job interview right now, make your mistakes early on,” Schmidt said.

The students were not the only ones who got something out of the panel discussions – one that invited potential employers and another that brought back alumni.

Jarrett Logistics Systems in Orville, Ohio, is a family-owned business that has grown to comprise seven brands and companies and employs about 300 people. Jessica Crawford, who was representing the company, said this was a good way to inform students about the business, located just over an hour away.

“We are a growing company, but a smaller company. So getting students to know the name and recognize and understand the opportunities that we have available is really important for us to obtain interns, as well as full-
time hires post-graduation,” Crawford said.

Ben Walker, director of business development with Ally Financial in Cranberry Township, Pa., said events like this help the company hear what students are thinking about and looking for in future jobs.

Ally Financial can then cater its approaches to finding talent to match the employees it hopes to attract in this job market.

Danielle Adams of FactSet Research Systems, a global business data and analytics company that has an office in downtown Youngstown, said she likes to give back to students finding their way.

“Talent development and career development is hugely important to me,” Adams said. “It’s something that’s a personal interest of mine, so anytime I can help others achieve the same thing, [I’m] definitely interested. It is important to take those steps to develop your career, so you have a really successful and fulfilling life.”

David McCain of Dayton Freight Lines agrees. McCain, at one point during the discussion, asked students if they had considered a freight line business as a possibility. The logistics of transporting items from one place to the next is a career field that is not going anywhere, he said. He wanted to share with students the importance of continuing to develop, grow and learn.

Crawford gave them a few pointers for learning more about the company where they are interested in working – check out its website’s mission statement, vision statement and core values.

Adams also suggested following the company or someone at the company on social media, as well as getting a feel for what is happening there.

Brandon Clausen of Packer Thomas added that students should research to see if they and the prospective company are a good cultural fit, which can lead to longer employment in that first job.

The panelists advised the students to continue asking questions even after getting a job.

“We expect you know nothing,” Schmidt said. “Don’t think you know everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

The Professional Development Summit, held in both the spring and fall semesters, gives students a chance to start talking with businesses and alumni and network with them during a luncheon after the half-day event.

“The questions that are being asked are very thoughtful,” said  Christina O’Connell, director of the Williamson College Center of Career Management. “The students have a genuine interest in learning from the employers – same with the alumni panelists who are upstairs. The questions that I’m hearing, students have a genuine interest and curiosity to learn,” she said.

The students who attended the summit are at a point in their college career that, while they are still students, they are starting their transition into a professional career. The program helps with that transition, getting them to think about an internship if they have not completed one.

O’Connell said statistics show that YSU business students who complete an internship do much better with that transition.

Her research shows between 50% and 60% of YSU students in the Williamson College of Business Administration complete an internship for credit. And of those, 92% to 95% of them are likely to have a first job lined up when they graduate, according to O’Connell. Of those without an internship, only 60% to 65% have jobs already.

Pictured at top: Students listen to the advice of six business leaders and potential employers.