Event Provides ‘Great Opportunity’ for YSU Students to Meet Employers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Jade Tibbs started interning at Ultium Cells in March 2022 and got a full-time position with the company when she graduated from Youngstown State University in May 2023.

She first met someone from the company at a YSU Meet the Employers Day event. She was back at the event Wednesday, but this time she was the one meeting students on behalf of Ultium Cells.

“These events definitely do help students find employment and internship opportunities,” Tibbs said. “I’m fresh out of college. … It was a great opportunity.”

Although it is a huge company, Ultium Cells does not have to be intimidating for a new employee.

Jennifer Cogar, who was there recruiting with Tibbs, said new interns and employees at Ultium are partnered up with their supervisor or a lead employee who can show them the ropes and make them feel comfortable in a 2.8 million-square-foot facility.

“It is a little bit intimidating, but it’s a very welcoming environment working there,” Tibbs said. “We’re very culturally diverse. We’re all about team there. … As you work there and get to know everybody, everybody is super friendly and willing to help everybody out, so you kind of get enveloped into it very quickly.”

Ultium Cells was among 56 employers attending Meet the Employers Day at the Williamson College of Business Administration on Wednesday, hoping to find some top students for internships or future jobs after graduation.

Christina O’Connell, director of career management at YSU, said the event is open to all the students of the WCBA. It gives them a chance to talk about themselves, share their resumes and prior experience as they try to differentiate themselves from their classmates.

“We encourage our freshmen to come to start networking,” O’Connell said. “We encourage our sophomores and juniors to attend to find internships. And then seniors, it helps them to find their full-time job, as well.”

About 15 public accounting firms, many of which are regulars at the Meet the Employer event, as well as manufacturing, transportation, Fortune 500 companies and others attended, hoping to find one or several students to add to their workforce either for the summer or after graduation.

O’Connell said she cuts it off between 55 and 60 businesses, the maximum that will fit in the Weir Atrium.

“It’s a win-win,” O’Connell said. “It’s a win for businesses; it’s a win for students. It’s easy for students to get to talk to 55 or 56 employers. They’re local; they’re regional; they’re across the United States.”

Between 200 to 300 students walk through. Less than an hour into the event, 100 students had already registered by picking up their name badges, which were color coded with their majors.

“I always tell students, even if the employer isn’t looking for your major, just go up and talk to them,” O’Connell said. “Because if they don’t have it now, they may have it in the future. Or they may be able to connect you with the right area.”

Wearing a cream plaid jacket, Lexus Solarz was trying to stand out among a field of YSU students in dark suits. Solarz is used to standing out on the athletics field as a freshman athlete on the YSU track team.

She is majoring in business and aspires to be a pharmaceutical sales rep in the dermatology field one day. But on Wednesday, she was trying to make a good first impression to land a possible sales and marketing internship for the summer.

“I’m huge on making first impressions,” Solarz said. “How you dress, how you talk – it’s all very important.”

Alex Huzicka, a YSU finance major, speaks with Ted Schmidt, PNC Bank regional president, at Wednesday’s event.

Ted Schmidt, regional president of PNC Bank, is a regular at the event and said speaking to employers is a great way to differentiate yourself from the other students in the room and can lead to an interview for a position or internship down the road.

“They all have great resumes. How do you distinguish this 4.0 from that 4.0? If I haven’t met them and I can’t talk to them and I’m just getting an email, I can only interview so many of them. So I encourage them to come here and meet me.”

DJL Accounting and Consulting Group Inc. was among many employers looking for accounting majors. With tax season approaching, Jennifer Wollet, senior accountant, said they need interns and graduates interested in learning the field of individual and business taxes.

“We provide a lot of services for our clients,” Wollet said. “We do business valuation, tax planning, and we’ve been helping our clients a lot lately with the SBA loans.”

Nadya Clausen, left, senior manager at Factset, speaks with Garett Gaca, an accounting major at YSU.

Nadya Clausen, a manager at Factset, a global Financial Technologies company with offices in Youngstown, said she likes to sell that point to students who may not want to leave their families behind while pursuing their dreams of working in the field.

“We have a strong relationship with YSU,” Clausen said, noting some of the company’s technology is at the school. “Hopefully, every year they know more and more about Factset and they want to join us.”

Clausen was looking for client solutions associates and interns for June 2024.

One of the students who stopped by her table was Garett Gaca, an accounting major interested in public accounting or financial management. He said he knows someone who works at Factset and believes that might be an option. The junior also felt he might have a connection with the Ohio Auditor’s Office.

A sophomore majoring in business economics, Nathaniel Huynh was making connections while also using the event as an opportunity to learn more about many of the companies in the Mahoning Valley, including the manufacturing firms.

“Ultium Cells is a big manufacturing company. … It’s interesting that they chose Lordstown. … Why did they choose here? There must be something here for manufacturers.”

He knows a lot of the manufacturing companies hired some of his friends right out of high school and seek good workers with strong work ethics.

Aniya May, left, a human resources major at YSU, speaks with Kristy DeJoy, recruiter supervisor, and Alexa Stotlemyer, recruiter, from F.N.B. Corp. May interned with the company last year and was looking for opportunities for this summer.

Alex Huzicka started working in construction after finding online college classes were not for him during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was working, and one day … I was hurting and I said I need to get back to school and get a more stable life for myself,” said Huzicka, adding he does not regret his past decisions and is now happy to be back in school. He is less than a year away from finishing a degree in finance, and he hopes his nontraditional background and his ability to talk to the people in the room will help set him apart.

“I’m looking for, honestly, an opportunity,” Huzicka said. “You see how competitive it is out here. Everyone is qualified. Everyone has the same qualifications, so just trying to set yourself apart. Out here networking, getting out there and actually talking rather than sitting behind a screen or on LinkedIn, this is still the best way to do it, I believe.”

Pictured at top: Jennifer Coger and Jade Tibbs were recruiting students for Ultium Cells on Wednesday. Tibbs was a YSU student and got an internship opportunity at Ultium Cells through Meet the Employers Day. Now she works for the company.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.