Professional Development Summit Gives YSU Students an Edge

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Almost as soon as the panelists at the professional development summit at YSU finished answering one question, students’ hands shot up to asks theirs.

“What are you looking for when someone comes in for an interview?” one Youngstown State University student asked.

Another wanted to know, “What if I don’t have any questions [for the interviewer]?”

Each student in the Williamson Hall was looking for an edge when the time comes to hunt for a job. And the panelists answered every question, offering tips and speaking from their experiences.

“We had one student who did great on his phone interview and had a fantastic resume,” said Jonathon Fauvie, gift officer at Mercy Health Foundation. “When he showed up, he was wearing gym shorts, a YSU basketball T-shirt and flip-flops with tube socks. [Brief pause.] That was a short interview.”

Even before they went in, students were excited at the prospect of gaining any advantage they could over other jobseekers.

“In addition to being part of class, it’s a great learning experience for a young professional,” said Nick Chretien, a junior finance major. “It can show you some things that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen if you hadn’t been [here]. It may be a long event, but packed into those five hours are some great learning experiences. Going into the business world is very competitive. Without that knowledge, you might not get a job.”

Among other advice was what to include in a resume and what to leave out, what to ask employers during interviews and what companies expect of recent graduates.

Fauvie added that it’s crucial job applicants know something about the organization they’re looking to join.

Those interviewing for a job at Mercy Health Partners “can’t just say, ‘It’s a hospital.’ That’s not enough,” he elaborated. “We’re the largest employer in Mahoning County. We employ 3,000 people. We’re part of the largest health system in Ohio. And if you’re interviewing with me for the nonprofit side, you better know about that as well.”

Trinette Simon, a senior manager at Cohen and Co., said her accounting firm will almost always ask the person interviewed if he has any questions.

“If you don’t, it cuts it very short,” she said. “There should be at least one thing you ask about.”

Through panels and networking sessions, students spent five hours in Williamson Hall, mostly in the auditorium.

“It’s a hefty workshop targeted at helping students develop an action plan for what they’re going to do within the next two years to move from student to business professional,” said Mary Coller, director of undergraduate student services in the Williamson College of Business Administration. “It’s all about utilizing your junior and senior year to get ready for the professional world and the job market.

The twice-a-year summit, started in fall of 2013, is open to juniors in the college of business and held every semester. In addition to the employer panel, six Williamson students in internships and two members of the Williamson professional practice office also had panels.

After the three half-hour sessions, each of the four majors – and a fifth for nonbusiness students – broke off into groups to meet with faculty and employers to have more personalized meetings and network, another advantage the students are offered.

“The day ends with a luncheon, so they [panelists] can talk one-on-one about what their [the student’s] plan is, what they’d like to do over the next few years and what they can do to utilize their major to do that,” Coller noted.

Students who have attended the summit before say the experience is invaluable.

“You don’t realize how detailed the business world can be when you go in for an interview. This helps you get to know how you can meet with different people and market yourself,” said Brian Lyons, a junior marketing major.

Lyons was at the summit last fall when he met with Fauvie.

“I got to talk to him last year during the lunchtime and he was the one who got me interested in looking at nonprofits. With just one day of talking, it really sparked something for me,” Lyons said. “This has opened many doors for me. I’m planning on meeting with Jonathon Fauvie and to set up a shadow day. This event will open so many doors with employers in the business world.”

One of the biggest things employers look for, all agreed, is meaningful work experience before graduation, whether as an intern or as an employee.

“They want to see students who have some work experience, either in the Valley or outside of it. They want to know students can be a team member and communicate well,” Coller said.

Each semester, Coller said, attendance at the summit has increased. On Friday, only a few seats were empty, something encouraging for both companies and students.

“It’s become more and more popular every semester. [The response] has been very, very positive,” Coller said. “We do an evaluation at the end, and everyone’s been highly satisfied with the event every time.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.