YSU Alumni Offer Focus to Liberal Art Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In the lobby of DeBartolo Hall, alumni of Youngstown State University talked with students passing through Tuesday about the career paths available to those with degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

As part of YSU’s new “Career Exploration Series,” six alumni of the college talked to students about their time at YSU and what they did after graduation so students had a better idea of the jobs available.

“I wanted to share my experiences with students and engage students and let them know what’s available to them through different paths to reach their goals,” said Carrie Stipanovich, a counselor at YSU’s Student One Stop. “There’s a wide range of things you can do. It depends on volunteering, what your interests are and meeting the right people.”
YSU decided the first event should cater to liberal arts students because many of the majors don’t lend themselves directly to careers.

“We specifically targeted the liberal arts college because those majors don’t necessarily have a direct career path,” said Jennifer Johnson, director of Career Services. “We want to give them some idea of what graduates with their degree or a similar degree, what they’re doing and what paths they’ve had since graduating.”

With a table in the main entrance to DeBartolo Hall, rather than a formal event with lecterns and PowerPoint presentations, Johnson said she hoped it attracted students not interested in such events.

“We purposely made it a drop-in atmosphere. You don’t have to register. You don’t have to have plans to attend. We’re hoping that as students come through the lobby, they’ll stop and talk,” she explained. “It was all meant to be informal.”

Jane Kestner, interim dean of the college, said she was excited to see alumni and students have a chance to interact.

“It gives our students a chance to talk to alumni who are out there working about their experiences,” Kestner said. “They can actually make the connection between real-world jobs and their majors.”

Johnson characterized the event on Tuesday as the “pilot program,” and said that a similar event is planned for the College of Creative Arts & Communication.

Such events are important for students who tend to give less thought to their lives after graduation, she added. Helping them focus on a career helps retention and graduation rates.

“It can get [students] to consider careers within their majors. Maybe they don’t realize managers or admissions counselors at a university have the same degree they do. It opens them up to ideas,” she said. “Hopefully, this insight they’ll be getting will help with that.”

In addition to Stipanovich, alumni participants included Shelly LaBerto, manager and restaurant marketing director for Chick-fil-A in Boardman; Sarah Poulton, director of constituent services for U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio; Jackie LeViseur, director of alumni and events management for YSU; Mousa Kassis, international trade adviser; and Dan Pecchia, founder of Pecchia Communications.

All were excited to have a chance to share their stories with YSU students, and guide some who might not be sure of what they want to do after graduation.

“I’m happy to have a chance to interact with current students and engage with them. I want to hear what kind of plans they have and help them out with their goals,” Stipanovich said.

Pictured: Carrie Stipanovich, a counselor at YSU’s Student One Stop.

Copyright 2015 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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