YSU Business Students Learn from Business Leaders and Alumni

YOUNGSTOWN – Alumni and area employers networked with Youngstown State University students Friday at the Williamson College of Business Administration Professional Development Summit.

During the half-day event, students got a chance to ask questions of the members of two panel groups and learn from their experiences as they prepare to progress from business student to finding success in the workforce.

“We’re pretty Penguin Proud,” said Tim Petrey, managing partner with HD Davis CPAs, when asked during a discussion about what on a resume can set someone apart. Petrey and others on the panels indicated the resumes of graduates often look the same and students should be differentiating themselves by volunteering and networking through organizations like the Mahoning Valley Young Professionals and student organizations.

Coming through the pandemic, panelists also spoke on the importance of getting past social anxiety and talking to others in person. That can be practice for those future interviews, as well.

Chris Allen of Ultium Cells in Lordstown emphasized the importance of making personal connections, noting 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 the good jobs come from those connections.

Panelists spoke on the importance of connecting through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and having the courage to ask a professional to meet for coffee so they may learn more about their company. Many of the panelists work for companies with internships and were seeking students who showed an interest in their business. They told the students not only what they do each day, but what someone interning or starting out in the company may be doing.

“In our world in public accounting and payroll business, we teach our employees, our team members, to think like entrepreneurs … teaching them to be that consultant strategist, problem solver for their clients,” Petrey said.

Emma Komlanc, district community resource manager with Walmart, told students not to be afraid of taking an entry-level job with a company where they can learn different roles and work hard while growing into their dream career.

Some of the important skills that Brian Rosenberg, a supervisory examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 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 graduates, these important skills and initiative, he said they can be trained in the more technical aspects of a career.

James McConnell, Enterprise talent acquisition specialist, said he does not expect interns to know a lot about the car rental business. But he wants to see them willing to learn.

Many on the panel discussed the importance of being willing to continue to learn throughout their careers.

“A lot of our interns say, ‘I learned more in the six months that I was here than anytime I learned in school,’” Petrey said. “That’s not a dig against the 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 quicker. So just be prepared for that challenge. Your learning is just beginning.”

Angelina Henderson, early talent program manager for Goodyear, suggested taking advantage of the career services resources offered by YSU, which can give students job-interviewing practice, advice and networking opportunities. She talked about Goodyear’s recruiting process for both internships and jobs after school, urging students to start looking for that job well before graduation.

Panelists also spoke about one of the big buzzword topics of the day – work-life balance. Rosenberg emphasized the importance of knowing your values and whether what is important to you is important to your employer. If a company does not work with you, it may be necessary to look for a different job, he said.

Petrey noted that work-life balance means something different for everyone and it is important to understand the culture of your workplace. When it comes to remote employment, Petrey said it can be tougher at first to learn a new job working remotely and it requires good communication and dedication. But more time working outside of the office may be something that’s easier to earn down the road, he said.

For YSU business students, it was impactful to hear stories about how the employers and alumni found their career paths.

“I think they emphasized a lot about values,” said Grace Swaney, which she said is not something the college specifically addresses. She feels like this event is more about real life.

“I know you’re planning for after graduation but you don’t really know what that’s like until [someone says], ‘Hey, don’t do this.’ This is what you need to prioritize. It will get you there faster. You will benefit and the company will benefit,” Swaney said.

Mandy McIntosh, an accounting major, said she learned the importance of determining what you want in your career and the importance of being flexible, willing to change careers or career directions.

William Withew, also an accounting major, said he learned about different accounting fields in his classes, but it was good to meet and hear from people actually working in those fields.

Michael Davis, a business management major, said he liked knowing what employers want from their employees and interns so he would know what to expect in the future.

“Just hearing their stories, all of that was super interesting,” said Dylan Shields, a business administration major. “It gave a real inside look at how they [think] when hiring people and how they run their business.”

Petrey said the professional development summit, an annual event, is extremely important not only for the students’ future, but for creating new opportunities in the Youngstown region.

“What kids need to see is that you can find success here in Youngstown. Our biggest problem locally is that kids leave. It’s our job as professionals locally, who have done something in some shape or form, to come back and share that with people. Because then they understand, ‘I can build something here.’”

Pictured at top: The Williamson College of Business Administration Professional Development Summit was held Friday.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.