Junior, business major Taylor Finan

A Student Toolkit For The Future

At the forefront of today’s higher education is the concept of student career readiness, the Struthers Family Career Center provides students with a myriad of resources and opportunities to develop and fine tune these professional skills

By: Rachel Olszewski
Guest Written by Susan Chappell & Maureen Ciliberto

At the forefront of today’s higher education is the concept of Student Career Readiness, identified by seven competencies most valued by employers for a successful transition from the classroom to the workplace. According to a NACE Poll published in the fall of 2015, these competencies include: critical thinking/problem solving, oral/written communications, teamwork, information technology application, leadership, professionalism/work ethic, and career management.

At Penn State Wilkes-Barre, the Struthers Family Career Center is providing students with a myriad of resources and opportunities to develop and fine tune these professional skills. From classes where career development and employer engagement are embedded, to internships and real-world projects; these experiences help students better connect their curriculum to their career. Students are guided through important aspects of career exploration, development, and the search for and successful participation in internships and jobs by Coordinator of Career Services, Maureen Ciliberto.

“Aligning with an emerging trend in career services, we’ve begun to integrate career development theory into college curriculum, facilitating a student’s ability to be more career self-aware while juggling other time-constraining obligations like class, work and student activities,” explains Ciliberto.  “Our career services team works collaboratively with faculty to help students put their best foot forward in the professional world via classroom-based career development interactions. To instill the importance of real-world readiness to students, I facilitate an internship preparation course, providing students with the toolkit they need to successfully navigate their career path.”

Ciliberto also works closely with faculty to develop and implement specialized programming to build upon the classroom experience and provide the students with practical skills they will utilize throughout their college years and beyond.

“The hope is that by doing this, students will approach the job search with confidence. By bringing career services into the classroom, fewer students miss out on these important support services,” states Ciliberto.

Developing her professionalism and career direction are just a few skills junior business major Taylor Finan attributes to career services and courses such as BA420.

“Career services has been a true blessing to my success as a young entrepreneur and a student aspiring towards an education in Business Administration.” says Finan. “One year ago, I was unaware of my managerial style and how to be an effective leader. Through career services, I have been able to network with many professional individuals in the area and have been given many opportunities that I could not have had any other way.”

From the employer perspective, having the opportunity to engage with students in the classroom and share words of wisdom before students graduate is key to helping them develop those skills most in demand.

In courses such as Supply Chain Management 301, Penn State Wilkes-Barre Business Administration Instructor Theresa Clemente works with Susan Chappell, a regional member of the career services team and the Eastern Region Employer Engagement Coordinator, to make this happen. Through guest lectures, job shadowing days and field trips, students hear directly from the industry experts what they most need to know about supply chain. With each of these interactions, students are introduced to emerging trends in the industry, desired skills for employees within these fields, and informal mentoring opportunities that can lead to future internship and/or job opportunities.

“In my opinion employer engagement through the college curriculum is key,” explains Penn State alumnus Jon Reed. Reed, a Pennsylvania Distribution Recruiter for Wegmans is one of the employers who steps into the classroom to share emerging trends within his industry.

“I enjoy the opportunity to give back each year to fellow Penn Stater’s through industry guest lectures and informal mentoring. It makes such a difference in the success of a student to see the topics they are learning in class applied in real world examples,” says Reed. “The idea of ‘when will I ever use this’ is thrown out the window when a ’real world’ business problem is presented. Students engage in discussions offering hypothetical solutions to actual business decisions, reinforcing the classroom-taught principles, and creating a strategic thought process that can set a candidate apart when vying for internships and post-grad employment.”

For more information on the career services team and what they offer, please visit: Career Services.