Opening Doors to Great Careers
Preparing students for success happens both inside and outside of the classroom, and career services can be a vital component in the move from student to professional. Guiding students to smart career choices, teaching them how to present themselves in person and in job-seeking communications, providing internships and other opportunities for direct contact with employers—an effective career services operation helps students realize their dreams by translating their first-class Penn State education into satisfying professions.
Unfortunately, Penn State Wilkes-Barre does not currently provide our students with comprehensive career services that match the outstanding educational opportunities we offer. We are therefore planning to create a new, comprehensive Career Services Center on the campus that will also benefit students at several other Penn State campuses in eastern Pennsylvania. To bring this plan to fruition, we must turn to our dedicated alumni and friends, whose generous philanthropy has already done so much for Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
Richard K. Struthers, an alumnus of Penn State Wilkes-Barre who was instrumental in securing funding for the Bank of America Career Services Center at University Park, has made a remarkable commitment. He has pledged to match dollar-for-dollar 50 percent of the cost to build and furnish the new center, up to a total commitment of $500,000. We hope that Ric Struthers’ challenge will inspire others to give generously toward making the Career Services Center at Penn State Wilkes-Barre a reality.
A Growing Campus, Increasing Demand
Career services at Penn State Wilkes-Barre strives to provide the best guidance and support to students that it can with the resources available. But with only one part-time staff person and two small offices assigned to it, the operation is inadequate to meet the growing needs of our students and alumni. This presents a particular challenge because Wilkes-Barre, like many of Penn State’s campuses, has been increasing the number of options available to students who wish to complete their degrees here: currently, the campus offers nine bachelor’s degrees and four associate degrees. These students are graduating without the advantages offered by a full-scale Career Services Center. Today’s competitive environment necessitates that students have access to the full suite of employment services, including on-site counselors, a physical presence, and resources such as job fairs and workshops.
The under-developed career services offerings at Penn State Wilkes-Barre also affect the many students who follow the traditional path of completing their degrees at University Park after two years of study here. Given the challenges of today’s marketplace, thinking about career paths should start early, even as early as the first two years of college, for various reasons:
- Career counseling services early in a degree program can impact long-term career planning.
- Internships and co-ops, best planned and undertaken as early as possible in the college career, can have a huge effect on a job seeker’s eventual marketability.
- Workshops, lectures, and other career-related events can get students thinking about their futures and allow them to connect with the people who may one day be their employers.
In addition, alumni job seekers who have either stayed in eastern Pennsylvania or returned here after attending University Park can benefit greatly from having a comprehensive Career Services Center nearby and accessible.
A Comprehensive Career Services Center
The proposed Career Services Center at Penn State Wilkes-Barre will significantly enhance our ability to serve our students at the Wilkes-Barre campus and at four additional Penn State campuses in eastern Pennsylvania. The center’s physical facilities will be located in a renovated and expanded section of the Athletics and Recreation Building, but will include a new entrance and exterior façade that will create the perception of a separate structure. The 2,330 square feet of the center will have all of the resources needed to help students tackle today’s highly competitive job market, including:
- a dedicated career services reception area
- a state-of-the-art Career Information Center for students
- three interview rooms
- a video interview room
- a conference room
- two offices for the principal career services administrators
To ensure that students and alumni can receive the full benefit of a comprehensive Career Services Center, Penn State Wilkes-Barre plans to create three new full-time positions dedicated to providing these crucial services: an on-campus career services coordinator, a regional job and internship development specialist, and a staff assistant.
The career services coordinator will serve the immediate career-related needs of students and alumni, including career counseling, mentor programs, résumé-writing assistance, interview preparation, and job searching.
The regional job and internship development specialist will add the important proactive element that distinguishes a truly effective career services operation. This position will also add the key component that expands the impact of the Career Services Center beyond the Wilkes-Barre campus to include the Penn State campuses at Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Hazleton, and Worthington Scranton. Based in Wilkes-Barre, but operating on behalf of all five campuses, the regional specialist will:
- Develop job and internship opportunities
- Establish and maintain strong working relationships with potential employers
- Participate in regional networking activities to develop resources and raise the profile of Penn State
- Attend professional association meetings in addition to company site visits across the region
- Assist in planning employer career days
- Maintain database of employer contacts
- Coordinate regional meetings with career services staff
In all, the new Career Services Center will become an important resource that will significantly enhance our ability to serve students at Penn State Wilkes-Barre and at campuses throughout eastern Pennsylvania.
A Foundation for Success
By supporting the new Career Services Center at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, donors will ensure that our students have all the tools they need to successfully tackle today’s challenging job market. A variety of naming opportunities within the facility will be available to donors who wish to establish a visible and long-lasting philanthropic legacy at the campus. In addition to construction and start-up expenses, Penn State Wilkes-Barre also seeks funding for an endowment that would contribute to ongoing personnel and/or operating budget costs. Establishing such an endowment would insulate the key services of the center against future budget uncertainties.
If you would like to discuss making a gift to support the Career Services Center at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, please contact our Development office at 570-675-9107.