Students explore career options through speaker series

Planners of the Career Speaker Series What are YOU into… hope to illustrate to Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College students the bridge from academics to the world of work.

“The Career Speaker Series focuses on connecting local employer experts with students who are in the process of making important career choices,” said Troy Shutler, coordinator of career development at NC State. “Students can learn a great deal about careers by tapping into the knowledge and advice from local professionals and experts in the field.”

Themes for the series came from the Explore Careers section of Shutler, along with Pam Schopieray, coordinator of career services at Ohio State Mansfield, and Tracy Bond, internship coordinator for both institutions wanted to cross-reference the career themes with majors offered on campus to introduce students to the professional world before graduation.

Topics change each month. September included representatives from banking, sales, human resources and entrepreneurs. Those from communications-based careers spoke in October. Future sessions include engineering, computer-aided design, manufacturing and medicine as well as writing, photography, graphic design and environmental careers.

Then it was a matter of saying “who do we know,” to begin to build a speaker’s list, Schopieray said. The trio relied on relationships they have cultivated in the community – employers who have provided internships, as well as associates from Leadership Unlimited and Richland Young Professionals.

The goal is to provide networking and mentoring opportunities and words of wisdom for students as they further define their future careers. Many of the speakers have been interns in college and mentioned the value of adding real-world experience to a student’s resume.

“We want students to realize that there is a benefit to networking and completing internships early in their college career,” Schopieray said. “They are building relationships with employers during their college years that may lead to a future job in the community.”

Student experiences part of learning

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil  sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil
sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield believes that student experiences outside the classroom are just as important as the learning that goes on within. From research to internships, arts to athletics, and from studying abroad to leadership opportunities in campus clubs, students can choose the experiences that will provide personal development and prepare them for careers.

“Getting involved in activities outside the classroom gives them a sense of community and place,” says Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer. “They begin to realize college is a good fit for them. It’s where they belong.”

Stephanie Brokaw, a sophomore at Ohio State Mansfield, was selected for an Undergraduate Education Summer Research Fellowship. With mentoring from Earth Sciences Professor Ozeas Costa, the Pharmaceutical Sciences major is analyzing the wetlands and vernal pools on campus to identify the organic matter and carbonate content.

“It’s nice that we have a campus that already has wetlands and a professor who wanted to do the research,” Brokaw said. “The experience of gathering information, seeing what other researchers are doing and learning to use the computer programs that are involved for research and data collection has been invaluable.”

Two other current students will use their leadership skills to form a women’s support group on campus this fall, inspired by several speakers from a recent conference.

Senior Tiffany Tilley and sophomore Maris Bucci attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland in June. It was the first time students from the Mansfield campus participated in the conference, according to Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer.

“The women there were phenomenal. They were so high-spirited, outspoken strong women,” Bucci said. “It was awesome being a part of that and sharing it with other people who had similar interests as me.” Bucci is a self-described “involvement activist.” She is a Buckeye Ambassador, Campus Activity Board secretary, member of the Mansfield Mavericks volleyball team, president of Student Government, Camp Hetuck facilitator and is working at Buckeye Village as a leasing consultant.

Tilley is also training to be a Junior Admissions Counselor in the fall. She has been part of the Haiti Empowerment Project study-abroad for two years and was a Buckeye Ambassador.

Ohio State Mansfield connects students with paid internships in surrounding communities, too. Jessica Luna, an Accounting major, is a Human Resources Intern at OhioHealth MedCentral this summer. She provides a variety of duties for the director and vice president as well as participating in project development related to MedCentral’s integration with OhioHealth.

“I think it’s unique that our students have the opportunity to intern locally with a Fortune 100 company like OhioHealth MedCentral (ranked in the top 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune),” said Tracy Bond, Internship Program coordinator.

“Jessica’s internship is a road she’s taken to test the waters in key areas of her interests in the business field that may lead her to pursue specific paths in her academics and career.  The company culture and experiences she is having are invaluable and may open up doors for her in the future.”

Internships Build Tomorrow’s Workforce Leaders

Students from Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College attend a Richland Area Chamber of Commerce event in the hopes of landing an internship with a local business.

The next time you are in a doctor’s office, Panera Bread, Pier 1 Imports, or an AMF bowling facility, check out the cabinets, counters and booth walls. They were likely made at Cooper Enterprises in Shelby. Monty Friebel ‘82 and his brother Edward are the third generation to have a hand in the family business, created by their grandfather in 1965.

The business has enjoyed success through the years, boasting resilience and financial strength even in a stagnant economy. But company leadership is aging, so to Friebel, it makes sense to invest in the Mansfield campus Business & Industry Internship Program.

“If I don’t bring in and start to develop young leaders today to become my leaders tomorrow, I’m going to be in trouble when everyone decides to retire,” Friebel said. “As my business grows, I need to identify leaders who are smarter and younger than us to help fill those leadership needs.”

The internship program got a jump-start this year as The Ohio State University at Mansfield and North Central State College joined forces to win a competitive grant in the JobReady Ohio program. The program grew from 6 students last year to 34 students in the summer and fall semesters as well as signing on 15 partner employers this year.

The grant reimburses private industry to offer paid internships to undergraduate students, according to Tracy Bond, internship program coordinator.

Bond helps students become “internship-ready” by offering classes in resume writing and career coaching, then matches them with prospective employers who will provide learning opportunities.

“It’s not as simple as ‘here’s a job, let me apply for the job, let me go work,’” Bond said. “Internships apply to the real world. They connect students’ studies with eventual careers.”

Friebel met Engineering major Brian Kurtz at a business luncheon at the Mansfield campus. Kurtz has since interned at Cooper Enterprises for two semesters. Another student, Business major Tom Boggs, interned over the summer.

Regardless of the internship, Friebel places the interns on the shop floor for the first couple of weeks.

“We want them to understand the culture of the business, understand our processes and operations, the parts and products that we are making, materials that we are using, so when Brian begins to make drawings, he will understand what he is drawing, and so Tom will understand the materials better for product identification,” Friebel said.

An endowment was established during the But for Ohio State Mansfield campaign to continue to fund internship opportunities. Although Friebel self-funds his internship positions, he hopes other employers will provide opportunities for students through the endowment.

“I see it as giving back,” Friebel said. “This is part of economic development. If we can start developing leaders and show them where there’s opportunities here in our local community, and they stay in the community, it’s wonderful.”