Business Professions Program Gets Undergraduates Thinking about CareersBusiness Professions Program Gets Undergraduates Thinking about Careers
The Business Professions Program offers workshops and programs designed to increase students focus on their careers and professional development.

Where do students turn for help in finding their first job after graduation?

To the Business Professions Program, which debuted this fall. It offers workshops and programs “designed to increase students’ focus on their careers and professional development,” says School of Business Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman.

In workshops, students learn how to dress for an interview, find alumni contacts, evaluate a job offer, and begin financial planning. At the program’s formal dedication October 1, during Fall Splash Weekend, a panel of School of Business alumni discussed career and professional development, sharing with students their own experiences and tips for success.

Donations from the School of Business Advisory Council (BAC) members have underwritten the Business Professions Program.

“There is a very great need to help business students prepare and find opportunities in the job market, now more than ever,” says Thad Fortin ’81, chair of the Business Advisory Council and chief executive officer of Haas Group International. “It was important for the BAC to take this lead.”

The BAC assists the dean on issues of strategic planning, curriculum design, mentoring of students, and internships and externships. Its 14 members include 11 business school graduates.

Bethany Kilgore and Kelly Penwell comprise the Business Professions Program staff. Kilgore, the professional development coordinator, works on campus, runs the workshops, and assists students in preparing for internship and job opportunities. Before coming to Ithaca, she ran a similar program at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Penwell, an alumni and corporate relations coordinator based in New York City, comes to campus to speak with students about their needs and ideas for alumni and employer engagement.

Kilgore and Penwell are focusing on three key needs for students, says Zuckerman:

  • Developing skills and confidence.
  • Gaining insight on trends within various industries.
  • Making personal and professional connections with alumni and employers.

They are working with Business Link, a student-led initiative that fosters student-alumni networking. Business Link members will assist with various presentations, professional development workshops, and events with alumni and employers.

Programs are open to all undergraduate business students. In her first nine weeks, Kilgore said, she talked to 304 students, nearly half of the undergraduates, at workshops and in-class presentations. Nine more workshops were planned this semester, and she’s seeking other professionals – on campus and off – to assist with workshops in the spring.

“I measure success as one student at a time,” says Fortin. “If we can make a difference in just one student, then the program will be a success. Of course, our goal is to make a difference for a great majority of the students.”

Two students who attended the Fall Splash panel discussion agree they learned preparation is paramount for a job interview.

“The best recommendation I took away from the panel discussion was to realize you are never entitled to an interview, you have to want it,” says Zachary Klinger ’11, a business administration concentrating in marketing and management. “Research the company, figure out where you fit, and know what skills you can offer to better their business. Know your niche before you ask to work.

“This will definitely change my approach by understanding nothing is guaranteed. I have to work hard and do my homework.” Oren Bennett ’11, a business administration major concentrating in finance, says he learned that listening is important: “If you do not listen first, no one will care what you have to say or want to talk to you again.

“This program has changed how I approached starting my career. Before I interview or work at a company, I want to have questions prepared beforehand that will address any concerns I have. This way, if I start working at a company, I know right away what I will be getting myself into.”

Caitlyn Reinecker ’11, a business administration concentrating in marketing and management, took away from the alumni panelists the importance of dedication on the job. “You can never work too long or hard, at least when you want to move up in a company. You want to be seen as a dedicated worker and employee. If the company opens at 8 and closes at 5 and another employee is there from 7:30 until 5:30, you should be there before 7:30 and stay until after 5:30. This extra effort and dedication does not go unnoticed; you quickly develop a great reputation and move up.’’

At the Fall Splash event, Dean Zuckerman and College President Tom Rochon recognized the Business Advisory Committee members whose support helped create the Business Professions Program. The Business Professions Program rooms were named for Stuart Romanoff ’81 of Cushman & Wakefield. The panelists included Romanoff; Jed Laskowitz ’94, of J.P. Morgan Chase and Company; and Neil Aaron ’88, of McGraw-Hill.


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