Kent State Alumni Share Professional Insights in Career Conversations Series
Throughout the fall 2019 semester, the Kent State University Honors College is hosting the second annual Career Conversations, a series of question-and-answer sessions with Kent State alumni from a variety of professional fields. A total of thirteen sessions will take place in the Honors College library on the Kent campus starting in early October through late November.
Theresa Yogi, coordinator of scholarships in the Honors College, says that the idea for this type of event series originated last academic year. Yogi says that she thought hearing a professional speak about their experience “would help our undecided students explore several career choices and help others to network with professionals.” Yogi emphasizes the benefits of this career advice coming from professionals who were once Kent State students themselves: “To hear from a professional currently working in the industry who is up on the current trends, let alone an alum who has been in their shoes, is powerful.”
Yogi says that, when she was planning the series for this year, she wanted to have multiple perspectives, and so this year’s “Career Conversations” series will feature panels of alumni volunteers who work in different positions in a certain career field. Rather than having the alumni simply present to the students, each speaker will give a short introduction and then open up the discussion for questions and answers, allowing students to drive the conversation based on their interests.
Yogi says that the Honors College partnered with the university’s Alumni Association to advertise the opportunity, and she is pleased to report that more than forty alumni will come to campus this fall to participate in the events. These professionals work in a variety of fields, including business, health, fashion, and many others, and will travel to Kent from in-state locations such as Columbus and Cincinnati, as well as other states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Texas. The participants will be able to advise about all stages of the career process: they include recent graduates who can speak about their experiences searching for and applying to jobs and higher education institutions, as well as professionals with decades of experience in their career fields.
The Career Conversations series kicked off on Thursday, October 3, with a panel about marketing and communications. The first panelist, Peter Baker, graduated from Kent State in 2001 with a combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degree in visual communication design; Baker is the creative director for Audio-Technica in Stow, Ohio. The second panelist, Jennifer Trivelli, graduated from Kent State and the Honors College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in public relations, and she also holds an MBA in finance from the university. She is the senior marketing and communications officer for the Cleveland Foundation. Trivelli said that the fact that she has an MBA makes her background different from most other marketers’ backgrounds, but that her unique experiences have served her well. When asked why she chose her career path, Trivelli expressed that her career has taken a path that she would not have predicted while she was in college, and she told students that “it’s okay to not know” where they might end up at first.
Though Baker and Trivelli work in different positions for companies with different goals, they emphasized that some qualities and habits that students can begin cultivating throughout their time in college can be beneficial no matter what their intended career path may be. Trivelli recommended that students begin looking at jobs that interest them early in their college careers and pay attention to the requirements so that they have time to add skills they might otherwise be missing. She said the path that students want or need to pursue to end up with their desired career may not be perfectly laid out for them, but that they can build the path they need. Speaking in particular to VCD students, Baker stressed the importance of challenging oneself in that program and pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree if they want to be the most prepared for their careers as they can be.
The second Career Conversations presentation was held on Tuesday, October 8, and focused on careers in early childhood education and speech pathology. This panel featured three presenters: Cathy Ahrens, preschool teacher and early intervention specialist at Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, who graduated from the Kent State Honors College in 2007 and also a Master of Education degree in 2014; Jenny Boyden, early intervention specialist with the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Kent State in 2011; and Molly Schenker, a speech language pathologist and current Ph.D. student at Kent State who also graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in 2011. Each of the professionals said that working with students and their families and seeing students make the connections that they had been working on are a large part of what makes their jobs worthwhile.
Like Trivelli and Baker before them, Tuesday’s presenters stressed that activities that provide students with opportunities for hands-on professional development in their field are hugely important and beneficial to them in their job search. Ahrens suggested that students look for opportunities that allow them to volunteer or work in the community throughout the summer as well, advising students that “you’re not going to learn it all from the book.” Schenker talked about building up one’s social and professional connections while they are in college, as well as the importance of students being involved in activities that they are passionate about: “when you’re doing things you love, you’re going to shine.” Boyden agreed that melding one’s unique passions into their desired career path is a wise choice, as “it will show that you love it.”
The entire schedule of events for the fall 2019 Career Conversations is available online at this link. Students who attend three sessions can be entered to win one of four $100 book scholarships; one appointment with Career Exploration and Development can be substituted to count as attendance at a session. All of the panels will be held at 4 PM on their respective dates in the Honors College Library on the Kent campus.
Stephanie Moskal, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 672-2312