CPH Ambassadors Franks and Stefanak Connect with Students
William J. Franks, BS ’69, and Matthew A. Stefanak III, retired health commissioners from Stark and Mahoning counties, recently ramped up new roles as ambassadors for the college, providing career guidance to students and helping open doors for them.
During spring semester, the ambassadors counseled students during drop-in visits on Thursday afternoons. “Students have been lining up to meet with Bill and Matt and learn their insights about career paths. Their guidance and involvement has been terrific,” says Cheryl Laubacher, coordinator of academic recruitment and retention.
“We worked with around 20 students in the spring, and it’s carried over into the summer,” says Franks. “Half are recent graduates looking for assistance finding job leads, and the rest are undergraduates in the program, or thinking of transferring in, and want advice about what type of future there is for public health graduates,” he explains. Most are referred to the Ambassadors Program by faculty or staff members.
“We’re helping the recent grads with fast track advice on job and career opportunities, now that they’re in the market,” says Stefanak. “With current students, we’re encouraging them to think ahead about making themselves job and career ready, especially to Northeastern Ohio employers in the public sector, where we hope many graduates will find jobs,” he says.
The ambassadors were surprised to learn that 90 percent of the students they’ve worked with are willing to do unpaid internships to get experience. Franks put that knowledge to work when he staffed a Kent State exhibit at the Ohio Public Health Combined Conference in May. “I recruited local health departments to offer internships for students, and I see this really blossoming. Some of the departments are also willing to host a student for two days of shadowing. Seeing real-time, real-life situations will help students decide what public health major is best for them,” Franks says.
Stefanak agrees. “Shadowing is not a lengthy commitment on the part of the student or mentor, and it’s a great way for those in public health at all levels of experience to learn,” he says. Stefanak feels so strongly about the benefits of shadowing that he coaches five new and aspiring health officers through a National Association of City and County Health Officials shadowing/mentoring program.
Franks advises that students stay in regular contact with himself and Stefanak. “We like to hear back from students about whether they got an interview or a position. We can help with mock interviews and identify areas that the students need to work on to be most effective in their job search,” he says. “And through our pipeline with local health departments, we often know about job openings before they hit the market,” he says.
During Fall Semester 2013, walk-in hours for the ambassadors will be Thursdays from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in 331 Lowry Hall. Franks will be available for appointments during office hours prior to the walk-in sessions, and he frequently accommodates student schedules by meeting for coffee off campus. Students may call (330) 672-6500 to schedule an appointment with either ambassador.
“The earlier the better in terms of starting to think about learning opportunities outside classroom, such as internships and shadowing,” says Stefanak.