Business Students Say Opportunities Exist If You Seek Them

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University senior Maria Vince says opportunities and activities exist locally if people change their mindset of “there’s nothing to do.”

Vince, a senior marketing major from Champion, says the area has so much to offer and there are things to do, if people make the attempt to look.

“Anywhere you live you can find something to do,” Vince says. “If people say there’s nothing to do it’s because they’re not looking at what they have. It’s a mindset. I love Youngstown for what it is.”

Experts, educators, students and business leaders agree in stories published as part of Brain Gain: Building a Culture of Entrepreneurs and Workforce Development, that quality of life issues factor greatly in retaining and attracting young talent and economic development.

For Vince and fellow business students Michael Sabatini and Judin Balella, quality of life is improving beyond entertainment and recreational offerings to include cultural opportunities that connect them to the community.

Giving back to the community is important to Sabatini, a senior marketing and management major. He is part of the national sales and marketing fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon team of students who volunteer hours with Junior Achievement to teach eighth-grade students how to make sales pitches and develop marketing techniques.

“Giving my time to young students is empowering. It is a way to give back and a part of the community,” Sabatini says. “We are able to work with students, teaching them skills that aren’t taught in schools.”

Taking part in community service projects and student organizations help students with team building, communication and leadership skills for success inside the classroom and beyond, says Betty Jo Licata, dean of the Williamson College of Business Administration.

For business majors, employers are more engaged with the business school, including working with the school’s Center for Career Management. Christina O’Connell, director, not only has worked on career development programs, but in growing services and taking part in curriculum development.

A unique opportunity O’Connell secured is a partnership with the J.C. Penney Suit Up event, which offers shopping discounts on a specific date for YSU students and alumni.

“Once I heard about it, I started researching and was able to get the program here,” she says. “The store actually opens after its normal hours on a Sunday for three hours just for YSU students and alumni to shop.”

The event has been held here locally four times. The next Suit Up opportunity is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m on Feb. 9 at the J.C. Penney location at the Southern Park Mall. The store closes to the public at 5 p.m. and will reopen for the event.

“This spring, students get an additional 30% discount, even on professional attire,” O’Connell says. “I’ve seen students walk out with two or three suits for $200 because of discounts.”

Balella, an international student from Italy, says he’s taken advantage of the J.C. Penney event for clothes and dress shirts. “But I get my suits from Italy,” he says with a laugh. “I just like the way they’re cut.”

O’Connell has worked with faculty to include topics beyond soft skills in a professional development class that students can take their sophomore year. The class involves bringing in six to eight employers who work with students. Business alumni also take part, talking about transitioning from college into the workplace. Dining etiquette is one of the workshops in the class, O’Connell says.

Vince says the dining course was eye opening. “I learned a lot,” she says shaking her head. “I was surprised after taking it.”

O’Connell teaches a few parts of the course, focusing on technical skills such as resume writing, interviewing and job search skills.

Williamson College has 13 professional student organizations, as well as several leadership and other programs, including 10-day short-term study trips. Some destinations have been Ireland, London, the Czech Republic and China.

Vince calls her trip to the Czech Republic a valuable experience that furthered her interest in becoming an international marketing director. She also spent a semester as a Williamson College mentor to help retain freshmen students and attract students to the school, she says.

After graduation, Vince wants to stay in the area, maybe working locally or an hour away until she gets situated, she says. But if the opportunity arises for her to further her career, she will take that opportunity, she adds.

Vince has completed an internship in marketing at AVI Foodsystems Inc., Warren, and is currently interning at ACE Products and Consulting LLC. She says a full-time position may be possible after graduation. “It’s not for sure yet, but I see it in my future,” she says.

For now, her mindset is focused on seeking out and taking advantage of all the opportunities she can to build her skill set and expand her knowledge.

Pictured: Maria Vince, senior marketing major at Youngstown State University.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.