Brandywine students network and learn from alumni

Transitioning into the "real world" can be daunting, but taking the precautions to become familiar with professionalism while still in school can help any student ease into the workforce.

Penn State Brandywine's Advising and Career Services office and the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the Alumni Networking Event on Nov. 19 to allow students an opportunity to gain valuable tips about professionalism and career development from Brandywine alumni and Penn State graduate school representatives.

Four Penn State Brandywine alumni attended the event: Ty McGilberry, financial adviser at Wechsler Marsico Associates and president of Penn State Brandywine Alumni Society; Aimee Capuzzi, marketing coordinator at Communications Test Design, Inc. (CTDI); Guy Kingree, project manager at Warfel Construction Company; and Jon Fisher, estimator at Warfel Construction Company. The alumni were joined by Denita Wright Watson, engineering program manager at Penn State Great Valley, and Mitchell Bernard Patterson, assistant director of admissions at Penn State Harrisburg, who were available to discuss graduate programs with the students.

The event started with roundtable discussion groups. This portion of the event was limited to students in the CNED 280: Job/Internship Search and Professional Skills course, BA 420: Planning for Internships course and representatives from SGA. The students were divided in groups and spent 15 minutes with the guests discussing topics such as what employers like to see on resumes, what is key in writing a great cover letter and how to network and create professional references.

All Penn State Brandywine students were invited to attend the question and answer panel and networking portion of the event, featuring alumni and graduate school representatives. The students were particularly interested in asking the panelists about building relationships.

"It's easier to network today because of social media, but nothing should substitute for the face-to-face interaction you build with contacts," Watson said. "Also, take advantage of the largest alumni network [Penn State Alumni Association] in the world. Reach out to us [alumni]."

Throughout the event, Capuzzi spoke highly of the CNED 280 course, which she took as a student, and the importance of internships. As a student at Penn State Brandywine, Capuzzi participated in four internships, including positions at Penn State Brandywine's Laboratory for Civic and Community Engagement, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Media's Fair Trade Committee and CTDI, a company founded by Jerry Parsons, president of Penn State Brandywine's Advisory Board, and his father and brother. From her internship in the marketing department at CTDI, she earned a full-time position as marketing coordinator after graduation.

"The CNED 280 course prepared me in many different ways," Capuzzi said. "It helped me to get my resume together and write my cover letters. It also taught me how to interact with professionals. I learned from both the CNED 280 course and my internships how to communicate effectively with others."

After the panel discussion, students were able to network with the guest speakers.

The Alumni Networking Event occurs twice a year, once during each semester. The Advising and Career Services office provides comprehensive advising and career services to assist students, potential students and alumni to explore, choose, evaluate and implement effective academic and career development plans.