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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.– Penn State student-athletes recently gathered in Pegula Ice Arena for the inaugural Networking Lions Reception where they were given the opportunity to learn about and engage with more than 40 companies from a variety of fields.
The event, organized by Penn State’s Student-Athlete Welfare and Development (SWD) unit, was strategically scheduled for the week of Penn State Career Services Fall Career Days. It afforded junior and senior student-athletes the chance to speak with employers in a more personal setting as well as get their feet wet before attending the traditional career fair. It was also held in the evening to provide a networking opportunity for those Nittany Lions whose class and practice schedule may not have allowed them to make it to the career fair.
“We thought this was so much fun and so amazing to see something specifically held for student-athletes,” said Jessica Cummings (Sr., Softball; Owings, Md.). “I think there was a company for every single major, every single interest. This was an awesome opportunity to meet people and to practice for the career fair. I feel more ready than I’ve ever felt.”
The employers lined the North and East concourses of the arena and were easily accessible as the student-athletes walked along the halls. The companies in attendance represented numerous industries spanning from engineering to finance to management and everything in between. Both local and national organizations were in attendance.
“I really enjoyed the set-up. It was easy to walk through and talk to different employers,” said Morgan Shigo (Jr., Men’s Track & Field; Blandon, Pa.). “I talked to about seven employers including PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, ALKU, and I have some internship leads. When I first started talking to them I wasn’t exactly sure what to say, but by the second or third person I really got into it and it was a lot easier.”
Upon arrival, student-athletes participated in a brief prep session with Career Services personnel prior to speaking with employers. They were provided tips and advice on how to make a good first impression, potential ice breaker questions and how to utilize their elevator pitch. The companies in attendance also received a pre-event pep talk and thank you from Career Services Senior Director Bob Orndorff and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour.
“I thought what was most interesting was probably the fact that a lot of people here really and truly enjoy what they do,” said Simone Lee (Sr., Women’s Volleyball; Menomonee Falls, Wis.). “I think that’s something we look for as student-athletes; someone who is passionate about their work. We want to be just as passionate about our work, so I think that being able to be here and seeing the passion that they have in their own jobs and wanting to be a part of that is something really special.”
In addition to event-day prep, SWD staff hosted workshops leading up to the reception to further prepare and assist student-athletes. These sessions included “Interviewing 101” and a resume workshop in the hopes of giving student-athletes the necessary tools to make the desired impression on potential employers.
“Networking Lions was an exciting event for our student-athletes, employers, and campus partners alike,” said Liz Johnson, SWD Director. “Seeing our student-athletes dressed the part and prepared to network made me so proud. The feedback we have received has been tremendous and we look forward to continuing our efforts in providing holistic personal and professional development resources to our young men and women throughout their transition at Penn State.”
For more information about the Penn State Student-Athlete Welfare and Development office, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest news and upcoming events, please follow SWD on Twitter at @PennStateSWD.