Making connections

HBK Investments recently visited the school for a Corporate Day.

HBK Investments recently visited the school for a Corporate Day.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

In business, connections lead to opportunities. That’s also true for students in the Black School of Business, where they are encouraged to meet with and learn from a variety of professional contacts.

Students have opportunities to help faculty members with research projects, engage with alumni at special events like the Business Blitz and work directly for multinational companies, like Sprint. At the school’s Corporate Days, they have the chance to network with industry professionals.

Bringing business to Behrend

Corporate Days are held four times each semester. On each day, one organization (a business, nonprofit, or civic group) visits the school to meet with and speak to students and faculty members. The organization typically sets up a table in Clark Café at lunchtime to interact with students. Other opportunities for specific group activities such as speaking to classes are usually part of the day as well.

Corporate Days can—and do—lead to internships for students, collaborative industry research projects for faculty members, and even jobs for soon-to-be graduates. Above all, they allow students who participate to expand their professional connections.

“Events like Corporate Days help students learn how to build professional relationships, which is a skill not easily learned in a classroom setting,” said Melanie Deppen, professional development coordinator and lecturer in marketing. “Networking is something they really need to practice to learn how to do effectively.”

Forming partnerships

Mentoring programs have been proven to increase student success and engagement by creating an environment of trust, belonging, support, and encouragement. That’s why the Black School of Business has programs to encourage both peer-to-peer and alumni-to-student mentoring relationships.

Goals for the program include promoting collaboration among peers of varied disciplines, encouraging open dialogue about personal and professional growth, and fostering a sense of ease and continuity among participants.

Two years ago, Nicole Overby, a senior Accounting major, mentored first-year School of Business student Alexis Jurzwick.

“We met once a month and I helped her pick her classes, decide on a major, and get involved on campus,” said Overby.

Overby said that while she was the mentor, she benefited from the relationship as well.

“It helped me improve my communication skills,” she said. “And it expanded my network because Alexis introduced me to her friends and vice versa. I was able to recruit her to join Circle K, a service club at Behrend that I am very passionate about.”

This year, Overby is looking forward to being the mentee. She’s signed up to be paired with an alumni mentor.