New York City as seen from the Rockefeller Center observation deck, known as the Top of the Rock
Erin Puko, a senior in the Business Honors Program at IUP, looked out the bus window as the road wound its way toward New York City.
“You come around a bend, and you’re not expecting it. The city is all spread out before you. It truly inspires awe,” she said.
Puko was one of about 70 students who recently took part in a New York City networking event organized by IUP’s Office of Alumni Relations and alumni in New York City.
The event gave students from the Business Honors, Fashion Merchandising, and Hospitality Management programs a chance to explore urban career opportunities and get a taste of city life. It included a reception with about 50 alumni, tours of alumni workplaces, and a few hours to explore the city.
“The whole trip was a really good experience,” Puko said.
At the reception, Hospitality Management major Madison Sabo distributed some of her business cards and collected cards from alumni.
“The alumni were very inviting,” she said. “They seemed like they really wanted to talk to us and help us. Obviously, the alumni were busy and working. I really appreciate that they took the time out to come to the reception. It definitely helps to hear what they have to say.”
The host committee for the reception was made up of Kevin Colosimo ’94, John Hill ’74, Florence Mauchant M’85, Tom Murry ’64, Marla Sabo ’79, Andrew Sandberg ’06, Mark Scanlan ’80, Mary Turnbach ’83, Jim Wansacz ’94, and Clare Bretz ’69.
While the reception included lots of informal networking, a handful of alumni participated in a panel discussion, sharing their experiences and fielding questions about their careers. The panelists were Kevin Carrai ’86, Leland Hardy ’84, Sarah Hogue ’09, Stephanie Perry ’88, and Derek White ’82.
A few alumni set up tours of their workplaces, giving students a behind-the-scenes look at what their future may hold.
John Hill ’74, center, with students Sarah Rowe and Anthony Kuta, was one of the alumni hosts for the networking reception in New York City. Photo by Cynthia Strittmatter
Hill led the business students through L-3 Communications, where he serves as corporate vice president of human resources. In the company’s boardroom, students were treated to a spectacular view of the city while he talked about L-3’s diverse products and services and shared tips on how the students could distinguish themselves to potential employers.
“It was a pleasure hosting the IUP business students,” Hill said. “L-3 is committed to working with key universities to educate their students about our company and offer our perspective as a New York-based Fortune 200 company. I was very proud that IUP asked me to be involved in the New York City visit.”
Hospitality Management majors toured two hotels—Andaz 5th Avenue, a Hyatt property, with Courtney McKenna ’98, director of human resources, and the Westin New York at Times Square with Meghan Houseal ’08, food and beverage outlet manager. The tours impressed Sabo, who plans to graduate in December.
“I wasn’t really interested in working at hotels before, but it gave me a new look at it,” she said. “I’d consider it now. It’s like the city. At first, my friend and I were thinking we could never work in New York City, but, as we got used to it and thought about our future, we decided it would be fine. Though it wouldn’t be my first choice, I would be open to working in a city now.”
In between tours, presentations, and networking activities, the students took in the sites of New York. Pictured, from left, near Rockefeller Center are Shannon Dickerson, Jeff Brunermer, faculty member Stephen Shiring, Hannah Julian, Morgan O’Malley, and Julie Hafera, all from the Hospitality Management Department. Photo courtesy of Stephen Shiring
Fashion Merchandising students followed designer Sarah Graby-Boris ’03 into the pristine showroom of Jones New York.
Senior Jocelyn Weber was one of the students on that tour. “I think it’s awesome that the alumni did all this,” she said of the networking event. “Even though we are different generations from IUP, we have that common ground that connects us. It made me feel like being an IUP student is part of who you are now. It’s a part of you, and you’re going to have that forever.”
New York City-based alumni aren’t the only ones who are sharing their experience and expertise with students. Alumni have recently hosted or are planning similar events in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.
Hill hopes more cities will be added. “I absolutely would host another group, and I would encourage other IUP alumni to open their doors for these types of visits by student groups.”