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Employers Appreciate Career-Readiness of YCP Graduates

January 10, 2023
Two students working together on a project in a classroom.
Joclyn Hunsicker '21 (left) and Jake Stehman of RKL (right).

Hiring managers at some of the area’s largest companies and organizations see the difference in employees who have graduated from York College. With its focus on experiential learning, a wide variety of internship opportunities, and a community-centered mindset, the College prepares students for successful careers long before they receive their diplomas.

Career-minded internship opportunities

Jake Stehman works as Talent Acquisition Manager at RKL, a leading advisory firm with over 600 employees at offices throughout Pennsylvania that offers tax, accounting, data analytics, and wealth management services. The company has a robust internship program. Each year, Stehman sets up a booth at York College’s Career Fair and always finds himself impressed by the students he meets.

While the company attends career fairs around the nation and hires internationally, York College students continually stand out to Stehman. He’s found that those who come into the internship program as sophomores are ahead of the game with their knowledge of the fundamentals of accounting.

Because of RKL’s proximity to York College, the company also has been involved in on-campus accounting nights, where local firms discuss opportunities in the industry and answer students’ questions.

“Just being exposed to people in the industry and asking them questions about what’s important was very educational and informative,” says Joclyn Hunsicker ’21.

Hunsicker earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Accounting from York College in the 4+1 program that allowed her senior year to count toward the advanced degree. Throughout her college career, Hunsicker completed five internships with RKL and then was hired as a full-time employee.

When students join an RKL internship, they are paired with a buddy, an employee who has been with the company for one to two years. Time and time again, Stehman has seen York College students stand out as the most eager to discuss career advancement with their buddies.

“Having the internship experience prior to starting was beyond helpful,” says Hunsicker. “When I started full-time, I had a knowledge base. I knew what the software was, and I knew some of the processes. Just that little bit of knowledge helps you with the transition to full-time. It set me up for success.”

Setting the stage for soft skills

York College also maintains internships and Engineering co-op opportunities with Multi-Dimensional Integration (MDI), which has its headquarters in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. The fast-growing company of 200-plus employees works with industrial and manufacturing controls and automation systems in a variety of service-based capacities for multiple industries.

MDI hires from all disciplines of engineering. They have brought onboard mechanical, electrical, and computer science engineers as well as business development and administrative personnel from York College. More than half of the 45 full-time employees hired so far in 2022 first completed an internship with the company.

“Professionalism is one of first and foremost skills we look for,” says MDI Recruiter Roo Burke, who helps recruit from dozens of schools all over the country.

With York College students, Burke has noticed a penchant for interpersonal skills. MDI expects every team member to have some level of customer interaction. Having the ability to not only provide a great service but to represent the company well to their clients is key.

With many of their customers requiring an onsite presence on a regular basis, MDI looks for interns who will have the same level of professionalism and ability to interact with clients as MDI’s full-time employees have.

As MDI is organized around a flat structure that avoids job titles and offers growth based on merit, the company hires people who thrive on self-motivation and self-management, and who have an entrepreneurial spirit, says Burke. Often, the employees who stand out are York College graduates.

Kevin Morabito ’05 earned his degree in Mass Communication, then began working at MDI in business development shortly after graduation. During his time at York College, he was introduced to a variety of real-world analogies and scenarios through his adjunct professors, many of whom were still involved in the workplace.

That exposure helped him prepare to deal with the variety of industries represented amongst MDI’s clients, from biopharmaceutical companies to steel mills to food factories.

“York College helped me with adaptability,” he says. “You have to be able to adapt to different environments.”

The importance of innovative thinking

Interpersonal soft skills coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit are important for health care professionals as well. Santina Sperling ’11 earned her Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) designation from York College after having earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 2007.

She chose nursing as a career out of a desire to care for others. Seeing the needs in the community inspired her to advance her degree and step into the role of Valve Clinic Coordinator for the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

“I wanted to diagnose but also treat illnesses,” she says. “Going back to school gave me the autonomy to do that.”

Through the clinicals that York College arranged for her, Sperling served an array of patients across age groups and ethnicities, creating a broad foundation that set her up for success in her career. After one of her clinical rotations with UPMC, she was offered a full-time position.

When COVID-19 hit, Sperling drew from all she had learned in her classes and her hands-on experiences to get through it.

“Never did I think when I went into medicine that I’d be dealing with a global pandemic,” she says. “York College taught me to be innovative and forward-thinking. Using those types of strategies helped us in this setting where our healthcare world was shaken upside-down.”

‘Find your passion’

Whether participating in internships, clinicals, or co-ops, putting soft skills into practice, or experimenting with innovative thinking and adapting to new environments, York College students are preparing for lifelong careers in a spectrum of specialties. 

“York College is a great place to learn and have opportunities,” Sperling says.

Exploring those opportunities is the key to turning a York College education into a thriving career.

“Get involved in extracurricular activities and do internships,” Morabito advises students. “Find somewhere you’re going to be happy and where you are valued for your contributions. I wake up every morning and I’m excited about my job. If you don’t try different things, you’re not going to know. You have to find your passion.”