Opportunity knocks

Area companies continue to hire Wright State students and recent graduates for internships and full-time jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Beth Metcalf, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, is one of many Wright State students who secured a full-time job through a local internship.

It wasn’t the graduation day that Beth Metcalf or any of her classmates in Wright State University’s class of 2020 had envisioned. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s traditional commencement celebration in a packed Nutter Center was on hold. While Metcalf may not have been able to celebrate the milestone with all of her family and friends, she could relax in knowing that she had a full-time job waiting for her after graduation.

“It’s been a huge relief,” said Metcalf, who began working in accounts payable at O’Neil & Associates (ONEIL) on May 11. “Everything is so crazy with the pandemic.”

Metcalf first got her foot in the door at ONEIL as a part-time accounting intern in August 2019. She worked three days a week organizing invoices and files, printing checks and helping to process credit card statements.

“It’s definitely been the most beneficial internship that I’ve had,” said Metcalf, who majored in accountancy with a minor in management. “I’ve been able to connect what I learned in classes with what I’m doing on the job here.”

For Cindy Schneider, who is a controller at ONEIL and Metcalf’s supervisor, hiring interns for full-time job opportunities makes good business sense.

“The training is already done, so we don’t have the ramp up time,” Schneider explained.

To cultivate talent, Schneider was able to tap into the ONEIL Center for Research Communication at Wright State. Metcalf had interned there and had already proven to be reliable and responsible.

“There were no surprises,” said Schneider. “Beth is intelligent, professional, eager, willing to learn and grow. She’s great at communicating and proficient at technology.”

Booz Allen Hamilton is another company that looks to Wright State for talent.

“Wright State has an outstanding College of Engineering and Computer Science and has been a key for our recruiting success for many years,” said Michael Bennett, a Wright State graduate and principal at Booz Allen Hamilton. “The quality of Wright State’s faculty and curriculum matches well with our needs for engineering-based analyses, modeling and simulation, and software development. We have found that Wright State students and the graduates we have hired have both the raw materials and experience to take on the challenging opportunities we provide.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has proven challenging for employers, employees and job seekers, recruiters advise Wright State students and recent graduates to not lose hope during this unprecedented time.

“I would strongly recommend to position-seeking individuals, in a time like this, to stay in communication with the recruiters and companies that you were looking into prior to the shutdown,” said Iman Dobouni, training and development manager at Canary Consulting. “There are many situations that pop up unexpectedly. For example, we thought we would put this past hiring round on hold until after the shutdown only to realize that we did in fact have the capacity to take on new employees. Those applicants that kept in contact with us were the first to know of the reopening.”

Julan Al-Yassin, director of the actuarial science program in the College of Science and Mathematics, said that Canary Consulting recently hired two members of the Wright State family.

Joey Hwang began his internship in fall 2019 and has now joined Canary on a part-time, permanent basis until he completes his master’s degree in statistics. The company also hired Gulbatton Redvanova, who graduated in May 2020, for a new internship that is designed to transition into a permanent position within a few months.

Hernan Olivas, CEO and president of ONEIL, says that flexibility is key for anyone in today’s job market.

“Companies are adjusting to this new challenge and may be learning as they go how to adapt their business process and tools to the challenge,” Olivas explained. “You should look for ways to be an enabler, not a challenge to the adjustments.”

Bennett encourages students and alumni to utilize Wright State Career Services and the many important tools they provide to assist with job searching, such as resume reviews and mock online interviews.

“The pandemic situation has become our new normal, and we will be operating in this environment for a while,” Bennett explained. “Do not wait for the end of the pandemic to start your job searching. You should be motivated to use this time wisely to seek opportunities now.”

Lance Cauley, associate director of Wright State Career Services, said staff have met virtually with hundreds of students and alumni since the pandemic started to assist them with job search strategy, resume development, industry and position analysis and interview prep, as well as strategies to grow their professional networks.

Career Services staff also work with employers to identify ways for them to connect with Wright State job seekers through the online career portal Handshake as well as through virtual career and networking events. Students, alumni and employers are encouraged to visit the Career Services website for additional resources and to contact a career professional.

“In Career Services, we strive to provide exceptional customer service to students, alumni and employers,” said Cauley. “We understand that times are difficult for everyone and that hiring needs, search plans and strategies are changing quickly. However, we are here to help! We have a team of dedicated career professionals that actively work with employers and job seekers to develop creative solutions to these challenges.”

As a May 2020 Wright State graduate, Metcalf cannot emphasize enough to current students the importance of internships. She recommends that all students get one or two internships while working on their undergraduate degrees.

“Internships are pipelines to full-time jobs,” she said. “That’s where you get your foot in the door.”

Local employers, like Booz Allen Hamilton and ONEIL, are grateful that many Wright State alumni choose to remain in the Dayton region and enjoy long tenures with their firms.

“We have a few Wright State graduates that have made a career here, so our experience is great,” said Olivas. “I would say Wright State graduates want to help their local community and normally stay here to be part of the success. Since ONEIL has been a long-term local company and it is employee owned, our culture aligns well with Wright State students and alumni.”

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