‘Careers Over Coffee’ connects students with alumni in their fields of study

Adam Milasincic

Some career-seekers choose jobs in psychology because they need therapy themselves. Cathy Leighton, a Hudson school counselor, said that’s a bad idea.

Leighton is one of three psychology professionals, all Kent State alumni, who will meet with psychology majors tonight to help them sort through post-graduation options.

The event, “Careers Over Coffee,” is the first of four informal forums this semester that are designed to connect current students with Kent State alumni in their fields of study.

“I’d like to make sure people go into psychology for the right reasons,” Leighton said. “I find anything helping in mental health is a good profession. There’s a lot more need for it now. We need good providers.”

Upcoming panels will focus on pharmaceutical sales, law enforcement and school administration.

Matthew Butts, assistant director of the Kent State University Alumni Association, spearheads the program. He said the reservation list for tonight’s session is already filled. Butts anticipates a crowd of 45 students at the Williamson Alumni Center.

“Careers Over Coffee” began last semester as an outgrowth of Butts’ efforts to increase interaction between students and alumni. He said he has coordinated with the Career Services Center to identify the fields students are most inquisitive about. He then scans a list of 1,000 alumni volunteers to find the ones who are active in those professions.

“All of our volunteers are 100 percent self-identifying,” Butts said. “They want to give some of their time and talent back to Kent State,”

“Careers Over Coffee” is distinguished from other career exploration programs by its relaxed atmosphere. Three presenters speak for five minutes apiece before yielding to audience questions and informal conversation. Topics generally include interview tips, the transition from school to work and details of daily life in the profession at hand.

Butts said so far the audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. One student who attended the first pharmaceutical session landed a job-shadowing position with a presenter. Survey results showed most student participants last semester found the program to be uniquely informative, Butts said.

“There’s an old adage that people pick a career because it sounds glamorous, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts, it’s really enlightening to know what to expect,” Butts said.

He plans to expand “Careers Over Coffee” to include additional majors and presenters from outside Ohio.

He said the program was especially useful to those students with only vague ideas about the careers involved in their subject of choice. A nursing session in November drew a large number of freshmen and sophomores, Butts said.

One veteran of that presentation said “Careers Over Coffee” was worthwhile and recommended it to her classmates.

“I thought it was very helpful getting to talk to the nurses who are working out in the field,” said sophomore nursing major Kate Bailey. “It was also good to network, and they invited us to e-mail them with questions.

“I would say if you see (a session) in your field, you should definitely go to it.”

Contact alumni services reporter Adam Milasincic at [email protected]