By Richard Durzo
UPPER BURRELL, Pa. – Sooner or later there comes that time when all your efforts will be geared to finding that job or internship you spent the last four years preparing for. Penn State New Kensington students know that pursuing and finally getting that degree is just the first step in the process. For them, Jim Shields, Career Services Coordinator at Penn State New Kensington, is there for them. Shields’ passion in life is doing everything he can to help students get that job or internship they seek.
In his position as Career Services Coordinator at Penn State New Kensington for the last 12 years, Shields has built a network throughout the community second to none. A student affairs professional in higher education for over 20 years, Shields’ primary fields of expertise are career services, career development and internship/employment search services for students and graduates. Shields also has significant experience in event program planning and project management in student affairs.
According to Laurie Kamenic, an English Professor at Penn State New Kensington, “Jim Shields is a vital asset to not only PSNK, but the surrounding community as well. His efforts with local businesses have ensured that they are well aware of the quality product that Penn State students are and wonderful addition they will make to their establishment.”
Shields, originally from Philadelphia, moved to the Pittsburgh area some 20 years ago, immediately falling in love with the area. What impressed him the most about Pittsburgh was that, “even through a big city it still maintains that small town feeling, mixed with the personality of the different neighborhoods. You can‘t beat it.”
When asked what he likes best about his job, Shields said, “the people I work with and the students I meet along the way are the best parts of this job.”
Matching students with national and local employers offering jobs and internships is a major challenge that Shields faces on a daily basis. The various job fairs he plans throughout the year are a great help in doing this. As Career Services Coordinator, he is essential in event and program planning. These events are an important link in providing not only students but local residents with opportunities for employment and internships.
Shields said, “The next job fair will be at the Western Pennsylvania Career Services (WestPACS) Association Spring Job and Internship Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at the Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville. It will be a great opportunity for students to interact with potential employers.”
Recruiters from a wide variety of industries including telecommunications, engineering, technologies, health care, government, human services, retail, hospitality and financial services will attend. The fair is geared toward fall 2010 and spring 2011 graduates and recent alumni with program certificate and degrees in all majors. There are also many internship opportunities for current undergraduates.
Shields is currently in the process of putting a program together that will enable him to measure how effective his program is. To date, all he has to go by is student feedback with has been very positive. Shields sees this program expanding on campus and encourages all students to take advantage of it.