IST students 'startup' their networking experience with trip to New York City

NEW YORK — After sorting through more than 200 applicants, 16 students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State were selected to travel to New York City recently for a crash course in entrepreneurship, networking and corporate culture.

The trip was organized by IST’s Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement to expose students to the different career paths available for IST graduates. Throughout the day, the group toured LinkedIn headquarters in the Empire State Building and networked with industry leaders.

The most notable event for many students, however, was hearing from a panel of IST alumni who work in various roles, which gave the students an opportunity to see how these alumni made the transition from a student into a working professional.

“It was great to converse with IST alums to hear about their IT experience post-graduation,” said Carolyn Hickey, a junior majoring in IST who attended the trip. “The four alums on the panel provided insight to their day-to-day operations at their respective companies and shared how they got to where they are today.”

The common theme throughout the experience was the encouragement for students to get involved, start their career search early, and take advantage of opportunities to network.

“Connect with faculty, your peers, Career Services, companies at career fairs,” said Hickey on what she took away from the trip. “Make sure you are making those connections.”

Brianne Lippert, IST’s assistant director of corporate engagement, hopes to offer more opportunities like this to IST students in the future.

“It was a good professional development opportunity,” Lippert said. “It was all the things we tell students in our career coaching, and hearing it again from a company’s perspective reinforced it for our students.”

“People think networking is hard, but it’s really just relationship management,” Lippert explained. “You never know where connections will lead you. Always be open to conversation and building a relationship.”

Hickey believes that trips like this only enhance her IST education.

“The College of IST curriculum allows students to gain knowledge of different aspects of IT,” Hickey added. “On this trip, I related what I have learned in the classroom to these different startup companies and the services they provide.”

Brandon Frankel, manager of corporate sales at Optimizely, hosted the group of students at his office. A 2005 IST graduate, he was impressed with the students’ professionalism and curiosity.

“My favorite part was the interest and excitement that came out of the students when they were asking questions,” Frankel said. “I was very impressed with the questions about career paths, industry and differences between industries.”

While there were many common themes across the different organizations represented, Frankel reiterated that it was important for students to see the differences between working for different sized startups.

“[The students] were starting to put the pieces together and see the difference between working for a one- to two-person startup versus a 100-plus-person startup,” Frankel said. “You start to realize the type of structure, support and process is different depending on what industry, and it is important to see that before you start looking for jobs.”

Last Updated January 10, 2018