New Kensington

New Kensington 'We Are!’ recipients can form hendecagon

'Job fair' guru Jim Shields is campus' 11th staff member to receive honor

Jim Shields, career services coordinator at Penn State New Kensington, helps students find internships and jobs. Credit: Bill Woodard / Penn StateCreative Commons

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. – The cast of the movie “Ocean’s 11” featured 11 famous Hollywood actors. The cast of the Penn State “We Are!” initiative features 11 remarkable Penn State New Kensington staff. With the Dec. 18 announcement that Jim Shields, career services coordinator, is a “We Are!” recipient, the campus now claims 11 "We Are!" badges of excellence.

“We Are!,” a weekly feature of the daily email publication Penn State Today, is a University-wide initiative that was launched in February to provide students, faculty and staff with a platform to give kudos to fellow Penn Staters for work that goes above and beyond their job duties or responsibilities.

Shields is the 11th staff member from the New Kensington campus to receive the honor in 2015. Nancy Miller, co-director of continuing education, started the "We Are!" deluge in February. She was followed by Corinne Coulson, enrollment specialist; Kevin Churik, information technology generalist; Jennifer Marino, assistant director for financial aid; Danielle DeStefano, assistant director of enrollment management; Susan Dale, administrative support assistant in the Office of Academic Affairs; Nancy Burns, staff assistant VI for the Office of Enrollment Management; Karen Harlan, multimedia specialist; Lauren Blum, assistant to the director of student affairs; and Diana Hill, administrative support assistant. All were nominated by campus colleagues or students for personifying Penn State’s commitment of service to the community. In the inaugural year of the program, New Kensington cornered the "We Are!" market with the most honorees among Penn State Commonwealth campuses.

Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus, praised the recipients for shining the Penn State spotlight on New Kensington. He encouraged the campus community to recommend other colleagues for the honor.

“The word is getting out about what a great campus and community we are,” Snider said. “It's a great way to continue to get our fantastic community recognized outside the campus.”

A “We Are!” candidate could be a staff member taking extra steps to make sure a project is completed, a student organizing a charitable event, an administrator doing something special for employees, or a faculty member taking additional time to advise students.

To nominate a “We Are!” candidate from the campus community, visit

Shields and job fairs

Shields’ nominator wrote: "Jim Shields is known in the region as the guru of job fairs and a master of student professional development! His ability to organize the chaos of these large events is unmatched. We are truly grateful to Jim for his dedication to students and support to them as they navigate the job search process."

Shields, who received a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University and a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has been at the campus since 1999. As coordinator, he is responsible for career planning, education, and job search support services for students and alumni of Penn State. Shields works with students and employers on internships and job fairs.

One of the events Shields helped develop is the annual Alle-Kiski Job Fair every October. Sponsored by the campus and Pennsylvania CareerLink of Alle-Kiski, the fair is free to Penn State students and alumni, as well as the public. More than 60 recruiters are available to provide career options for those beginning a career or seeking a change in vocation. Local job seekers can interview with regional companies regarding employment opportunities in a variety of fields, including health care, finance, retail and manufacturing. Last year, nearly 600 prospective employees attended the event, which features full- and part-time employment, internships and co-op opportunities with employers in the local region.

Another event that brings employers to campus is Career Day at the annual Research and Creative Exposition. The exposition provides students, under the guidance of a faculty adviser, with the opportunity to conduct research, draw conclusions and present their information in a public setting. Career Day complements the expo by creating new opportunities for the students and faculty to build stronger contacts with local industries through sharing of career information while also highlighting the campus' numerous research and creative activities. The spring 2016 expo will be held April 12.

Shields also is the contact for off-campus job fairs, such as Western Pennsylvania Career Services (WestPacs) Association and Westmoreland Assists Native Talent (WANT). More than 120 national and local employers offering internships and jobs in a wide variety of industries, government agencies and nonprofit organizations will be on hand at the WestPacs Spring Job and Internship Fair. The fair is geared toward fall and spring graduates and recent alumni holding degrees and certificates. Shields is the chair of the student marketing committee of WestPacs. According to Shields, the event features full- and part-time employment, internships and co-op opportunities, both regionally and nationally. The event is set for March 9 at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Penn State students and recent graduates can get a head start on the job market at the WANT Job and Career Expo. The WANT job fair is designed to link the region's students and graduates with employers and careers in Westmoreland and surrounding counties. The job fair is open to the public. More than 70 employers will be at the expo, and job seekers are encouraged to bring resumes and to dress professionally. The fair is scheduled for Feb. 23 at the Ramada Inn in Greensburg.

For more information or to register for events, contact Shields at 724-334-6065 or 

GREAT programIn addition to career services, Shields oversees the campus’ GREAT program, which matches promising engineering and IST students with local internship opportunities. The program is a partnership of the New Kensington campus, Penn State Electro-Optics Center and industries within the greater Pittsburgh region. Whereas most internships are geared to juniors and seniors, GREAT interns can begin as soon as their first year in college.

For selection into the GREAT program, qualified engineering and IST majors are put through a competitive interview process with campus faculty and the business partners. Promising students are awarded four-year paid internships that provide opportunities to develop professional skills and gain workplace experience.

This spring, 15 freshmen, the largest GREAT class in the five-year-old program, received internships at well-known companies throughout the region.

For more information about the GREAT program, visit

Other awardsThe campus recognized Shields' contributions to student success in June when he was earned the Outstanding Service to Students award. The citation recognized a staff member who promoted a consistent student-centered environment. Criteria include demonstrating a positive campus experience, furthering academic achievement, helping to make education more accessible and affordable, and contributing to the development of students both personally and professionally.

Last Updated January 13, 2016