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Ottership students

Ottership Connects Students, Alumni for Job-Shadowing Experience

Few things prepare students more for their career than hands-on experience in their field. And gaining that experience alongside a former Cardinal is even better. On Oct. 14, 21 Otterbein University students participated in the second annual Ottership Job Shadow Program, through which they are matched with Otterbein alumni for a half day of in-depth exposure to their industry and or occupation of interest.

“Each host plans a unique, half-day shadowing experience that introduces students to their profession and allows them to see how the theories and skills learned in the classroom are applied to the world of work,” said Ashley Strausser, assistant director of Otterbein’s Center for Career and Professional Development. “For our students, experiencing an industry or profession firsthand aids in their career decision making and allows them to start developing their professional skills.”

The Ottership program gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their alumni hosts’ work environment, ask questions about the profession and their host’s career path, get advice about maximizing their Otterbein experience, talk with their host about their interests and career goals, and more.

Jeff Yoest ’77, dentist at G.C. Reich DDS Inc., who hosted an Ottership student last year, said that while a solid educational background is essential for entering one’s chosen career path, making that choice should be based on realistic knowledge of the profession.

“Student need to witness and talk to professionals as they explore career paths,” he said. “Their concept of a profession may not coincide with reality or expectations until they are in the workplace…Time spent with professionals shadowing, seeking advice and guidance is time very well spent.”

Emmanuela Bean ’16, who shadowed Beth Sanders ’91, Founder and CEO of LifeBio, Inc., said the Ottership program was valuable because she got ideas about what she could with her major. “As an English major, there are a lot of different directions I could go. From the advice I received (from Beth), I hope to take some classes…and maybe combine (my major) with a concentration in health and nutrition and or marketing and business administration. ..I now have a clearer picture of what I could see myself doing in the work force,” Bean said.

Art major Hannah Farley ’15, who was paired with Jessica Fitzwater ’03, senior design operations coordinator at Bath & Body Works, said the most beneficial aspect of participating in the Ottership program was seeing people, who were once in her shoes, succeeding in the field in which she hopes to be after graduation.

“Getting the opportunity to see firsthand what a typical day in the field is like is priceless,” Farley said. “It’s one thing to want to be a designer, but seeing and experiencing the workplace and the responsibilities of the job is a huge benefit.”

According to Strausser, post-Ottership evaluations* indicated that one of the most striking benefits of students’ participation in the program was the increase in their confidence.

“Pre-Ottership, 45 percent of students ranked their confidence in their career path as ‘confident’ or ‘very confident.’ After participating in Ottership, 83.4 percent of students were either confident or very confident in their career path,” she said. “Additionally, 95.8 percent of students felt that the Ottership program was a worthwhile program.”

Sport management major Josh Angalich ’15, who was matched with JP Lococo ’12, season sales manager for the Columbus Crew, said the Ottership program enable him to make new contacts that will be helpful in his future. “I feel like this opportunity confirmed that I am on the right career path for myself,” he said.

International business and management major Amir Askari, who shadowed Ben Hoeger ’07, financial advisor for private wealth management at Robert W. Baird & Co., said the experience gave him great insight into what his future work day would look like. “I was able to see firsthand how business is conducted in the world of financial management,” he said. “I was also able to listen in on a client call, which was very informative.”

Strausser added that Ottership provides a great opportunity for Otterbein alumni to give back to their alma mater, and that every alumni host indicated in their evaluation* that they would be willing to host a student again.

“I think the Ottership program was a great opportunity for me and my student alike,” said Jessica Buschmann ’09, a clinical dietitian for sports medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who has hosted a student each year of the program. “We not only shared a common interest and passion for the healthcare field, but were also able to connect over our Otterbein experience. It was a wonderful day overall, and I look forward to next year.”

In the future, Strausser said she would like to see more students participate in the Ottership program and more alumni volunteer to host students.

“It’s one day, three and a half hours, that could greatly impact a student’s career direction,” she said.

*Evaluation results from the 2013 survey of Ottership program student and alumni participants.