Need help finding a job? There’s a counselor for that!
By Catherine Krawiec
Ryan Stalgaitis (above) had only been on the job as a career counselor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham for a couple of days when Freddie Bourne knocked on his door.
Then a sophomore, Bourne was a communication studies major, eager to get some experience in the broadcasting world. Stalgaitis worked with Bourne and helped him to get internships with radio stations NJ 101.5 and Sirius XM Radio, production company Viacom/MTV, and currently, the Howard Stern Show.
“Ryan was willing to help me find any opportunities as long as I showed the eagerness to work and put the effort in,” says Bourne, now a senior. “Since meeting with Ryan, not only have I been able to present myself professionally, but I’ve also had amazing opportunities with such established companies in the media.”
Bourne is just one of many students whose careers Stalgaitis has helped launch.
Another student is Melissa Doney, a psychology major who needed experience in her field. Armed with the job-friendly resume that she and Stalgaitis, now also Assistant Director of Career Development, improved upon, she landed an internship at Rocking Horse Rehab in West Orange, N.J., a facility specializing in equine therapies for disabled children. Doney graduated in May 2013 with her BA in psychology, and is currently enrolled in the masters of arts in clinical mental health counseling at FDU.
The experience was hugely beneficial for Doney, as she notes, “This internship truly helped to further my knowledge on the subject. I learned so many different therapies such as psychotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, art therapy, hippotherapy, and music therapy. It was such an amazing experience and I have Ryan to thank!”
Visiting the Career Development Center is a crucial part of the college experience, says Stalgaitis.
“The most important part is that students come in as early as they can. Do not wait!” urges Stalgaitis. “I love to see motivated first year students come in. It is beneficial for them and it allows me to work with them throughout the entire process.”
As an undergrad himself, Stalgaitis double majored in communications and sociology, heading right into the workforce after graduation. As a people person, he had previously worked in restaurants and had a few internships in marketing, ending up in sales. It did not take long for him to realize that the sales culture was not for him and he wanted to find something more fulfilling.
“I knew I wanted to help people, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity,” says Stalgaitis.
He went back to school for a master’s degree and the career development office at his university helped him find his way, inspiring him to go into that field himself. He was part of the first class to receive degrees in College Student Affairs at Rutgers University in 2011, and has been helping students find their way ever since.
“I had many difficulties adjusting to class and life away from home, which resulted in bad grades during my first semester at college,” recalls Stalgaitis. “I want to help students be more focused and motivated than I was, so they have a great chance at succeeding.”
Stalgaitis is there to facilitate and work with all the students in Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences, which brings a lot of different students into his office. “Every student and situation is different. There isn’t one process that can be used for everyone,” says Stalgaitis. “I am not here to do it for the students. I am here to help them be proactive, network properly and take ownership.”
To make sure students achieve their goals, Stalgaitis has created Facebook
groups, encouraging students to communicate. He also meets with students on an individual basis, teaches a freshman seminar class and hosts career fairs. He has helped students get internships in different fields including publishing, government organizations, politics, television and radio.
The success of Stalgaitis’ students is being noticed by others as well: he recently received the New Jersey Cooperative Education and Internship Association award of 2013 Practitioner of the Year Award. This prestigious award is given for outstanding achievement in the field of experiential education, which internships are part of.
“Career development is an integral part of a student’s time in college. The number one thing employers are looking for upon graduation is relevant experience, through internships or other related work,” says Stalgaitis. “The Career Development Center can help students learn how to gain this experience through developing an amazing resume and interviewing skills, learning how to properly network, and much more.”