Valley native to head Office of Career and Counseling Services

Youngstown State University recently welcomed its new director of the Office of Career and Counseling Services, Jennifer Johnson.

A Mahoning Valley native, Johnson returned tothe area two years ago to settle down with her husband and son after working as the director of human resources for the law firm of Chester, Willcox and Saxbe in Columbus.

Opportunity brought her back to the area as the customer field services manager at Aqua Ohio, a private water utility company, in Boardman.

An alumna of YSU, Johnson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and later pursued a master’s degree in the same field. She was also part of the Leadership Mahoning Valley Class of 2003 and was named 2001 YSU Williamson College of Business Administration Outstanding Recent Alumna.

Johnson also held a position as a peer assistant in the first-year student center during her time at YSU and acted as a peer orientation leader in the first Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration, or SOAR, program.

“This is kind of a coming home for me,” Johnson said. “I just have a strong affinity for YSU and this area.”

Johnson said she brings experience and drive to the Office of Career and Counseling Services.

“Our team has the awesome responsibility of helping our graduates make one of the most important transitions of their life,” Johnson said.

The Office of Career and Counseling Services assists students and alumni with defining, preparing and implementing their career plans. Students can schedule a session with a staff member to work on their resumes or interviewing skills, or to research additional internships and employment opportunities.

In the hopes of connecting students with employers, the Office of Career and Counseling Services holds a job expo each semester; at the expo, students can meet with potential employers from various area companies.

YSU junior Cameron Carter received a job offer after the last expo. 

“I didn’t take it,” Carter said. “But it did give me good interview experience.” More than 80 employers were registered for Wednesday’s job expo. Johnson said she hopes she can continue past successes.

“What I’m looking forward to doing is to build on the department’s success, explore new ideas for student and employer outreach, and, ultimately, increase the job placement rate,” she said.

Johnson said she understands student concerns about finding a job after graduation, but cautions students not to write off the Mahoning Valley.

She sees value in getting experience outside of the area if that is the student’s goal, but she has also made a case for students who may consider staying in the area, citing investments in the shale gas industry and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

“It may take a little time, but I am hopeful the local job market will benefit from this economic activity and opportunities will be available for our graduates,” Johnson said.