SRU initiates program to encourage sophomores to “own” career development


career education

John Rindy, director of career education and development, is encouraging sophomores to think more deeply about their careers through a pilot program called the Sophomore Institute.

August 25, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The sophomore year is often characterized as the most overlooked time in a college student's educational career. Unlike first-year students, sophomores are no longer adapting to a new learning community, making daily decisions without parental input or living away from home for the first time. But with graduation more than two years away, they also haven't begun to think about internships and life after college.

That's about to change, thanks to the "Sophomore Institute," a program offered by the Slippery Rock University Career Development and Education Office.

A yearlong pilot program, starting fall 2017, is designed to keep sophomores engaged and preparing for their careers with pre-professional learning. Eight sessions are planned throughout the 2017-18 academic year. They will be held on and off campus and feature a variety of presenters from SRU, corporations and agencies. Programs will give students an opportunity to meet with high-level executives at companies and non-profit organizations, as well as attend presentations about dining etiquette, advanced career thought and other career development engagements.

"We know that sophomore year is sometimes considered the forgotten year," said John Rindy, director of career education and development. "We're trying to keep sophomores engaged and give them higher-level activities to recognize that they are important and they are at a time when it's especially important that they look at career development opportunities."

Approximately 18-20 sophomores from SRU's College of Business will comprise the pilot class. Students will be nominated by COB faculty and selected by a committee of SRU faculty and staff that excludes Career Development and Education personnel.

According to Rindy, the students selected for the Sophomore Institute will not only gain exposure to high-level business contacts but develop their career with an "identity focus."

"A lot of students get to their junior and senior years and they still can't answer the question, 'Why should I hire you?'" Rindy said. "It's a question that everybody has to answer."

Each student will be required to track their learning outcomes and demonstrate how they will relate the sessions to their studies at SRU, their careers and their personal brand.

"We'll be looking for sophomores who aspire to middle to upper leadership roles during their career and who are committed to reflective learning," said Rindy, who emphasized mandatory attendance by the participants is required for all the sessions. "Also, sophomores with a history of follow-though, follow-up, focus and a drive to engage in all of the highest level learning experiences they can while they are in college are prime candidates for this program."

Basic criteria for selection includes: 30-59 credit hours completed by the fall semester, enrolled as a COB major, 2.5 grade-point average, completion of an application that includes a personal statement and the signature of the COB faculty member who nominated the applicant.

The first session, Nov. 30, will feature an etiquette meal followed by a reflective learning session with Scott Hartle, chief financial officer of Flynn's Tire and Service Company. The remaining sessions will take place during spring semester and include executives from Children's Institute of Pittsburgh and Bank of New York Mellon, among others.

After the pilot program, the Sophomore Institute will be evaluated to determine if it will expand to include more participants and majors in the future.

For more information about the Sophomore Institute, contact the Office of Career Education and Development at: 724.738.2028 or

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |