Behrend students hone interview skills at Business Blitz event


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Jen Powell remembers the stress that goes hand-in-hand with the job interview process. The sweaty palms, the increased heart rate, the inability to concentrate—these symptoms are par for the course when preparing for a job interview.

“You never know what to expect in a job interview. Preparing for an interview can be very challenging,” said Powell, a 2008 Penn State Erie, The Behrend College graduate who now works as a financial analyst at FMC Technologies.

Powell hoped to help students better prepare for job interviews by volunteering her time Feb. 5 at Business Blitz, a speed networking event at Penn State Behrend.

The event, which was co-sponsored by Behrend’s Financial Management Association (FMA) and the Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE), was held in McGarvey Commons and used a combination of Behrend students and alumni to simulate the job interview process. More than twenty alumni and sixty-five students registered for the event.

A Behrend alumnus sat at every table in the room, and students rotated from table to table every eight minutes. For the first ninety seconds of each session, the student would offer his or her elevator speech to the alumnus. The alumnus then offered feedback during the remaining time.

The event’s goal was to help students become more acclimated to the interview process and professional interaction.

“It’s important for students to know how to talk to professionals,” said FMA treasurer and junior finance major Brooke Landram. “Communication is so important.”

Artur Szastak has had difficulty in his job search, so he decided to participate in the Business Blitz to hone his interviewing skills.

“I feel you either make it or lose it in the first 60 seconds of talking to someone, and this can be good practice for that,” the senior finance major said. “When you come into an interview, it’s almost as if you’re being judged, and it takes you out of your comfort zone. That initial shock starts to wear away with the more experience you get.”

The trial interviews were just one part of the Business Blitz event.

Following the speed networking sessions, students stayed to network with the alumni in attendance. Alumni were also given a book that included the résumés of every student who participated in the event.

“You can make some great connections here in Erie,” said SUE president and senior business, economics, and marketing major Brittany Martinelli. “Hopefully this event continues for a long time.”

For more information on the Business Blitz event, please email Professor of Finance Dr. Greg Filbeck at