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Career Success Story

Conyngham Hall • 570-408-4060 (T) • 570-408-4061 (F) • Email

Name: Kelly (Patchell) Della Rosa
Major/Graduation Date: Psychology / Minors, History & Sociology / May 2009

Current Position: 
Behavior Specialist/Senior Level Teacher at Alpine Learning Group.
I am currently working at Alpine Learning Group which is non-profit private school that provides educational and behavioral services to children with autism based on the principles of applied behavior analysis. As an advisor, I manage two classrooms and oversee implementation of behavior treatment plans and educational programs. I am also responsible for coordinating and supervising work opportunities in the community for students who are at least 16 years old.
Activities at Wilkes: 
Women’s basketball team, ASB, Psychology club, Psi Chi, History club and an Internship at the Children’s Service Center.
Advice to job seekers/current undergraduates:
I would highly recommend doing at least one internship while you are at Wilkes. I found the field that I am in now because of my internship at Children’s Service Center. If I hadn’t done it, I may not even be in the same field that I am today. If you have graduated and are looking for a job, don’t get discouraged. Keep sending out resumes and follow up with companies that you have already sent them to. If you are in a field like psychology that is very broad, don’t be afraid to try new things. You may think you want to do one specific career, but the real world may steer you in another direction and I think that’s okay. Everything doesn’t always go according to plan. 
Toughest Interview question I have been asked:
What do you want to do with your life? What makes this such a tough question is how broad it is. You really have to be prepared for any questions. I was taught to have an “elevator speech” which is a quick description of yourself and your goals. It should be something that you could tell someone on an elevator ride that would impress them enough to remember you. Besides the traditional questions, I think that the hardest thing I had to do in an interview was a hands-on component. Following the traditional question and answer part, I was asked to work with a child whom I had never met. The interviewer gave me feedback and I was required to change my interactions with the student in response. Be prepared for anything!
What helped prepare me for my career?
Getting involved in a variety of activities at Wilkes helped me the most because I was able to network with so many different people. I was given leadership opportunities in clubs and it gave me the skills to be a good leader in the workplace. The internship that I completed my junior year also led me to my career choice and prepared me to work with students with different disabilities. Of course, I give most of the credit to the great teaching I received throughout all 4 years at Wilkes. 
Name: John Polson
Bachelors of Science in Biology

Current Position:
I work for Momentive Performance Materials a Global Leader in providing silicone and advanced materials. I work as a Site Quality Technician. I am in charge of setting up new testing procedures and maintaining analytical testing equipment.

Activities while attending Wilkes :
I was involved in the Biology Club, Student Government, Programming Board, Emerging Leaders Program, Alternative Spring Break, a Teaching assistant, and played on the University Soccer team for 3 years.

Advice to current undergraduates/jobseekers:
Be open minded to jobs available. It’s really important to start somewhere and build from there. Job experience is one of the most important qualities. Do your best to market yourself as a person in addition to your background. Do your best to tailor your resume to the job characteristics that the employer is looking for. Be open to taking internships because they will give you a great experience for your resume but also maybe showing you something you may like or not like as much.

Toughest Interview Question you’ve ever been asked?
My one interview asked me to draw organic synthesis reactions (not my strong point!)

Best preparation for my career:
By far it was my ability to handle my undergraduate studies with the many extracurricular activities that I was involved with. Everything I was involved with built a strong individual with diverse and valuable skills. Not only was I just a science major but also a stronger leader, team player, and involved in my community.

Dr. Brian Kaschak
, '98, graduated from Wyoming Valley West High School, received a B.A. degree in History, Summa Cum Laude from Wilkes University, a M.A. degree and a Ph.D. in History from Emory University, Atlanta, GA. 
Currently Brian is a member of the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School faculty located in Kingston, PA. He recently received the Teaching Excellence Award from the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. He received the award in recognition of his outstanding ability to teach history, his civility and concern for students and colleagues, commitment to a value-centered education and for his service to Seminary and its students as well as the community. Kaschak has taught history at the Upper School since 2003 and serves as varsity boys’ baseball coach. He teaches a variety of history courses and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. He serves as the dorm head of Carpenter Hall and as director of the summer ESL program. 

The mentorship Brian received from the Wilkes History department faculty helped him in attaining his educational achievements.  The Career Services Office along with Brian's proud mother, Camille Kaschak, our Program Assistant, congratulates Brian on his achievement.


Name: Mary Waldorf
Major/Graduation Date: Psychology/Sociology, Minor / May 2001

Current Position: Assistant Dean of Students, Columbia University, School of General Studies
Advise students on academic, administrative and personal matters as they relate to students' plans of study.  Serve as the advisor to the General Studies Student Council (GSSC).  Creating, planning and providing innovative leadership and personal development programs for GS students.  Serve on disciplinary hearings.  Plan all aspects of fall and spring orientation.

Activities while attending Wilkes :
Orientation Leader for 2 years, Psychology Club, Programming Board, 3 Internships (Chase Prison, Hanover Elementary School, Salvation Army Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Center), Tennis - 1 year.

Advice to current undergraduates/jobseekers:
Don't be lazy! Do internships. Lots of them!  Get to know faculty and do independent study.  Don't only get involved in clubs and service opportunities, but LEAD them.  Be an active and engaged member of the Wilkes community.  College is such an amazing time of personal and intellectual growth where you have the opportunity to learn about your strength's and weaknesses.  Those experiences are what will give you the self awareness you need to make informed decisions about career paths that you will find rewarding and challenging.

Toughest interview question I was ever asked:
"Tell us about a time when a project at work didn't go as planned, and how you resolved the issue."
While this isn't a tough question, it shows that you should never go into an interview unprepared.  You should always review questions that are typically asked, and always do a review of work experiences you've had that you can use as solid examples to back up your answers on how you manage your time, how you resolve conflict, your leadership style, etc.

Best preparation for my career:
My undergraduate internships, graduate school, and my entry level positions in the University setting ( at Wilkes, actually).


Andrea N. Smallacombe, 08' - originally from Cresco, PA is a graduate of Pocono Mountain East H.S.; received a Bachelor in Business Administration, Cum Laude with a minor in Entrepreneurship/ May 2008. Currently a Human Resource Analyst, Labor Relations Division - Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

My involvement at Wilkes included the following:
Resident Assistant, Alternative Spring Break (06’ trip to Eastern Appalachia, KY; 07’ trip to St. Bernard’s Parish, New Orleans, LA), Students In Free Enterprise – Secret Shopper Program Project Coordinator, Relay for Life Team Captain, Habitat for Humanity – Student Coordinator, FIT (Financial Independence for Tomorrow) Program volunteer, E-mentor/Orientation Leader, Marketing Internship with CDS Creative, Inc., HR Internship with Marian Community Hospital, HR Internship with Allied Services, Work Study for the Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.

Real life experience is what helped prepare me most for my career. It doesn’t matter how hard you study or how well you do in your courses – there is nothing that will prepare you more for the workforce than getting out there and actually doing the work.   Take every internship that you can (even if it’s not paid), attend whatever networking sessions and job fairs you have to (even if you’re uncomfortable) in order to get your foot in the door, and never stop using the resources available to you at Wilkes.
Had it not been for Lisa (from Career Services), I would have never known about the Commonwealth Human Resource Management Trainee program and I would not be in the position that I am today. I also give a great deal of credit to my professors in the Sidhu School for their constant and never failing faith in their students – they provide their students with unwavering support and guidance in every aspect of life; they are amazing professors, mentors and friends.

Name: Kaitlin A. Taber- Miller

Major/Graduation Date: Musical Theatre/May 2008

Currently I am a Teach For America Hawaii Corps member, placed as a special educator at Waipahu High School on the island of Oahu.  I work with students receiving special education services for mild/moderate disabilities.

I participated in several clubs and extra-curricular activities while at Wilkes.  At various points throughout my college career I was a part of Chorus club, Student Government, and Student Political Action Forum (SPAF) Club.  I also worked for the University in various positions: Orientation coordinator, student ambassador, e-mentor, and a Student Development/Cooperative Education work study student.  I was also heavily involved in the Alternative Spring Break program, traveling to New Orleans as a coordinator in 2007, and as a participant when I traveled with ASB to Belize in 2008.  As a senior, I also wrote, directed, and produced a docu-drama for the stage, based solely on a documentary filmed by myself and Steve Karpinski (another Wilkes University alumni).

The best advice I can give is that the time given to you in college is time to maximize on experiential opportunities.  Get involved in community service, get an internship, volunteer for those who are in need.  This kind of work prepares you for many job opportunities, reflects that you are a caring and motivated team player, and frequently gives you experience to pull from when answering tough interview questions.

I feel as though my extracurricular experience is what prepared me most thoroughly for my career specifically with Alternative Spring Break and as an E-Mentor/Orientation Coordinator.  As a Teach For America Corps member placed in a high-need school, working with many at-risk students, my experience working in other high-need communities with ASB has only helped me to better contribute to my new community here in Hawaii.  As far as working as an E-Mentor and Orientation Coordinator, this gave me the opportunity to hone my people-skills and gain organizational skills that I needed in order to work effectively as a teacher.

Finally, I feel that these programs helped me establish and maintain goal-setting skills.  I establish goals constantly as a teacher, both with Teach For America and my high school.  Both require me to set goals, collect data on my progress, and then assess whether or not I successfully met those goals.  I believe this skill to be the most important.

  Dr. Michael Kaschak, ’98, originally from Kingston Pa., graduated from Wyoming Valley West High School, received a B.A. in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude from Wilkes University, and attained a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2003. He is a Professor at Florida State University.  

Mike is the recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator Award of the International Society for Text & Discourse.  The Young Investigator Award recognizes outstanding research in the study of text and discourse by a scholar who has received an advanced degree within the past 10 years. Mike is an emerging international leader in the study of language. His research goals are to understand the relation between language comprehension and motor planning, to explain the acquisition of novel syntactic structures in adults, and to examine how patterns of experience affect language. His research has appeared in prominent journals in cognitive science, including Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Cognition, Cognitive Science, and the Journal of Memory and Language.

Dr. Michael Kaschak was elected a fellow of the Association of Psychological Science (APS), the largest international organization for researchers in the field of psychological research.

Kaschak also received an Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Psyconomic Society, a major organization devoted to experimental cognitive psychology.

Mike credits the wonderful mentorship from our Psychology Department in helping him attain his educational achievements. We, along with his proud mother, Camille Kaschak, our Career Services Program Assistant, congratulate and applaud Mike.




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