Alumna Keeps the Saluki Connection through Internship Opportunities

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Alumna Keeps the Saluki Connection going through Internship Opportunities

November 01, 2016, Chelsea Kujawa

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Penny Clancy, Vice President of Human
Resources at Sentinel Technologies Inc.

SIU alum, Penny Clancy is Vice President of Human Resources at Sentinel Technologies Inc. in Downers Grove, Illinois. Her company has been recognized for more than 25 years as a leader in providing business technology services, from end-to-end solutions to targeted applications. As such, Sentinel is one of the leading IT services and solutions providers in the United States.

Before assuming her current position, Clancy served as director of human resources at Sentinel. She also worked at Sentinel as the company’s director of corporate recruiting.

Clancy’s ties to the College of Business run deep. She graduated from the College of Business at Southern Illinois University with her Master of Business Administration in 1995, and serves as chair of both the management advisory board and minority affairs advisory board within the College of Business.

“I loved my experience at Southern Illinois University,” Clancy said. “I enjoyed the class projects, the professors, the administrators, the lifelong friends and all the fun adventures you can do around the campus as well. My family and I still come back most fall or spring seasons to enjoy the fun adventures that can be had in Southern Illinois.”

Clancy has participated in the externship program since 1995. During the week of spring break, students are paired with a sponsor from a company that complements that particular student’s professional goals. Throughout the week, students are able to apply their knowledge from the classroom in a professional work environment. This is an ideal opportunity for students to gain real world insight into the career fields they are interested in entering. It also is a low risk way for employers to see if the student might be a good fit for their company.

“I am a Southern Illinois University alumnus and have enjoyed recruiting students from SIU for several years,” Clancy said. “SIU makes it easy for me to connect with students through the support of the dedicated College of Business Placement Center. This is a unique situation to have a department dedicated to the placement of the students. The support I am provided is absolutely top-notch.”

Sentinel uses many means to identify talent to recruit students for potential jobs, including job boards, networking events, University Job Fairs and on-campus recruiting. Clancy said she believes it is challenging to find good talent in today’s market because the days of posting a job and having interested employees come to you have passed, especially in highly competitive industries such as technology.

Clancy also said she believes that the students from the College of Business stand out from students at other universities.

“Students from the College of Business have an excellent academic foundation and strong work ethic,” Clancy said. “In addition, some of the support programs the college conducts really help set the students apart. For example, the etiquette dinner event helps students prepare for that next step. Assisting students with providing professional clothing options ensures students are able to make the positive first impression. This level of excellence the College of Business at Southern Illinois University provides to its students really helps them stand out from the rest.”

There are many factors that employers look for in employees, and those factors may differ among employers. Clancy shared what she looks for when looking for a potential employee.

“At a minimum I look for a candidate with a background that fits the position,” she said. “I also look for a candidate that has an interest in my industry and position. I prefer a candidate that is well-prepared for the interview, professionally dressed, is knowledgeable about my company and possesses effective communication skills. I look for candidates to show their best effort in selling themselves.”

Trevor Pederson, a College of Business alumnus, recently was hired at Sentinel as a recruiter for the company. Since becoming a recruiter, Pederson has learned that continuing education is the key to being competitive in his career. Pederson was picked for an interview with Sentinel when the company visited the college to conduct interviews for internships. He said he believes that the most challenging part of managing his career is having the ability to know when to stick it out when works seems daunting and being able to see the value in growing with the company instead of jumping to the next opportunity as soon as it comes up.

Talking to a recruiter can be intimidating, Pederson said, but he offered some advice to help ease some of the potential anxiety.

“Be open to any and all positions made available to you through recruiters,” he said. “Even if you don’t want the job, go on the interview. “You can make the final decision on whether or not you want the job once you receive an offer. Also remember that all interactions with recruiters should be treated like an interview, because professionalism will get you very far.”

Clancy also had some advice for the students who may be nervous about going on their first interview for a potential internship.

“Be prepared for your interviews,” Clancy said. “Know the company and the position and know how to sell yourself. There can be a lot of opportunities, so understand that a position can be more than just pay. It is important to make sure to take into consideration your potential to grow and develop beyond that first job within the company. Make sure to emphasize what you have accomplished and communicate your transferable skills. Make sure you express how you plan to learn and meet the career expectations. This is the first impression, so make it count!”

Pederson shared advice for students to help make sure they get the most out of their time at Southern Illinois University.

“My advice for students is to make sure that you make the most of the time you have at SIU,” he said. “Join organizations to help you grow as a leader. Make sure that you put forth effort to grow your knowledge from the classroom. Internships and externships are also huge during your career, even if it is just to find out that a career path may not be the right fit for you.”

Clancy values the strong relationship that she has with the university and the College of Business.

“It has been important to me to maintain a relationship with Southern Illinois University, as it has contributed in helping our organization identify valuable talent,” Clancy said. “I look forward to seeing SIU grow and continue to offer an affordable solution to students in state. To be a part of the university’s history of providing an excellent academic foundation and being the opportunity for students to create positive lifelong memories is a wonderful experience.”