Career Journeys Video Series

Career Journeys

It’s really difficult to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. In essence, that’s what students are trying to do when they explore careers. Are they suited to the work? What’s a typical day on the job like? Are they good candidates for the necessary education or training?

To help young people begin answering those questions, the Consortium has launched Career Journeys. This video series is made up of informal conversations that we’re filming with people in a wide array of occupations spanning many industries. The conversations should give students at least a taste of what each career is like and help them know whether they’d like to learn more, perhaps through research, a job-shadow or some other work-based learning experience.

Check back often because we are building a library. Adults using these resources to help students explore careers may find it helpful to use the Career Journeys Supplemental Materials we’ve prepared for teachers and counselors.

Helping companies identify equity issues and strategies

As founder of a consultancy focused on equity, LaTrenda Sherrill says that being able to build client relationships, juggle multiple projects and maintain humility are key drivers of success for an entrepreneur.

Pursuing a passion for sustainability

Zaheen Hussain learned the importance of sustainability when he realized climate change contributed to a disastrous cyclone that he lived through in Bangladesh.

Critical care nursing takes team skills and empathy 

Now an Improvement Specialist for UPMC, Omar Badran began his health career in critical care. He describes it as fast-paced, and says it takes empathy and teamwork.

Bank managers are financial jacks-of-all-trades

As Financial Solutions Center Manager for First Commonwealth Bank in Butler, Jonathan Boyd says he needs a firm grasp of numbers and finance, but people skills are every bit as important.

Tech CEO went from studying psychology to teaching to IT

As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of a company that provides IT support, Leia Shilobod sees herself and her employees as crisis counselors.

Farming can provide a sense of daily accomplishment

A part-time farmer Lee Scott loves agriculture because it gives him a deep and abiding connection with the land and animals.

Marching to his own inner drummer

J.D. Waechter had no idea he’d become a Practice Manager with Allegheny Health Network when he started college. He shifted academic focus multiple times before finding his way into health care.

The performing arts aren’t just about being on stage

Jara Dorsey-Lash says there are lots of career paths that take passion for the performing arts without being a Broadway star. She found one as Associate Director of Development for Penn State University’s Performing Arts Center.

Developing relationships is key to developing young talent

As Vice President and Talent Program Manager for High School Programming at PNC Financial Services, Brianna McMeekin finds that developing relationships is the thing she likes most about her job, and communications is the most important skill.

A political career takes passion and plans

Marita Garrett was never drawn so much to politics as public service. But when she recognized that Wilkinsburg, the neighborhood where she settled, needed change-agents, she was off, and running for mayor.


Nonprofit founder pegs learning to learn as most important skill

Through her own education as an architect, Nina Barbuto pursued her passion for creativity. As founder and Executive Director of Assemble, she’s helping foster creativity and learning to empower communities.

Construction Superintendent’s days are long, but all very different

Joe Armbruster, a Superintendent with Mascaro Construction, followed up his carpentry apprenticeship with a degree in construction management and now oversees many different kinds of building projects.

In accounting, communication is as important as math

When she broke with a family tradition in teaching to become an accountant, Megan Troxell, a Senior Manager at the accounting firm Grossman, Yanak and Ford had no idea how much teaching her career would still involve.

Transferrable skills can help redirect a career

Training and working as a librarian helped Alison Altemus build skills to move in an entirely different career direction. She’s now working as a Grants Manager for Eden Hall Foundation.

Taking the law to a different court

Kacie Farmer got her law degree only to learn she didn’t feel cut out for life in a law firm. The legal background still comes in handy, however, as she caters to legal clients for Thomson Reuters.

Learning hospitality from the ground up

For Carrie Wakinekona, Director of Quality Assurance & Training at Nemacolin Woodlands, hospitality is about helping people.

Self-motivation figures large in a marketing job

In Jordan Jasper’s job as Marketing Coordinator for PolyConcepts, Inc., there’s no set schedule. Everyday is different so one of the most important skills is being a self-starter.

Being detail-oriented is critical skill in research

As a Research Assistant at UPMC Children’s Hospital, Lauren Risser focuses on public health projects in youth violence prevention.

Helping a city and its youth become more tech savvy

As Digital Inclusion Director for the City of Pittsburgh and as Founder of Beta Builders, Maximillian Dennison is trying to make technology accessible to all.

Health care is more than doctors and nurses

Malissa Seman is a Project Manager with Allegheny Health Network. Her unusual path to a position in the health sciences gives insight into careers behind the front lines.

Putting it all together as an industrial engineer

Overseeing a couple of school projects, including one in shop class, put Liza Rigucci on a path to become an industrial engineer with Mascaro Construction.

Technical service means working with people

A physics major now working as a Technical Service Representative for Covestro, Kaitlyn Tautkus-Berry finds her science background important, but her people-skills are just as critical to the job.

Skills as a chemist led to career in regulatory compliance

A chemistry background helped Greg Chambers solve a safety challenge for Oberg Industries and the solution helped pave the way for his career in regulatory compliance.

Educator loves having a positive impact on youth

Kristin Szewcyk wanted to work in a helping profession and achieved her goal combining speech pathology and education.

Turning two passions into life as an entrepreneur

Once a television weatherman, Jeff Verszyla combined training in broadcast media and his interest in meteorology to become an entrepreneur, giving forecasts over his own website and social media.

Bringing advocacy skills to higher education

Chaz Kellem is Director at PittServes, a unit of the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Affairs division. Begun with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his career has taken him through the corporate, nonprofit and higher education sectors.

Zookeepers do lots more than take care of animals

As a zookeeper with responsibility for the big cats at the Philadelphia Zoo, Kay Buffamonte has been captivated by lions since childhood. But she’s the first to tell you there’s more to the job than lions, tigers and pumas.

Much about transportation engineering is about technology

Anthony Castellone didn’t take a straight path to becoming a Transportation Division Manager for Pennoni. But his current role brings together what he’s learned from previous career steps.

She’s not in the classroom, but teaching remains a part of her work

Trained as a teacher, Aimee LeFevers calls herself “The Accidental Executive Director.” But her role at Family Resources combines two of her interests–creating systems and working with vulnerable populations.

Putting technical knowledge to work in sales

Derick Henderson shifted gears at Covestro six months ago, moving out of his job as a chemical lab technician and into a sales position where he works with customers for polymer coating materials.

Apprentice programs offer one route to manufacturing careers

Neil Ashbaugh pursued both baseball and broadcasting before undertaking the apprenticeship that took him into manufacturing. Now, he helps others train for the field as President and Chief Executive Officer of New Century Careers,

Health & Fitness professional shares career journey

Todd Hamer is  the General Manager of Union Fitness, a commercial gym on Pittsburgh’s North Side. From how he started in his field to what his work is like, he shares insights on careers in fitness and health sciences.

Pursuing an academic career

Khirsten Scott, PhD is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh with a specialty in Black rhetoric and public writing. Her position in higher education and training offers insights into life as a professor.

Project management brings different challenges every day

As a Project Manager for Mascaro Construction Co., Baily Keilbach finds every day is different except for one thing: there’s always a new problem to solve.

Academia brings benefits and challenges of unstructured time

As a University of Pittsburgh Professor and Associate Dean of Medical Research, Donald DeFranco’s work is a combination of teaching and research.

Finding a different path for working with animals

As Education Program Director for Allegheny Land Trust, Julie Travaglini wears many hats. One day, she might be indoors writing lesson plans or grants and the next, she’s in the field immersing them in nature.

Coaching a collegiate sport

As Head Coach of Duquesne University’s soccer team, Chase Brooks explains why coaches in collegiate sports are educators as much as they are trainers or athletes.

Part II: Coaching a collegiate sport

A business degree has helped Chase Brooks with the managerial role and administrative duties that come with the role of Head Coach  within a university athletic program.

Machinists turn raw metal into precision parts 

Ralph Balash is a Machine Shop Training Group Leader for Aerotech, Inc., a  maker of motion controls. A skilled machinist, he graduated from a program at  New Century Careers. He discusses his trade and training for the field of manufacturing.

A political science major finds his way to nonprofit service

A chance encounter waiting tables at the Duquesne Club taught Jaron Paul the value of networking and led him to his job as an Operations Associate at APOST-United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Helping people plan their travels

Amy Kent, CTA is a Travel Agent with Dream Come True Vacations. Her role in the hospitality and tourism career cluster is a unique one offering flexibility with a large dose of personal accountability.

Same skills, two different paths

A career plan to work in government has taken Jennifer Halaszynski from the public sector to private industry, as Manager of Regulatory & Government Affairs for Comcast.