“If I ever get a promotion, she’ll be the first person I call after my parents.”
Those are the words of Emnet Abebe, a dual MBA and Master of Science in Finance student, about Jennifer Bellucci, director of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics Center for Career Development (CDC).
“Just the other day, one of my classmates in the MBA program called us. He had just gotten a promotion, and the first person he wanted to call was Jenn because she encouraged him to apply for the position and he wasn’t sure about it. She said, ‘Just do it. Apply! I think it’s really for you.’ He did it, and now he has no regrets.”
A former cheerleader at the University of Pittsburgh with a contagious laugh, Bellucci is now cheering on B&E students as she helps prepare them for the job market.
“[My favorite part about my job is] working with the students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and helping them to formulate an effective job search strategy that will help them to either acquire exactly what they want or at least formulate a plan that will put them on the appropriate career trajectory to set them forth in an appropriate way to achieve their ultimate goals or at least what they’ve designed for themselves at this point,” Bellucci said. “I think that is the most rewarding part of this job. I also say it’s almost selfish of us because, in some ways, we really get to enjoy seeing that all the way through, and it’s so fulfilling.”
After joining B&E in 2014, Bellucci has since bolstered the efforts of the CCD, adding several new staff members, student and employer events and deeply refining the vision and mission of the center — all while making sure to put students first.
“In the fall, for the first time ever, you’re going to see a divide between undergraduate and graduate programs services, and hopefully in the future we’ll get even more specialized to service specific academic programs within each role within the career development center,” she said. “Beyond that, eventually I have a strategic vision that we’ll see specialization between student services and employer relations, so that we can really provide high-touch services to both students and our employer constituents, as well as our alumni base. We’re going to provide and change our programs based on industry trends, which is something that is really important to us. We always want to make sure we are leading the way and being progressive in our field.”
One major event Bellucci has helped to implement at the University-level is the annual WVU Employer Summit. Partnering with WVU Career Services and the Statler College of Engineering, the event brought employers from all over the United States to the WVU campus to provide quick engagement on many different levels.
“From the employer standpoint, it’s an easy, quick answer as to what is going to be the ROI in terms of their engagement with the University, and if it makes sense culturally for that organization. It’s a great barometer to ensure that our values and the norms that exist throughout our curriculum and our expectations of students translate well into the corporate environment or into that business,” Bellucci said. “It also gives us an understanding of the types of students we have, if they will be successful in an organization, and if their organizations would be the right fit for our students on a number of levels. It’s beneficial to both sides. In addition to that, I think it’s an easy way for us to advertise and solicit new relationships on some level.”
Prior to joining B&E, Bellucci gained vast human resource management experience at various companies, including U.S. Steel. Today, she does not hesitate to tell her students that networking opportunities helped to pave her career path, hoping they will see the power of great networking skills — and that things not going according to plan is not necessarily a bad thing.
“I ended up working in my first job instead of applying to law school while I was studying for my LSAT. I was in the medical school at another university in an event planning and administrative capacity, and I was offered an opportunity at a hospitality company by one of our alumni who was part of an investment group, so it was a networking experience to some degree. That job actually involved supervision and management of a region of hotels from a HR standpoint and a guest relations standpoint. And I didn’t love the guest relations part so much, but from an HR standpoint, I loved that function of the business,” she said.
“It was truly networking. I always tell our students that I have not applied to my last few jobs. It was purely based on networking and my ability to provide some exposure to my competencies and my skills. It was really just ‘right place, right time’ and a lot of luck,” she laughed.
While she was passionate about working in HR functions such as, compliance, benefits administration and succession planning, she welcomed the shift from the corporate world to interacting with students.
“I always say this is an opportunity to have an impact on the minds that will change our world, as opposed to what I call the receiving end. You’re receiving those minds and maybe on some level mentoring and providing opportunity internally within a business, which is wonderful, too, but I think it’s a totally different perspective to see it on the front end,” Bellucci said.
It is easy to see that the HR professional is energetic about life, her career and the B&E family, and it is even easier to see that this passion is truly genuine. Bellucci said she received the best piece of advice about the power of ingenuity from a female executive she worked with in a male-dominated industry.
“She told me to always be yourself, always be genuine, always be authentic; and authenticity will get you everywhere. At the end of the day, no matter what you know, no matter how much knowledge you have acquired, if you can always be genuine and always be authentic, that will always keep you successful. That has worked for me,” Bellucci said. “I always say informally, don’t mistake my being casual for being unprofessional. Really, if I’m able to be casual in a business setting, it’s because I’m truly confident and feel authentic in terms of whatever I’m delivering. That speaks to my authenticity philosophy, and that’s always stuck with me.”