Three finance professionals kick off career readiness series at Lordstown High School

By Ed Runyan


Three finance professionals kicked off a series of presentations for Lordstown High School students Friday designed to help students become career ready.

Jakub Waksmundzki, a 2007 Lordstown graduate; Rodger Jordan, a 1983 Lordstown grad; and Matthew Thomas, 2012; gave short presentations, followed by a question-and-answer period.

Waksmundski said he believed in paying his own way through college, so he worked full time. He still graduated with his bachelor’s degree in accounting in four years from Penn State University and completed his master’s degree in business administration in three years. He held down his student debt to about $10,000.

He first decided he enjoyed finance after participating in a student stock market competition at Lordstown High School.

His job is information technology planning analyst at FirstEnergy, where he looks for ways to cut costs. He started there as an intern, so internships are important to advancing your career, but so is shadowing a professional while still in high school and talking to adults in a field you might be interested in, Waksmundski said.

Jordan took an alternate path to a finance career, working 11 years at the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown and becoming a family man before starting his current position in 2015 with Western & Southern life insurance as a representative and investment adviser.

Jordan said the students should not be “afraid to fall or fail. It’s not really about the failure. It’s how you get back up from it. You do what you are passionate about. You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I like?’ and attach your career to what you really love.”

Thomas has a degree from Youngstown State University in finance and is a financial adviser with MassMutual Financial Group. He remembers how difficult it was when he was a high-school student trying to decide his career choice.

He said a personal-finance class he took as a college freshman suggested an opportunity to him because of how useful the information was. “I was interested in creating financial plans for people,” he said.

Internships not only help a student become acquainted with a company, but it also helps a person understand whether that type of career is what he or she wants, Thomas said.

When a student asked how important good grades are, Thomas said, “Always strive to get that A [grade], but what’s most important, especially when you get to the working field, is building those habits [of achievement] early,” he said.

Future sessions will focus on public and community services, business, healthcare, education, public safety and law, blue-collar jobs, and science/technology/engineering and math.

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