Business students learn from professionals at social media summit

January 23, 2013

Four Penn State New Kensington business students attended a professional marketing summit last semester and came away with information on social media that may prove helpful in their future endeavors.

The graduating seniors -- Katie Colbert, Heather Gulotta, Perry Nickleach and Kalie Montgomery -- accompanied by Rujirutana “Dr. A” Mandhachitara, associate professor of business administration at the campus, participated last semester in the Digital Marketing Best Practices Summit, a series of panel discussions that focused on updated applications of social network tools in brand building, including optimizing the results, or hits, from search engines such as Google. Coordinated by Mandhachitara and organized by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the event’s guest speakers were drawn from senior marketing and advertising executives in the region.

“The panelists discussed different methods of branding, such as using the right keywords and extending the searched terms to achieve that goal,” said Mandhachitara, who holds a doctorate in marketing from Thammasat University in Thailand.

While the topics focused on search engine branding, the New Kensington students each had a different take on applying the information to their future careers.
Colbert, a graduate of Fox Chapel High School and a four-year starter for the campus softball team, plans on pursuing a master of business administration degree after securing a position in the marketing field. She was partial to the talk on social commerce, which addressed how social media sites contribute to the purchase of products and services, and how social media can influence careers in marketing/management.

“One decision the summit brought to my attention about my career was knowledge of social media sites,” said Colbert, who is doing an internship in the Career Services office at the campus. “You need to be an expert on one site, have a general knowledge about most social media sites or have an in-depth understanding in a couple of the most used sites.”

Search Engine Optimizing (SEO), which increases the number of people who access a company’s website through a search engine, was an intriguing topic for Gulotta. The Valley High School graduate wants to apply her newly acquired knowledge about optimizing to the campus’ four-year business administration program.

“It was interesting to learn about key words and how to make your company's website show up within the first few pages of a Google search,” said Gulotta, who works part time as an environmental services aide for HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital. “To promote the business program, we need to implement SEO. We need content that will get Penn State New Kensington to show up in a search for business programs in Pittsburgh.”

Nickleach viewed the social media information from an entrepreneurial standpoint. Buying habits of consumers, especially in the younger generations, have changed as social media influences their purchasing behaviors. Internet purchases are increasing through the use of smart phones and tablets.

“The summit provided an in-depth look into how search engines and social media really influence how consumers make their buying decisions,” said Nickleach, who hails from Ford City. “The techniques for monitoring advertising and consumer usage are changing daily. It is very important to have people working for you who are up to date and ready to take on all of the technological change ahead."

The question-and-answer segments were especially enlightening for Montgomery. She enjoyed the give-and-take of the professional marketers in the audience and on the dais.

“Listening to the Q & A sessions was insightful because the people asking the questions were real world marketers,” said Montgomery, a native of Worthington. “It was helpful to hear their questions and gauge their jobs.”

Montgomery favored the overall experience of the summit. She appreciated the ambiance as much as the content of the summit.

“Even if you weren't interested in what was being discussed, it was a great atmosphere,” said Montgomery, the current recipient of the campus’ Dr. Saul and Emma Fleegler Family Scholarship. “You could gauge what to wear to business conferences, how to interact with people, what to bring and what kinds of questions to ask. It is beneficial to attend events like this, so that we are better prepared socially when we attend marketing keynotes as a working professional.”

“The students appreciated the learning from the seminar as much as the opportunity to meet and connect with marketing executives,” said Mandhachitara, who joined the campus faculty in 2007. “On a daily basis, these professionals implement the skills that students are currently learning in their marketing classes.”

For more about the business administration program at Penn State New Kensington, visit


  • Kalie Montgomery, center, talked with Katie Colbert during a break in the Digital Marketing Best Practices Summit in Pittsburgh.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 23, 2013