BETHANY, W.Va. – About 50 people took part in a Bethany College networking dinner that connected successful alumni with students who are taking the early steps toward their career goals.

Amy VanHorn, director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, was pleased with turnout and said she plans to make the dinner an annual event.

“We have a nice group of alumni,” VanHorn said in her introduction. “For students here tonight, this can be a friendly introduction to networking. … Talk to the alumni. They will open doors for you.”

In his keynote address, Jeffrey Woda ’87, president, managing director and principal of Woda Cooper Companies, Inc., echoed that sentiment.

“They are absolutely 100 percent willing to help you,” he said.

Woda offered several tips to students as they complete their studies and begin their job search, including be willing to learn; be positive; be a closer; try to have a sense of humor; be prepared to ask and answer questions during an interview; and send a handwritten thank you note afterward as a way to stand out.

Most importantly, he said, be courageous. Woda shared a story of a Bethany alumnus who went on to get his law degree and practice in the Columbus area. He happened to read an article about Wal-Mart starting an international division. The alumnus thought it sounded interesting and he wrote a letter to the CEO at the time. He ended up with an interview and was hired to run the legal department of the international division.

“Put yourself out there,” Woda said. “The worst that can happen is they tell you, ‘no.’”

Nativa O’Brien, a senior English and Creative Writing major, welcomed the opportunity to speak with alumni in a casual, low-stress atmosphere.

“It’s a chance to air my anxieties in a more intimate environment,” she said. “I think it allows me to take in their advice more thoroughly.”

Woda said the networking event was a way for alumni to give back.

“For us, we’re very proud and dedicated to the institution that educated us, and I want [the students] to have the opportunities that I had,” Woda said after the event.

Christopher Seabright ’00, director of sales and strategy for Retail National Experience of PNC Bank, said for him the networking event was twofold.

“Personally, for me, I love to be back on campus,” he said. “And I think alumni are always willing to help and looking for ways to give back.”

Seabright said he hopes that he hears from some of the students he spoke with.

“It’s great that they are doing this,” Seabright said, noting that there wasn’t that type of networking event when he attended. “There’s a lot you can do to build on it.”

Other participating alumni were: Kathleen Brosh ’86, Ph.D., Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, National Estuarine Research Reserve System; Robert M. Brosh, Jr., ’85, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research Center; Bethany Caldwell ’05, Resurrection Counseling Ministries; Judge Joyce Dumbaugh-Chernenko ’78, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; Marc Chernenko, William E. Watson Associates; Meghan Philp ’12, Dick’s Sporting Goods; Cory Wilson ’07, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District; Frank Yankovich ’86, First Commonwealth Bank.

The Nov. 14 dinner was part of weeklong series of events that included workshops, resume tips, and a job and internship fair.

For more photos from Career Week, click here.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.