Mon Yough Chamber internship perfect fit for Penn State junior Studeny

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

Cassandra Studeny is making the most of an internship with the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce.

She first chose health policy and administration as her major, but the Penn State Greater Allegheny junior changed her focus to corporate communications when she returned from her brief studies abroad.

“I was given the opportunity to go to China for a month between my freshman and sophomore years of college, and while I was there I explored different aspects of businesses, their marketing techniques and public relations,” she said. “That's something that really interests me.”

Communications instructor Erica Clarke linked Studeny with the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce, an organization committed to sustaining and expanding the region's prosperity by uniting businesses with the community that supports them.

“I looked into the organization, read its mission statement and passed along my resume,” Studeny recalled. “I felt this is something that can really enhance my major. I work hands-on with this organization.”

While interns in many corporate locations become go-fers with responsibilities such as coffee runs, Studeny is happy to be gaining real work experience. Chamber president Maury Burgwin trusts her with assignments that are important to the chamber's operation.

“It's a godsend,” Burgwin said. “We're a small chamber, and Cassandra has taken on a huge responsibility that centers on community relations. It's her show.”

Studeny handles email correspondence and newsletters that highlight the chamber members' accomplishments.

Her duties have included proofreading and helping to compile the chamber's quarterly tabloid Community Connection, published by The Daily News/Trib Total Media.

She served on the committee for this year's Prosperity Fair at West Mifflin Area High School.

“She's an integral cog in our organization,” Burgwin said.

Chamber board chairman Mark Urbassik of KU Resources said Studeny has been a great asset to chamber programming.

“She's been a great help to us,” Urbassik said. “Actually, it's worked out much better than I ever hoped it would. She personally has a lot to do with that, and the Penn State program helped a lot too. We've made great strides since she's been with us, and hopefully she'll stick around a little bit longer.”

Studeny puts in about 16 hours per week at the chamber to meet her 225 hours-per-semester requirement with Penn State. She hopes to extend her stay through the summer as a work-study opportunity, if approved by the university.

“We're hopefully going to hear positive news on that,” Burgwin said. “We need her, and she's a delight to work with. If there's anybody out there looking to hire a Johnny-on-the-spot, she's the one.”

A Pittsburgh native and resident assistant on the Greater Allegheny campus during the school year, Studeny said she is happy to gain work experience in a community where she plans to stay.

“The networking opportunities I'm able to receive from here, it seems like the sky is the limit,” she said. “I never expected to come in here, meet different business owners and have a say in what's happening. I'm part of something bigger than myself.”

In making a portfolio to track her internship, Studeny is saving business cards from every business professional she meets.

“People will see that I wasn't just in the office sitting here all day,” she said. “I was on the road with Maury, going to meetings and talking with people.”

Burgwin said Studeny is building a foundation for wherever her career path may take her.

“I think she's got a flavor for different businesses,” Burgwin said. “She sees various business owners in different capacities who are working to accomplish a common project.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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