Donor Impact-Spring 2013

One step ahead

As more than 4,000 recent Grand Valley graduates begin the next chapter in their lives, Ryan Ploetz, 13, is already one step ahead.

During his time at Grand Valley, Ploetz took full advantage of the resources offered by the Career Center, and it certainly paid off for him. While many graduates are now starting their career search, Ploetz has already been working full time for two months as a credit analyst for Mercantile Bank in Grand Rapids.

I would not be in the position that Im in today if it wasnt for my experience with the Career Center, Ploetz said. Everyone there has been helpful in shaping my path. I went from being a naive sophomore with a horribly written resume to now having a full-time job. My family and coaches have helped me mature along the way but, strategically, the Career Center placed me in a position to succeed.

photo by Elizabeth Lienau The Career Center helped Ryan Ploetz, 13, secure two internships, which prepared him for his current job at Mercantile Bank.

This year, 7,007 Grand Valley students were able to have an internship experience, in part, because of private gifts to the Grand Valley Fund. Gifts to that fund also support the Career Center, which provides free resources to students such as access to LakerJobs (an extensive career and internship database), personal career advising, job search strategies, resume assistance and more.

Ploetz, who majored in finance, said he first went to the Career Center during his sophomore year to seek help on his resume for a class assignment. He talked with Troy Farley, director of the Career Center, and that conversation sparked a relationship that continues today.

I cant tell you how much Troy has done for me, Ploetz said. He was able to take my interests, passions and attributes and help me get conversations started with the right people.

What may have played an even bigger role in helping Ploetz land a job was the real-world experience he gained from internships. The Career Center connected Ploetz with two different internships at Spectrum Health during his senior year. While there, he did the work expected of a full-time employee. Ploetz said Mercantile Bank offered him a full-time job largely based on his previous internship experiences.

An internship is kind of like the preschool to work, to the real world, Ploetz said. You gain skills and experience in an internship that you wouldnt gain in any other setting.

Farley agreed that internships are often the best way to open doors to careers. He said that 70 percent of interns in the state of Michigan end up working for their internship company.

Internships are such a valuable experience during a students college journey, said Farley. Its a chance for students to test drive a career to see if its right for them. Its also a way for a company to test drive potential candidates.

Ploetz is thankful for the opportunities he has had through the Career Center and suggested that current students should visit the center no later than their junior year.

Have an understanding of what you like to do, and tell that to everyone  faculty members, advisors, staff members at the Career Center. Thats what I did, and thats how the doors to employers were opened, he said. The opportunities they can provide to you are unlimited, but you dont know until you actually go in and talk to them.

For Ploetz, all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and the generosity of donors helped him along the way. The Career Center helped him find opportunities and make connections to internships that provided him with real-world experience. He said Grand Valley gave him the education that set him up for success.

Grand Valley gave me a great foundation of skills and those skills are put to use every day in my job, he said. If I didnt go to Grand Valley, I know that I would not be as successful as I am. Personally, my goals were achieved. I would not be able to sleep at night if I didnt attribute my success to the staff at the Career Center and the donors who support it.

Giving Matters

Field station campaign nears goal

The successful campaign for the new field station at the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon is close to reaching its goal of $1.2 million.

Construction on the building is in full swing with plans to open this summer. The new station will directly impact the quantity and quality of the institutes research. It will include a field biology lab, an enhanced mesocosm facility and an environmental simulation lab. There is still time to give to the campaign; learn more about AWRI and make a gift at

A sneak peek of new library

In April, students, faculty and staff members were able to preview many areas of the highly anticipated Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.

The new library will open before the start of fall semester. It will become the intellectual heart of campus and revolutionize the way students learn. This project was made possible by more than 1,400 donors who raised more than $20 million in private funding for the library. Features will include seating for 1,500 students, a Knowledge Market, 20 rooms for group collaboration, 150,000 books on open shelves and 600,000 books in an automated retrieval system. A Community Open House is planned for September 7. For more information, visit

Seidman Center opened in May

The L. William Seidman Center opened to students in May for the spring/summer semester and will be officially dedicated in October, thanks to donors who gave $25 million in private gifts toward the project.

The building will be a fitting home for the Seidman College of Business, providing business students with state-of-the-art workspaces and resources, and reflecting the colleges status as one of the premier regional business schools in the country.

Seidman alumni give back

Members of the Seidman College of Business Alumni Association went above and beyond during the campaign for the new Seidman Center.

Not only did they raise a significant amount of money for the building, members also reached out to fellow alumni, volunteering their time to call and say thank you to the donors for their campaign support. We acknowledge that any little bit helps Grand Valley as a whole, as well as the Seidman College of Business, said Ryan Slusarzyk,08, vice president for the associations board of directors. We want those donating to Seidman to know that any gift, no matter how large or small, is significant and allows for the future of our alma mater to be even brighter. Giving is not what we do, it is who we are.

Page last modified May 10, 2013