Career Advisor Passionate About Celebrating Diversity in University and Local Communities
Meet Jessica Sztaimberg, career advisor with the University’s Career Development Center and a member of the University’s IDEA Council, who enjoys sharing her passions for vintage shops, travel, and tasty Chinese food.
February 27, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about them – beyond their day-to-day work.
Next up is Jessica Sztaimberg, career advisor with the University’s Career Development Center, who found her passion – and kangaroos – while studying abroad in Australia.
Renee Chmiel: Please tell us about some of your hobbies.
Jessica Sztaimberg: I love traveling anywhere new and exploring by foot or public transportation. There is so much to do when you visit a new town – checking out interesting architecture, appreciating the outdoors, enjoying tasty treats and cups of coffee, walking around aimlessly, conversation with the locals, and stumbling upon vintage shops. Speaking of vintage, I absolutely love second-hand, vintage shops, and my local Buy Nothing group. On any given day, I am wearing something that I believe has a pre-existing story, having first belonged to someone else. I also love games and activities where you open up and talk about feelings alone or with friends – journaling, icebreakers, tarot reading, walking, vision boarding, and setting intentions.
RC: Are you involved with any volunteer work or any causes?
JS: I am a Provisional Member Mentor with the Junior League of Greater New Haven. I joined this group because I wanted to strengthen my professional development skills, get to know other women in the area, and become a part of my local community. I have been able to achieve all of this and more through my work with the Junior League. We are involved in many different programs. Last year, my provisional class raised funds and collected products for the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, for example. Also, very near and dear to my heart is postpartum mental health. I am in the process of creating my own leadership and support programs specifically designed for new moms and women who have experienced pregnancy loss.
RC: Please tell us about the best trip you’ve ever taken.
JS: I’ve been to 26 countries for work and pleasure, so this is a very hard question to answer. If I had to say just one, I would say Sydney, Australia, in 2005 for my first study abroad semester. I met amazing lifelong friends, found my life passion, and experienced some incredible adventures. I found myself during that trip, which is an extremely cliché thing to say, but also very true. That trip gave me the drive and inspiration to help other students achieve their dreams, too.
RC: Why is fostering and celebrating diversity important to you personally?
JS: Celebrating diversity is extremely important for welcoming others and embracing differences. I am a very curious person who loves to ask big/deep questions (ask my coworkers), and it is the only way I know how to understand someone else. Fostering diversity is to learn about individuals and respect and appreciate their differences. I grew up with parents from two very different cultures and backgrounds; Ukrainian, Catholic and Polish, Romanian, Argentine, and Jewish. I'm a first-gen college student and a big part of the work I do is based on my own experience growing up and appreciating my family’s differences.
RC: What’s the best gift someone has ever given you?
JS: Years ago, in my first professional position at a university as assistant director of international admission, my boss, the director of international admission at the University of Hartford, Sam Skinner, taught me how to be okay with making mistakes. His trust in me to learn from my mistakes empowered me to do better and to be okay with not getting it quite right the first time around. He also asked me to bring my best work every day, and he told me that it might change day to day, based on whatever else we had going on that week or day. He taught me the importance of “showing up” and bringing energy every day to the work I do. I’ll never forget those words. They’ve helped me in both my professional and personal relationships.
RC: What’s your favorite restaurant in the New Haven/Greater New Haven area?
JS: New Haven Taste of China. Chongqing chicken is a mouth-numbingly spicy dish full of chilies and Szechuan peppercorns. Oddly enough, it was one of my pregnancy cravings.
RC: What do you like best about working at the University of New Haven?
JS: The diversity! Walk into a classroom and look around. You’ll notice students and staff from very different backgrounds all sharing a common interest of academic excellence and professional growth. I also live for the never-ending opportunities to learn from and with faculty, students, and staff. I am forever grateful for the continued opportunities for connection and enjoy networking across campus.