Illinois Institute of Technology
McCormick Tribune Campus Center
3201 South State Street
Chicago, IL 60616
BJ serves as senior director of operations for Career Services. He has worked at Illinois Tech since 2007 in both enrollment management/recruiting roles and Career Services. In his current role, BJ manages the day-to-day activities of Career Services and assists in determining the strategic direction for the office to most effectively engage students, employers, and alumni to ensure that our students are successful in the first step of their career journey. BJ is a proud alumnus of the Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business, receiving his Master of Science in Marketing Analytics and Communication in 2014.
What is important to you? It is very important to me that students feel like their college education is worthwhile and will help them be successful for the remainder of their life. I want them to really have the opportunity to reflect on the skills and knowledge they are gaining and know how that can translate into a successful individualized career path.
If you weren't in Career Services, what would you be doing? I am a HUGE macro economics geek—I listen to econ podcasts daily and devour books/articles about econ (yes, reading an edition of The Economist cover-to-cover is thrilling for me). So, if I wasn’t in Career Services, I would want to either be an economics professor or work at a think tank focused on economic issues.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I have, since completing my bachelor’s degree, had a side career as a singer/actor. I’ve been in approximately 15 plays or musicals in Chicago, and have sung in a handful of choirs professionally. I am also an avid rower and am a proud member of the Chicago Rowing Union.
What is your favorite book? Anything by Bill Bryson. I love his unending curiosity about the world and how things came to be. If I had to choose one of his books to be a favorite, I’d probably say Home.
Associate Director for Career Development and Engagement
Nicholas Mancari is the Associate Director for Career Development and Engagement. Nick's primary focus is to lead career development and related education efforts through a range of services and programs to meet the needs of Illinois Tech students. Collaborating and foraging relationships with students, faculty, staff, and hiring employers is essential in Nick's role.
Nick has a Master of Business Administration from Saint Xavier University. His professional experience consists of higher
Nick was born and raised on the southside of Chicago and still calls it home today. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys fitness and traveling regularly.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I enjoy watching and playing sports regularly. I am a big Chicago sports fan. I have played many sports competitively when I was younger and still do today. I feel like I can connect with anyone when it comes to being a fan and playing sports.
What is your absolute favorite quote? "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor" Franklin D. Roosevelt
What can students expect from an appointment with you? Students should expect a productive and motivating meeting where thoughts, ideas, and insights are shared. It should also be a time where we get to know each other and can connect both professionally and personally.
What brings you joy? In this job and profession, the most satisfying thing is seeing our students grow and develop into professionals throughout their time at Illinois Tech and going on to be our next leaders in their respective industries.
If you weren't in career services, what would you be doing? I can envision myself being in the marketing industry, working on branding, consumer behavior, and marketing strategy. All of these areas interest me deeply and I love researching organizations and their marketing plans.
Assistant Director, Career and Professional Development For International Students
Steven Szmurlo is the assistant director, career and professional development for international students, and he has worked at Illinois Tech since 2010 in various positions, all related to helping international students succeed. Along with an extensive background in communications, media, and teaching English as a second language, Steven brings personal experience as both an international student and an international faculty member to his position. Steven’s current role focuses on international student outreach and providing services and resources to meet the unique career needs of international students.
What inspires you? Professionally, my students through the years have inspired me to work harder to help them succeed with the goals they are focusing on for their future. Personally, the kindness, goodness, and ethical behavior of others inspires me to be a better person.
If you weren't in Career Services, what would you be doing? Teaching English as a Second Language to international students so they can succeed with their future ambitions.
What else should we know about you? I returned to teach at Jagiellonian University 17 years after I was an international student there. I understand what it’s like to be an international student, and to do an internship and work outside of the country I was born in.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Spending time with family and friends. Volunteer work. Gardening.
Tell us something we don't know about you. I am a native of Chicago—I was born, raised, and still live near the Humboldt Park area, on the city’s near Northwest side, where my parents were also born and raised.
What is your absolute favorite quote? “Nobility is not the family you are born into, but what you do for others without even expecting a ‘Thank You!’ or anyone knowing.” —My Grandmother, who was born a noblewoman in 1888.
Senior Career Development Coach
Bernie is a seasoned educator and an adjunct at McHenry County College in adult education who loves coaching and mentoring. He now brings this passion to IIT’s Career Services. Bernie worked as an engineer/program manager for AT&T Bell Laboratories, a Lyft driver, and an account executive for various companies like Ricoh USA. He even pitched credit cards for Chase/United at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Being self-employed in marketing operations for the last three years, he also created a student workshop that teaches business strategies in the #JobSearch space. Bernie gives his expertise to his alma mater with the workshop now in-house.
If you weren't in career services, what would you be doing? Teaching. After I was done with night school at IIT I had some 'extra' time and I thought I'd try to teach for some extra cash -- I enjoyed it more than I anticipated and have been doing it ever since.
Tell us something we don't know about you. I was the high school pianist, taught piano for pocket money in college and also played at local churches as an organist. Before graduating, I was a founding member and directed a choir of high school and college kids, The Daybreakers, that sang for Sunday 6AM Mass.
What brings you joy? The look on people's faces when the light bulb appears.
What is your absolute favorite quote? "I touch the future. I teach." Christa McAuliffe
Senior Career Development Coach
Julie was born and raised in Chicago, and has worked in learning and development for over 20 years. She has a passion for teaching others what's possible and loves connecting with people. After graduating with a BS in Marketing and Economics, and a Master's degree in Teaching, she has spent her career as a software trainer and leadership development consultant, in industries including healthcare, IT, travel, and environmental health and safety. She's an author and a podcaster. Her podcast "The Peace and Possibilities Podcast" is a platform that shares stories from successful, happy people who love the work they do, and can help you learn just how to get there sooner.
What is important to you? Being a kind person, treating others fairly, and always believing that anything is possible.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I love to read personal development books, as well as biographies, watch inspiring movies, travel to new places, and spend time with awesome, positive people who are making the world a better place.
Who or What inspires you? People who come from nothing and work hard to inspire and impact others, making the world a better place - through every interaction - no matter how small it may seem. I'm especially inspired by people who never give up on their dreams.
What is your absolute favorite quote? "There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
What motivates you to come to work everyday? The opportunity to have an impact and show others that they can thrive at work and in their personal lives. And to remind them that anything is possible; they just need to believe it, then go after it.
Employer Relations and Alumni Networks
Lisa L. Montgomery
Director, Elevate Experiential Partnerships
Lisa L. Montgomery is the director for Elevate Experiential Partnerships. In this role, she strategically works to pair students with robust internship opportunities at companies that are university partners. Outside of work, Lisa has a nonprofit organization, Dreams & Beyond, that supports girls and women serving organizations through research, training, and coaching. She also advocates for literacy through her program, The Wild Formula Learning Network, by providing free books to youth and promoting sensory learning. Additionally, her Cultural Kitchen Club program has revealed the secrets of kitchens around the world!
What brings you joy? It is my heart's passion to help young people find their passion and fulfill their dreams.
What is important to you? Spirituality is the key to all of my everything! It is my North Star.
What else should we know about you? I love house music, nature, and peach cobbler with ice cream.
What is your favorite book? Devil in a White City by Erik Larson
What is your favorite movie? Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Crash—two amazing films that address the deep layers of human diversity
What is your absolute favorite quote? "Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think." —Albert Einstein
Where is your favorite place to vacation? Alabama—soothing laid-back, great food, and an abundance of nature and hospitality!
Associate Director of Campus Life and Career Initiatives
Celestine McGee develops relationships with employers to generate employment opportunities for students. Celestine is passionate about helping others and bringing them together through collaboration and synergy! Outside of work, Celestine is passionate about running races, writing beauty blogs, and helping others find their inner calm through mindfulness. She is also a passionate entrepreneur for marketing, fashion, beauty, and holistic approaches to healthy living concepts.
Where is your favorite place to vacation? Rome is so beautiful! It is like being in a walking museum of fine art and intricate detail for the beauty of all things.
If you weren't in Career Services, what would you be doing? I would definitely be in the fitness industry, guiding others and helping them achieve their fitness goals through diet, exercise, meditation, and holistic living.
What is important to you? Respect and fairness toward others. Treating people that we come in contact with how we in turn would want to be treated—setting an exemplary standard to all beings that we come in contact with.
Career Services is proud to have several outstanding student staff who provide reviews of résumé, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, as well as a host of other services. Please visit the Student Staff Page to learn more.