Susan Gubing

Susan GubingSusan Gubing
Career Smarts

Susan Gubing has been guiding students toward careers in business for nearly 35 years. Her collaboration with the Hauppauge Industrial Association is a natural extension of what she does every day for the Smithtown School District as well as in her own entrepreneurial endeavors. “Someday I’d like to write a book about choosing careers,” Gubing said. “I’m a strong believer that the games you play as a child are a direct indicator of the career you choose as an adult.” In her own childhood games, she recalled, she would set up classrooms and teach her assembled dolls. “My dolls never got sick, so I wasn’t interested in a career in health,” she explained. Similarly “dress-up” wasn’t her thing so fashion wasn’t going to be her career interest. Taking that theory one step further, she noted that her involvement in sports helped her become a “team player.” Susan remembers when business education was essentially limited to typing, bookkeeping and shorthand. “Now we teach e-commerce and have mentoring and internship programs,” she said. Interest in these classes, particularly in her district, has grown significantly over the past decade. A long-time resident of Smithtown, Susan graduated from Hauppauge High School and was the youngest of three children. “My parents, Ed and May Hartung, always owned their own business,” she said, which contributed in great part to her interest in business as a career, she believes. For 30 years the family owned and published the Smithtown Messenger, a weekly newspaper which derived its revenues primarily from advertising by local companies.. “Dinner conversation was always about what was going on in the business world,” she recalled. The most important lesson she tries to impart to her students is the importance of “getting out and getting known.” That’s where she says the HIA is beneficial. “They say the first step to becoming a success is who you know,” Susan said. “But the second step, who knows you, is the one that will make you a success.” In Smithtown schools, “getting your MBA” doesn’t mean a Masters of Business Administration, it stands for Mastering Business Achievement. After completing three business courses with a grade of ‘B’ or better and doing an internship, students earn their MBA. The program, which is seen as a fantastic marketing tool for students applying to college, has led to a Ph.D. program. An additional six classes and research paper later, students will earn their Personal Higher Degree and a solid head start toward a successful business career. Each year more than 25 members of the business community serve as mentors to students, guiding them through development of business plans and helping them compete in the school’s annual business Olympics. In addition, 125 corporations are represented on the district’s Industry Advisory Board. For 20 years, alumni or parents of students in the district have dedicated their time and expertise to help develop curriculum, meet with students and forge relationships between corporations and the school. Susan’s career planning expertise extends beyond her work in the school. She has started her own business,, a web-based career planning site, which also provides resources for business teachers. One facet of her program is the “five steps of career planning” which she says helps students define who they are and identify who will hire them and what they need to do to achieve their career goals. “It’s become my real passion,” she said. “Students or adults get a soup-to-nuts process that helps them pick a college, narrow down their choice of majors, and focus on what they need to do to get their career on track.” When she chose her own college, she found very few schools had programs to prepare teachers for careers in business education. She attended Murray State University in Kentucky, which had been recommended by friends. Susan’s son, Bill, is a graduate of Bucknell University and Dartmouth. Currently working for Ford Motor Corp. in Michigan, she says his career choice seems to have influenced her choice of hobbies. She became a fan of NASCAR and CART racing, when Bill began designing and building race cars as an undergraduate. And years of cheering during his ice hockey games, where he played goalie, led her to become an avid NY Islanders fan. “I don’t miss a single game,” she boasted. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the HIA, she is on the Board of LI Works Coalition and is the Youth Council Chair for Suffolk County Works Investment Board. Susan is a member of LISTNet, LIA and is a co-founder of the Smithtown Business and Professional Women’s Network. She teaches professional development courses for SUNY Oswego for teachers seeking a license in career placement. In keeping with her internet experience, she also teaches five on-line courses for SCOPE. “The name of the game is networking,” she said. “You can’t just sell products through the mail or expect clients to come to you. You have to make the connection, and that takes more than just going to meetings. It takes networking and introducing yourself.” The lessons she gives her students are the same ones she offers to business owners. “You need to get out there. Get to know people and let them know you. And then your business will grow.”