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This year, Cezary Podkul ’07 was honored and humbled to receive the Larry Birger Young Business Journalist Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW). The award goes out to one journalist each year in recognition for excellence in work completed before age 30.

As Cezary looks back at his 20s, he’s proud of the work he’s done. “There are so many times when you’re just getting started and you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing,” Cezary said. “This award, to me, just put a period on my 20s and looking back, it’s a confirmation that I was going in the right direction. It’s a nice culmination of everything I’ve done. I had a great experience at Penn and it really set me up for my career.”

Cezary attributes much of his success to editors and others who’ve pushed him to improve. “I’ve been really fortunate to work with excellent editors over the last few years who really pushed me to do my best work and encouraged me along the way,” he said. “The other thing I think helped was I attended journalism school at Columbia University, and I had a really good professor there. She encouraged me to do my best work and she put me in touch with the investigations editor at USA today at the time who helped me publish one of the stories I submitted for the award. It really comes down to working with the right people and striving every day to do my best work.”

Though his career keeps him busy, Cezary makes his way back to Penn when he can. “More recently, I haven’t been back as often, but next month, I’m thinking of going to homecoming,” he said. “I like to go back whenever I can to stop by and say hi to the brothers.”

What stops does he always make when in town? “I always stop by the house and the Daily Pennsylvanian” he said. During his time at Penn, he worked for the school newspaper. “I like to stop by the White Dog Café when I can, and other than that, I just enjoy walking around campus.”

Cezary says his brothers were “a terrific group of guys.” “I still keep in touch with many of them,” he said.

Cezary also takes an active role in keeping Beta Rho brothers in the NYC metropolitan area connected (See the information to the right if you’re located in the NYC area).

“The most important thing I learned [as an undergrad] was to think about more than just yourself,” he said. “When you’re part of a chapter, you have 30-40 brothers. You learn to think about not just yourself, but about your friends. And not just doing what’s in your best interest, but also thinking about others and having empathy. You learn better communication [and many other skills] that come in handy.”

What’s his one piece of advice for undergrads? “When I was in college, I was so focused on GPA,” he said. “There were classes I really wanted to take but didn’t because I thought I might not get a good grade. So think about what you most enjoy learning about and take those classes as opposed to just focusing on your GPA because honestly, a few years out of college, it doesn’t really matter that much. As long as you do quality work in whatever field you want to go into, ultimately it helps you take your work to the next level. So, pursue your interests and curiosities instead of worrying so much about your GPA.”

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