My Penn State experience began with the assumption that I would not be accepted at Penn State's University Park campus. I felt I had not applied myself in high school enough. Three years later, I not only earned admittance but am a member of a student club (paintballing), and with the support of Dr. Glantz, joined the Penn State Schreyer Honors College through the "junior gateway."
With no idea what to major in, I began college in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. I was considering either a business or science major (e.g., physics or chemical engineering).
I spent my first year completing coursework that would give me a feel for both schools. One of the courses I took freshman year was Dr. Glantz's Introduction to Business Information Systems (MIS 204). This course really opened my eyes up to what I could expect in the business world. In fact, the 'attitude' of the course helped me more than the standard course material itself. The experiences of Dr. Glantz, and the way he related material, helped guide my college and major selection. I selected the Smeal College of Business over Science, with plans to major in MIS (management information systems), and minor in Supply Chain (i.e., business logistics). With this in mind, I continued completing the general "entrance to major" courses Smeal requires.
One point that I took away from the lectures of Dr. Glantz, and others, is the importance of "getting involved." I cannot agree with this more! Unfortunately, only a few students seem to actually take advantage of the many Penn State opportunities.
I spent my first year getting used to college life, focusing on classes, and becoming involved with clubs. If I were to do it again, I would probably also attend the career fairs, and create more professor relationships.
I prepared my resume for my sophomore year in time for both the University Career Fair (held in the Bryce Jordan Center), and the Smeal Supply Chain and Information Systems Career Fair. Initially the fairs were frustrating since I seemed to lack necessary experience for an internship. With an interest in MIS, I was fortunate to interview with a financial company's technical department. However, the technical questions and programming expectations helped me realize that MIS was not for me! This result, combined with my interest in logistics, guided me to switch majors to Supply Chain. Although I did not actually get a job from the sophomore year career fairs, they were still valuable in shaping my major selection, as well as providing invaluable interviewing practice.
I was able to use my family network to intern in logistics the summer after my sophomore year at Philadelphia's Temple University Hospital. This allowed me to see how difficult it is to manage hospital supply chains. One of the programs I worked on was implementing a bar coding system for nurses to track inventory. System inaccuracies and inventory back-logs resulted from nurses not using the system.
It was before my junior year that I decided to apply to the Schreyer Honors College. This seemed like a good idea, since I had put in a lot of effort to succeed at Penn State and also got involved. The Junior Gateway process, given the minimum GPA requirements, is not that difficult. It included, as I recall, two essays and a professor recommendation. I took care to write and rewrite each essay several times before submitting them. I earned admission to the Schreyer Honors College during the summer before my junior year.
I returned to the career fairs junior year with a resume that now included internship experience and Honors College enrollment. This is important as a student's GPA is only used to get a foot in the door.
What a difference a year made! At my junior year career fairs, I interviewed and received internship/ co-op offers from Unilever, Johnson and Johnson, Honeywell, Church and Dwight, and WalMart. These interviews included discussion of leadership experience as past-president of the Paintball Club, Temple internship experience, and honors research conducted with Dr. Felisa Preciado. I am now spending the summer before my senior year in an internship at Unilever as an International Customer Service Analyst.