Finance & Business launches program to help office's new employees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Beginning a career at Penn State can be daunting. It is a big institution with a large number of employees. The question becomes, “What can be done to help new employees make a successful transition here at University Park?”

That question was taken to heart in Finance & Business. Thanks to Associate Vice President for Auxiliary & Business Services Gail Hurley, Manager of Training & Development Michele Newhard and Commonwealth Campus Regional Director John Walker, as well as the Training & Development Committee of Focus on the People, the Welcome Aboard Program was born.

Welcome Aboard is a mentoring program designed to introduce new hires to Penn State and ease the acclimation process with the assistance of a veteran employee. The program was inspired by the Finance & Business Diversity Mentoring Program, which has seen great success.

The goal of the program is to help a new hire adjust to the Penn State culture and community at a faster rate than if there was not a program.

“We understand that people who are new to Penn State might not have a handle on what being a Penn Stater is all about,” said Newhard. “This program is about comfort building.”

The first session held from September 2012 to May 2013 served as a pilot. Newhard recruited both coaches and protégés. She also served as a coach to gain perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the program. Seven protégé/coach teams completed the first-ever session and provided feedback on what worked and what did not.

After reviewing the feedback, Newhard decided to make some changes. She learned that participants found it hard to meet at times but would enjoy special programs scheduled for the entire group. For the 2013-14 session Newhard set up five special events, but is also going to continue to encourage coaches and protégés to meet on their own time when they can.

The formal meetings include the Program Launch on Sept. 26, a Strengths-finder Workshop on Oct. 15, a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Berkey Creamery on Nov. 4, a tour of the Palmer Art Museum on Jan. 23 and a Closing Workshop on May 2.

In addition to the desire for formal meetings for the participants, Newhard also learned a lot about her colleagues.

“We have really dedicated coaches that are committed to creating a Penn State culture that is welcoming and inclusive,” said Newhard. “I think it’s a testament to the fact that we have some really awesome staff here who are willing to give more than their jobs demand.”

Welcome Aboard is looking for both coaches and protégés for the upcoming session. The application process for both coaches and protégés is quite simple, with both designed to give a brief overview of the individual applicants. Newhard uses the information received to determine what type of coach and protégé would work well together.

Newhard is looking to cap this year’s group at 10 coaches and 10 protégés. She feels this will keep the group manageable and successful.

The 2013-14 session is scheduled to begin Sept. 26. Applications for both coaches and protégés are being accepted until Aug. 30. For more information and to apply, visit

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated August 21, 2013