Paterno Fellows Program helped liberal arts alumnus find his niche

Since 2008, the Paterno Fellows Program — offered by the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts — has been challenging students to reach their highest levels of academic achievement and distinguish themselves in areas traditionally associated with the liberal arts: ethics, service and leadership; excellence in communication; and intercultural awareness. The honors experience extends beyond the classroom by offering enriching internship, study abroad, and research opportunities; it is also one of the only pathways at Penn State for students not initially admitted as honors students to demonstrate their potential and earn their way into the Schreyer Honors College.

Carl Boswell, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in international politics and international affairs, respectively, from Penn State in 2014, used his internships and study abroad experiences as a Paterno Fellow to help define what he wanted to do, and not do, after graduation. His story is a shining example of how the Paterno Fellows Program supports students as they seek to advance their professional ambitions while working in service of something larger than themselves. Visit the Paterno Fellows Program website at http://fellows.la.psu.edu/ to read more stories and learn more about the program.

What prepares someone who completes bachelor's and master's degrees within five years for a job with the world's leading provider of business and financial information? According to Carl Boswell, being a Paterno Fellow certainly helped.

“The Paterno Fellows Program was actually something I learned about before I ever set foot on campus,” he said. “I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to come to a big school, be a fish in a big pond, and have the opportunity to reach out and take advantage of the programs that could really benefit me.”

The Paterno Fellows Program helped to fund Boswell's two separate internships in Washington, D.C., where he started to figure out what he might like and not like in terms of career opportunities. The first internship, with a lobbying firm whose primary focus was with the defense industry, gave him the chance to spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill seeing the legislative process at work. The second internship was also with a lobbying firm, but one he describes as "private industry meets government."

“The firm was working with private industry clients like UPS and FedEx to see how they could forge relationships on Capitol Hill that could help improve logistical systems in Africa,” he said. It's really what got him interested “head over feet” in working in private industry; today, he is working in Princeton, New Jersey, as a data analyst specializing in separate managed accounts at Bloomberg LP.

“During your internships, you have a chance not only to figure out what you might want to do, but also what you don’t what to do,” Boswell said. “It’s not that the internships were bad by any means; it was more about the little niches, and figuring out what you like and don't like. Do I like a big company or a little company, for example, or how do I perform under pressure — those are intangibles you can uncover when you're interning.”

Boswell also studied Spanish at Penn State and occasionally gets to put his knowledge of the language to the test at Bloomberg — skills he said were made even stronger thanks to a study abroad experience in Buenos Aires that he completed with travel funding from the Paterno Fellows Program. “Spending time in Buenos Aires really sharpened my communication skills — not just in terms of the language itself, but in terms of being able to communicate with people from other backgrounds and cultures,” he said.

Boswell thought it was especially fascinating to interact with people from another country about their views of the United States. “You can be culturally aware here, but getting a different perspective from outside the country is awesome. Studying abroad also taught me how to look at challenges and see them as opportunities," Boswell said. “What I learned there has definitely helped me here.”

Boswell is extremely grateful for the opportunities provided to him as a Paterno Fellow, as well as one of the College of the Liberal Arts’ other programs, the Chapel Executive Internship Program. “Penn State gave me a lot,” he said, “and so I felt the best way to give back was through my effort.” And give back he did — Boswell graduated as the college student marshal, representing all of his classmates at the summer 2014 commencement ceremonies. And today, beyond just being a successful young professional, Boswell serves as a Liberal Arts alumni mentor, helping students define their career goals, reviewing their job applications, and helping them make connections that can lead to internships and full-time employment.

Last Updated September 26, 2016