World Campus student turns internship opportunity into new career

Jennifer Cifelli
November 18, 2015

One credit at a time, Penn State World Campus student Christy Grim is charting a new path for her life — a path that now includes full-time employment at Lockheed Martin following her graduation in 2017.

Grim, who is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in Information Sciences and Technology (IST) online from her home in Winchester, Virginia, recently completed an internship at Lockheed Martin and was offered full-time employment soon thereafter.

Before becoming a World Campus student, Grim had been working in the field of opticianry for more than 17 years. Although she’d earned state licensure and national certifications, she’d reached the top of her pay scale and was beginning to feel stagnant and unchallenged with her work. That’s when she began looking at universities and online degree programs, she said, and Penn State’s World Campus stood out.

Despite her original plan to pursue a degree in business, Grim quickly realized that IST was a better fit after taking a management of information systems course early in her studies.

“I fell in love with it,” Grim said of IST. “And I got really excited and talked my husband, who encouraged me to make the jump to IST, even though that decision was intimidating at first.”

Grim dove right into the World Campus community by joining the Blue & White Society, Penn State’s student membership of the Alumni Association, and by serving as vice president of the World Campus Technology Club to immerse herself in the full experience of her education.

And when a friend offered to share her application with Lockheed Martin, the global security, aerospace, and information technology company, Grim jumped at the chance to spend the summer putting her knowledge to work in an internship.

While interviewing with Lockheed Martin, Grim’s status as a nontraditional college intern applicant set her apart from other applicants who were younger and had less work experience.  

“I interviewed with three different managers,” she said, “and when they saw my resume, which obviously looked much different than most interns, they liked that I had the nerve to apply alongside traditional students for an internship.”

Grim was delighted when she was selected for an internship with the prestigious company.

“My bosses and everyone I work with have been wonderful at Lockheed Martin,” she said. “IST is such a broad field, and everyone always asked, ‘What do you want to do with your degree?’ and I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t done any of it. At Lockheed, they let me explore all of it, and it felt great to spend time in every department. I feel really lucky to get the chance to learn as much as I could from that internship.” 

Grim’s luck has continued, with an offer last month of full-time employment at Lockheed, as a systems engineer. 

“I was so happy when I was hired, and it took a lot of stress off of me,” she said. “It takes a lot to leave a career behind and move into something completely new; it’s terrifying. But I feel like I got really fortunate.”

Until her graduation in fall 2017, Grim will continue her studies at IST while spending 15 hours a week at her new job at Lockheed Martin.

“It’s seven years of our lives, but I’m so excited that I’m on the downward slope toward completion of my degree. I can see the light at the end.” 

Last Updated December 02, 2015