One family, one college, four different career paths

Delaney Peterman
January 09, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many times, attending Penn State is a family tradition, but one family takes that tradition to a whole new level. Vince Derr, his cousin Jaclyn Carradorini, and Jaclyn’s little brother Chris have all graduated from the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and their younger cousin, Nicholas Carradorini, is currently a senior in the college. 

When Jaclyn first enrolled at Penn State, she had her heart set on becoming a math teacher. When she thought of the College of IST, she pictured computers — something in which she was not interested. Then, her older cousin, Vince, offered his advice. At the time, Vince was pursuing a degree in security and risk analysis in the College of IST and knew that there was a lot more to IST than just computers.

“Vince showed me some of the classes he was taking. I decided to take a coding class, which I really enjoyed,” Jaclyn said. “Vince led me to the College of IST and right after that I switched.”

Jaclyn’s move to the College of IST helped her develop an interest in coding, but it also introduced her to the human side of technology. She loved to be social, something which IST helped her to strengthen.

Then, during her last year of college, Jaclyn’s little brother, Chris, started at Penn State. Chris knew he wanted to be in sales, and quickly found his interest was in selling technology.

“I realized in order to be the best technology or software salesman, I had to know and understand my product like the back of my hand,” Chris said. “This meant learning about technology at a deeper level.”

Although Jaclyn was involved in one of the college’s more technical programs, she knew that IST offered a path that explored how to integrate technology to help business and organizations achieve their goals. She thought it might be a good fit for Chris and encouraged him to take a few IST classes.

“Jackie is extremely intelligent, and I have always trusted her as my life adviser and mentor,” Chris said. “She was always so successful in IST, doing great academically as well as getting involved with clubs and organizations within the college. When she recommended IST to me, I enrolled in a few classes and immediately realized she was right.”

Once Chris changed his major to IST with a focus on integration and application, he realized that it was where he belonged. He quickly got involved and competed in the mHealth Challenge, a cross-college event where IST students join those from the College of Nursing and the Department of Biobehavioral Health to design a mobile health application prototype to solve a specific societal health need. He also attended an IST career fair that helped him get hired at his first job in software sales at Oracle.

When Nicholas entered college, he thought he wanted to be an engineer, mostly because his older brother was one. After a semester on campus, however, he opted to pursue IST because of how quickly the field was growing and thought he could be successful working with both people and technology. Naturally, his three older cousins were excited to offer their advice.

“My cousins, who had already graduated and were working, helped me (choose) IST by explaining to me what they currently do in their jobs and the opportunities they had after graduating,” Nicholas said. “My cousin (Chris), who was still going to school at Penn State, began to explain to me the classes he was taking and that he had to take, and it made me feel like this was something that I could excel at and enjoy at the same time.”

Now, Vince, Jaclyn, and Chris work in three unique fields. Vince graduated in 2013 and works as a senior associate at Guidehouse Consulting. After graduating in 2015, Jaclyn followed her passion for technology and math and currently works as a web developer at the Consumer Technology Association. Chris achieved his goal of selling technology and currently holds the position of regional sales director at Paymentus.

And as Nick’s graduation approaches next spring, he is hoping to find a consulting job and eventually become a project manager.

Although all four members of this family lead different professional lives, they can all agree that the College of IST challenged them to discover their interests and pursue them. There is not one mold or model you need to fit to be successful in IST, they said.

“The biggest thing I learned from IST was the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone. I like to use the saying ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable,'” Chris said.

Last Updated January 09, 2020