IST alumna Isabella Webster named 2020-21 Young Alumni Ambassador

Megan Gent
September 07, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Isabella Webster, a 2020 graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology, was heavily engaged on campus during her time at Penn State — with leadership roles in Homecoming, Movin’ On, and the University Park Undergraduate Association.

And now, as an alumna, Webster’s strong involvement will continue, as she was recently named a Penn State Alumni Association 2020-21 Young Alumni Ambassador.

“I'm really honored to have been picked. I got a lot out of Penn State's Alumni Association and the connections I had there,” Webster said. “Whether it’d be through student organizations that maintained alumni interest groups or anything like that, I wanted to be able to start giving back to an organization I got a lot from as a student.”

Webster, along with 11 other Class of 2020 alumni from across Penn State, were chosen for this experience with the goal of developing their skills to become the University’s future volunteer leaders.

“The role is designed to serve as an intermediary point between students and the Alumni Association,” she said. “A lot of the time, when you think of alumni, they seem very old, very distant, and very established. That can be intimidating to students.”

After starting her position as an IBM federal consultant in the Enterprise Applications group virtually in July, Webster is already putting her alumni connections to use.

"At my job, I found a lot of women organizations through Penn Staters. There are a lot of women who work for IBM that I've seen in different things I've looked to get involved in, like sustainability — something I was really involved in at Penn State. And so now, I'm doing that with IBM too.”

Though Webster completed an extensive interview process with the Alumni Association last spring, it was ultimately her involvement at Penn State that landed her the Ambassador role.

During her years on campus, she served as the executive director of Penn State’s 100th Homecoming, on the University Park Undergraduate Association’s 14th Assembly as the academic representative for the College of IST, and was on Movin’ On’s executive committee. In addition, Webster was a two-time lead copy editor for the Student Handbook, a research assistant for Penn State’s Applied Cognitive Science Lab, and a member of Women in IST.

“I honestly think student organization involvement was equally, if not more, valuable than my degree program,” Webster said. “[There are benefits not only] from knowing people, but also in the tangible skills that you get from the organizations and the unique opportunities that present themselves from being involved, even if not in a leadership capacity."

She added, “[At IBM], I got project work quickly because I got really unusual professional level experiences through student organizations [at Penn State], and employers really like seeing that. That's something I don't think I would have gotten in a classroom the same way I would have from being involved, even in something as seemingly non-technical as homecoming or student government.”

Along with joining student organizations, Webster encourages current and future students to take advantage of other IST resources, such as the Pro Expo Career Fair. It was there that she was offered her current position with IBM.

Though she has started her career virtually from her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Webster is excited to relocate to Washington, D.C. when health guidelines from the novel coronavirus pandemic allow. But, she’s making the most of the virtual situation and is eager to succeed in her new role.

“Learning to do professional things is definitely different than academics, so it's been a learning curve, but there are a ton of resources at IBM and the people are super willing to help,” said Webster. “I've had an incredibly positive experience so far.”

The value of the Penn State degree

According to Webster, it was a single, spirit-filled event she experienced while still in high school may have led to her success.

“I came up to visit for the White Out [football game], and that was a big moment when I got what it meant to go to Penn State in a way I didn't before,” she said. “I think that, combined with the enormous alumni network and the incredibly impressive academic opportunities there are at Penn State, is why I picked it.”

Webster said she felt well prepared after graduation to take on her future.

“I think [the College of IST] is exceptional in preparing people for careers. I'm so incredibly prepared to work on teams, and it really is true that you're going to encounter a lot of the same problems with teammates in real life that you did in [the classroom].”

One particular person who helped Webster prepare for her career was Rita Griffith, assistant director of professional development at the College of IST who guided Webster and encouraged her continued involvement all throughout college.

“I don't think it matters what you get involved with, it could be something super unrelated to tech,” Webster said. “I think whatever you find that are passionate about will open up opportunities. And just say ‘yes’ to things. If you say ‘yes’ enough, eventually you'll find something you want to pursue.”

While she’s still learning the responsibilities that her full-time position entails, Webster is excited to progress her career. However, she will forever hold her Penn State experience near, and is ready to share it with past, present and future Nittany Lions.

“I think it's really valuable [to stay connected to Penn State as an alumnus],” she said. “Even if you're working with people that weren't in the same THON org as you, or weren't in the same Greek life entity, or anything like that, you still went to Penn State and have some kind of shared experience.”

Webster concluded, “You also know what the educational quality is like. So, if you're looking at more professional connections, you understand the value of the Penn State degree. I think that's really important.”

Last Updated September 08, 2020