Student's journey to success has 'motivated me to do my best every day'

July 21, 2021

(Editor's Note: This is the eighth in a series of stories about Bellisario College students completing summer internships.)

Every college student has a journey — a period of academic and personal growth, perhaps accompanied by some actual geographic relocation — and they all complete their trips a little differently.

For Vrinda Agarwal, it started by traversing more than 7,800 miles from India to central Pennsylvania.

“I chose Penn State because of reviews online. After some research I narrowed down the pros and cons. I didn’t know anyone from Penn State, and the first time I landed in the U.S. was a week before classes started,” Agarwal said. “It was a big change.”

Agarwal, the youngest of four siblings who lived in a multigenerational household with 10 family members growing up, first left home at age 14 for an all-girls boarding school. Still, that was at least in the same country.

Penn State was a leap, and she’s been leaping ever since — getting involved from the start at the University.

As her junior year nears, Agarwal has outlined an academic plan that includes an advertising/public relations major along with two minors (digital media trends and analytics as well as entrepreneurship and innovation). She has complemented her classroom work with efforts in organizations like CommAgency, HER Campus and Happy Valley Communications.

This summer she’s completing an internship with Nike Communications — a creative communications agency with offices in New York City and Beverly Hills that focuses on luxury and prestige brands.

“I always wanted to experience a big university,” she said. “Plus, my focus and interest on PR was something that only seemed possible to be a reality at school in the U.S., a place like Penn State. This opportunity with Nike, for example, is not something that would be possible in India. The U.S. is known for a big advertising/public relations and marketing industry, and Penn State has a great program. That’s what makes this so attractive and exciting.”

A break from cultural pressures to major in a STEM-related field was also exciting. An emphasis in India on science, technology, engineering and math did not match her personal interests. Still, that decision has brought an additional level of motivation. She wants to prove herself.

“That has motivated me to do my best every day, just to make sure I’m one of those students who does not miss an opportunity,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to be able to try and tell me ‘I told you so.”

Agarwal said she has been able to put what she’s learned in classes into practice during the internship. As a member of the lifestyle team, she works with a dozen of the company’s full-time employees. It’s her first internship in her major, and she’s following the same process that has served her well at Penn State.

At student-run Happy Valley Communications, for example, she listened, worked hard and advanced — moving from an entry level account associate to assistant executive director entering the upcoming academic year. As her journey continues, she hopes to maintain that process. And she plans to enjoy every step along the way.

“I’m still learning so much about the industry,” she said. “It’s something different every day and that’s the fun part about PR.”

Last Updated July 21, 2021