Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network celebrates 10th anniversary

Ellie West
September 20, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Career Enrichment Network in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, commemorating a decade of career guidance and programming for the college’s undergraduate community.

Established in September of 2011, the office was first created to address and promote the unique values that Liberal Arts students bring to the workplace, such as creative problem solving, excellent communication skills, ethical leadership and service and global perspectives.

Through the network, Liberal Arts students can access resources ranging from career coaching appointments, employer engagement events, global experiences and enrichment funding for internships and research endeavors. By offering such a wide variety of services, the network ensures that students have the opportunity to pursue and acquire the necessary knowledge and tools to translate classroom learning into rewarding, professional careers.

To date, the Career Enrichment Network has provided more than 8,000 career coaching appointments to students within the college. 

"Supporting Liberal Arts students as they develop and transition to post-Penn State careers has been incredibly rewarding over the past 10 years,” said Susan Knell, director of the Career Enrichment Network. “Our team has grown and evolved during that time, continually listening to student, alumni and employer feedback and ideas on ways to foster stronger connections between the academic experience and potential future career paths."

Casey Sennett, a senior integrated undergraduate-graduate student pursuing bachelor’s degrees in anthropology, history and Jewish studies and a master's degree in anthropology, is just one of the thousands of Liberal Arts students who has benefited from the office’s myriad of resources.

“Not only has the Career Enrichment Network been able to provide me with things like career coaching and resume reviews, but they've also connected me with different professors and professional contacts that have allowed me to take part in many different opportunities: global experiences, internship assistance, lunch and learn events and more,” Sennett said.

Among these opportunities was Sennett’s internship with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission during the summer of 2020, an experience toward which the network was able to guide her.

“The original internship I had lined up that summer was cancelled due to COVID-19, but the Network really helped me pivot after that to figure out what skills I had, where else I should be applying, and how I should be applying,” she said. “With so many things being unknown that year, it was really useful to have that extra assistance and support.”

This year, Sennett is working for the Career Enrichment Network as a network assistant, where she has been able to interface with other students, answer questions, and advance her own professional development. As she heads into her final semesters at Penn State, Sennett credits the network with helping her to narrow down her future aspirations and career path, which lie in education and public programming — potentially within a Jewish history or Holocaust museum.

“The internship and study abroad experiences I have been able to take part in over the years have been fundamental in providing me with ideas as to what I want to do in the future, and lots of those experiences were made possible by the network’s resources, enrichment funds and career coaching,” Sennett said. “Overall, [the Career Enrichment Network] has been very influential in helping me form an idea of what I want to do professionally while also giving me all of the skills and resources to make it possible.”

Banner in front of a tent with people talking at tables

The Career Enrichment Network invites employers to participate in the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Festival each year.

IMAGE: Provided

The Career Enrichment Network also offers an extensive Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program for students looking to learn and gain insights from professionals in their field. These mentors serve to aid students in navigating the academic, professional and extracurricular challenges they face at Penn State.

Courtney Kay, Penn State class of 2020 in psychology, is a recent graduate and devoted mentor in the program. Currently, she is working toward her master’s degree in terrorism, security and society at King’s College London.

“The Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program is a great resource for students because it provides them with someone who can guide them and help them achieve their goals,” she said. “Entering the field, you want to be in can be really difficult, and I hope to make it easier for my mentees.”

This semester, Kay is serving as an alumni mentor for Lillian Aronson, a third-year integrated undergraduate-graduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international politics and a master's degree in international affairs.

“The Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program has allowed me to connect one-on-one with a professional in my field who was in my shoes not too long ago,” Aronson said. “It's been really helpful to hear Courtney’s experiences, get her advice and have a space to ask questions, especially as I try to figure out what I want to do after graduation.”

Table covered in brochures and pamphlets

In addition to hosting dozens of their own events each year, the Career Enrichment Network participates in numerous information fairs and student events.

IMAGE: Provided

Another key focus of the Career Enrichment Network is fostering strong relationships with a wide range of employers from the fields in which Liberal Arts students thrive; over the years, the network has worked with employers within human resources, marketing, publishing, criminal justice, public policy, law, government and the nonprofit world.

Recently, the network organized various events and office hours with recruiters from Target, ALKU, Deloitte, EY, Kohl's, Ferguson, GEICO and the U.S. Department of State.

“Through our relationship with the Career Enrichment Network, ALKU has been able to attend and host multiple events with amazing Liberal Arts students,” said Hailee Centrella, college relationship specialist at ALKU. “We have attended virtual panels, participated in resume reviews, presented to multiple classes and hosted our own ALKU-exclusive info sessions ... The variety of opportunities that the Network has provided ALKU shows how much they care for their students.”

Danielle Harms, diplomat in residence for the U.S. Department of State, also described how working with the Career Enrichment Network has greatly increased the department's recruiting efforts at Penn State.

“​The collaboration we have with the Network has been incredible ... My contacts here have innovative programming ideas and always seek to maximize opportunities for their constituency — Penn State students and alumni,” Harms said.

To take advantage of the Career Enrichment Network’s offerings, students can visit their website to browse available resources, register for upcoming events or schedule a career coaching appointment for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Kohl's.

 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 22, 2021