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Ashley Stark

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'11 Psychology | Talent Acquisition Strategist, The Pennsylvania State University | University Park, PA
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Ashley Stark

Liberal Arts Major: Psychology

Liberal Arts Minor: Religious Studies

Hometown: Gibsonia, PA

Current Location: State College, PA

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

Through the help of enrichment funds, I was able to complete two diverse and unique internships. I started at Penn State as a Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) student and had an interest in several different areas that I explored before selecting psychology. My first internship was at a minority-owned, archeological firm in Pittsburgh, where I had the opportunity to enhance my research, writing, and presentation skills. I also had the opportunity to complete an event planning internship for a local nonprofit in the Pittsburgh area. Through that experience, I had the opportunity to hone my professional communication, marketing, fundraising, problem-solving and event coordination skills. Outside of summer internships, I had the opportunity to participate in two alternative spring break trips that focused on Hurricane Katrina relief and aid in Mississippi, as well as a summer mission trip to Peru where I assisted in local educational outreach and construction. Those trips helped me to develop skills as a leader, advocate, and influencer.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

I was blessed with the opportunity to start at BNY Mellon in Pittsburgh, as a contract Talent Acquisition Recruiting Administrator two days after I graduated from Penn State. This was a fantastic first job! I had a great manager, a collaborative team, and the opportunity to learn the nuances of recruiting while going to grad school (which was covered through tuition reimbursement!). My first job helped launch me into my current career path, and I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity and those who helped me along the way.

What was your favorite class and/or who was your favorite faculty member?

I enjoyed so many of my classes at Penn State, both for my major and my general elective classes. I took more credits than I needed to graduate, because there were many interesting and unique classes to explore and topics to discover!

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

My coursework and the resources provided by the Career Enrichment Network helped me learn how to tell my story, think analytically, jump into research, and learn how to adapt on the fly. I switched my majors quite a few times, so I learned to pivot really well!

What networking advice would you share with current students?

Networking and hard work attributed to 100 percent of my career success! All of the interviews I've had were due to referrals, personal connections, and my personal brand. It is important to have a great educational foundation and top-notch application materials (resumes and cover letters...go see these the experts on the Career Enrichment Network team), but networking is how you stand apart from the masses and make real connections. Not only has networking been instrumental to my career as an individual, but it is also the foundation for every job I've ever had: recruiting administrator, campus recruitment, director of corporate relations, career coach, and now a talent strategist.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

Mentors are critical to your success. None of my mentors were in a professional or "official" capacity. In fact, if asked, my mentors would probably not see themselves as a mentor, but more as a friend. They are people who I formed a common bond with who could brainstorm with me, provide candid feedback, and motivate me to take on the next challenge, no matter how scary it may seem. Think outside of the box when it comes to your mentoring relationships. Mentors do not have to be older than you, in the same field of study, or even in the same country. Of course, having someone in those areas is also helpful but great advice, support, and inspiration can come from anywhere.

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Flashback to Ashley as an Undergrad:

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