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LA 401: Professional Development for the Liberal Arts Student
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Kimmie Williams

Major: French and Francophone Studies; Global and International Studies
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Upon entering my final year at Penn State, I became aware of my true lack of knowledge on finding a job, or finding the best opportunities once I graduate. Penn State Career Services is a great resource for all Penn State students, but I was looking for something that would help me market and utilize my Liberal Arts degrees. My academic advisor recommended this 1-credit course, as it touches every aspect that a Liberal Arts student needs to know for post-graduation life.

"This course had a huge impact on clarifying and outlining my career goals, encouraging me to explore unique career opportunities, and linking me with professionals with similar interests as me."

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This course links you with experts in many fields to assist with many professional development topics, such as interviewing skills and mock interviews. I found the mock interviewers to be extremely beneficial, as practicing this allowed me to determine interview strengths and challenges I faced. The feedback I received from mock interviewers was always useful and well-thought out because of their vast experience in various hiring processes. I went into this course believing that I knew a lot about businesses and interviewing and resumes, since I had a previous internship experience. However, I was extremely surprised to learn that one can never be fully prepared for an interview/job search. For example, my professor, Heather Baruch-Bueter, told us that our resumes are never truly complete; there are always ways to improve and elements to update and customize for each job/experience.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically, it gave me more of a push to learn in my classes; to pay attention; and to improve my listening, learning, and people skills in preparation for post-graduation job searches. Since the workload in this course was very minimal, and it all helped prepare for cover letter and resume writing that I would need to complete anyway, I was easily able to fit it into my schedule. Heather and her team are always available and willing to help out any student, even after they graduate. I always valued them as a resource, and will continue to throughout my career.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Since studying abroad in Montpellier, France, I have eagerly awaited a chance to return, so my short-term career plans included applying to a year-long teaching program, where assistants are placed in a high school in France to teach English. In the long-term, my goals are less concrete, as I hope to seek out future employment in France. This course had a huge impact on clarifying and outlining my career goals, encouraging me to explore unique career opportunities, and linking me with professionals with similar interests as me. The course becomes really personalized, as Heather tirelessly seeks to provide the most useful experience for each individual student.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would certainly recommend this course to any Liberal Arts student. Having a diverse classroom with students of all fields of study including Political Science, German, Economics, Psychology, among others adds such a valuable element to the course. Perhaps you will find a career path that you never thought of or a student to connect with that can help you find a job five years down the line. The possibilities are endless with a Penn State Liberal Arts degree, and this course helps all of us work toward out goals during the remainder of our studies and beyond.

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