Schreyer Honors College Thesis
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Katherine Schlegel

Liberal Arts Major: Labor and Employment Relations/Labor and Human Resources
Minor: Communication Arts & Sciences, Dispute Management & Resolution
Hometown: Lansdale, Pennsylvania,
Experience Time: Fall 2021

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

I am currently in the process of completing my thesis for the Schreyer Honors College (SHC) at Penn State University. My thesis is entitled "The Impact of Virtual Work on Organizational Socialization Processes Among Employees". Since the option to work virtually heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, I intend to explore how employees are handling the transition of work to an online context and what initiatives companies should implement to better integrate their workforce. To gather data on this topic, I will be conducting interviews with college students who have previous or current virtual work experience.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience of conducting research allows me to demonstrate a command of my subject matter, along with strengthening my written, analytical, and critical thinking skills. The information I collect from my study will be used to substantiate my honors thesis. I feel fortunate to be able to make this scholastic contribution in the final year of my college education. Upon the completion of my research and thesis, I have will have a deliverable to show future employers.

"This experience of conducting research allows me to demonstrate a command of my subject matter, along with strengthening my written, analytical, and critical thinking skills."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This research experience has allowed me to explore a topic of interest to me. I hope to bring this passion for improving the workplace into my career as an HR practitioner. I believe the information uncovered in this study will be applicable throughout my career as more jobs become remote. I think it is important to understand how employees are identifying, or not identifying, with their organization while working from a distance. By learning how employees are adjusting to virtual work, companies can provide better support to their workforce in return. I hope to eventually take what I have gained from this experience to help organizations assimilate their remote workers and enhance this "new workplace.”

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The enrichment funding I received from the College of the Liberal Arts will be used to purchase Starbucks Gift Cards as a thank-you to the participants in my research study. Having this incentive to offer will help me to recruit subjects for my study, which improves the size of my participant pool and the quality of my data. The scale of my research would not be possible without support from the College of the Liberal Arts. My advisor, Dr. Dorothea Roumpi, has also been a great support to me throughout the research process. She has played a critical role in the development and direction of my thesis. The enrichment funding and guidance from my advisor have both helped me to succeed in this research experience.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program has been an invaluable resource to me throughout my time at Penn State. I credit many of my past and future accomplishments to this program. It has challenged me to reach my fullest potential and encouraged me to remain a life-long learner.

For more information on research opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website
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