Student workers from across Penn State Brandywine recently gathered for a professional development workshop focused on identity and values. The Feb. 1 event, co-hosted by the Office of Advising and Career Services and the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement, was one in a multi-part series of workshops dedicated to the professional development of student workers.
“It was eye-opening,” Ankur Sinha, a first-year Brandywine student and residence life office assistant said of the workshop experience. “It definitely brought in a different aspect of career development that I hadn’t thought about before.”
Introducing the workshops’ topics of identity and values, Coordinator of Career Services Christine Allen emphasized how the conversation students would be having reflected part of Penn State Brandywine’s Strategic Plan.
Beyond Penn State’s values of integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community, Brandywine’s strategic plan also encompasses the additional values of sustainability, connection and equity.
Vippy Yee, Rosenberg Director of the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement and a co-facilitator of the workshop, participated in the subcommittee that developed equity as one of those additional values.
“If we are going to be genuine and authentic about our commitment to equity, it has to permeate everything we do with our students — in the classroom, co-curricularly, and when we're working with student employees. So I see this training as being fundamental to that, and I honestly wish that it was a workshop that I could give to every student on this campus,” Yee said.
Addressing the students gathered at the workshop, Allen noted that “we’re fortunate that we work on such a diverse campus.”
“Looking around, we have some rich diversity, so there’s plenty of opportunity to seek out cross-cultural interactions, to attend different events and workshops, so I feel very blessed that I work in such an environment, and I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and develop these competencies.”
The competencies Allen mentioned are a part of The National Association of Colleges and Employers eight “career readiness” competencies, which Brandywine is striving to help student workers develop as part of their on-campus work experience.
"Looking around, we have some rich diversity, so there’s plenty of opportunity to seek out cross-cultural interactions, to attend different events and workshops, so I feel very blessed that I work in such an environment"
—Christine Allen , coordinator of career services
“Keep in mind, they’ve helped develop these core competencies because this is what employers are saying they want,” Yee noted. “When you’re ready to apply for those internships, ready to eventually start your career post-graduation, you will be a very attractive candidate to employers when you demonstrate that you are committed to these things.”
“Even things like this kind of professional development workshop, you can demonstrate that these competencies aren’t just words, but that you actually tried to develop them for yourself throughout this experience in college,” Yee said. “The values that you hold, your identity, impacts all of these competencies, in some way, how can they not? That’s your whole self and when you are present, whether it’s a classroom, an internship or a professional setting someday, your whole self is there whether or not you realize it.”
“The values that you hold, your identity, impacts all of these competencies, in some way, how can they not? That’s your whole self and when you are present, whether it’s a classroom, an internship or a professional setting someday, your whole self is there whether or not you realize it.”
—Vippy Yee , Rosenberg Director of the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement
Hope Stylios, who works in the IT Department, attended last November’s workshop focused on resume building and was also in attendance on Tuesday.
“I went to the first one, and I really liked that one and I wanted to continue going to these and improving on my skills, especially learning things for my resume and building my career outside of Penn State as well,” Stylios explained. “I definitely see it as a great way to expand upon my resources here and see what else I can take away from the campus besides my job.”
Describing the day’s focus on identity and values, Stylios said “I was able to look into myself, just to see what I’ve forgotten about myself or things I just didn’t think about as part of my identity.”
For Allen, helping students do this type of exploration is one of the aspects of her job she loves the most.
“I love to see students grow and bud in their self-understanding and how to translate that beyond the classroom,” Allen said. “A big part of what I do is to help them with planning for their future and developing their future selves.”
“One of the signs I have in my office says ‘not all who wander are lost,’” Allen described. “Because so many students, especially at this age where they’re just coming into college, they’re expected to know so much about their future. My role is to give them that comfort with where they are and be a good listening ear and then to provide them with a pathway for them to gain clarity for themselves.”
“One of my favorite things to do is to work with students one-on-one to honor where they are in their journey and help them to feel comfortable with that,” Allen said.