[00:00:01] Speaker A: Greetings scholars, and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shrier Honors College at Penn State.
Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar alumni have gone on to shape the old after they rined the Gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Doheen, class of 2011 and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
[00:00:54] Speaker B: You.
[00:00:55] Speaker A: Matt Mignonia, Class of 2018, joined the Smeel College of Business Elearning Design and Innovation Group as an instructional designer in 2021, but has been with the Smell College of Business of Penn State since 2018. Previously serving as an academic advisor, Matt earned both his degrees from Penn State, an Med in Learning Design and Technology from the College of Education and a BA with Honors in Psychology with a Minor in Italian from the College of the Liberal Arts, both in 2018. While Eldig is Matt's first formal role as an instructional Designer, his professional career has revolved around supporting students in designing education. He has taught middle school in Pennsylvania and Texas through Teach for America designed and TA'd and undergraduate course as a Penn State student, and served students as an academic advisor not just in the Smelt College of Business, but also the Division of Undergraduate Studies. Matt was also a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy during his undergraduate career.
In this week's episode, Matt shares insight on making the most of opportunities that present themselves and learning what isn't for you perspectives on the PLA leading a student organization and how that can be used in post graduation. Seeking unique academic opportunities and the doors advisors can help you open what academic advisors actually do for students, recognizing what careers do bring out your passion insiders look at making the most of your academic advising sessions and course registration. He also shares how the responsibilities of one job can lead to your next role, what instructional designers are and what they do to support students and faculty, and the importance of intentionality in finding community post graduation.
He rounds out our conversation with grounded advice for Schreyer scholars to make the most of their time in the College. Now let's hear Matt's story and advice. Following the gong.
Matt, thank you so much for joining us here on following the Gone. Really appreciate you coming on. Now, you're a younger alum. You've only been out of school for just a few years, but you've already had a really tremendous and broad experience in education. Was it your interest in education that brought you to Penn State and the schreyer Honors College, or did you discover that interest after getting to campus?
[00:03:14] Speaker B: Yeah, it's funny. It definitely didn't bring me to Penn State. I mean, Penn State obviously has a fantastic education program. My girlfriend's a member of that, or was a member of it. She graduated from the School of College of Education. But I honestly didn't even really discover my education interests until extracurricular activities I did through Penn State and just work that I had done after Penn State. When I was a Penn State student, I applied to and was accepted to Teach for America. And so that's kind of where I started out. I was teaching fifth and 6th grade science in Houston and San Antonio, Texas, but also one summer, the summer of 2017, I wanted to stay in State College over the summer because my girlfriend was there as well. And I applied for an academic advising position in the College of Dus because they have lots of students coming in over the summer for new student orientation. And I got accepted to that, and I did that, and that job was really just an excuse to be in State College and earn some money simultaneously. But I was doing that job and I kind of realized, oh, this is actually really interesting. That and my teaching through Teach for America were the two instances that really opened my eyes to just being in education, both like K Twelve and also Higher ed.
[00:04:27] Speaker A: You actually graduated from the College of the Liberal Arts with a degree in psychology. So how did you find that experience, that degree set you up to go into education? And I do want to go back to those cocurricular opportunities in a moment, but I'm curious about the psychology degree for our students who are considering or are majoring in that discipline.
[00:04:51] Speaker B: Yeah, so I honestly am probably not like the picture perfect liberal arts psychology grad in that I kind of went into psychology because I honestly really didn't know what else I wanted to do or what I liked.
And I spent a year in a lab, like a cognition and Action lab with a faculty who's now at a different university, and that kind of helped me realize that lab research wasn't for me. And I knew I didn't really want to be a psychologist either, but it was still the major and area that I just had the most interest in. So I would really say that being in that major, it helped me be okay with the many different unexpected twists and turns that my career would eventually have because I knew I wasn't really going into anything that you would have to specifically major in psychology for. And I certainly really enjoyed the major, and I learned a lot, but I wasn't in the major with the intention of being in a very specific place, and that's kind of how it's played out, too. I've kind of hopped around a lot of different things.
[00:05:57] Speaker A: And I think you hit on something I've heard from other guests on the show previously, which is sometimes you go into something and you try it like that lab work, and you discover that it's not for you. And that can be just as valuable of a learning opportunity in addition to being in psychology. And we'll get into your unique graduate work in a minute, but I want to stop and focus on your co curriculars in the pre work that I assign our guests to get ready. This is the Honors College. We have homework for our podcast guests. You were part of some cool opportunities for students. Can you tell me about those and those experiences?
[00:06:36] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. So one of them was the Presidential Leadership Academy, which essentially is a program consisting of usually approximately 30 students, sophomores, juniors and seniors, 30 in each class. And the goal of the program is to take classes with one another and really focus on how to think complexly and with nuance in situations that can be very emotionally charged or in situations that might appear to have a right and wrong answer, they often lie. Like, the real best way to approach that kind of situation often lies somewhere in the middle. So this can be anything from I mean, honestly, a lot of it is politics related, but there's a lot of different situations and environments you could apply that line of thinking to. So that was the Presidential Leadership Academy and I really enjoyed my time there. Some of my best friends I made through that program. And the other extracurricular experience I had, which I really, really valued, was being in an Acapella group. It was noda NOTA stands for none of the above. The reason that's the name is because it was the very first co ed Acapella group at Penn State. And so it was like none of the above and I was in it as just a standard member for the first two and a half years. But then for the last year and a half, I was assistant and then lead music director. So I got to kind of direct the rehearsals, arrange a lot of pieces as well. And I also play piano and sing and stuff. So it was a really fun experience. And similarly to PLA, I have some of my best friendships and memories from that group. So that was a fantastic time.
[00:08:17] Speaker A: So for the Acapella group, you're leading it and you're the musical director. Do you find that those skills are things that you're still using now a few years out of school in your professional life?
[00:08:29] Speaker B: I think that the biggest thing that being a music director in NOTA Taught me is just different ways to manage and work with expectations and also what is possible. Because it was a group that was I mean, obviously everyone who was in it was like a fantastic singer, right? You kind of have to audition to be in it. So that winds up happening by default. But not everyone had the same ability to sort of read music or perform with minimal practice. So there was a sort of balancing act between what is the height I can push everyone to within our two practices per week versus what is actually attainable with just two practices a week. And I don't think I did the best job managing that when I was a music director. But when you have those experiences that you don't do the best job navigating, those are the ones you earn the most from, honestly. So I don't regret it at all, though I'm sure I could have done a better job.
[00:09:34] Speaker A: No, I think that's great advice for students. Pull out the good from maybe not the best, pull from that, learn, move on to the next thing. I think that's really helpful for students, many of whom, obviously in the honors college, are in leadership roles in different clubs and things like that. So you had a very unique opportunity where you were pursuing a master's degree in addition to your bachelor's degree. And unlike usually the case for our scholars, they were in completely different colleges here at Penn State. Can you tell us what brought that about, how you did that, and what you learned from that unique experience?
[00:10:12] Speaker B: Yeah, sure. So I'll start out with why I joined the program. And it was twofold the first and most important reason was that I found an advisor here in the College of Education that I really liked. I honestly don't remember exactly how I found him. I know it was I think I had run into someone who I met through a class, and I really liked what he was doing. I kind of talked to him after and he told me to speak to his advisor, and I did, and he and I got along to the point where he encouraged me to apply for the program. So that was the biggest and by far the most influential reason. The second reason, though, is that my mom, coming from a purely business background, was 100% convinced that you can't get a job with only a psychology degree. And so she wanted me to have something else.
And this happened at a conversation in Christmas during my junior year when it would have been too late to switch majors. So I was like, okay, mom, this isn't true, but I have good news for you. I'm also joining a Master's program. So those were the two reasons. Certainly the biggest one was the advisor that I found. But yeah, the ability to work with him and his mindset, the ability to work with my advisor was what made the Master's program worth it, because if I couldn't have worked with him, I probably wouldn't have done that program. He gave me a lot of flexibility, allowed me to do a lot of independent studies and follow the ideas and paths that I was really curious and passionate about.
[00:11:41] Speaker A: And I think that speaks to the value of getting to know your faculty, getting to know your advisors, and that program led you to an opportunity to be an advisor yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about that opportunity that you mentioned in the beginning of our conversation?
[00:11:58] Speaker B: Yeah, well, so the first thing is that it's funny that I wound up in that, and it was kind of lucky because on the HR hiring site, they have the qualifications, like the minimum qualifications that people have to meet to be able to be hired. And one of the minimum qualification was must have or be pursuing a master's degree. And I remember getting a call from the person who would eventually become my supervisor, and she said, hey, we want to hire you, but you don't have a bachelor's yet. You don't have a master's. We're not sure if we can. And they later learned that because I was pursuing a master's degree and the minimum requirements didn't say you need a bachelor's degree, they were able to hire me. So that was really nice, and it worked out, but when I was actually on the job yeah, the obviously so many students are starting at Penn State, every single class, and a lot start in the division of undergraduate studies. Dus. I don't know the exact numbers. And it was a really fun experience to be able to, one, just help them kind of mathematically put the pieces of the puzzle together, like, if they're interested in these two colleges, okay, what are the overlapping courses? What are some general education courses that would count toward either major? But it also was really fun to talk with students about the things they were interested in and help them understand what options are available at Penn State, but also they would help me understand what they were interested in or what they wanted to do. So that experience really opened my eyes to advising in general, and I realized I really liked it.
[00:13:33] Speaker A: So I'm curious then. You mentioned earlier that you then went to Teach for America and that you've taught in both Pennsylvania and in Texas. So how did that part of your journey come about?
[00:13:46] Speaker B: I think that teaching was something that I just became more interested in as time went on at Penn State, or maybe I should say education.
But talking about being an academic advisor, the different things I was learning in psychology, I did just become very interested in education. And I didn't know if I wanted to become a teacher. But I did know that I would have to spend probably three or four more years to get an education certification if I were to do it through quote, unquote, traditional means. And Teach for America offered a path to certification that was really unique and would kind of allow me to start teaching right away. And so I applied for that. I got into it, and then I just went for it. Ultimately, it didn't work out exactly as I had hoped, and that's for a long variety of reasons, we can discuss if you'd like. But it did lead me to where I am today, for which I am very grateful.
[00:14:43] Speaker A: I was going to say, so you started out at Penn State. You went and did teach for America, and maybe it was or wasn't the best thing for you, but you did come back here, and then you got another advisor job in the Smeel College of Business.
What was it that drew you back here to Penn State as an alum to work at the university?
[00:15:06] Speaker B: Yeah. So really it was two things.
The first was just that when I was a student, an undergraduate and a graduate student at Penn State, I worked for Penn State on many different instances. I taught, like, video production in a middle school. That wasn't for Penn State. But it was State College. Right. I worked with the assistant dean of the Honors College to help develop a course. I worked for the NSO consulting and advising job, like I had mentioned, and I also helped someone in the college or a unit in the College of Liberal Arts develop, like, a curriculum for a high school class. So I was just very familiar with how to navigate the space of higher education and Penn State specifically right. Being a student, a grad student, and an employee at different points. So I was just very familiar with the landscape, especially after I had been in such an unfamiliar situation like teaching. For my first time ever in Texas, I was ready to go back to something very familiar. And also my girlfriend, who is two years younger than me, was a Penn State student at the time. So just like I stayed at Penn State in the summer of 2017 to be with her, I also did come back in the fall of 2018 to continue to be with her as well. Got you.
[00:16:20] Speaker A: So it sounds like there was quite a few reasons, and I think everybody who comes back to Happy Valley at some point has a unique story, and I'm glad that we were able to hear yours. Now, you already described a little bit about what an advisor does, so I don't want to rehash that. But I am curious. What, in your time as an advisor, do you really wish that students and even their parents knew about advising? That would make a better experience for both them and for their advisors to get what they need in order to pursue their goals and dreams?
[00:16:53] Speaker B: I honestly think it does vary a bit with the circumstances you're in. Like, for example, some students just kind of know what they want to do right out of the gate, and they want to have a transactional relationship with their advisor, which that's okay. My job is to help them achieve what they want. And then there are some students who are more exploratory and more open to non scheduling related advice and conversations from myself or other individuals. But in general, I would just say the best thing to do by far is to just meet with your advisor at least once a semester.
Even if you are 99% certain that you've got all the classes you need or you've got everything figured out, then you'll come in. Our meeting will be like, hey, did you get this? Yes. Do you want to talk about anything else? No. Okay, don. Boom. Five minutes max. Right? So, like, a five minute situation once per semester could save a student from impending doom if they were to schedule one class and not graduate or something like that.
But having a student come in, like, semester after semester as well, just opens the door to additional relationship building. Even though I'm not an advisor anymore, there are still a bunch of students I remember and had a really nice connection with being open to developing a relationship with your advisor and just seeing them to make sure you've kind of got everything you need to, I think are the two best things.
[00:18:25] Speaker A: Well, you heard it here first. If you have not already met with your advisor this semester, you heard it from Matt. Make sure as soon as you're done listening to this episode, pull out your email, get in touch with your advisor, and schedule that appointment for the semester, even if, like you said, it's only for five or ten minutes. Do that check in, make sure all of your I's are dotted and all of your T's are crossed.
[00:18:47] Speaker B: Yeah. Open up Starfish.
[00:18:49] Speaker A: Exactly. Yes. Starfish is a great tool. Kind of going a little off to the side here, but Matt, can you talk about Starfish and the value that that program, that software adds to our students and for our faculty?
[00:19:03] Speaker B: I mean, it's a scheduling tool, right? It obviously does a lot more too, but that was the primary way that I used it. It just really makes it easy for students to schedule appointments with their advisor, but it also does allow professors and really anyone who interacts with a student to a certain capacity to leave notes and information about that interaction. And so if a student is, say, coming up to University Park from a Commonwealth campus, you can understand what the student has been through based on the notes and sort of artifacts that other individuals have left for that student, even if you're just meeting them for the very first time. So it essentially just helps you to initiate that relationship on a level that probably is a lot higher than people who are starting and meeting from scratch.
[00:19:55] Speaker A: Absolutely. That is a great tool for students. So make sure you're using that. Know that we, as staff and faculty here at Penn State care about you and have things like that to make sure that you are succeeding. You put in the work and we will meet you there. So, final question on the advising before we dive into what I'm really excited to talk about, which is the learning and design side of things, students, every semester they have to pick their classes. Do you have any suggestions on strategies for our scholars approaching what I hear from many is a favorite perk of being a Shire scholar. That priority registration.
[00:20:30] Speaker B: Yeah, I do remember that I had that as well.
I guess really all people on this podcast would have had that.
Yeah. So I would say, I guess two things. The first would be just schedule on the actual date that you're given the chance to. You're obviously able and welcome to schedule after that, but the earlier you schedule, the better your odds are of getting what you need. I was working in Smell, the business college, and so a lot of those classes were really high demand. There's just a ton, a ton of students in Smell. And so the students who were able to best craft their schedules were the ones who kind of scheduled on their know. It shows you on the linepath homepage when your scheduling date is. I would also email my students saying, hey, your scheduling date is available, check it out. So just be aware of that. And then the other thing I would say is err on the side of putting too much on your schedule rather than too little. I've met with students many times, say like a week or a month or even two months after their scheduling date. And I'll say, hey, so you could have scheduled in March or whatever, how come you don't have anything on your schedule right now? And they usually well, they might say they forgot, which goes back to my first point. But sometimes they also say like, oh, well, I didn't have the chance to meet with you and so I didn't really know what to put on there. And I get that in theory, right? But the way Lion Path works, it's so much easier to remove things you don't want than to add things you maybe don't have. Because if things are full, then you go on a waitlist. If there's a waitlist and then you hope, right?
But if you put like six things on your schedule and I say, hey, you don't need these three, well, then you've got three that you need. So just be on top of the dates where this is all happening. And err on the side of scheduling too much rather than too little. Because it's extremely easy to remove classes and usually, depending on the class capacity, it can be really tricky to get into classes you don't yet have after your scheduling date.
[00:22:32] Speaker A: If you need to hit rewind and listen to the last few comments there from Matt. Go ahead and do it. We'll be waiting for you on the other side. That was some really spot on assistance for our students, so please make note of that. Now we're going to transition the conversation to your current and newest role, which is in the instructional design space, to use kind of the industry term. Can you tell us what drew you to that side and what actually you do as an instructional designer? I think coming out of COVID as the pandemic has accelerated online education, be curious to know anything and everything about the field that you are in now.
[00:23:22] Speaker B: Yeah, so I initially got interested in this field. Well, funnily enough, this is actually the degree that my graduate program was in. I didn't really have interest in this job until, funnily enough, I was working as an advisor because one of the things that I did as an academic advisor in Smeel obviously advising students. But on the side you also do your own programming, and different people have got different programming. Some people run events for prospective students, some people run events for current students. One of the programming responsibilities that I took upon myself was essentially the work of instructional designers. I was creating a course, actually, for advisors at the Commonwealth campuses to help them advise smell tracking students, because the smell entrance to major requirements are, I would say, probably the most complicated out of all of the entrance to major requirements throughout University Park, just from my experience as an advisor there. They are kind of complicated, still doable, but a little complex. So I was creating this course, I was working with this team, I was designing all this content, and then I just kind of realized, oh, hey, I'm doing instructional design work. And someone actually mentioned to me, someone on my team mentioned to me, hey, you should look into LDIG. I don't know if he meant you should apply to it or you should just see what it's all about, but that Team LDIG, which stands for E Learning Design and Innovation Group, is now where I wound up working. So, funnily enough, I got that instructional design sample from my academic advising job.
[00:24:56] Speaker A: I know you're still relatively new in this role at the time of recording, but tell me about A Day in the Life. The kind of projects that somebody in this particular industry actually does, and knowing that it's kind of a newer industry help illuminate that for students who may find this of interest to pursue as a career path.
[00:25:20] Speaker B: Sure. So like you said, I have been in this just basically a month and four days, so I'm probably not the best representative for it, but I'll take my crack at it.
So I personally think of instructional designers as kind of like the intersection between tech support and instructors.
We work a lot with the faculty in Smeel to help them understand not only what technologies might be best for them to use, but also how to appropriately use those technologies to retain the desired pedagogy for their class. And obviously there's a lot more online stuff now because of COVID But even before COVID unless a professor was teaching like a 20 person class and had everyone submit their assignments to them via email, almost all professors are using Canvas, Penn State learning management system for graded assignments or discussion post or the submission of essays. And there's also tools like Top hat or different learning integration features within Canvas. And so a chunk of what we do is just helping them understand how to use certain technologies and not just like, how to turn them on, but how to use them and integrate them into the way that they're teaching their courses. To allow them to just pull more from students or really interact with and engage with students. To essentially just make their class as enjoyable but also educational as they can.
[00:26:49] Speaker A: I think that's great. I'm in the Smeel Online MBA through the partnership with the World Campus, and I can attest to the value that you and your team bring to this space. I very much think you all are partners to the faculty who are often subject matter experts, but maybe not as well versed in the technology.
So I really appreciate what you all do to bring and enhance that, as you said, to really up the student experience and help the faculty really shine in that space. So thank you for that.
[00:27:24] Speaker B: Yeah, thanks. And I think what you said there actually was really great. I think a partner with faculty is like a really great way to describe it. Right? Because like you said, we're not the subject matter experts. Right. But there's also a lot we know about technology and also education in general that can help them craft their subject matter expertise into a really concise and well thought out deliverable package for students.
[00:27:51] Speaker A: Absolutely. Half of the challenge is knowing how do people learn?
We're past the era of standing at the chalkboard at the whiteboard and just talking for 50 minutes or 75 minutes. So it's a new era full of distractions, but you're helping make sure that we get the educational mission of this institution met. So I think that is just fantastic. If students are interested in either of these paths, whether that is going and being a professional academic advisor or going into the instructional design space, something like the learning team that you're a part of at Smeel or elsewhere for a private firm, what kind of skills or experiences should they be looking to get now while they're in the honors college?
[00:28:33] Speaker B: I would say for academic advising, I guess I can really only speak to my experience and how I got into the field, but my experience was just a familiarity with the university and the different technologies it uses, the different systems, the experience of. Being a student and then working your way up there. In a sense, I started with a part time summer job in academic advising and that's kind of how I wound up making my way into a career as a professional advisor. And as far as I'm aware, there aren't really any academic advising majors. I know there aren't at Penn State, I don't know if there would be elsewhere, but there aren't really any programs to my knowledge, designed to specifically teach students about academic advising. It's more about just putting your foot out there and getting experience that are either like it or lead to it and then just kind of pursuing the different opportunities offered. Like, honestly, just looking through universities job pages is a really great way to start because academic advising is a really big field, just because there are loads and loads of students at universities, right? And that number is only growing. And so in theory, the number of academic advisors should be growing as well. But to get to the second point you said about instructional design. So for instructional design you definitely do want, or I should say need some sort of educational background. You don't necessarily have to have been a K twelve teacher, but instructional designers, not only are they proficient with technology, but they also do have a lot of knowledge surrounding pedagogy. And so if you wanted to get into the field of instructional design, it does make sense to go through some discipline of education, even if it's not being a teacher who's standing in front of students. Like you said, instructional design is a relatively new field and some of the folks that I work with didn't explicitly study instructional design like I did. Though of course that was also sort of a coincidence that worked out.
But then, like I told you before, when I was working as an academic advisor, I found opportunities, found and took opportunities that led me into the role of an instructional designer. So if you're designing material or instruction quite literally, you have the potential to be an instructional designer.
[00:30:58] Speaker A: Great. And I think another area where you could apply these skills if you're looking to get the practice is in the corporate training and development space as well. Similar kind of profession and certainly an area to look down. And one thing, even if you are not interested in this field at all, a nugget that I want to pull out from what you said Matt, was go on to websites and look at job descriptions. That is really sage advice. If you are interested in any kind of industry, find those companies, look at what they are asking for and begin to develop that. So really good point there. Going back to the fact that you are here in State College, you're a younger alum, you're only a few years out of school. What is it like being a young professional in Happy Valley compared to being a student and how can a student planning to stay here make that transition from undergrad to professional successfully?
[00:31:56] Speaker B: It was funny because like kind of one of the reasons I came back to was to just be able to be with my girlfriend again who was two years younger and so she still had about a little less than a full academic year of school left when I had come back. So part of it oddly felt like I was still a student for a little bit just because I was hanging out with her and her friends and they were all seniors. So in a lot of ways I felt like I was a student for that first year. But then of course they all graduated and my girlfriend and I got an apartment north of campus where you need a car to get to and that's really the sign that you're no longer a student. If you live somewhere, you got to drive to downtown, right?
And I would say honestly, I think there wasn't a lot of difficulty for us navigating the professional environment. We went to work and then we came home and we made dinner or took care of our dog or whatever we did.
But I think the biggest difference for us that we kind of navigated and had to learn how to navigate was just maintaining our social bonds with all of our close friends. Because when you are a college student, the university experience is so, so unique because all your best friends are a 15 minutes walk from one another, right? It could be like 10:00 on a Thursday and you could text someone hey, do you want to hang out and play games? And they'll basically say yes and then you hang out, right? And that's just not something that's at least something that I have found. It's not that easy to do in the quote unquote adult world, right? Like everyone's living in different places, some people are starting to own homes, you've got your own responsibilities, like a family, a pet, things like that. So that university experience is really unique in that you can just basically kind of see all your friends practically whenever you want and on any terms. And that was something that we kind of had to get used to not being able to do anymore. So we were being more intentional about trying to make friends, trying to hang out with old friends as well because really nobody else in our friend groups stayed in state College after they graduated. So we made a lot of new friends in State College. But it took us like six months to do that. The first six months we kind of just expected to make friends naturally through different avenues and it didn't happen exactly how we were hoping. So then we kind of had to take matters into our own hands and then once we did that, we felt a lot better. But for the first six months or so after we were both working full time jobs in State College, we were just kind of lonely and we didn't realize that we had to actually do something about it.
[00:34:33] Speaker A: So as a follow up to that, what were some of those steps that you took to intentionally find a community when you were no longer in the undergrad and it just kind of falls into your lap while you're on campus?
[00:34:45] Speaker B: Yeah, good question. So one of the things that we kind of realized was we just had to be really upfront about trying to connect with people. So for example, one of the first couples that we met that we really liked, we kind of saw them at the community pool that our apartment complex had, and we had a nice little chat, but it didn't last terribly long, and we said something like, hey, I'm sure we'll see you around. And then they leave. And I turned to my girlfriend and we were like, oh, they were really nice. I hope we run into them again. And just through pure circumstance, we really didn't run into them again for probably three or four months, and by that time it was almost too late because we were like, are they going to remember who we are? What is this going to be like? And it wound up being totally fine. But something we kind of learned from that experience was, okay, if we see people, even if it's just a short interaction, like, hey, that was fun. Would you guys want to come over sometime? Would you want to exchange numbers? Blah, blah, blah, stuff like that, right? Just basically trying to be more intentional about connecting. Because like you said, people and friends don't necessarily just fall into your lap the way they do. When you're a university student, no matter.
[00:35:59] Speaker A: If you're staying in state college, if you're moving to Philadelphia, to New York, DC. Wherever life takes you after is. You have to be far more intentional in finding community groups or just those happenstances wherever you live or work. Matt, you've been out for a couple years.
What are some quick lessons that you would love to share with Schreyer scholars about what they could be doing now to maximize their experience?
[00:36:27] Speaker B: One, definitely just enjoy yourself.
Like we were just saying, I think it's unlikely that you will find yourself in a situation like this again with all your friends being so accessible and your responsibilities being so relatively limited. Obviously some people have a load of stuff, but I think in general, colleges tends to be a little bit less responsibilities than post college. So definitely enjoy yourself, for sure.
It's probably gong to be a very unique experience just being in university. And I would also say that I would try your best to not get stressed out if things don't go 100% your way. There were many, many instances in my time at penn State, mostly relating to careers and toward the tail end of my Penn State career that things just weren't going as I had maybe initially envisioned them or in some circumstances I just didn't exactly know what I wanted and so I didn't even have a vision. And I think it's very easy to let the stress of that circumstance eat away at you and consume you to a certain degree. And I think that as long as you are open to trying things that seem interesting and putting yourself out there, then you're going to be okay. Maybe the first job you get after Penn State isn't the best thing in the world. That was the circumstance for me. But there are going to be other jobs, right? Like you don't have to lock yourself in 40 years to whatever the first thing you do after college is. Especially as a Smeel advisor, I've seen so many students be so intensely preoccupied with that internship or that job and obviously it's important to try and get those things, but it's really not the end of the world if those things don't come in the timeframe or in the exact manner you have envisioned in your head.
[00:38:31] Speaker A: Really sage advice. Matt, you were talking know, you alluded to your friends that you had. You've mentioned some advisors that advised you. Are there any that you want to give a quick shout out to as we wrap up our time here today?
[00:38:47] Speaker B: I'll say three. I guess the first is Janet Schulenberg, who was my advisor when I came to Penn State. I started in Dus, and so she was just very helpful in coaching me through the philosophy I actually kind of just told you, which is that it's okay to not have this figured out right this second.
She was very helpful in pointing me or helping me, I guess point myself into liberal arts and then psychology. She was really helpful with that. She was fantastic. I believe she still works at Penn State, too, so thanks, Janet. And then the other would just be Kyle Peck, my advisor in my graduate program. Like I said, he was just phenomenal with helping me or rather enabling me to pursue the interests that I had instead of just kind of sticking cookie cutter to the program that I was in. So I really valued that experience. And then, of course, lastly, I can't go or let this end without know, shouting out my girlfriend too. Fantastic. Just very supportive. And clearly, as was mentioned here, she's the reason I really did come back to Penn State, so she's probably the reason that a lot of this has worked out so well for me. So. Thanks, Amanda.
[00:40:10] Speaker A: That's adorable repeatedly throughout. So I'm glad that she gets a proper shout out here at the end. If a scholar wants to reach out to you, pick your brain on some of the topics that we've discussed today, potentially seek you out as a mentor, how can they get a hold of you?
[00:40:30] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. So honestly, best way is just my Penn State email. I don't really check, like, LinkedIn too much. It's Matt psu.edu, and you can just get the spelling from somewhere in the description, I imagine.
[00:40:43] Speaker A: Couldn't have said it better myself. That's exactly how I was gong to put it.
[00:40:47] Speaker B: So.
[00:40:47] Speaker A: Thank you, Matt. And as is tradition here on following the Gone, our last question. If you were a flavor of Berkeley creamery ice cream, which would you be? And as a scholar, alum, most importantly, why that?
[00:41:02] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So I saw this question that you sent me beforehand, and I spent some time thinking about this one, and I've got a good answer for you, I think.
Alumni swirl. So, first off, have you ever had that, Sean?
[00:41:13] Speaker A: Many times.
[00:41:15] Speaker B: Okay. Okay, cool. So one, I mean, one, I'm an, so, like, there's that. But two, I remember trying that.
I think I was in actually, like, the dining commons when I first tried it because a lot of them have cranberry ice cream. And I thought at the time that it was like cookies and cream or something. I don't know. I honestly didn't know what it was. But I think I took it accidentally and then took a bite into it, and it's got like a bunch of different things in it. I honestly couldn't even tell you. It's been so gong since I've last had it. But it's got a lot of different things in it, and I was really surprised that I really liked it. And so I feel like it parallels my journey in that it was something unexpected that I didn't really know if I would like or want. But I gave it a try and I wound up really enjoying it and making the best out of it. So I would say alumni swirl, that.
[00:42:13] Speaker A: Is a great answer. I've had some other folks every time alumni swirl comes up, it is always that. It's really surprising, the combination of things and how well they work together. So kudos to our colleagues over at the Berkeley Creamery on that Penn State staple. Great answer on that, and I think that is a great way to close out. Matt, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of your great insight on academic advising and instructional design. These are great opportunities for students to look into. Really appreciate you coming on following the GoM today.
[00:42:46] Speaker B: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Sean.
[00:42:55] Speaker A: Thank you, scholar, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Shrier Honors College Emergency Fund benefiting scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at Raise, psu.edu, forward slash Schreyer. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with. US on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the Gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at psu.edu. Until next time, please stay well. And we are.