Alumni Perspective: Melissa Hein

Degree and Graduation Year: Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Minor in Labor Studies and Employment Relations, 2013

Current hometown: Clarksville, Tennessee

Current career and workplace:
I work as an independent contractor with a nonprofit organization called CASY-MSCCN (Corporate America Supports You and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network). CASY-MSCCN assists veterans, transitioning military, National Guard/Reserves, and military spouses with job placement, résumé help, interview assistance, etc. I am a career specialist for the Reserve Component Cadet Career Opportunity Network (ReC3ON) program. The ReC3ON program helps ROTC cadets become career ready by the time they graduate from college.

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me varies from day to day. One day I am chatting with a cadet on the other side of the United States; another day I may be assisting the writing team by drafting an article for the ReC3ON blog or helping the National Guard Employment Network team with candidate files or working with our media team to promote our social media sites. My work touches several departments and programs under the CASY-MSCCN umbrella, and I love that my work varies from day to day.

I am primarily responsible for assisting ROTC cadets in universities all over the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. I help them prepare for careers by providing them with mentorship/guidance and assistance with internships/apprenticeships, job placement, and résumé preparation.

How did you get into the field you are currently working in?
I got into this field after volunteering with the Career Corp at CASY-MSCCN. As a military spouse, I wanted to give back to the military community. I came across a call for volunteers with CASY-MSCCN, so I applied for the volunteer position. After working as a volunteer, I was given the opportunity to work with the ReC3ON program, and I have never looked back. It has been a wonderful learning experience, and I love working with ROTC cadets!

How has Penn State World Campus impacted your career?
Penn State has impacted my career in a phenomenal way. I became a Penn State Alumni Ambassador in 2014 after graduating in December 2013. Volunteering as an Alumni Ambassador at Penn State World Campus opened the door to my volunteer work and now current career with CASY-MSCCN. The experience I gained from being an Alumni Ambassador, along with the knowledge I gained from my education at Penn State, has helped me to be the best career specialist and mentor that I can possibly be to my cadets. The education I received through Penn State World Campus has assisted me not only by helping me to complete my MBA in Human Resource Management; it has also paved the way to my earning a Ph.D. in Psychology. I have completed 15 months of doctoral study thus far.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you were a Penn State World Campus student? How did you overcome these challenges?
The biggest challenge I faced was balancing my family and my schoolwork. It is often difficult to make time for one’s own homework when your children have homework and your family needs you. Trying to manage family time, appointments, sports, and everyday life with making time for schoolwork was a great challenge. I overcame this challenge by carving out time after my kids went to bed and making time on weekends to do projects, attend team meetings, and complete homework.

How do you stay connected with Penn State?
I am connected through the Alumni Ambassador Program, and I attend the networking events when I can. The networking events that occur online are especially helpful because you can attend them from anywhere. I also follow Penn State World Campus on LinkedIn and Facebook to keep up with what’s going on at my alma mater.

What is some advice that you would give to current Penn State World Campus students?
My advice to new students is to schedule time, every day if you can, to tackle homework and projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s late at night or what time it is; just make sure you set aside the time! This is an investment in yourself! You will not regret those late nights. Study hard, do your best, and seek help when you need it. There is a plethora of resources available to you, so use them! You can never have too much information or guidance. Also, communicate with your professors, classmates, and with the Penn State World Campus community. Additionally, there are many clubs and organizations that you can join that will help you feel more connected to Penn State. Get out there and network!