You can now listen to the latest episode of “Conversations with Student Affairs,” the podcast managed by the Student Affairs team at Penn State World Campus in collaboration with our many colleagues and partners across the University’s Student Affairs teams.
Title: Connecting with Alumni
Participating guests: Amber Redmond, director of alumni relations for Penn State World Campus
Summary: Graduating soon? Looking to stay involved past graduation and continue building valuable communication or team-building skills? Find out how engaging with the different alumni groups can open opportunities to stay connected to Penn State and help you develop strengths you can use in your career and other areas of life.
Three interesting or helpful takeaways from this episode:
Penn State has a vast alumni network — and alumni love talking to other Penn Staters. “Talking to students is typically one of their favorite things to do,” Amber says. “So I’d say at any point in your Penn State journey, feel free to reach out to an alum.”
Watch for communications from the Alumni Association and the World Campus Alumni Society. You will receive emails as your graduation nears and within a few weeks after you graduate. “Soon after graduation, new World Campus alums will receive a congratulations message that’s from our president of our World Campus Alumni Society board,” Amber says. “That message begins your communications as an alum. And it has a ton of opportunities that are available to you, as a new alum, to get involved and information about where to go to find things. A lot of good resources in that email.”
You will get a chance to check out Alumni Association membership at no cost. Penn State graduates get a free year of membership in the Alumni Association, which is a great opportunity to explore all of the benefits and resources available to you.
Catch up on all episodes:
- Penn State Alumni Association Member Benefits — learn about the benefits available to Penn State graduates
- Explore Networking and Alumni Connections with LionLink — learn more about LionLink, a professional networking program offered by the Penn State Alumni Association
- Get Involved — explore ways to connect with other Penn Staters while you are a student
Podcast Transcript: Connecting with Alumni
JEN TOOF: Hello. Welcome to Conversations with Student Affairs. I’m your host, Jen Toof. I’m very excited to connect with our guest, Amber Redmond, today. We’re going to be discussing that connection and affinity that we both feel for Penn State, and then how students engage, post graduation, with alumni. And so Amber, we always want our listeners to be able to get to know our guests. Could you take a moment and introduce yourself?
AMBER REDMOND: Sure, I’m happy to be here.
I apologize if you hear a cat meowing. You can cut that out if you want to, but she has a habit of crying in my face.
JEN TOOF: Perfect timing, right?
AMBER REDMOND: Right, yeah, and she sounds like an infant, too. So people will be like, did you have a baby?
Yeah, I’m happy to be here. My name is Amber Redmond. I’m the director of Alumni Relations for Penn State World Campus. And I’ve actually been in this role for about two years now. I started just prior to the pandemic, in February of 2020.
I’ve worked at Penn State, though, it’ll be 9 years in August. So I started in Central Development and Alumni Relations. And I was there for three-ish years. And then I went to — I came to the World Campus, and worked in the admissions services and the financial aid office. And I was there for three years.
And then during my time in admissions, I began working with our Alumni Ambassador program. So that’s what really exposed me to working with World Campus alumni volunteers. And I decided I really liked that. And it was something that I really enjoyed and I wanted to do more of.
So when this position that I’m currently in opened up, it felt like a really nice transition for me. And I was lucky to get that role. So I’ve been here, like I said, for just a little bit over two years now.
I’m a Penn State alum myself, twice over. I graduated in 2009 from the Smeal College of Business. I attended the University Park campus.
I minored in labor studies and employment relations. And I had a management math major. And then I got my master’s degree through Penn State World Campus. And I got that in 2018.
I have a master of public administration through World Campus and Penn State Harrisburg. So very proud Penn State alumni, myself. So I feel like this role is pretty fitting for myself. I find that I tend to relate to a lot of the alums that I’m talking with, which makes my job a little bit more fun, I think, because we can talk — our affinity together. And I feel that, too, so —
JEN TOOF: Yes, and I think about any time alums come on to campus, getting some ice cream as always that go-to, must-have thing. And so Amber, as I mentioned, our listeners have this opportunity to get to know our guests at the beginning of each episode. And we do our “if you could” segments.
So let’s talk about ice cream, since that always is a draw. Whether people are traveling and taking it back home, getting it shipped to their house, ice cream is always that connect point. There’s so many flavors at the Creamery that are so good. If you could eat any flavor, every day, what would that be?
AMBER REDMOND: Well, so I have two favorite flavors. And I don’t know that I could pick between one of them because the flavor that is my favorite depends on my mood. So if I’m in the mood for something fruity, I typically will go for Peachy Paterno, because it has those chunks of peaches in it. And it just is so good. But if I’m in the mood for something sweet, it’s always Death by Chocolate, because you can’t beat that, the chunks of chocolate, the swirl — it’s so good. I would never mix the two of them, even if I had that option.
Peach and chocolate together just not sound good. But separately, they’re my two favorite flavors.
JEN TOOF: One could be a morning one and one could be an evening one, just not at the same time.
AMBER REDMOND: No, that’s totally fair. I could totally get away with a Peachy Paterno smoothie or something for breakfast. And yeah, peach is healthy. It’s got some fruit in it.
JEN TOOF: It feels a little breakfast, right?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, what about you? What are your favorite flavors, or favorite flavor that you had to eat forever?
JEN TOOF: So I love milkshakes, because I think it’s because I like my ice cream melted. And so even if it’s not in a cup, in my bowl I like it to be melted. So I’m usually a Coffee Break person. Coffee Break’s also good if you put it in a blender. And you can add some mix ins as well.
And then, I don’t know. I think maybe anything that has chunks in it, so a cookie dough, or Cookies and Cream, or the Death by Chocolate. I think you’re right, though. It really depends on what emotion we’re feeling.
JEN TOOF: [INAUDIBLE]. What about on the ice cream spectrum, maybe, is the better question.
AMBER REDMOND: It does. And I will say, for some of our grads who choose to come back to campus, we do the World Campus graduation celebration. And we always have a couple of Creamery flavors there. And that’s my opportunity to jazz it up, like you said, with mix ins.
I wouldn’t typically care to mix in stuff. But I’ll try just a plain vanilla, and put some chocolate syrup, and some cookie crumbles in it. And that’s good, too. But I’m like you. It has to have something in it for me to be into it. Otherwise, I’m not such a fan, so —
JEN TOOF: Yep. And I will say, Coffee Break, even though, with the chunks of chocolate in it, going in the blender, it’s still works with straw. So if anybody thinks that it might clog, no, it works pretty good. So —
AMBER REDMOND: That sounds delicious.
JEN TOOF: I do recommend the milkshake method for Coffee Break.
AMBER REDMOND: I’m a sucker for a good malt shake. And Coffee Break would probably be really good with malt powder added to it.
JEN TOOF: Now I feel like this evening, we’re going to be like, can we go to the Creamery?
JEN TOOF: Yeah, right?
Now I’m craving some ice cream.
AMBER REDMOND: Yes, yes.
JEN TOOF: OK, so Amber, well, thank you for taking me down ice cream lane, as I think I want to call it for that spectrum of emotion. Our next segment is our Student: Affairs Snapshots. And so in our introduction, I mentioned that Amber and I would discuss connections and affinity we have for Penn State. And when I reached out to ask Amber if she would be a guest, we were nonstop sharing stories about our times connecting with other Penn Staters.
And so for this Student Affairs Snapchat, I thought it would be fun to share how we’ve seen Penn State show up in our travels or in our communities. And I really felt like, let’s talk about travel as a starting point. It depends on how introverted — or maybe I should say, depending on however many people I’m traveling with, depends on how introverted I am. You know — am I —
AMBER REDMOND: You’ve got to get in the mood.
JEN TOOF: Yes. If I’m by myself, I usually feel like, OK, I’m pretty closed off. I just want to be listening to something or reading something. But I also realized that when I’m in a group, I’m all about, yes, yes, woo-hoo, get excited. Let’s talk to everybody in the airport and make new friends.
And so when I think about airport travel, when I first started working for Penn State in 2013, I’d be wearing my Penn State flip-flops, my shorts or my sweatpants, comfy clothes, my hoodie, or my t-shirt, decked out, head to toe, in Penn State. And I feel like my airport interactions of somebody coming up to me and being like, “we are,” were just nonstop.
And so as our listeners are hearing us talk about our stories, I think it’s also a great opportunity to tell our listeners, hey, we want to hear your stories too, because we want to continue these into future podcast episodes, or ways to keep our alums connected. Or how are you seeing Penn State show up? So feel free, if anybody feels prompted, to contact us and also share their story. But Amber, where have you seen Penn State show up in your travels?
AMBER REDMOND: So the one that comes to mind for me is — and I think I shared this in our intro meeting. But my husband and I have been on three cruises. And I can’t remember the exact game that was happening. It was a football game that was happening while we were on one of our cruises. It had to be a Big Ten Championship game, or a big game.
And when you’re on a cruise ship, you don’t have access to very reliable internet, typically. And you’re at the mercy of whatever sporting events they choose to stream. So you don’t get to pick.
And unfortunately, Penn State was not being streamed on the ship. But we were porting that day. And I think we were porting — I want to say it was either Mexico or the Bahamas.
And so my husband and I got off the ship. And we just happened to be walking around, just checking out the sights. And we ran into another couple who had their phone up. And they were watching the game and checking on the score.
And so we actually found out Penn State won. And we were all pumped up. So we were able to enjoy our time at the port. And it was pretty cool. It was a pretty cool connection, because then — I don’t know. For anyone who’s been on a cruise, it’s thousands of people, but you end up seeing the same people over again.
So every time we would see this couple, we would be like “we are,” like, say something Penn Statey. So it was a fun little connection we found on the ship. So that was pretty cool. Yeah.
JEN TOOF: So we have a large World Campus population in Southern California, as well as just a large Penn State alum population. And in 2019, and in this past 2021, I went out to visit family. And back in 2019, on the Ocean Beach Pier, there was an artist, drawing, who started telling me that he was a Penn State alum from the 1970s.
AMBER REDMOND: That’s cool.
JEN TOOF: And we’re just chatting out on the Ocean Beach Pier. And then that was also my first interaction where — my cousin told me — he goes, oh, we’ve got to go see the train that says Penn State World Campus out there. And I’d never been so excited to go see our World Campus connection out in the community out there. So that was definitely a trip that was very memorable.
And then in 2021, I was out in La Jolla, just taking sunset pictures at the Cove. And there were some people who were walking and seeing me see pictures, and said that they were alum, and asked if I could take a picture of them. And I was like, oh, my gosh. I just love the little connections —
AMBER REDMOND: That’s so cool.
JEN TOOF: — that we see in our community. And so I definitely went and emailed Pedro and — I can remember his girlfriend’s name — Sam — and sent them the pictures and stuff. But yeah, I was like, I love it when Penn State just shows up.
AMBER REDMOND: I do too. And I like — it’s just like you have an instant friendly face whenever someone — even if they’re not an alum, like, they have a granddaughter or a neighbor, somebody has a Penn State connection and they’re talking to you about that, I feel like it’s like an instant friendship that you build, just because of the Penn State connection, which is so cool.
JEN TOOF: Mm-hmm. I love it. So I hope people will submit stories to us, because that’s my favorite thing, is just hearing about “Penn State in the wild.”
AMBER REDMOND: Yes.
JEN TOOF: And you also know that we have World Campus staff that are located in Southern California. I got to meet up with some of our San Diego advising team when I was out there. So just as much as we’re sharing stories here, our advising team and other staff members and alum and instructors have the same story. So we want to hear from everybody. And we want to be able to share that “we are” spirit.
AMBER REDMOND: I love it. Yeah, I can’t wait.
JEN TOOF: All right, so Amber, as I mentioned, we have our different segments. And we have our “get to know yous.” So our next segment is called our On the Corner, where we discuss intersecting topics. So these next two segments are more specific about how do we hope our listeners can connect to our topic for the episode, or connect to a program that we have going on. And so I thought, what better topic than being an alum of Penn State and staying engaged, post graduation, would be a great intersecting topic for our episode.
And so Amber, graduation is held each semester. What types of communications should students look for? And when should they get connected to alumni?
AMBER REDMOND: That’s a good question. So I would encourage students to get connected with alumni, really, at any point. So if you’re early on in your career as a student, and you have questions about what you might be able to do with your degree, that could be something you run by an alum. At any point, I think they’re more than willing to talk with you.
And we have such a large alumni network. And they’re just eager and waiting. And talking to students is typically one of their favorite things to do. So I’d say at any point, feel free to reach out to an alum.
And I would say, as far as when you should expect communications as you’re making that transition from student to alum, what will happen is, within about a month and a half — I would say two months, at the most, after you graduate — new alums — new World Campus alums will receive a congratulations message that’s from our president of our World Campus Alumni Society board. And that message begins your communications as an alum. And it has a ton of opportunities that are available to you, as a new alum, to get involved, where to go to find things. A lot of good resources in that email.
But really, that’s the starting point in getting you some alumni-related communications. So you’ll start getting regular ones after that which include — we have a monthly alumni newsletter that goes out, so you’ll start getting that each month, and other communications, too. So one thing I did want to emphasize is just to make sure that you’re getting those communications, it’s important to keep your email up to date. So you know your Penn State email will expire. So just make sure you’re keeping your email address on file up to date, so that we can continue to send those messages to the correct address.
And then I did want to add, too, so in addition to those World Campus-centric communications, you’ll probably also be hearing from your academic program, as well. So you might hear from them about specific events that they’re planning, or initiatives that they may need help with. So you’re not just going to hear from World Campus.
You may hear from a couple of different areas at the University. But you’ll definitely have many opportunities to stay connected to Penn State. So don’t feel like when you graduate, it’s all said and done. We definitely still want to hear from you, and hope to have you at events, and connecting with us. So I did want to mention that.
And one other point that I feel like is really important to make is that, as a graduation gift to you when you graduate, you do get your first year of membership in the Alumni Association — it’s a complimentary gift. So I would definitely take advantage of the benefits that you get, as an alum in that first year, to try it out and see what’s available to you, and test some things, and take advantage of the discount, savings, the publications that you’ll get.
JEN TOOF: Amber, is there a specific part of the World Campus website or the alumni website that talks about those benefits of that first year?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, I can definitely get that link to you, so you can put it in the notes. But there’s a link that is through the Penn State Alumni Association that lists all the benefits that you have as a member of the Alumni Association. So obviously, after your first complimentary year, we hope that you’ll renew and continue those benefits.
You have the option to do that, I believe, on an annual basis and as a lifetime member. And there are sales and stuff that are run throughout the year, especially around Black Friday. So if costs isn’t — is something you’re cognizant of, feel free to keep an eye out for some of those sales.
But yeah, there are a ton of benefits that are available. One that people are really — that people would tend to really like is the PennStater magazine that comes — I think it’s every two months. So you would get that every two months. And there is a ton of information in that magazine about what the Alumni Association, and what’s going on across Penn State as a whole, has going on.
And then if you — it’s a little easier, too, if you’re on the World Campus site, there’s an alumni website specific to your World Campus alums. And we link to the Penn State Alumni Association too. So I can make sure we have that in the show notes as well.
JEN TOOF: Great. Thank you, Amber.
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah.
JEN TOOF: So you mentioned about those communications. What does connection and engagement look like? So I don’t know that the specifics. But I know there’s societies, chapters, or special-interest groups. Could you tell us what that looks like for somebody, once they’re there and they want to physically engage or virtually engage in events?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, so there are over 300 different types of groups that alums can join. And these are not just specific to World Campus. They’re just alumni-centric groups. So the first one is an Alumni Society. And those are ways that you can connect with academic units.
So there is a World Campus Alumni Society. There’s one for each academic unit. And then each society has an Alumni Society board. And that’s a leadership component.
So if you are interested in getting some more volunteer-leadership experience, running for a board is always an option that you could look into. It’s a great opportunity to provide feedback at that higher level to the academic unit that you are affiliated with. So World Campus has an Alumni Society. And we have an Alumni Society board.
I would say, if you’re looking for more of an in-person connection, that’s going to be your chapter. So that’s based on where you live. There’s likely a Penn State alumni chapter near you. They’re all over the world. And if they’re not — if there’s not one that’s near you,
I would encourage you to maybe reach out. You could reach out to me. And we could talk about what it would take to set one up near you, to see if there’s enough alumni population near where you’re at, about — to see if there’s enough interest that you could garner setting up a chapter near you, if there’s not one that’s close enough for you to get to.
And then we also have alumni-interest groups, which give alums a way to stay connected with people that you knew during your time at Penn State. So it’s based around an interest that you might have had with other classmates. There are program groups, which are more around a particular academic or professional program that you might have been involved with during your time as a student, that you want to remain engaged with as an alum.
And all of these opportunities are ways for you to connect with other Penn Staters who have a similar interest, whether that be academic unit, location, program, whatnot. So if you’re having trouble figuring out what might be a good fit, or if you just want to know if there’s something that is available, based on an interest or a program that you have an affiliation with, feel free to reach out to me. And I can help you navigate where to find that information on the website.
But there are tons of opportunities to connect with other Penn Staters, network, and build that sense of community. And they’re always willing to work with, and want to include World Campus alums in those groups too. And I would say, as students, too, if you’re looking to build that alumni connection, as a student, you could definitely participate, or at least start getting involved with some of these groups, too, just so you’re aware of what’s out there, and can build that network while you’re a student too.
JEN TOOF: Awesome. Amber, I know that this wasn’t anything that we talked about before. But if we have a alums that are listening as well, how could they get connected? Do we still have Ambassador programs or connecting albums with career services at World Campus?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, so we have — the Alumni Ambassador Program that we have through World Campus is more for alums to talk with prospective World Campus students, or students who might be thinking about switching a major. So that’s more what our alumni ambassador program does. But there is an Alumni Career Services team that works with alums. So if you are looking to maybe make a job transition, and you have some questions, and want to talk to a staff member about, we have staff that are open for that.
We also have a platform called LionLink, which is really — it’s somewhat similar to LinkedIn. But it’s only Penn Staters in there. And it’s Penn Staters from World Campus and all of the units. So if you are an alum or a student, looking to learn more about a particular area of interest, or maybe making a career shift, LionLink would be a really awesome platform to just pop in there and host a discussion question about, or do a search of alums that are using it and just reach out. You can message alums in there.
And I, personally, I’m in there as an alum. And I get messages pretty frequently from students who are just asking if they can pick my brain about some questions that they’re having. Or they may want to meet and just go over some questions that they have for a class assignment or something. So that’s a tool that’s available, and pretty robust, and has a lot of options in there for you to connect to.
JEN TOOF: Great. That sounds awesome, Amber. And for our listeners, we’ll put links and stuff in our description, so that everybody can go on, find that information, have your contact information as well as my contact information. We never want to feel — we’d never want our listeners to feel as though they’ve heard some great information and don’t know where to go to next. And we want to provide those next steps for everybody.
And I know that this isn’t in our next segment. But I want to use this next question as a bridge going in between this segment and the next one. I know blue-and-white weekend and homecoming are really great opportunities for students who might be looking for an in-person experience. Maybe they want to come to University Park, their World Campus. Can you share with our listeners what that environment, or what those weekends look like?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, so Blue-and-White Weekend is typically centered around a football game on Saturday. But it is a free football game for people to attend. I think parking is one of the things that you would have to pay for. But if you’re looking to get a taste of what football season might look like here in Happy Valley, Blue-White Weekend would be a really great option for that.
A lot of Penn Staters come back to campus for that. So it’s a busy weekend on campus, for sure. A really gr —
JEN TOOF: It’s not as chaotic as the fall football season.
AMBER REDMOND: No, it’s not as chaotic. But it’s definitely busy. So if you are heading to the Creamery, you will be waiting in a line, likely. But yeah, Blue-White’s is a lot of fun. And they change it up each year. But they typically do some other events around Blue-White weekend too, to make it a whole-weekend event, make your time coming back to campus worthwhile, for sure.
Same with homecoming. Homecoming, they’ll do, typically, a few events throughout the week leading up. But then it’s around a football game. So there’s usually a game Saturday that’s dubbed “The Homecoming Game.” And there’s Homecoming Court on that gets announced at halftime.
But there’s also a parade during Homecoming Weekend, which is the Friday before that game. And so a lot of Penn Staters will travel back to campus and be here on campus for the parade. It’s a long parade, from what I’ve heard. If you can believe it, I’m actually — I’m local to State College. I grew up here. I’ve never gone to the Homecoming Parade in my life.
JEN TOOF: I have never been either.
AMBER REDMOND: I just —
JEN TOOF: Just for the next one, be like, Amber, you and your family want to go, because it’s up there.
AMBER REDMOND: I feel like I have to. I don’t know how I’ve made it this long in my life having never gone. I’ve participated with the World Campus homecoming org. Last year I helped them prepare some of their events. But that was when I realized, I’ve never been to the actual parade, which is just crazy.
So yeah, it’s a fun parade, for sure. But I’ve heard it’s very long. So definitely another option. Makes it worthwhile for coming back.
I will say, too, the Alumni Association holds an event in June. And it’s called “We Are Week,” or “We Are Weekend.” We’ve transitioned it a bit, based around COVID. But that event is happening in June this year. So that’s another opportunity for Penn Staters to come back to campus.
And there’s a ton of really cool events that the Alumni Association hosts around We Are Weekend. It looks like it is, this year, June 17 and 18. So it’s “We Are Weekend” this year.
Registration’s open for that. You can find information about it on the Penn State Alumni Association’s website. But yeah, that’s an annual event. So each year you can keep an eye out for that announcement. And that’s another opportunity to come back to campus too.
And I would say, also, there’s merit and value in even just coming back to campus on a random weekend too, with nothing going on, because then you can really walk around, and visit some of — the Lion Shrine and the “We Are” statue. And you can take your time, and have a little bit less crowded time at some of these sites.
So I would say, if you ever are traveling, and you can swing in through Happy Valley, there’s merit. And there’s something worth coming on a non-crazy weekend to.
JEN TOOF: And I would say, it’s probably what, about 20 minutes off from 80? So if anybody’s ever traveling across the state on 80, it’s only about a 20 minute dip down to get into State College. And it’s pretty easy travel.
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah.
JEN TOOF: So, yeah, anybody passing through, taking an hour or two for a lunch break in Happy Valley, can be very well worth it.
AMBER REDMOND: Absolutely, and if you are planning to come in, and you want recommendations on what you should see here and do while you’re here, feel free to reach out to us. And we can, as locals, maybe guide you towards some of the stuff that would be worth checking out while you swing in, so —
JEN TOOF: Great. Amber, up next is Our Toolbox for Success . And my question’s going to be more about your perspective on this. But how important is networking for opening doors for opportunity?
AMBER REDMOND: I think that networking is extremely important. And I’m a huge advocate of just networking in any interaction that you might have the opportunity to do so. So I always look at it like, you never really know who might be a person you want in your network.
So you could be sitting like at the dentist’s office, for instance, next to somebody. And that person, if you could strike up a conversation, you never know where that conversation is going to take you, or what they might be able to help you with, or what you could help them with. Because you have to look at it from both sides, too.
I always say, don’t look at networking like, what can you get out of that relationship. You want to be able to give back to it too. But I encourage networking in any and all instances as possible. So I go into like, if someone wants to talk to me, I’m open to it. Because you never know what you’re going to come out of it with.
JEN TOOF: Wearing that t-shirt on a cruise and in that airport becomes another networking opportunity.
AMBER REDMOND: It does. It does. And like you said, as locals, our wardrobe is probably over 50% Penn State stuff. So I don’t even think about it when I wear it out and about anymore. But the amount of people that strike up conversations with me about it, and then I — you get into, oh, yeah, my degree’s from Penn State, or I work here in this area. Then it stems into, oh, well, what’s World Campus, or oh, what’s open for alumni?
And the doors to conversation about what we do is just endless. So take advantage of that, too. Or if you see somebody out, wearing something Penn State, that’s your opportunity to open that conversation up and start talking to them, because maybe they know of something that’s happening around your area that you don’t know about and want to get involved with.
So I think it’s extremely important. And I really encourage practicing that skill, and getting comfortable with it, and taking advantage of it, and not just looking at it like, oh, networking is something that I need to do at a conference, or at a school event, or a work event. It literally could just be, you’re out at an appointment. And you’re talking to somebody. And that could be a networking opportunity.
JEN TOOF: Some of the most random things that happened in my day, on my out and about, end up being some of the greatest opportunity. And I’m also a photographer. I’d call it a passionate hobby. And so I always strike up conversations when I have a camera or I see others with a camera.
So it’s just the same way with connecting when you’ve got your Penn State on or — just those conversations. One time, I got into a concert — to photograph a concert before — just because of talking to somebody. So you never know who you’re talking to, and how much they appreciate skills that we also take for granted in ourselves, as well.
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, and I would say, networking too, I think a lot of what we were talking about is more, you see somebody out and about in person. But you can network virtually, too, so — on social media platforms, if you’re in Facebook groups, or LinkedIn groups, or even just on Instagram, looking at pictures, and you comment, start a conversation with somebody, and you can network virtually, just based on common interests that you see posted on social media. That happened to me, too.
I’ll have people reach out randomly on LinkedIn. And I always appreciate a nice message when they send a connection request. Like, hey, I came across your profile from this. And I see that you do this. And 9 times out of 10, if you have taken the time to explain what you’re reaching out for, or you’ve taken the time to message me, we start a conversation. And that could be a network opportunity there, too, so yeah.
JEN TOOF: Yeah, awesome. So in our last segment, we were talking about societies, chapters, boards, the interest groups. So we talked about connecting with them. So once somebody gets connected, how could these also help increase skills for somebody that could be related to communication, public speaking, team building. What opportunity is there?
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, I would say all of the groups that I mentioned previously. So a local chapter, or your Alumni Society, getting on the board with an Alumni Society, or a program or interest group — all of those groups, by just being engaged and involved with them, are going to help you enhance your communication skills, your public-speaking skills, your team-building skills, just from navigating that culture of working with other people. But it’s ultimately up to you and how much effort you want to put into that.
So sure, it’s intimidating to join a new group and to get to know new people, for sure. So if you want to attend some meetings or some events, and just see what it looks like first, go for it. But ultimately, you’re going to get the most out of it if you step up and maybe help them plan an event, or help them do like a fundraising activity, or you step up into that more of leadership, volunteer-type type role, that’s where you’re really going to be able to hone in on some of those skills.
And as students, or as an alum, you could use that experience as a talking point in an interview, or experience in an extracurricular on your resume, talking about what you’ve done to help contribute to an organization. So I think that just being actively involved in those groups, and helping in any way that you feel comfortable and confident, is really going to help you expand on whatever skills you want.
So if it’s public speaking, maybe you — if they have a speaker coming in for an event, you offer to be the introductory — you offer to do the introduction of that speaker. So you stand up and say, so and so, and give them their intro. And that gives you that public-speaking exposure. Or if you’re looking to enhance some of your writing skills, maybe ask if they need help getting a newsletter together, or regular communication. See if you can help with that piece.
So there is tons of opportunity. And it’s just really about asking, and speaking up, and just stepping up.
JEN TOOF: I know one of — from speaking with Matt and Lynn in our career services, we’ve talked a little bit about gaps in a resume, and how might somebody take an opportunity to be involved, or to share what they were involved in. And so somebody who might have a gap in employment, or a gap in their resume, and they’re not so sure what to do with that time, or how to work on additional skills, getting involved, even in one of our societies, or our chapters, or our interest group, also allows a person an opportunity to continue growing, and to be able to use that as one of those opportunities on their resume.
And so if there’s anybody listening today, and you’re in that boat of transition, or you’re not sure what the next step is, or you’re working towards the next step, definitely think about the smaller opportunities that can continue your growth and progress in a way that’s meaningful to you, because I always think all Penn State Connections ends up being meaningful, because there’s that emotional connection that we carry with being connected to Penn State.
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, I would say, too, even if you feel like you’re like, I don’t know if I have any skills that I need to enhance, or I’m not looking to enhance anything specific, you could still be involved in some of these groups, and talk about that in a way that you’re balancing your time, and that you’re adding in this additional responsibility of taking on a commitment to be involved in a chapter or group. And you’re adding that into your schedule. And you’re still finding the time to attend the meetings and attend the events and stuff. And that’s a skill that you’re adding into your repertoire as well. So that’s definitely not to be overlooked too, but —
JEN TOOF: Wow, Amber, I’m so appreciative of all the great information that you have shared. In each of our episodes, I do love to leave our final word or our final thought to our guests. And what would you like to share with our listeners?
AMBER REDMOND: Oh, man, no pressure, right?
JEN TOOF: No. You can’t name every ice cream flavor, is the thing.
AMBER REDMOND: Oh, gosh. No, I guess what I would just say is that, I know the Penn State community can seem large. And so it can be daunting, feeling like you’re not sure who to contact, or you don’t have a point of contact.
So I just want everyone to know, I’m available. I’m here as a resource if you need a starting point when you’re looking for, who do I connect with at Penn State or Penn State World Campus about this. Feel free to reach out to me, because I’m here for that.
I’m also really open to hearing if you have ideas about something that you feel alums, particularly, could benefit from. So we know a lot of students at World Campus and alums that World Campus transferred from other institutions, or may have gotten their undergrad degree at another institution, and their grad degree here at World Campus.
So if you hear about something really cool at another institution, or at your workplace, and you think, wow, Penn State World Campus should be doing that for World Campus students, or World Campus alums, and you think that there’s an opportunity there, I would love to hear it, and encourage you to reach out and share that. It can be really hard to feel like you have that personal connection when you’re doing online learning. And then when you leave the institution, you don’t have Canvas anymore to connect easily with your classmates.
So I love when alums or students reach out to me individually and want to have a conversation like that. So I guess if I could leave listeners with anything, it would just be, don’t be afraid to reach out. And I’m here if you have thoughts, or questions, or you want to see something that we’re not doing. And we want to hear their stories.
JEN TOOF: Yes, so share your story. If you need a conversation starter for reaching out to Amber, start with a story. Let’s get connected. Let’s talk about all this love of Penn State that we have, and our connections, and our stories, and how can we just continue bettering the experience for our students, and for our alums. Yes.
AMBER REDMOND: Absolutely, I love hearing Penn State stories. So I’m — even if that’s all you want to connect with me about, feel free, because I love hearing those stories.
JEN TOOF: We’re going to hopefully — maybe Amber will start with like, you get one “We Are” story a week. And then maybe we can work up to maybe you’ll get one sent daily. So listeners, I want you, if you can, send your “We Are” story to Amber.
AMBER REDMOND: Yes, please. I would love it.
JEN TOOF: All right. Well, thank you so much, Amber. And thank you, listeners.
AMBER REDMOND: Yeah, thank you for having me. This was a lot of fun.
JEN TOOF: We’ll be sure to have you back.
AMBER REDMOND: Oh, please. I’d love it.