Alumni Perspective: Beginning My Career Post-Smeal

In the two and a half weeks since starting my first full-time job, I’ve already learned so much. I’m beginning my career at Vanguard and absolutely love my job, the people, and the culture here. I was fortunate enough to have accepted my offer at the beginning of my senior year, thanks to the resources and opportunities I had at Smeal.

The skills I acquired during my time at Penn State have helped me tremendously as I begin my career. I participated in Smeal’s formal mentoring program the past two years and learned so much from my mentors. They helped me with many things from networking tips and interview preparation to navigating job offers. In fact, my mentor and I had breakfast just last weekend. We discussed transitioning from college to a full-time job, how to go above-and-beyond expectations in an entry level role, and challenges with being a woman in traditionally male-dominated fields. It was reassuring to hear from an alumnus who was in my same place a few years ago, and see how successful she is now.

During my time at Penn State, I tried to take advantage of every opportunity to improve my professional development skills. Each semester since the beginning of my freshman year, I went to the Business Career Center for a resume review and mock interview. I attended career fairs, Snack and Learns, and informative company events to learn about different industries and network. My freshman year, I also participated in Wall Street Boot Camp. I really enjoyed hearing about the different industries and learning about the markets. At the time, I thought I knew what I wanted to do and had my mind set on the fast-paced environment of sales and trading. However, after going up to New York a couple of times, I realized it wasn’t for me. But, by learning what I didn’t like, it helped me learn what I did like and where I could go from there.

I took up to eight classes each semester in order to double-major and graduate early, but I worked best when I was balancing many things. Everyone will say to take advantage of professors’ office hours, but not many people do. By talking with my professors about their personal career paths, as well as my own interests and strengths and weaknesses, I gained a better idea of what I wanted to work in.

Currently, I am training to work in Personal Investor or “Pi” where we speak with clients every day about their accounts and help them reach their investment goals. I’m also studying for my Series 7 and 63 exams, which I’ll take in just a few short weeks. I’m so thankful to Penn State and Smeal for giving me the resources to set me up for success.



By Lydia Drabik
Lydia Drabik