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Earning a Penn State Degree and Landing a Full-Time Job in Under Four Years

April 2, 2014
Dublin High School and Penn State Graduate Melyssa Lloyd

DHS Class of ’10 and Penn State Class of ’14 Melyssa Lloyd

Three and a half years ago Dublin High School Class of 2010 graduate Melyssa Lloyd wrote the first Life in College article for Her first hand experiences at Penn State were soon followed by 28 other Dublin High grads attending public and private colleges across the US (and Canada). With those first series of Dublin High Class of 2010 graduates now earning Class of 2014 college degrees, we’re circling back to find out how they did.

I met up with Ms. Lloyd at a Starbucks near Dublin High School where she talked about graduating early from Penn State with a double major in Human Resources and Communication, and a full-time job with Fidelity Investments. For high school students looking to get the most out of college, and to be ready for life after college, read on.

James Morehead: You recently graduated from Penn State and are now working full-time – congratulations! Talk about how you settled on the double major you successfully earned.

Melissa Lloyd: “I was able to get all the classes I needed (I double majored) and never had any problems with scheduling. I did complete one summer session, taking a couple of classes, but didn’t have to do anything unusual. I was also able to transfer an AP credit.

“Going into Penn State I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I liked working with people and started off in political science, but ended up switching to human resources. After taking a few communications classes, I decided to double major.

“If you can find two different majors that your are interested in, and there are classes you need to take that work for both, then it makes it easier to double major. Having a double major is an advantage on your resume.

“I made the decision to graduate early after taking summer classes. I love Penn State, and it wasn’t about trying to get out of the school, but I felt I’d have an advantage entering the job market before the majority of students graduate.”

Morehead: Did you have any internships along the way?

Lloyd: “I had an internship every summer and after those experiences I recommend every student try internships to validate what you want to do by applying what you learn in school to an actual job.

“My first internship is where I’m working now, an investment firm in the city. I wasn’t sure at the time if finance was where I wanted to work, but I decided to try it out. I really liked the internship, but my major was human resources, so I decided to find a human resources internship the next summer. I found out through that internship that while I enjoyed the job, the field wasn’t what I thought it would be; it was a good experience and a positive addition to my resume, but helped me better understand what working in human resources would be like after graduation. I’m not sure I would have realized that I didn’t ultimately want to work in human resources if I hadn’t completed that internship, or that I enjoyed finance without the Fidelity Investments internship.”

Morehead: College interns that have worked for me have talked about not being ready for the ‘real world’, and looking forward to getting back to school after completing an internship. How has the transition from being a full-time student to a full-time employee gone for you?

Melyssa Lloyd Penn State Graduation PhotoLloyd: “Easier than I thought it would be. When you start an internship you know it is only for a short period of time, and then you get to go back to school. During internships I would get itchy, thinking ‘I don’t know how people do this, work every day with no breaks, no summer vacation’. I was kind of freaking out during my internships, that working full-time wouldn’t be fun at all, that I didn’t want to ever leave college!

“I was a little nervous starting a full-time job, that I’d have that same feeling, but I love my job. I love going to work every day and I never thought I would. I was hoping I’d love my job after graduating college, but worried it would be hell for my first year, being at the bottom of the ladder.”

Morehead: What is your role where you are working now?

Lloyd: “My title is currently ‘Financial Representative’ at Fidelity Investments and I provide customers with basic guidance while I complete the licensing tests to become a stock broker. My job right now involves looking up stocks for customers and providing information to the extent I’m allowed prior to being licensed.”

Morehead: Your full-time job at Fidelity continued from an internship. Did you interview at other companies?

Lloyd: “I knew I was going to move back home and didn’t want to stay on the east coast. I had a couple of phone interviews with other companies, which went well, but the opportunity at Fidelity was more compelling than some of the startups I was talking to. Job stability is important for me right now and working for a company that I can grow with. The internship also meant I knew what to expect, what the job entailed, and the people I’d be working with.”

Morehead: What have you learned about surviving the interview process?

Lloyd: “The biggest thing to remember, especially right before going into an interview, is to take a deep breath and relax. Even the person who is interviewing you will be a little nervous. You have to remember that even though you want to put your best foot forward, the interviewer is a person too. They’re not a drone that is asking questions and nit picking everything you say. I try to look at interviews as a conversation. The interviewer is asking questions about you, and you know (or should know!) your strengths and weaknesses enough to be able to comfortably discuss them.”

Morehead: You are a 5th generation Penn State student, how did that impact your college experience?

Melyssa Lloyd (right)

Melyssa Lloyd (right) – 2010

Lloyd: “It was really cool because all of my extended family on both sides live in New York. Because I live in Dublin I don’t get to see them a lot, so I was closer to them during college and was going through the same experiences they did in college. I lived in an apartment across the street from where my dad lived when he was at Penn State. A lot of my family would come out for games so we’d meet up at tail gates and I was able to get a lot closer to my extended family. While I initially chose Penn State because my whole family had gone there, I ended up loving Penn State.”

Morehead: Have you gotten involved in activities outside the classroom?

Lloyd: “In addition to activities with my sorority, I got involved in ‘THON‘, which is Penn State’s 46-hour dance marathon in support of pediatric cancer research. THON is one of the cooler things about Penn State and has raised over $110M since being founded in 1977. THON is the #1 student-run philanthropic organization in the world.”

Morehead: Describe Penn State for students that are considering college acceptance options?

Lloyd: “My little sister is going to be a senior soon and is looking at college options with her friends. I recommend a big school like Penn State because you have so many more opportunities, even compared to my friends attending relatively large state schools in California.

“In my experience, everyone attending Penn State wants to be there. People are happy to be attending Penn State which means there is a lot of school spirit, like was the case at Dublin High. I like being at a place where other people are happy to be there too.

“There are more opportunities in a big school to be selective about your major, even building your own major. The internship program is supported by a career services center, and at Penn State it was large enough to attract many different employers, in part because of the large and passionate alumni network.

“I get excited when I see someone wearing a Penn State shirt in the city, I go up to them right away and start talking to them!”

Morehead: What advice do you have for high school students who are just about to embark on their college experience?

Lloyd: “The biggest piece of advice is to not stress out, and to be open to looking beyond California consider out-of-state schools because you’ll get more opportunities that way, based on the recent budget issues facing California public colleges. I didn’t have any issues with impacted classes or scheduling. Even if you don’t have a 4.5 GPA you can get into a good school; there are so many options if you open up your horizons.”