|PSL Alumni Network||
the alumni blog
|PSL Alumni Network||
the alumni blog
Join us in welcoming our first guest blogger, PSL writing tutor alumna Nicole Gravlin! Nicole graduated in May 2011 and majored in English, with a minor in nutritional sciences. She answers our questions below about her work for PSL, life after graduation, and how being a tutor still impacts her current role as a yearbook sales representative.
What was your role during your time at Penn State Learning?
I joined the PSL family when I became a Writing Center tutor during my junior year. I had a late start because I switched my major from nutrition to English during my second semester sophomore year. I wish I had more time!
What direction did you go after Penn State?
After I graduated, I attended Rosemont College and earned a master’s degree in publishing. Initially, I wanted to have a concentration in editing (inspired in part by my time as a writing tutor!) and eventually become a magazine editor. However, I realized I wanted to be able to continue learning and evolving beyond grammar and spelling skills, so I switched to the design concentration in publishing, turning to magazine design and working with Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. I still wanted to be able to interact with other people and help them improve whatever skill they're working on, so my role as a yearbook sales rep is perfect for me.
Has your experience tutoring at PSL impacted your life or career? If so, how?
Yes, 100%! I often find myself telling students and advisers about my time tutoring at Penn State and how they can use those skills in interviewing and writing for yearbook stories. The most impactful part of tutoring for me was seeing the confidence build in tutees when they found their voice in their writing without me making a single pen mark on their papers. Learning and practicing working with students from all backgrounds by asking questions about what they'd like to say with their papers has helped me understand what other people want and need in my profession and in my personal relationships. I work with students daily as a mentor and teacher, with the most common request of "help me make my writing/design stronger" for their yearbook. You know how no one reads the copy in yearbooks? I want to help change that and give students the confidence to write to the best of their abilities and showcase that to their school body with their stories and graphic design. The happiness and pride I'd see on students' faces at Penn State still shows when helping a 9th grader write about the spring play for a yearbook spread or walking into a classroom and that shy student excitedly shows me how I inspired her for a new spread design.
Although helping students may be the fun part of this job, the best part of my job is winning a sale, of course. I believe I would not be such a strong salesperson if I hadn't been involved with PSL. I learned how to ask questions and understand others' needs through tutoring, which gives me an advantage over a typical salesperson. We never jump to conclusions as a tutor or assume what the student should say, so you're already a step ahead in communication skills in the professional world.
Do you have any words of advice for current tutors and recent graduates entering into the professional world?
The most important lesson I learned is to not start your job hunt by searching for a particular job title. I never believed I would go into sales and never wanted to, but I've now found that I'll never leave sales and it's where I was meant to be. My advice to everyone entering the professional world is to find your "non-negotiables" for your life and then you will be able to find the profession that will match. I knew I wanted a job that allowed me to be creative, help/teach others new skills, have a changing schedule, and do all of those things without being chained to a desk behind a computer screen. Soon after I graduated from grad school, I thought I would go into magazine design or editing, but none of my needs would have been met. I discovered this role after looking through my old yearbooks and deciding, "yeah, I can do that job!" and haven't looked back. Make sure your lifestyle needs aren't compromised for a job title and you'll find yourself much happier than if you had pigeonholed yourself into a particular role.
Hello! My name is Daniel Magerman. As I leave State College for my hometown of Elkins Park (a little suburb bordering Northeast Philly), I’ll be taking my memories of PSL with me. The Writing Center was my second home at Penn State for three years. I worked, traveled, partied, and learned with my fellow tutors, coordinators, and the PSL management. My next jobs as a professional tutor, freelance writer, and then, English teacher in Colombia will probably be great, but will also have a tough time measuring up to the community I’m saying goodbye to. I’ve spent the summer helping to create this alumni network, and now, with my heart heavy but excited about the possibilities, I join its ranks.
Summer 2016 brought to State College heat, 2,000 new freshmen, the usual Arts Fest rigmarole, and the dawning of the Penn State Learning Alumni Network. Originally incepted a decade ago and then reinvigorated as one of Penn State Learning’s strategic planning goals, the PSL Alumni Network, in the form of partial lists of outdated alumni email addresses, gathered dust on a shelf for years. As a peer tutor and student coordinator for the Writing Center since 2014, I was aware that the department was interested in engaging with alumni. I was also aware that administrators did not have time to undertake such a project alone, and would benefit from student input. In May, faced with graduation and imminent unemployment, I proposed to Neill Johnson (Director) and Cindy Spiegel (Cocurricular Programs Coordinator) that I could spearhead the design and implementation of PSL’s first alumni network. Luckily, they went for it. A few weeks later, I began work as a new alumnus and grateful employee of PSL.