Internship, Student Experience Help Put Grad in Fulltime Job
Anne Ziegler, of Ridgway, graduated from Penn State DuBois on a Saturday, and started her full-time job in the accounting department at Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania the following Monday. However, what may appear as a ride on the fast track is really due to Ziegler's ability to work hard and seize good opportunities.
Ziegler returned to college as an adult learner after years of running her own nail salon. Looking for a career change, Ziegler said she mustered up the courage to enroll at Penn State DuBois and pursue a bachelor's degree in business with an emphasis in accounting.
"It's a major decision to go back to school as an adult learner," she said. "But you have to remember that you're not the only one doing it. We're all doing it together and with support from other adult learners and people on campus, you can do it. You don't know what doors might open up for you."
The doors that would open for Zeigler included the opportunity to work for Goodwill part-time while completing her degree. Armed with the same confidence she had built up while making her decision to become a student again, she answered a classified ad Goodwill had placed in the newspaper advertising the part-time accounting job. She remembered, "I was looking for something to compliment my degree and give me experience that would apply to my new career. I applied for the position not knowing how this would turn out."
It turned out to be the very beginning of Ziegler's new career. She went to work, part-time, at Goodwill's Falls Creek office in January of 2011, over a year before she graduated with her degree.
"Goodwill was willing to work with me; work around my schedule, and willing to teach me the things I didn't know yet," Ziegler said, noting that the combination of experience and employment that she had obtained was an ideal fit with her various roles as a wife, mother, and student.
Then, administrators at Goodwill decided to establish an internship program. With good relationships already established, Ziegler was also able to land the internship at Goodwill, filling a requirement of her curriculum.
"The internship actually expanded my knowledge of accounting and working with payroll," Ziegler said, explaining that the internship guidelines required her to work beyond the responsibilities of her initial part-time position. "Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania employs 400 people at 35 locations, so the payroll work can be complex."
The experience Ziegler gained through her part-time work and internship led to more opportunity as Goodwill looked to expand their accounting department. With her Penn State degree under her belt, Ziegler rose to the top of the candidate pool.
"I think the business curriculum at the campus gave me a well-rounded education," Ziegler said. "I was able to contribute to so many areas, and that opened more doors for me."
Ziegler's supervisor, Chief Financial Officer at Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania, Tom Glasl agreed. He said, "She's been fantastic. She came very prepared, and that's why we gave her the internship here."
Glasl said that before Ziegler, Goodwill did not offer many internships, but that is about to change.
"Her internship here showed us what to do and how well internships can work," Glasl said.
Goodwill now plans to take on one Penn State DuBois student intern each semester.
"They get a great experience. We are a traditional non-profit, but we're run like a business. So, they get a good look at both non-profit and business operations," said Glasl.
As an intern, turned employee, Ziegler said the experience was just what she was looking for. The new Penn State DuBois alumna now looks back fondly at how far she has come, while she looks ahead to future accomplishments.
"I have met a lot of goals that I set for myself five years ago. I'm very happy," Ziegler said. Her experience, however, has also inspired her to keep learning. "I'm planning to take more classes, and maybe go back for a master's."