Alumni Expert Series offers online learning experiences

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association's monthly member e-newsletter. You can click here for information on becoming a member, and you can follow the Alumni Association on Facebook and Twitter for more stories and updates on events.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Is your lunch break routine getting stale? Start the new year right by networking with fellow successful Penn State alumni on your lunch hour. With more than 650,000 alumni worldwide, there are countless Penn Staters who have become leaders of their industry.

These alumni experts regularly give presentations in the Alumni Expert Series, sponsored by the Penn State Alumni Association’s Alumni Career Services.

The Alumni Expert Series is a webinar series, hosted on various weekdays from noon to 1 p.m., each focused on a different career-related topic.

“The Alumni Expert webinars allow an online learning experience for alumni and students who get the chance to hear how these experts crafted their story and became an expert in their field. Attendees can take what they learn and apply it in their own career situation,” said Amy Thul-Sigler, assistant director of Alumni Career Services.

The first installment featured Erica Wernick, now based in Los Angeles, California. Her presentation, titled “7 Steps to Your Dream Career,” inspired fellow alumni to explore alternative career paths and set professional goals.

“It was very easy to work with Erica even though she lives in California. That’s the great thing about the Expert Series, having all these alumni at your fingertips through the online setting,” Thul-Sigler said.

Wernick began her presentation by sharing her personal story, and challenges that she faced in her early career. After arriving in Los Angeles for her first job, she found that the television show she was working on was quickly canceled. The nine months to follow left Wernick frustrated and jobless.

With a hearty dose of perseverance, Wernick finally found work in the design industry. She is now a successful graphic designer, who has worked on hit television shows such as “The Office” and “Glee.”So how did she do it? Wernick attributed her journey to her dream career to three main concepts:

—Get clear on what you want, to inform your path;

—Find people who have already done what you want to do and model their path;

—Set goals and crush them!

Wernick emphasized these mantras, as well encouraging the importance of a positive attitude, finding mentors and setting achievable goals.

Webinar participant Saundra Austin, a 1986 alumna, said, “Erica Wernick was a motivating force for fellow Penn State alumni. She inspired me to get my butt in gear and just do it!”

In addition to listening to the speaker’s presentation, the Alumni Expert Series offers the opportunity to chat with others and participate in a short Q&A with the host at the conclusion of the webinar.

To experience the Alumni Expert Series for yourself, browse upcoming events below, and visit the Alumni Career Services website for more information and to register.

Upcoming webinars in the Alumni Expert Series include:

Feb. 26 from noon to 1 p.m. EST"Alumni Expert Series: Conscious Leadership"

Join this chance to learn from Shannon Egan, a 2007 alumna, a certified professional coach who worked in two Fortune 500 companies in various analytical roles, to help you clarify your personal leadership style, gain awareness about your energetic makeup, understand the benefits of exploring energy, insight into your internal energy blocks, and much more!

March 18 from noon to 1 p.m. EST"Alumni Expert Series: Startups: Effective and ineffective leadership and how it determines your success or failure." 

Kyle McFarland, a 2007 alumnus, has worked for two startup companies after transitioning from advertising sales after obtaining his bachelor's degree from Penn State. He has quickly learned from experience how leadership styles can determine a person's success within the startup world. Join Kyle for this webinar that will address his own career path, how startups are different than corporations, different stages of startups, leadership styles, and their impact on multiple constituents, and much more!

April 8 from noon to 1 p.m. EST"Alumni Expert Series: Working Abroad, Living in Japan — America's unofficial diplomats"

Bryan Aument, a 2012 Penn State graduate, has been living and teaching in Japan since 2013 as part of The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program: Assistant Language Teacher in Yamanashi, Japan. If you are interested in learning about teaching abroad, join Bryan as he talks about how he found his current position and application difficulties, how to make connections, cultural differences, struggles, and much more!

April 15 from noon to 1 p.m. EST"Alumni Expert Series: How to Pass A Federal Background Investigation Or Get A 'Top Secret' Security Clearance"

If you are interested in working for the federal government, U.S. military, or defense aerospace industry, join Special Agent Kevin Crane, a 1983 Penn State alumnus, as he discusses how most, if not all, of the jobs in these fields require a minimum of a basic background investigation and up to a very thorough investigation for a "Top Secret" security clearance. Attendees will learn about the types of information covered during background investigations, including personal issues, how to explain and mitigate personal issues you may have, how to prepare for the job interview, and much more.

Erica Wernick's presentation, entitled “7 Steps to Your Dream Career,” inspired fellow alumni to explore alternative career paths and set professional goals. Credit: Erika WernickAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated February 12, 2016