Links We Love: February 2, 2016

February 2nd, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. Check out this recent Penn State Blue Band video from a recent hockey game.

2. The importance of your online presence during a job search.

3. Get ready for Super Bowl Sunday with great recipes from Penn State’s Pinterest tailgating board.

4. Eight psychology hacks to boost your productivity and creativity.

5. How to make Penn State Creamery ice cream at home.



Faculty Focus: Sophie Penney

February 2nd, 2016 by
Sophie Penney

Sophie Penney

Sophie Penney teaches courses for the Penn State World Campus Philanthropic Leadership Certificate. We recently sat down with her to talk about the certificate program, as well as her background in the field of fundraising. Here’s our conversation:

Please give our readers a sense of your background and teaching interests.

As a first-generation college student and the child of first-generation Americans I know the power that higher education can have to transform lives. My undergraduate degree is in music education, but I went on to earn a master’s degree in student services and embarked on a 25+-year career in higher education administration. Six years ago I launched a start-up development operation at a midsize nonprofit and collaborated with the executive director and campaign chair to successfully complete the first-ever capital campaign.

Can you talk about your experience in fundraising?

Because I had no previous fundraising experience my first boss took a huge gamble in hiring me because to lead the corporate and foundation office at a small, private liberal arts college. He gave me ample opportunity to learn the ropes and I was quickly able to develop knowledge and skills that supported early and significant success including helping the institution garner a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.

I started at Penn State in 2001, working on a campaign to raise funds for WPSU TV to enable the public television station to make the conversion to digital transmission. In my role at the College of the Liberal Arts, I worked with a team of staff members and deans committed to fundraising.

Over the past six years I’ve collaborated with others to reinstitute a culture of philanthropy and fundraising structures at a midsize nonprofit in State College and helped them complete their first major capital campaign to which donors contributed over $1 million

As a faculty member who teaches courses for the Penn State World Campus Philanthropic Leadership Certificate, could you provide a description of the courses you teach and their importance?

The 10-credit certificate, designed to prepare you to become an outstanding fundraising leader, provides a curriculum highly focused on:

  • strategies for effective fundraising and best practices
  • factors that motivate donors and volunteers
  • ways to increase your capacity to manage and lead at all levels of an organization
  • techniques to hone your communication and time management skills

I teach L A 402 Fundraising Leadership: Building a Strong Base (3 credits) and L A 802 Fundraising Leadership II: Achieving Success (3 credits). Philanthropic leaders must be well versed in management principles, yet capable of exerting wise, strong, and agile leadership. L A 402 and L A 802 develop basic and advanced knowledge and skills about internal and external relationship building, qualities of successful leaders, and more.

You’re also involved with the Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach. Can you talk a bit about your involvement/work/projects?

As program coordinator for the Philanthropic Leadership Certificate program, I focus on building relationships with organizations and individuals that might benefit from the program I am also working on developing a new course the working title of which is Introduction to Careers in Fundraising.

What is the future of philanthropic leadership? Where do you think this field is headed?

Many factors will impact fundraising going forward:

  • There is a coming tsunami of retirements in the field, resulting in a dearth of fundraising professionals at all levels.
  • Donors are increasingly sophisticated and have ever higher expectations.
  • Competition for philanthropic dollars continues to increase.
  • Staff members and donors will come from ever more diverse groups of people who will bring differing norms and expectations to giving.
  • Legal and ethical issues will continue to challenge all leaders.
  • Services needed and services delivered by nonprofits will evolve.

The Penn State World Campus Certificate in Philanthropic Leadership can help students gain an important advantage in the areas of development and fundraising, whether they are new to the field or already working in a professional setting.

What unique learning characteristics do Penn State World Campus students bring to the classroom environment?

In my experience, Penn State World Campus students have clear goals and often a heightened desire to achieve goals in a shorter time frame. They are more often working full-time while juggling family and community service along with course work. As a result, they may more readily connect their course work to their jobs and have a laser-level focus on acquiring information and skills that will help advance their careers and enhance their quality of life.

What makes you a proud Penn Stater?

While not an alumna, I have been affiliated with Penn State for 15 years as a staff or faculty member, student mentor, and a donor. My husband and I instituted the Wisniewski Family Fund in the Psychology Department during Penn State’s For the Future Campaign and have been deeply impressed with the students whose work we have supported. As a faculty member and administrator, I am Penn State Proud and very happy to be part of a world-class university that takes the time to focus on making world-class educational experiences available to every student.

Get an Insider’s Perspective: Success Tips on How to Conduct an Informational Interview

February 1st, 2016 by

If you want to know what an occupation is like, ask someone who has direct experience in that field. This is not a job interview. Rather, it allows you to learn if a certain occupation would be a good fit for you. Once you have found someone to interview, use these tips to gather your information more effectively:

Before interviewing the professional:

  • Develop a list of written questions ahead of your interview and don’t be afraid to refer to them during your scheduled time. Keep the yes/no questions to a minimum, because your goal should be to stimulate discussion rather than receive a series of short answers.
  • Start your interview centered on the person with whom you are interacting by asking such questions as, “How did you become interested in this line of work?” and “What has been your career path to where you are today?”
  • Never begin a conversation by saying, “Tell me about your job.” This is such a broad statement that a person wouldn’t know where to begin to answer you. A more focused question, such as “What do you do during a typical workday?” could help provide a more detailed answer for you.
  • Take notes during your interview. You’ll be surprised at how much you might forget, and you’ll want to recall certain details later.
  • Ask for a tour of the building and examples of work. Take note of the work environment, ways that employees communicate, their attire, etc. Simple cues can explain a lot about what type of workplace it is.
  • Take your résumé with you and use it as an effective method for illustrating your background and work experiences.
  • Be yourself — conversational and friendly — to make this an enjoyable experience for all parties.

Suggested questions to learn about an occupation:

  • What is your educational background? How did you get started in this field?
  • How did you get to where you are today? What are your future career plans?
  • What jobs did you have previous to this?
  • What best prepared you for this position?

Questions about the position you are interviewing for:

  • What do you do during a typical workday?
  • What do you like most or find most interesting about your work? What do you like least about your position?
  • What kinds of problems do you face? What do you find most difficult about the position?
  • What skills or abilities do you find are most important in your work?

Questions about the career field that you are interested in:

  • What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field? May I read job descriptions and specifications for some of the positions in this field?
  • What is a typical work environment like for a person in this career area?
  • What is the next level progression for your position? How long does it usually take to move from one step to the next within this career path?
  • Are there other areas of this field to which people in it may be transferred? What are they?

Questions about your career planning and job search:

  • How suited is my background for this field (education, interests, experiences, personality)?
  • Would you recommend any further courses or activities to help prepare me for this field and make me more marketable? Can you suggest any professional organizations that I should join?
  • Can you recommend a relevant trade journal or magazine that I could review to garner more information on this field?
  • Do you have networking suggestions of contacts that I could make, which are currently in this field of work?

After interviewing a professional:

  • Take some time to think about what you learned, your positive and negative impressions, the requirements of the job, and your interests. Remember, work environments and jobs differ tremendously from one place to another, so you need to avoid forming an opinion about the entire field based on only one person’s opinion and job description. Continue seeking out people in the field to meet with, to expand on what you have gained from this interaction, and determine how the knowledge fits with your career goals.
  • Send a follow-up email or a thank you note. The person who you interviewed will appreciate your follow-up, and you will leave a positive impression of yourself. You may want to call again for more information, so keep the lines of communication open.

Learn more about career counseling and make an appointment to speak with someone who can help you with your next career move and the interview process. Contact Penn State World Campus Career Services at for assistance.

Links We Love: January 28, 2016

January 28th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Four things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. 7 ways to never forget anything again!

2. 26 time management hacks to help you achieve success.

3. Watch this high school teacher’s next viral video hit for some inspiration!

4. Leveraging publicly available social media posts could help disaster response agencies quickly identify impacted areas in need of assistance, according to a Penn State-led team of researchers.


Links We Love: January 21, 2016

January 21st, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. Penn State World Campus student, Emily Kilgore, picks her top five favorite children’s books for winter.

2. How to plan your work week around your energy level.

3. Watch Elmo and the Sesame Street cast turn corporate jargon cute.

4. The Penn State Lady Lions honored breast cancer survivors at the annual Pink Zone game.

5. Jordan Gaines Lewis, neuroscience PhD student at Penn State College of Medicine, shares some insight into the resurgence of coloring books.


Graduating This Semester: What You Need to Know

January 20th, 2016 by
Graduating Penn State Students

Photo Credit: Penn State News

Graduation signifies an impressive accomplishment, and we at Penn State World Campus want to acknowledge our graduating students and help you mark the occasion. Here’s a quick guide to the steps you need to take and events you may want to plan to attend.

Set your intent to graduate.
Graduating students must notify the University of their intent to graduate.

The deadline to do this for students graduating in spring 2016 is Monday, January 25, and you can complete this action in eLion. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to eLion and select “Graduation” from the menu.
  2. Choose “Graduating this Semester.”
  3. Choose “I intend to graduate this semester.”

If your plans change later on and you no longer intend to graduate, you’ll need to contact your college and ask to be removed from the graduation list.

Let your instructors know you plan to graduate.
In addition, be sure to complete all of your course work and exams in a timely manner. Your instructors will need to be ready to submit your grades in time to meet graduation deadlines.

Plan ahead to attend commencement.
World Campus students, like all Penn State students, are invited to attend commencement. Many programs have their commencement ceremonies at University Park, but some programs typically have commencement at other Penn State campuses.

You may wish to attend commencement with other students in your program, or at a campus near you. Depending on your preferences, you may need to submit a form to reserve your seat at commencement. The deadline to do this for students graduating in spring 2016 is Friday, March 18.

Note that you do not have to attend commencement to receive your diploma. Diplomas are mailed to all students approximately four to six weeks after commencement.

Read our instructions for students planning to attend commencement, including details about reserving your seat and commencement attire.

Make your travel arrangements early. Hotels near University Park tend to fill up quickly for graduation.

Plan to attend the Penn State World Campus graduation celebration.
World Campus hosts a graduation celebration each semester for World Campus graduates and their friends and families. This is different from Penn State’s official commencement ceremonies.

The World Campus celebration is typically a two-hour reception with a brief program and time for our graduates to meet each other and to meet World Campus faculty and staff members in person. You’re welcome to bring family and friends to join in the celebration with you. This event is held at the University Park campus, and students whose commencement ceremonies take place at University Park will receive an email invitation.

Find out more about our World Campus graduation celebration.

You are not required to attend commencement or the World Campus celebration. But we encourage you to attend either or both and celebrate your remarkable achievements!

The importance of your online presence during a job search

January 19th, 2016 by

quicksandala for MorgueFileSocial networking sites are doing much more these days than connecting people over the Internet. According to the Jobvite 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, only 4% of recruiters don’t use social media in their recruitment efforts. Having a noticeable presence can put you ahead of the rest in your job searches.

Employers may look at your social networking sites for many different reasons. When they check your profile, it can be a reminder of all of the positions you’ve held and how qualified you are, as long as you create an effective social media presence.

Creating your online presence: Setting up an account

The first and easiest step to begin creating your online presence is to establish accounts on the social networking sites that you think will be beneficial in showcasing your past experiences and skills. Some of the most popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can definitely be valuable, but blogs and professional websites, such as LinkedIn, are where employers really look for you to showcase your abilities.

On any social networking site, your profile usually includes an area to describe yourself. Use this section to highlight your qualifications for any position with your education, career objectives, a current position that you hold, and your skills. For example, your bio on Twitter could read, “Psychology student at Penn State World Campus,” or “Interested in Criminal Justice field/opportunities.” Other sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn, have sections of users’ profiles specifically designated for past employment.

Online portfolios

Online portfolios can be beneficial to show potential employers schoolwork you have done, assembled for viewing in one place. Many websites make creating an online portfolio very simple. You can create your portfolio free at such websites as:

Another effective way to display your work online is to create a blog. All Penn State World Campus students can apply to have their own web space through Other external sites include WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Design your site, or blog, with a title and creative content that you want to use. Feel free to use samples from class projects or previous work projects. Don’t forget to include an “About Me” section on your portfolio that details your interests and goals. Also, include a “Contact Me” section with your name, email address, and other professional social media accounts. The next time someone asks you for a sample of your work, you’ll be able to share a link to your online portfolio with them.

Effective use of social networking

The next step in managing your online presence is to interact with different groups and professionals that are in the field of your interest. The simplest way to do this is to “like” their pages on Facebook or follow their accounts on Twitter or LinkedIn. This is a way for you to stay updated with all of the company’s news.

A lot of organizations utilize social media to interact with their consumers. When this happens, take advantage of it! Tweet back your response, post on their wall, or like their updates. If you ever land an interview with the company, you will have plenty to talk about with them.

Joining LinkedIn groups that pertain to your field of interest is a great way to network online. Professionals in the field will often post updates and job opportunities to the group.

Protecting your online presence

No matter how many social networks you belong to and how much experience you post on your profiles, you’ll lose many opportunities if the material you post online is inappropriate. Many times, employers will check the social media profiles of potential employees as a way to judge their character. If you’re posting complaints about how much you dislike your current position, a recruiter may think you’ll do the same thing once you work for their company, too. Once you do have a solid online presence, it’s important to keep your reputation positive at all times.

You should also perform an online search of your name often to see what comes up. If you don’t like what you find, then start to make the changes necessary on your social media sites. Consider setting up alerts to notify you when anything about you is posted online. Always scan your photos, posts, and conversations that you have with people on every social media platform to make sure the right messages are being sent about your character. If you ever doubt anything, delete it or un-tag yourself.

Privacy settings

The key to protecting your online profiles is to understand how to use each site’s privacy settings. Spend sufficient time on each site learning how to best protect yourself from people outside your immediate circle. Sites are always changing, and that includes the privacy settings. Check often to make sure that when you search for yourself as a recruiter, you like what you see.

Final tips

Keep in mind that with any job search you want to diversify your efforts. According to Jobvite, recruiters find their best candidates through referrals (78%), social media (56%), and intern-to-hire programs (55%). Try multiple approaches in your job search.

Don’t feel like you have to master all possible social media that exists (unless you are in PR, marketing, advertising where it is needed). Think about what you are trying to accomplish first then select the right social media for your needs. The important thing is to get an online presence if you don’t already have one.


If you need help with your online presence or want other help with your career, contact Penn State World Campus Career Services at for assistance.

Should You Drop a Course? How to Decide

January 14th, 2016 by
Question Mark

Image by Andres Nieto Porras via flickr

by Academic Advising and Registrar Staff

If you’re considering dropping a course, you’ll need to know the drop deadlines and how to take action to remove the course from your schedule. In addition, it’s a good idea to think about the academic and financial implications of dropping before you make a decision.

Deadlines and Procedures

You can find all of the important dates and deadlines for the spring 2016 semester in the spring 2016 academic calendar.

You can drop a course from your schedule using eLion or by sending an email to Fees and tuition penalties may apply depending on when you drop the course, and dropping may affect your eligibility for financial aid. In addition, there is a limit to the number of credits you can drop during your academic career at Penn State. Complete details are available on our website.

Making an Informed Decision

Dropping a course may be the optimum solution for you after considering the academic and financial implications of this decision. But you may not want to take action too hastily and regret it later.  Making an informed decision will eliminate surprises, and you may even find a way to successfully complete the course.

Here are some factors that Penn State World Campus academic advisers recommend you consider before dropping a course:

Feedback: If you are receiving lower grades than expected and you’re not sure why, reach out to your instructors for additional feedback. They may be able to provide some guidance to improve the quality of your work. Instructors may also guide you to additional resources to supplement your course.

Grades: It is important to understand your grading system and how much of your total grade is impacted by lower grades on one or more assignments. For example, it could be that you do well on writing assignments and poorly on quizzes. So, understanding that quizzes may not have a major impact on the total grade is meaningful information while you are working on skills to improve taking quizzes.

Do you know what grade you need in the course for it to count toward your degree requirements? Some courses require a C or higher, while others may allow for a lower grade. Before dropping a course, you may want to know if the grade you need is still achievable.

Time: Time plays many roles in a decision to drop a course. One consideration is how early you realize that you need some help or support in the course. The sooner this need is identified, the better chance you have to recover and complete the course. If you are well into the semester and you have been struggling the entire time, it may be too late to make adjustments to pass the course.

Also, have you spent enough time on the course? A general rule is 3–4 hours per week for each credit that you have on your schedule. So you may need to spend 9–12 hours per week on one 3-credit course. Your adviser can discuss time management skills and help you create a plan for allocating enough time to your studies.

The third timing consideration may be that something unforeseen is now taking more of your time and leaving you with less time to devote to your courses. You may need to lessen your course load to be able to devote more time to the remaining course(s).

Resources: Have you explored resources to help with the course? There may be tutoring, note taking and studying techniques, library services, disability services, and other resources that an adviser can discuss with you. And your course may include virtual review sessions or other ways to enhance your knowledge. We can help you explore resources only if you reach out to us!

Course Impact: How does dropping this course impact your academic progress? There are some courses that are entrance-to-major requirements or prerequisites for other courses. If you are considering dropping a course, it is good to have a conversation with an adviser to understand how this may impact your next semester schedule or finishing your degree by an intended date. This will allow you to understand the impact and plan for the adjustment. Knowing the course impact may also help in deciding between dropping two courses in which one has impact on your progress and the other does not affect your ability to stay on track.

Cost: Starting on the first day of classes, there are costs that are nonrefundable when you drop the course. If you are using financial aid, dropping a course may also impact your aid. It is important to understand the consequences before dropping the course.

To recap, if you know things are not going well, don’t wait to reach out for help. Don’t be afraid to contact your instructor to discuss your grades or a situation affecting your work. Contact your adviser to talk through the difficulties, explore options, and understand the academic impact of dropping the course. Contact financial aid and/or the bursar’s office if you are unclear about the financial impact of your decision to drop a course. Once you are informed, you can then move forward with the decision that works best for you!

Links We Love: January 13, 2016

January 13th, 2016 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. Five habits that are holding you back in the office.

2. Gratitude is a healthy habit, according to one Penn State professor.

3. Penn State World Campus ranked No. 1 again for best online bachelor’s degree programs.

4. What Pantone’s colors of 2016 mean for the future of design? Penn State graphic design professor Ryan Russell discusses.

5. Check out the world’s oldest living animal–Jonathan the tortoise.


Five Winter Reads you Can’t Pass Up

January 12th, 2016 by

Some would say I’m a “true Minnesotan”; for me, the more snow, the better. This winter, though, Minnesota is experiencing bare trees and brown grass, with no snow in the foreseeable future. If I can’t enjoy the winter weather outside my window, I can at least find it in the books I read. (Isn’t that a wonderful thing about reading?) The winter books are endless, but the following are five lesser-known picture book favorites:

Night Tree by Eve Bunting

Night Tree by Eve Bunting


Night Tree by Eve Bunting

This lovely picture book is one I grew up with. Every winter, my family would hold its own Night Tree by gathering with friends, reading Bunting’s book, and decorating trees with fruit-slice ornaments and strings of Cheerios. The story is an intimate one about a family traveling to Luke’s Forest the night before Christmas to decorate trees for animals. Focusing on this moment helps readers feel like they are right there with the family. The story sparked a tradition in my family, and it just may do so in yours, too.




Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner


Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

Messner takes a look at winter animals in her nonfiction story. As a young child skis over the snow with her dad, she thinks about the creatures that live underneath their feet. The rhythmic ping-pong effect of comparing what’s over and under the snow gives a predictable structure for young readers. Children will also love to discover what happens to creatures when the world is covered by its winter blanket. An author’s note in the back furthers children’s curiosity by discussing each creature represented in the story in more detail.





Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Using a theme similar to Over and Under the Snow, Sidman writes about winter creatures. In this collection of poems, Sidman’s language, coupled with Rick Allen’s intricate print illustrations, makes this a picture book you can’t miss. She draws you into her book right away, writing: “Dusk fell / and the cold came creeping, / came prickling into our hearts . . .” Seriously, if that doesn’t help a reader envision a wintery scene, I don’t know what will!



SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose

SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose


SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose

This charming narrative describes the journey of two Ojibway sisters venturing out to see the Northern Lights — the “SkySpirits” — on a snowy winter night. The sisters are eager to see the SkySpirits, but first must learn to follow their grandmother’s words: Wisdom comes on silent wings. With Ojibway words scattered throughout the text, it gives readers an important look at present-day Ojibway life. Readers will enjoy traveling along with the sisters on their wintery journey.



Blizzard by John Rocco

Blizzard by John Rocco


Blizzard by John Rocco

This last book takes the reader to the East Coast blizzard of 1978. Rocco recounts his memories of the blizzard — from getting out of school early, to climbing out his upper-story window because the front door to his house was buried under mounds of snow. The playful illustrations help set the excitement of the snowfall while the narrative builds the stress of the missing snowplows. One can’t help but wish for a snow day after reading this story!




Whether you wish winter would greet you at your front door or prefer to read about it between the pages of a book, these winter reads will set the mood for the season.

Happy Reading!

Emily Kilgore is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Penn State World Campus. She is an elementary school teacher in North St. Paul, Minnesota.