A College Candid – Kristen

This College Candid features Kristen, who was an Advertising major and Business minor at Pennsylvania State University.  Kristen is also known as The Sophisticated Gal in the blogging world, and you can also find her on Instagram as @thesophisticatedgal, Pinterest, and Twitter.  She also runs an Etsy Store called SophisticatedResumes, which is an amazing idea and definitely worth checking out if you’re applying for a new job anytime soon!


To start off, do you have any fun / interesting facts about Penn State, its location, etc.?

Penn State is located in State College, PA and is kind of in the middle of nowhere! State College IS the city in Central PA, which I always find really fascinating 🙂 The drive to Penn State is always so beautiful, especially this time of year with all of the leaves changing colors.


Why did you choose to go to Penn State?

I am actually a third-generation Penn Stater, which feels so crazy to say!! My grandfather and dad both went to Penn State, so when I was younger I was always watching the football games on TV with my dad or going up to Penn State for a weekend trip with my parents. My dad died when I was 12 years old and Penn State was such a big part of who he was, so for me – it was really important for me to go there because I felt like a part of him was there too. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.


What is one of your favorite things about Penn State?

One of my favorite things about Penn State is that even though there are a lot of students that go there, I never felt like I was alone. Walking to class or downtown, you almost always ran into at least one person you knew and I love that part about Penn State. It may be a big campus, but it still feels like home!


Least favorite?

Hmm it’s hard to find what I disliked most about Penn State, I guess I’d have to say that my least favorite was the price. It was kind of pricey for an in-state school so I had to take out more student loans in order to go there.


What are some organizations you were a part of?

I was heavily involved in Penn State Athletics, which was actually one of my internships! I was also involved in THON and was a Peer Mentor my sophomore year for a first year seminar class.


Did you ever think about studying / did you study abroad?

I really wanted to study abroad and looking back it’s something I wish I would have done while I was in college! I was a Spanish minor and while I feel like I had a good experience with my Spanish classes, I wish I could have studied abroad in Spain to really get a better feel for the language/culture there.


How would you describe Penn State’s location?

Like I mentioned above, Penn State is kind of in the middle of nowhere and is actually the “city” of Central Pennsylvania. Since it’s in Central PA, the weather is a lot colder there and it’s pretty cold from October through March/April. I loved the location though, it was far enough away for me that I could really feel independent but it also wasn’t so far that I couldn’t go home if I needed to!


Did you have a favorite restaurant near or on campus?

There are SO many great places to eat in downtown State College and on campus! One of the things I miss most is all the FOOD! My favorite restaurant would have to be The Corner Room. It’s an adorable restaurant that has been around for a really long time and is basically a part of State College history. It’s perfectly placed “on the corner” of one of the main streets in downtown State College and has some AMAZING comfort food 🙂


Now switching to focus on your program, how is the Advertising program structured at Penn State?

Penn State has many different colleges that offer multiple majors. The Advertising program is under the College of Communications at Penn State, which is a great college. You start off in more “generic” courses about Advertising and Public Relations and then you decide which route you want to take. For me, I went the Advertising route and started to get into more specific courses for Advertising. These courses included Media Planning, Creative Advertising and more. The professors I had were all very influential in their Advertising careers and they provided us with a lot of real-world experience in the courses.


Did you have any minors?

I did! In addition to my Spanish minor, I also had a minor in Business. The minor in Business kind of happened by accident. I switched my major a total of 3 times in college and realized that I wanted to pursue a Marketing degree a little too late in order to still graduate in 4 years (which is why I ended up going for Advertising). So, I had taken quite a few business courses already and figured I might as well put them to good use! I only needed a few more courses to complete the minor, so it just made sense for me to pursue it!


What courses did you like and dislike?

Personally I loved all of my Advertising courses, we got to have interesting projects each semester where we would pick a client and develop a campaign. It was a lot of group projects, so I learned a lot about working with others! There were a lot of papers, but for me I enjoyed writing so it wasn’t bad 🙂

The classes I disliked were the more mathematical and science-based courses. I am much more of a writer and creative so science and match just didn’t make a lot of sense to me! I tried to avoid those classes at all costs, but you are required to take a certain amount of those types of courses in order to graduate so I did take what was required.  


What did you do in the first few years after you graduated?

I ended up graduating a semester early (in 3 ½ years instead of 4) and was very lucky to have a full-time job lined up for after graduation with a company I interned with the previous summer that focused on digital advertising. I felt so grateful to have a job lined up because even some of my friends were struggling to find jobs after graduation. After about a year and a half in my full-time job, I ended up leaving the company to pursue another opportunity at an ad agency where I managed website development for clients. I am in my 2nd year at this ad agency and recently moved into more of a Product Manager role. Essentially now I work closely on the products/software our company develops and determined the features we ultimately roll out to our customers based on business value. It’s a job that I never thought I would end up in when I was in college, but I enjoy it 🙂

I also started my side hustles within the first few years of graduating. I started The Sophisticated Gal about 8 months ago and my Etsy store, SophisticatedResumes, was started about 2 years ago.


How do you feel like the Advertising program at Penn State has helped you with your career?

The Advertising program at Penn State taught me a lot of real world examples of the different aspects of the Ad Industry. Not only did they prepare me for working in the industry, but they also prepared us for a lot of basic skills like resume building, job interviews, networking and more. A lot of the things I learned in my time as an undergrad I still use in my career today!

Interested in sharing your college story in a College Candid?  Send me an email at JessicaAckley7@gmail.com with your university and major!

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