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Carolina Spiess

Psychology Major
Carolina Spiess -  - I am a Paterno Fellow

Carolina Spiess Psychology Major

Carolina Spiess -  - I am a Paterno Fellow

Carolina Spiess: Challenge Accepted

Carolina Spiess enjoys accepting challenges that push her beyond her comfort zone.  Like choosing Penn State, for instance—not necessarily an easy decision for someone who had grown up in Germany and attended school in England.

“I grew up very independently,” Carolina says.  “I started going to boarding school in England when I was 16 and spent my ‘gap year’ there as well.”

Carolina’s parents also moved to Pittsburgh while she was in England, which is how Penn State became a college option for her.  “I really liked Penn State, but I had also applied to another college in England.  I literally flipped a coin to make my decision, and Penn State won.”

Apparently, so did Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts; since coming to campus, Carolina has excelled inside and outside the classroom.

One of the first things Carolina did when she arrived on campus also pushed her a bit beyond her comfort zone—she applied for the Paterno Fellows Program.

“I had heard about the Schreyer Honors College before I arrived, but I didn’t have the courage and motivation to go through the application process,” she recalls.  “Then, I learned about the Paterno Fellows Program during the international student orientation and the presenter really encouraged me to apply.  I knew I wanted to study abroad and I knew I wanted to be challenged academically, so I did.”

Since then, she doesn’t remember what it’s like not to be a Paterno Fellow—a feeling she enjoys very much.  For starters, she enjoys taking honors and other courses offered through the program.  “I have really enjoyed taking classes outside my major—especially the French classes I took my freshman year,” Carolina says.

She’s also enjoyed keeping a journal as part of her e-portfolio requirement.  “It forces me outside of my comfort zone and really pushes me to reflect on what I’m doing,” she says.  “I’ve really enjoyed that.”

And then there’s the internships and the study abroad component.  Since becoming a Paterno Fellow, Carolina has spent a semester working and studying back in Germany with a non-profit that helps acclimate refugees to German culture and prepares them to enter the workforce.  In addition to being linked to her major (psychology, with minors in labor & employment relations and sociology) and career interests (human resources/talent management), she loved the opportunity to help the refugees find work and become more comfortable in their new surroundings.

“I learned more about the refugees and where they were from, and how that affected their status and where they could work,” she says.  “The work was extremely fruitful, and the stories they shared were incredible, too.”

Carolina has completed two human resources-focused internships for large global companies as well.  The first was with Atrain GmbH, a human resources consulting firm that specializes in executive assessment and training.  Carolina was part of the talent management team, which designed and offered exercises, workshops and role-playing sessions that clients used to recruit and select potential employees.

Carolina spent this past summer at the Parsippany, New Jersey offices of Reckitt Benckiser, one of the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene manufacturers, as a talent acquisitions intern.  In this role, she has assisted with developing recruiting strategies and arranging interviews with potential employees.  She already has an internship arranged for the summer of 2017 as well—she’ll be heading back to Germany to work in the Human Capital Division of Deloitte, one of the world’s leading professional services firms.

Beyond that, Carolina—who is on track to graduate from Penn State in May 2017—will explore her options.  “Most likely, I’ll come back to the United States [after my internship] to get my masters and my Ph.D.," she says.  “But whatever I do, I know I have a bright future ahead of me, and being a Paterno Fellow is part of the reason for that.  Being a Paterno Fellow has certainly challenged me, but it has given me more freedom to explore as well.”

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