Khaled Zakkout graduated from Penn State Abington this spring after four years of academic excellence and heavy involvement on campus. Zakkout recently completed his Corporate Communication degree with a minor in Business, a degree that requires an internship to graduate. He credits the campus’ Career & Professional Development (CPD) office in helping him a great deal in finding the internship that was right for him and his desired career path.
Zakkout met with a career counselor in the spring of his sophomore year, looking through some of the many resources of CPD to find a fit for him based on skills, major, interests, and more. He also met with Karen Carli, a career counselor with CPD at the time, to look over his resume and make necessary revisions during multiple 1-on-1 meetings.
Zakkout was able to land an internship with Elmwood Park Zoo as an Events Intern, a position that he took after meeting with career counselors to fine-tune his professional profile. There, in the fall of 2019, he had a lot of responsibilities and was able to successfully utilize a lot of his strengths for the job, such as directing and delegating workers and tasks, marketing promotions, helping coordinate and work hands-on for private zoo events, and much more. “It was a lot,” he said regarding the variety of work, but it was a very beneficial internship for his career path to date and going forward.
“They really do care about your professional and academic growth at Penn State Abington,” said Zakkout.
Zakkout adds that he also used the CPD offices when going through training for both an Orientation Leader and a Lion Ambassador leadership role on campus. For these roles, he met with CPD director Tina Vance-Knight who administered the Gallup Strength's assessment. He found this incredibly helpful: “It gave me perspective as to what my Strength's are and how they may help me in the future for my career, and relationships inside and outside of the classroom or workplace.”
Zakkout advises that students use the CPD offices to help with many facets of their career development, one of which being resume revisions. “Many students get intimidated by the task of doing a resume and often don't do it right,” Zakkout said, adding that CPD’s work with resumes was “extremely helpful” for him in landing the internship that was best for him.
Zakkout adds that mock interviews with career counselors also helped him out in getting better practice and a feel for what interviews are like. “What you bring to the table for an interview is the feeling that you give to employers, and the feeling they get from you is what they may base their decision on,” he said. He mentioned that these mock interviews allowed him to better understand how to present himself in front of employers.
Preparing for the future and planning ahead is something that Zakkout credits to helping him land the internship that was right for him. “I knew going into my major that I was going to need an internship, and I wanted to have it done either my junior or senior year, so I started the process toward the end of my sophomore year.” He highly suggests that students should not procrastinate looking for career opportunities, naming as an example the mass job and internship cancellation/loss that has happened since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Finally, Zakkout mentioned that CPD services furthered his success by helping him to present himself better professionally. Tips on fine-tuning his LinkedIn profile, professional dress, how to greet people during an interview or “elevator pitch” at a Career Expo, and much more allowed him to understand how to make himself look and sound to potential employers.
Four years after first arriving at Penn State Abington, Zakkout feels much better prepared for his future and what his career may hold. He advises students to use as many career resources and events as they can in order to benefit their professional career and be more prepared for internship and job opportunities going forward.