Penn State is a big school that offers countless opportunities to join clubs, study abroad, and complete internships. But with so many options, it can be hard to dig through and find the best programs for you. Enter the Student Engagement Center, which just opened its physical space (appropriately called the Student Engagement Space) right in the middle of the HUB on campus.
Mike Zeman, the director of the Student Engagement Network at Penn State, is in charge of making sure the Engagement Space is achieving its mission of helping students find experiences that will help them make the most of their time at the University.
“There’s a consensus that engagement, especially at Penn State, is moving towards not just the big-box classroom, GPA, credit-based degree,” Zeman said when I sat down to talk to him about what he referred to as “the Space.”
The Student Engagement Network has helped (and continues to help) students complete outside-of-classroom opportunities in part by giving out grants to students who wish to study abroad or conduct undergraduate research. However, since it’s not possible to give a grant to every student, the Space is here to serve as a central place where students can walk in, talk to an intern about their interests and goals, and be directed towards opportunities they can pursue.
In addition to the building of the physical Engagement Space, Zeman recently put in a proposal for an online Portal that he described as “something similar to Amazon,” where students can search for opportunities that exist both on and off campus.
“We’ve been talking about [the online portal] being built using input from students in the [physical] Space,” Zeman said.
Zeman went on to explain how an online portal would work.
“Your personal preferences that you opt in to enter, your career interests, your personal interests, your courses, your course history, your history of signing up for student clubs and organizations, [those will all] inform the equation that we use to guide you,” Zeman said.
In addition to being beneficial to students to find individual experiences, Zeman said the Space could also be used for clubs to reach out and work together with other organizations on projects and events. He described it as a kind of involvement fair that happens every day throughout the year.
“[Penn State] is a big place, but there are mechanisms that will make you feel right at home with your interests,” Zeman said.
For more information, visit http://www.engage.psu.edu/engagement-space/