Interview Story

Reflections: Jennifer Chan’s Senior Year

by Meg Connolly

October 23, 2015

Jennifer Chan, a senior accounting and information systems major, sits in her apartment living room, wrapped in a blanket and skims class notes on her laptop. I asked Jennifer if I could interview her on her views of her life as a student, and she was happy to oblige. This is Jennifer’s last year on campus and had some advice on how to bounce back from a roadblock, interesting insight on her post grad dreams, and what’s really important as one navigates life in college.

I found Jennifer especially interesting because first, she has changed her major multiple times but manages to keep a sunny disposition regardless. Second, Jennifer’s home town is relatively close to campus and from what I have experienced, people would rather go far away from home for college. Lastly, because Jennifer is a last-year senior, I thought she would have reflective advice for students younger than her, who worry about majors and post-grad opportunities.

Q: You’re from Lancaster right? It’s so pretty in the fall. So, tell me about yourself, any siblings? Hobbies?

Chan: Thanks! And yes, I’m from Lancaster. Well, I have two younger sisters. One goes to Pittsburgh and the other is still in high school—and I’m still trying to convince her to go to Penn State University. I’m really into health and fitness; I try to read books about new health topics like veganism. I also really like adventure sports, hiking, rock climbing…those types of things. Oh, and business in general.

Q: You’re in the middle of your senior year of college; when you were a senior in high school, where did you see yourself at this age? Are you studying what you thought you’d be studying?

Chan: When I was in high school I wanted to be in the media industry. I was on the news crew and was into news and media. I thought I would have a cool internship at a news station and I definitely wanted to work for E! News. And no…I’m double majoring in and will get both bachelor’s degrees in accounting and information studies, and I’m also minoring in international business administration.

Q: So, since you didn’t end up where you thought you wanted to go, what happened that changed the course?

Chan: I took some communications classes and I ended up not liking them. I thought taking communications along with business would give me a more competitive edge but I took marketing and I didn’t really like it. When you’re under the business major you have to take other business-related classes. So, after trying intro to accounting, I realized that I loved it and that it would give me more opportunities to do what I really want to do. Basically, communications just wasn’t for me.

Q: What made you chose Penn State Harrisburg and stay here after four years? What made you chose Accounting?

Chan: I like the variety of majors that Penn State offers. But, I chose Penn State Harrisburg because it’s closer to home and I like the small campus feel instead of a large campus. It’s great because even though Harrisburg is a branch campus, it still has all the resources that would come with a large university—and all the reputation too! I’m also studying information sciences with a minor in international business. But, I chose accounting because it’s applicable to any industry and I want to be able to help businesses with the use of technologies—hence information technologies.

Q: What do you wish to do with your degree in accounting and information sciences?

Chan: I want to start in public accounting and then go for my CPA and then from there probably stick with a small firm and get into business consulting or tax. Ultimately, the end goal is to become well versed in all areas of business to help them all. I want them to use technologies to their advantage.

Q: It sounds like you have things somewhat figured out. What are your goals for after college? Goals for after you land your first job?

Chan: I know that my dad wanted to take a trip with me to Hong Kong—that’s where he’s from. I really just want to stay in the area, in Central Pennsylvania. I had the desire to go to New York City, but not anymore. I realized that I love Lancaster and where I live because it’s home to me. Lancaster is a good location and close to major cities, and I feel like I have everything I need here. I’m happy here. Goals for a job… I would like to see what it’s like to work at a big four company in either tax or audit practices. I think it would be a good experience to learn what auditors do for big firms. I don’t think I’d want to do that for a long time though; eventually I’ll end up, like I said earlier, in a smaller firm.

Q: Do you think Penn State Harrisburg will help you get to where you want to be?

Chan: Definitely. Penn State Harrisburg has a lot of resources available to the students even though it’s a branch campus. I still have all the advantages of a large school. Plus, the location is prime for someone who wants to stay and work in Central Pennsylvania. The Capital College of Business has allowed me to study more fields; I can do a double major and also study a minor, which is international business administration. I honestly love it here. The career services have also helped a lot!

Q: Career services?

Chan: Yeah! They give lots of resume workshops and information sessions about the accounting career in general. They’ve brought in a lot of speakers from local to larger scale companies. These things alone have given me so many opportunities already. It’s like a major leg up on the competition to have this service.

Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice or tips on how to deal with something that significantly impacted your college career, what would you say?

Chan: I would say, don’t try to plan every step of your future because the future is unpredictable and life is unpredictable. My freshman year I tried to plan everything for my career, and the next year I ended up changing my entire major! It’s good to have an idea and a plan, but don’t expect everything to go accordingly. It’s better to have an adaptable mindset.

Q: I have one last question to ask: what are you going to miss most after you graduate?

Chan: I think what I’m going to miss the most are the friends I’ve made here. All the memories we’ve shared and all the laughs we’ve had. It will definitely be a bittersweet moment but I look forward to the future!