Student Spotlight: Civil engineering student looks to Penn State Smeal MOL program to launch career

Clayton Tisot, a Penn State civil engineering graduate, is pursuing a Penn State Smeal Master’s in Management and Organizational Leadership to advance his career aspirations in project management.

Portrait of Clayton Tisot.

Clayton Tisot, a Penn State civil engineering graduate, is pursuing a Penn State Smeal Master’s in Management and Organizational Leadership to advance his career aspirations in project management.

When Clayton Tisot, a recent Penn State civil engineering graduate from Marlton, New Jersey, discovered the Master’s in Management & Organizational Leadership (MOL) program offered by the Penn State Smeal College of Business his sophomore year, he knew it would be the perfect segue to launch his career.

 Tisot discovered the MOL program while on the executive board for the Engineering Leadership Society. He had the opportunity to participate in a reverse career fair where employers spoke to students about sponsorships and donations.

 “Since the MOL program’s booth was next to mine, I saw them talk to a lot of the employers and could hear a lot of their conversations,” he said. “Next thing I knew, I took a flyer after talking to several of the guys and made sure to keep in touch, thinking this could be the right move for my career.”

 Throughout his undergraduate career, Tisot said he never knew what he wanted to do with civil engineering but hoped he would find his passion in his coursework. When he took a course on project management, he began to further explore the MOL program and how they might complement one another. Not only did he see a similar path between the two, but also saw how it could benefit and advance his career aspirations.

 The Penn State Smeal MOL program is a residential master’s program that spans two academic semesters and is designed for pre-professional students from technical, STEM disciplines, and bridges the gap between a technical background and the business world.

 Tisot is looking forward to joining the MOL program in August and said he cannot wait for the new experiences and knowledge he will gain through the program.

 “I have been doing engineering coursework for over two years, so it’ll be a new and exciting change of pace,” Tisot said. “I am also looking forward to being in a more professional classroom setting opposed to a more relaxed atmosphere. As an undergraduate, I do not think I am fully seen as an adult, but in graduate school, there is a new level of respect from faculty and staff and interaction between peers.”

 Tisot also said he believes in the importance of getting an advanced degree now more than ever due to the landscape changing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. By continuing his education with a Penn State Smeal master’s, he believes it will provide him with the skills and foundation to succeed.

 Tisot said he knew that many of his friends and peers were struggling with plans post-graduation -- specifically, students with job offers that were either being canceled or rescinded.

 After talking with Joy Mack, assistant director of admissions for Smeal professional graduate programs, Tisot learned about other one-year master’s programs from Smeal in specialty areas including business analytics, accounting, finance, and real estate analysis. He went on to recommend the programs to his friends, one of whom will begin Penn State Smeal’s Master’s in Corporate Finance program this summer.

 Tisot said he’s never had any concerns throughout the entire process of applying and accepting an offer to the MOL program.

“The admissions team has always made sure that I feel welcome, and they have always been open to me reaching out if I had any questions,” he said. “The entire staff has been more than accommodating.”

“While the situation we find ourselves in is certainly unprecedented, we remain committed in supporting our students,” said Ryan Hess, interim director of admissions for graduate programs at Penn State Smeal. “Our proven track record of high-quality education, strong academic and career support, and our vast alumni network have been the three pillars to our students’ success for many years, and this won’t change moving forward.”

For those who may be uncertain about their future, Tisot offered the following advice:

“Reach out early and often to learn as much as possible about it,” Tisot said. “Even if it doesn’t seem like an option, it is something worth exploring because I wasn’t aware of the career opportunities this program could offer. It can never hurt to learn more.”

Posted May 2020