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John McFarland

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’13 Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, History | Naval Officer, United States Navy | Monterey, CA
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John McFarland

Liberal Arts Majors: Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, History

Hometown: Everett, PA

Current Location: Monterey, CA

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

During the final semester of my senior year, I volunteered as a collections technician at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. I got a taste of several aspects of what makes a museum run successfully; from maintaining collections, assisting at events, to preparing new collections for display.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

After graduation, I was hired as the team sports sales leader at Dicks Sporting Goods in Altoona, Pennsylvania. After a promotion and spending three years at the company, I left to attend the Navy's Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and commissioned as a naval officer in November 2016.

What was your favorite class and who was your favorite faculty member?

It's hard to choose just one, but if it's only one then the HIST/CAMS 100 History of Ancient Greece would be my choice. It simultaneously introduced me to the history and classics and ancient Mediterranean studies fields, and began to satisfy my lifelong interest in ancient Greece. Similarly, it's difficult to choose just one professor, but Dr. Steven Andrews (who happened to be my professor for HIST 100) made such a positive impact on my college experience. His teaching style worked well for me, and he had an incredible amount of knowledge about the courses he taught.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for life after graduation?

My liberal arts education gave me several skills that prepared me for life in the professional world; one of the most important being critical thinking skills. As we are constantly bombarded with information, it is imperative that professionals are able to think critically about the information they encounter. Also, studying history offers numerous examples of how previous leaders overcame the challenges of their day. These lessons can provide a blueprint for how to overcome the problems of our own time.

What networking advice would you share with current students?

The saying “it's not what you know, it's who you know is repeated often for a good reason, and it's absolutely true that networking can help you get hired. I've also found that networking can open up some opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise been aware of. Good networking will help you start your career, and it will also help you progress through it.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

Mentors have made an immense impact on my career. At every level, I've been fortunate enough to have at least one mentor who has taken the time to give me guidance and feedback, and I'm all the better for it.

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