Michael Lykens

Michael Lykens

Class of 2001

  • Bachelor of Arts in English, Penn State Altoona

What do you currently do professionally?
I work at Wells Fargo Advisors, a brokerage firm. I work with clients on their retirement accounts and planning for their futures.

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
I always viewed my degree as a broad base from which to grow. I see it as similar to a business degree in that I have a solid background and can apply it to many different areas of employment. Good communication skills are always in demand.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
I interact with people in verbal and written communication, so having good writing/communication skills has been a big help for me.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
I learned a lot of critical thinking skills; being an English major opened my eyes to different ways of interpreting the world around me. The ability not to see everything as black and white and instead to look deeper, seeing things that, maybe, someone else might not, has been so important.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
Meeting and learning with other students from all over were both a lot of fun. Learning about myself and accomplishing goals along the way helped prepare me for my future.

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
I majored in English because I really enjoyed it. Do something you enjoy. Don't just major in something in hopes of getting a job. Make sure it's the right fit. Having a degree from Penn State means a lot. Several of my co-workers, including my manager, are Penn State graduates. It definitely helped me get my current position. Employers know the value of a Penn State degree. An English degree is very broad in scope and a great foundation.

Is there anything else you would like current Penn State Altoona students (of all majors) to know?
Enjoy your time in school! Some of the best years of your life! Take advantage of all that Penn State has to offer. Network with your professors and ask lots of questions. Stay open-minded.

February 2023