Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone.

Olivia Drohan

Graduation year: 2020

Major(s): Human Resources Management

Company: BNY Mellon

I was looking for a personal challenge.

I had a really great high school experience at Butler High School in Northern Pittsburgh. My mock trial advisor, Gerri Paulisick, helped guide me in my college decision-making process by looking objectively at each school and what my interests are. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and grow in an environment that was new and challenging to me. Pitt has been a fantastic fit for me! Choosing Pitt Business has led me to so many great opportunities and experiences.

From Butler Senior High School to Pitt Business with Olivia Drohan

Welcome to Pitt Business

Starting in Pitt Business.

I entered Pitt Business unsure of what major to choose. To help decide, I took advantage of all the opportunities available to me to figure out which path I wanted to take. The Women-in-Business (WiB) student organization played a huge role in my college experience. Faculty advisor to WiB, Professor Debbie Good helped me figure out what my major could be. She taught me what human resources was about and what it could mean for me.

Vicki Vernet-Lazor, my academic advisor, really took the time to get to know me, what I was passionate about learning, and worked with me to put a plan together that would help me understand my interests. Vicki is a Gallup-Strengths Certified coach, and Pitt Business is a Gallup-Strengths Certified program. What this means is that each Pitt Business student takes the Gallup Strengths test which identifies what a student’s strengths are and how they can build upon those strengths in their life, career, and studies!

The student organization I was most involved in was Women-in-Business. I really enjoyed meeting a lot of other women interested in pursuing their business careers.

From The Classroom, To The City, To The World.

When I studied abroad in Trinidad, one of the best parts of the trip was interacting and getting to know community members.

Going Abroad

My very first Study Abroad experience in Pitt Business was through the Pitt Plus 3 Program, which is an opportunity to global experiences for two weeks after your freshman year. I went to Italy! We visited Florence, Venice and many other cities. It was such an amazing experience that I decided to global experiences in Florence for the entire spring semester during my junior year. One of my favorite experiences in Florence was the experience of having a host family. I would eat dinner with an Italian family once a week and did my best to integrate into the Italian culture. The experience helped me grow and develop both personally and professionally. I gained so much confidence from being able to see the world on my own.

My other global experiences experience was through the Certificate Program in Leadership and Ethics (CPLE). I had the opportunity to travel to Trinidad over spring break during my sophomore year. We worked with a Pittsburgh non-profit organization, Amizade, on a semester-long project to help develop sustainable eco-tourism in Trinidad. We met residents and gathered data to help enhance our project. It was really an eye-opening experience for me seeing such a different culture, people, and set of experiences. It felt great to give back to the Trinidad community while doing research for school.

Photo Op

This is the photo your parents will likely take shortly before your First-Year Orientation. Every Pitt Business student gets this photo and it is typically your first LinkedIn profile picture!


During my senior year, I applied to BNY Mellon knowing they had a strong human resources program. I didn’t know a lot about finance and banking, but through my internship in Wealth Management and Compensation, I gained the knowledge I needed and more. This was a whole different world to me, and I was thrilled to grow my skills. The culture at BNY Mellon can’t be beaten. I knew I had to begin my career with them.

Everybody says that junior year is the most important year because you’re searching for internships, going on interviews, and applying for jobs.

I was able to work at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) as a campus program extern. I got this role through the many networking opportunities that Pitt Business has to offer. I met some of the UPMC recruiters at a WiB event, Pitt Business career fairs, and UPMC’s career day. It was a great experience and I learned a tremendous amount about human resources as it relates to health care.

Starting My Career

Becoming an Emerging Leader at BNY Mellon

I’ll be starting in the Emerging Leaders program at BNY Mellon. I’ll rotate through three different sections of human resources for four months each to help me figure out which section of HR I really want to be in. It could be recruitment, talent development, or another service area. I’ll still be here in Pittsburgh, so I’m excited to continue to be so close to Pitt after I graduate.

Advice for High School Seniors

My advice for seniors in high school considering college is that wherever you go, it is up to you to make the college experience what you want. It’s really important to get involved in the school culture, create networks, and through those connections figure out what you are interested in. High school seniors should 100% consider Pitt Business! I’ve had the most amazing experience. There are so many opportunities for growth, traveling, and getting involved. We have deeply invested academic advisors and a career development team that is always helping to push you ahead. My experience even led my sister to commit to Pitt Business!