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HR senior brings small town work ethic to big-city company

Seth Rickrode in front of city skyline

Yes, Seth Rickrode has seen The Office. No, he doesn’t think he’s anything like Toby, the character who works in HR. Seth, a senior Human Resource Management major at York College of Pennsylvania, is actually kind of a joker. Like most people he knows who work in HR, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He does, however, work seriously hard.

It’s that work ethic that earned him a highly competitive internship at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh last summer. It’s also what earned him a post-graduation job offer for the same company, before even starting his senior year.

A big adjustment

Most of Seth’s job experience comes from a small-time butcher shop in East Berlin, York County. So, it was a bit of an adjustment when he got to Pittsburgh, where the human resources department alone has 1,100 people. Even though it’s a large company, Seth got a lot of one-on-one attention. “I had a lot of actual, meaningful interactions with people,” he says.

And he was taken seriously. During a meeting with an HR executive, Seth raised the idea of setting up a networking roundtable for the interns. She assigned someone to work with them, and before the end of the summer, his idea became a real event. “I think that was my favorite part,” he says, “being able to come in there as an intern and be able to set up an event myself just by asking and telling her my plan.”

Seth credits his parents for instilling in him a strong work ethic. “I think that every day for me is, let’s prove why you hired me,” he says.

It was the last weekend in August when Seth got the offer for a full-time job with PNC Financial Services Group once he graduated. He was ecstatic—and relieved. It was like a huge weight being lifted from his shoulders just in time for his senior year. “Not only are you making yourself proud, but you’re making your family proud,” he says.

Preparing for the future

Seth says his York College teachers set him up to succeed at PNC Financial Group. They’d harped on how important Excel was, and Seth was able to show off his skills in the program through a project he worked on with a fellow intern over the summer. “We kind of excelled at Excel,” he says.

He’s also gotten some real-world practice through his involvement with the student managed fund, where students learn about investment management. As a group, they chose how to invest a college endowment fund, which recently hit $340,000. “That itself has been one of the greatest things,” he says.

Ready to move on

One of the reasons Seth chose York College was to stay close to home. He wasn’t ready to leave his family and wanted to save money, so he commuted. His internship in Pittsburgh was the first time he really lived away from home. It was different, for sure, but he liked it.

Now, he feels ready and excited to move there after graduation. He’ll be bringing with him the work ethic he learned from his parents. “I think some of these small-town values I can bring to Pittsburgh,” he says, “and they translate pretty well I think.”