‘Navigating Your 20s’: Penn State Student-Instructor Creates Self-Help Podcast
While enrolled as a student, Penn State senior Scott Rochman recently launched a podcast based on the class he teaches, HDFS197: Navigating Your 20s.
Rochman’s self-help podcast opens a conversation on interpersonal relationships, career advice, healthy habits, personal finance, and more to help guide people in their 20s through a stressful decade filled with new life changes.
“It’s hard to know where to start,” Rochman said. “If you do a quick Google search, you’re going to have thousands of results come up, and there’s going to be pages upon pages of information, text, and videos. But what if I could break down the basics in a 10 to 20-minute segment that you can listen to on your way to class or as you commute to work?”
As a Labor and Human Resources major, Rochman has always been passionate about human development and family studies through his classes, which sparked his interest to teach a course that emphasizes the complexities of life after college and acknowledges important life skills everyone should adopt.
“I think that a lot of the issues that we’re facing right now as people who are about to graduate, there are so many skills that come with adulthood that we really should learn in college,” Rochman said.
Since the beginning of the spring 2023 semester, Rochman, along with his friend Adam Turk Karan, has been instructing a two-credit special topics course with 15 students through the Students Teaching Students program. Inside the classroom, the pair brings in guest speakers, leads discussions, and guides engaging hands-on activities.
“I wrote a 10-page syllabus, got faculty approval, got a faculty sponsor, and then it actually got approved as an official elective that I teach twice a week with my best friend and roommate,” Rochman explained. “I think within a day or two of being posted, we immediately had people on the wait list… It’s become a passion of mine. I want to teach at some point in the future. I’d love to be a professor one day.”
After falling in love with providing his peers with vital resources and information every student should have, Rochman sought to create a platform that makes the basis of his course easily accessible to anyone in their twenties, no matter where they are from or what their background is.
Although Rochman had no prior experience with developing a podcast, he knew that doing so was the best way to get his insights out to people across the world, not just at Penn State.
“I had no experience coming into this,” Rochman said. “I’ve learned so much on the fly to make this work… A friend of mine, who’s a graphic designer, helped come up with the logo, and then my co-teacher is the manager of the podcast, so this has been a big community-oriented effort.”
Just like how he invites different speakers to discuss various topics with his class, Rochman brings different guests on each episode of his podcast. The podcast features a mix of subject matter experts and Rochman’s friends so that his listeners are getting both professional and relatable insight.
His first episode was published on February 7, featuring Penn State professor Dr. Molly Countermine, as she talked about relationships and dating in your twenties. Since then, Countermine has been on two other episodes where she talks about the messiness of life and divorce.
“Molly was the first one that came to mind,” Rochman shared. “She has been my favorite professor at Penn State. I’ve taken two classes with her. I’m a TA for her currently, and she just is such a powerful speaker that uses personal stories to convey her material.”
So far, the podcast has 10 episodes that take a deep dive into important topics that should be talked about and expressed more frequently, especially among young adults.
Over the course of two months, the podcast has grown immensely, reaching over 48 countries, with a huge population of listeners in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Liberia. Roughly 19% of his listeners reside in the State College area.
“It just feels very surreal to me,” Rochman said. “I mean, honestly, I get a lot of imposter syndrome where I’m like, ‘How is this happening to me?’ There was a lot of thought that went into it, but I think what’s so exciting is to watch this passion of mine grow… I’m unsure what’s going to happen with it, but it’s really exciting to me.”
During his fifth year here at Penn State, Rochman plans to not only continue producing episodes but will also be teaching his class once again in the fall 2023 semester — this time with 30 students.
“It’s been such a fulfilling experience,” Rochman said. “I’ve never felt more fulfilled in my life, both with teaching my class and also with this podcast. I think it’s such an important topic that is very stigmatized. It’s hard to admit when you don’t know something. It’s embarrassing… It’s so fun having these open conversations with people and this is very much the catalyst for those discussions.”
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