Industrial Engineering

Ask An Alum: Meet Michelle Jahn Holbrook, Class of 2013

Shelly Holbrook


Name: Michelle “Shelly” Jahn Holbrook


Year Graduated: 2013


Degree from Clemson: B.S. in Industrial Engineering


Shelly is also serves on Clemson University’s Board of Young Alumni for Industrial Engineering.


How did your experience at Clemson University help you find your first position after graduation? 

I worked with human factors professors on various research projects through the creative inquiry program. These experiences provided exposure to the type of work I would encounter in graduate school, and helped me be a more competitive candidate when applying for PhD programs.


If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?  

I would have utilized the professor and TA office hours more when I was struggling in classes, instead of trying to figure it out on my own.


What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new graduates from CU? 

Experiences beyond the classroom (internships, clubs, research experience, etc.) and a passion for something (anything!) that show what motivates you.


Shelly on her wedding day, with fellow Clemson grads.

What influenced your decision to attend your graduate school? Was it worth it?  

I was influenced to go on to graduate school due to the professors in the Human Factors research area at Clemson. These lifelong mentors modeled how to be successful researchers and provided instruction on how I could be a better researcher myself. I earned my masters in IE (2015) and I will earn my PhD from Purdue University in May 2019. Although I have decided to pursue a career in industry (I am working now as a User Experience Researcher for a consultant group in Chicago), I believe the time I took to pursue a PhD was incredibly valuable for my personal and professional growth and it has opened up doors that would not have normally been available to me without it. And who knows! Maybe some day I will find my way back to Clemson in a professor role.


What advice would you give to current IE students?

To Freshman: Sit in the front row of your classes and befriend the TAs. Especially for the calculus and electrical engineering classes. Trust me on this one.

To Sophomores: It’s ok to have a, “What am I doing with my life?” freakout. Take some elective classes to explore, and try to meet as many alums and speakers that you can to get exposure to what their jobs are really like.

To Juniors: If you haven’t yet, get an internship (or co-op, or research experience)! These experiences are the foundation for what you will talk about in interviews for your first job or graduate school

To Seniors: Have fun. Make friends with your peers in IE— you never know how you can help each other personally or professionally in your years after Clemson.


How can we get in touch with you?  

Feel free to connect with on LinkedIn at or by email at