Kevin Haines, Associate Director
Now that the Fall semester has started and you have a few weeks of class already completed, it’s time to look at the rest of your semester and map out important dates and events. This includes planning for the Spring semester (I know, we’re not even at midterms yet and I’m already talking about NEXT semester), summer 2019, and for some, graduation! Below, I’ve compiled a list of items you might want to consider reviewing that can help put your mind at ease. Some are just “food for thought” and “don’t forgets” while others are essential. Take a look and see if more than a few of these apply to you.
By now you’ve been to quite a few classes and have reviewed all your syllabi (hopefully!). Take a look at all the assignments, quizzes, homework, and tests that will be given in each of your classes and mark the due dates on your calendar. It’s always better to have more reminders than none so that you don’t forget anything. If you’re finding that the course is difficult, talk to your professor or TA. They can help you figure out what you’re struggling with most and give suggestions on how to succeed. Before you know it, it will be Fall break, and then only a few classes will remain in the semester.
- Research courses for next semester (if you haven’t already)
What? But this semester basically just started! Yes, that’s true, but it’s always best to get a jumpstart on next semester’s courses. For many majors, courses are already mapped out ahead of time for each semester, however, that’s not always the case. Start looking at course options for next semester so that you have an idea of what you need/want to take and aren’t running around last minute trying to get into a course that’s already full. This should help reduce some stress knowing that you know what you’ll be studying in the Spring.
- Check-in with your advisor
At this point, you may not necessarily need to consult with your advisor about classes, but it’s a good idea to still check-in with them. You can talk about current courses, next semester’s courses, study abroad/internship opportunities, or simply how you’re feeling about the semester. Keep them in the loop of what’s going on in your life if you think there is something important they should know. They are there to help, and so is Career Services!
- Get your resume updated/prep for interviews and OCR
While many Penn career fairs have already happened for this current semester, you can still stop by Career Services walk-in hours or make appointments to go over your resume and cover letter. We are here Monday-Friday, 9-5pm, so even if you have a last minute question or concern, check walk-in hour times, schedule an appointment, or send us an email. While OCR is coming up, it’s not the only time you can find a job or internship. Job/internships are posted all the time. In the past, some students found something as late as May. While for most people that is not ideal, it’s still a possibility. So, if you haven’t found anything just yet (it’s still early!), just know that there will be plenty of opportunities coming up. Add OCR to your calendar and get yourself ready to interview. It can be stressful at times, but with proper planning, and talking to us at Career Services, we’ll help you figure out a plan. We also help with mock interviews, so if you’re feeling nervous about an actual interview you have, come practice with us. Sometimes all you need is some constructive criticism (and praise!) to help you ace your interview.
- Strategize for study abroad or summer abroad internships
Looking to leave the US for a semester and study at a different university or with a specific program? Studying abroad is an incredible experience where you will be able to immerse yourself in another culture while taking courses in a different language (or not!) and learn in a new way. You should start the process a semester before you want to go abroad, but make sure you meet with Penn Abroad in time, as deadlines for Spring 2019 are coming to a close very soon. There are programs for all schools/majors. Additionally, Penn Abroad can help you intern abroad. Be sure to check their website for important updates and information sessions. Schedule an appointment with an advisor after doing some initial research on where you would like to go (and whether or not you are eligible for that particular semester). Represent Penn, abroad!
- Begin networking with alumni (LinkedIn!)
Now is the perfect time to start networking and getting to know the people in the career you see yourself in soon. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to learn about Penn alum, what they do, and where they work. LinkedIn allows you to search alum using keywords and locations, so begin searching! Sometimes, you may recognize people that you know or read about and messaging them is only a click away. Don’t be afraid to send someone (or a few people) a message introducing yourself and asking to chat with them. Should they respond, try setting up an informational interview with them to understand how they got to where they were and what their experiences were/are like. Definitely do not start your email out asking them for a job, but rather advice on moving forward in your career. You may only get a conversation or email from them, which is still great, but who knows, in the end, you may end up landing yourself an internship or job!
- Update family and friends on what’s going on in your life
Make sure you are checking in with family and friends. School can and is stressful, so sometimes you can go days, even weeks, without talking to family members or close friends. Remember to keep them updated on your life as it is important to hear from them as well and learn about what’s going on in their lives. School is very important, but so is balancing it with your personal life. Let family know how your semester is going and what you have to look forward to in the coming weeks/semester. They know you have a busy schedule, so taking time, even just for a phone call, can put a big smile on their face!
The most important thing to take care of this semester, and always, is yourself! Life is ever changing and always busy and it’s easy to let self-care fall to the side. Be sure you are remembering to set aside time for yourself, whether it’s a few hours a week, a full day, or every day. Watch a movie, listen to music, go for a run, eat ice cream, have vegan food, catch up with a friend, paint, sing, explore the city, etc. The list goes on and on. Just remember that YOU are important and that this includes your health and mental health. Take care of yourself always.