Help! I don’t have an offer. Am I on my own next semester?

by Kelly Cleary

Dream Job?
Dream Job? (courtesy of quinn.anya via Flickr)

While my first job was in Italy, I opted for a teaching internship instead of a footwear apprenticeship. My year in Italy was amazing despite the fact that I didn’t receive the offer until late April of my senior year. But anyway, on to my post…

Last weekend I received this question from a senior in the College, and since I’m sure many other seniors have the same question, I wanted to share my thoughts on this. If you have questions, comments or want to continue this conversation with other students, I encourage you to post comments below.

From a Senior in the College:

“I haven’t received an offer from anything I interviewed for this semester. Will companies still be coming to campus and interviewing for full time positions, or am I on my own next semester if I don’t receive an offer from anywhere? Thanks for your help!”

I want to reassure everyone that indeed there will be many more opportunities for post-grad jobs in the coming months through the summer. Only a few companies will be interviewing on campus for full-time hires this spring because most employers (except for finance, consulting and handful of consumer products companies that know they will hire a certain number of new grads each year) hire when they have positions open.

Hiring “as needed” simply means that when employers have job openings (because someone quits or is promoted, a new position in created, etc.) they post the position – on their web site, through PennLink, other job boards, or  email/social media distribution lists like the Career Services email or a LinkedIn group.  The majority of College students get their jobs through this type of search; you can check our Career Plans Surveys from past years to see how other students landed their jobs:

Even if there aren’t a slew of employers interviewing for full-time jobs in our OCR suite this spring, Career Services is still here to support you in your search.  I’ll continue to send LOTS of email postings for jobs in a variety of fields, there will be new jobs posted on PennLink and our Online Subscriptions page, and guide you in targeting worthwhile networking opportunities, highlighting key resources (such as our Career Resources by Field page), and helping you strategize for your search.

While ultimately, you do conduct a job search and make job and subsequent career decisions “on your own”, there are many resources, including Career Services, available to help you. In fact, the students who are most successful and satisfied with their career decisions are those who seek advice and assistance from Career Services as well as family, friends, professors, Penn alumni (through PACNet), recruiters, and even strangers in their chosen professions. The more people you talk to, the greater your chance of making sure your resume doesn’t fall into the black hole of the inbox.

So don’t despair. I would argue there are even more interesting post-grad career opportunities to come. Even if that means waiting to secure your plans until the spring, or even summer, Penn seniors from past years will tell you the wait will definitely be worth it.

Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads – What Defines a Top Employer?

by David Ross

A recent BusinessWeek article featuring a survey conducted by Universum regarding the Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads is the latest example of another rankings list.  Today our lives are filled with lists of “Best of…” – best colleges, best graduate schools, best employers.  But this latest list of rankings focuses on another topic of great importance – what actually constitutes a top employer?

Any rankings list is based on specific criteria and methodology used to generate a numerical score or outcome that determines “the best.”  Regarding employers, how do we individually determine just who’s the best?  In some way, we all have our own criteria for deciding on where to pursue employment.  It’s not uncommon for these factors to include name recognition, prestige, and culture.  But besides these subjective elements are there other factors important to you?  What about intangible metrics such as collegiality among co-workers, geographic location, work/life flexibility and autonomy over projects?  Do you contemplate other things when deciding what organizations to consider for employment?  I encourage you to think critically about what you really look for in an employer.  There’s nothing like going to work at a place where you feel really connected and greatly enjoy the environment.  No rankings list can truly measure that.

Discussing Ethical Issues in Medicine

by Carol Hagan

It’s interviewing season for applicants to medical, dental, and veterinary school, and I’ve had several students report that they were asked to identify and discuss ethical issues in medicine.  Whether you’re interviewing with graduate schools or just beginning to consider a career in health care, learning more about ethical issues in the field broadens your understanding of medical practice and gives you the important opportunity to consider your own values and point of view.

A helpful and interesting resource for learning more about ethics and medicine is the American Medical Association’s Virtual Mentor.

VirtualMentor Edited by medical students and residents, this online journal addresses ethical issues that are likely to arise during one’s medical education and practice.  A brief glance at the searchable database of case studies reveals that ethical considerations in health care extend well beyond stem cell research and euthanasia.

The November 2009 issue is devoted to “Humanizing Physician Learning.”  Do you think your premedical education is the best preparation for a career in health care?  What effect might health care reform have on medical schools and professional training?  Is it useful for clinicians to have more than one graduate degree?  Take a look, see what some professionals have to say, and think about it.

Volunteer Abroad

by Shannon C. Kelly

I would like to dispel a myth for those of you interested in gaining international work experience – it can be easy AND affordable.  How? By volunteering abroad.  There are a TON of programs out there which you can volunteer through – many vary in their fee structure and what is included in the fee, but I promise (cross my heart…stick a needle in my eye) it is possible to find one appropriate for your budget and areas of interest. has a Smörgåsbord of resources to jump start your search.

Why am I willing to potentially stick a needle in my eye? Because I know first-hand it’s possible since I volunteered abroad this past summer.  The whole trip cost me under $2,000 (air fare, spending $, room & board) and I KNOW I could have done it for even less.  I found my particular program through Volunteers for Peace ( thanks to our annual International Opportunities Fair.  VFP is an international volunteer exchange organization.  They have partners all over the world who help place volunteers at International Voluntary Service projects, also known as international workcamps.

I searched VFP’s directory for programs in the UK because I have always wanted to go. I found an opportunity to volunteer at a festival (Think: event management experience) outside of Bath, England – Monkton Combe in Avon. Which brings up another advantage of volunteering abroad – getting off the beaten tourist path.  I met university students and other young people from all over the world (Turkey, Italy, Poland, Japan, Greece, + more), but I also met fascinating individuals older than me who had great stories and advice to share for my own ambitions.  (Think: networking is not just for when you need a job).

So what’s the catch? When you volunteer abroad, you are not taking a traditional vacation.  You agree to work a certain number of hours in exchange for your room and board (of course specifics vary by program, location, etc).  I worked 6 hours a day and helped run the festival by setting up rooms for workshops, coordinating materials for the attendees and answering questions about specific events (Think: bullet points on a resume).  It’s not all work though. I had free time to attend workshops at the festival (lessons on Brazilian Forró) or to hang out with my new friends from Italy or Greece.  All in all, I gained valuable experience for my resume, extended my network, and got off the beaten path – even learned a new dance I know I would not have otherwise.

Whether you want to teach children, learn a foreign language, rebuild walls, help the environment, steward at a festival – there’s a program for that.  (Think: iPhone’s “there’s an app for that”).  And if you do your homework, you can find one appropriate for your budget.  I did and I can’t wait to volunteer abroad next summer.

I’ll be posting more about volunteering abroad as it relates to gaining work experience. And sharing stories from friends around the world.  If you’d like to share yours, leave a comment!

If You’re Out of Work or Think You Might Lose Your Job

by Rosanne Lurie

It seems like there is insurance for everything people value. Rumor had it that Jennifer Lopez insured her “celebrity assets,” (i.e. derierre) and musicians Liberace, French pianist Richard Clayderman and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards all are known to have insured their hands. So when we can easily put a value on our ability to be productive in the working world,  it’s hard to understand why we can’t take out protection for ourselves if we lose our jobs, or remain job-seekers longer than we planned.  The New York Times recently posted a fascinating article with discussion about why private unemployment insurance is not more prevalent.  Additionally, the article suggests how to keep your finances afloat while not working or underemployed, with important resources on housing (both rent and mortgage relief) and student loans.

Unfortunately, unexpected job loss can precipitate the kind of financial pressure that often results in hasty job choices, and increased likelihood of future job loss because of a poor match in goals and fit (jobseekers are “desperate, but not serious”).   Considering how many companies are doing credit checks as part of the screening process, getting your finances in order is crucial to your job search, and ultimately, it lets you be free to choose the best fit for you.