Forget the Want Ads: How to Use the Newspaper to Enhance Your Job Search

by Anne Guldin Lucas and Peggy Curchack


How do you read the newspaper?  No, I don’t mean on your Kindle, computer screen, or on old-fashioned newsprint.  Rather, what are you learning from the papers you read?  Do you seek sports scores and recaps or do you anxiously study regional news for the latest Philadelphia crime reports?  The articles you choose may offer insights into your career interests, and may give you information that can get you closer to your career goal.

Business-focused Penn students have always read the papers to prepare for their interviews, noting merger and acquisition news and carefully noting the Dow and S & P numbers.

However, there are lots of other specific career-related sections or columns of newspapers that are worth reading too.  Using the New York Times as an example, the “Science Times” section in the Tuesday edition will inform you of who is doing what in a great many research areas, citing specific scientists, projects, and ongoing research both domestic and international.  The “Arts” section is a source of rich information on arts management, including names of leading galleries, managers, and fund raisers.  For those interested in the Beltway, The Washington Post is must reading, and can help identify people and organizations from whom to seek jobs and internships.

Start reading the newspaper like you’re a detective, and you’ll be amazed with what you find.  Even something like this (a postscript to an article) may offer an unexpected opportunity: “Travel expenses were paid in part by readers of Spot.Us, a nonprofit Web project that supports freelance journalists.”

So….How Did Last Year’s Graduating Class Do?

We’ve been hearing for over a year now about how bad the economy is, and now that the recovery seems to have started every one assures us it is going to be a SLOW, SLOW, SLOW one.  With all the bad news, many students are wondering if they will every find a job.
We’ve recently completed the Career Plans Survey for the Wharton Undergraduate Class of 2009 which provides a pretty thorough view of how last year’s class did.  Happily, the news was mostly good.  Even with the very difficult economy, you will see from the survey that Wharton students landed interesting opportunities in both the working world and graduate school. (For full disclosure, it is true that our “still seeking” rate as of August did rise to 9.2% from 5.7% the year before which of course is a reflection of the tight economy, but fortunately most students did land interesting positions.)
You can view the company, industry and region where students accepted jobs as well as average salaries broken down by job type and industry.  This is a great resource when you are negotiating offers.  You can also review surveys back to 2005 to see hiring trends and other useful information.
A few interesting facts about the Class of 2009:
•    The average starting base salary was $59,852. The range was $20,000 – $100,000.
•    82.8% of respondents were employed and 6.6% planned to go directly to graduate or professional school.
•    The average student had 11.7 first-round interviews and received 1.7 job offers .

You can access the Wharton undergraduate career surveys page here:

Career plans surveys for the other undergraduate schools are in progress and will be released in the future.

5 Differences Between SEPTA and your Job Searching Experience

by Dr. Joseph Barber


1)      SEPTA strikes can sometimes start at 3:00am. You will probably never be offered a job at 3:00am (unless you are in the mob).

2)      Sometimes SEPTA trains catch on fire for no particular reason. Even the best written CVs/Resumes never spontaneously combust – although it would be impressive if they did.

3)      SEPTA trains usually end up at a fixed destination. Your career search may take you to uncharted waters within or outside of academia if you keep an open mind.

4)      Falling asleep on the SEPTA train may mean that you miss your stop. Falling asleep during an interview has more serious consequences. Try to avoid doing that.

5)      The outlook through windows on SEPTA trains is never rosy. While the job market isn’t particularly rosy, either, it is never greasy.

When to Network

Last week, at an alumni meeting, a discussion was held regarding when alumni-student networking events should be held.  Some students were invited to give input.  One advised that late fall was a bad time for such sessions, because a number of seniors would already have jobs, and would be less likely to attend.

While this may be true at least some years, it struck me as too bad.  You shouldn’t just network when you need something, such as a job.  Networking is a continuous process.  You should always take advantage of the opportunity to meet interesting people, particularly alumni/ae who are interested in sharing their expertise with current students.

Networking is about relationship building.  And it is reciprocal.  Even as a student you have much to offer.  For example, I did a mock interview today with a student who is a candidate for a prestigious fellowship.  I learned that he was the product of a restaurant family in a city I will be visiting.  I jokingly asked him for a restaurant recommendation to break the ice, and he mentioned a place he liked.  Within hours I received an email from him with three further recommendations, complete with web sites and phone numbers.  How thoughtful that was.  This student understands that everyone has something to offer.

So start networking today, and when you get a job, don’t stop.  You need a network, and your network needs you.


Welcome to the Career Services blog.  Every week different staff members will be blogging, giving us the opportunity to share a range of thoughts and ideas with you, and giving you the opportunity to join the conversation and tell us what you think.  We hope you will enjoy these posts, and will visit often.