Happy Winter Break from Career Services!

Careeer Services gingerbread
Career Services gingerbread staff by Michael

The Career Services office will be closing at 12:00 noon on December 24th and will remain closed until 9:00am on January 4, 2010. We will be happy to exchange e-mails and have both in-office and over-the-phone appointments with you when we return…but until then, we’re going to enjoy our break!

Have a safe and relaxing winter break.  We wish you a very happy holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Making a Difference: the goal behind the goal

by Sharon Fleshman

In today’s economic climate, the journey to employment can be like a winding road, where you can approach a turn and not know what to expect around the bend.  To seek fulfillment and meaning in your work is a worthy pursuit, though you may feel like you’re on a detour when goals you set when you started your academic program seem out of reach.  It is possible to look beyond dashed or delayed expectations to options that you hadn’t considered.  To become open to other opportunities requires that you consider the “goal behind the goal.”  In other words, what do you see as the overarching mission that moves you toward your specific career goals?  How can you leverage your skills to move toward that mission right now?

As you rest up and regroup during winter break, consider some of the possibilities:

The Federal Government is currently a major source of career opportunities.  You may be surprised at the variety of fields and disciplines represented. Career Services is working with the Partnership for Public Service to make students aware of the careers available with the Federal Government. Check out our Make an Impact website for more information.

Perhaps you are the enterprising type and should pursue some form of entrepreneurship. This could involve a number of short-term projects that will allow you to establish a track record that leads to permanent employment. On the other hand, you may find that owning your own business, whether part-time or full-time, is a good fit for you.  Take a look at the resource list from our previous workshop on creative self-employment.

If you are considering non-profit careers, take a look at the following excerpt from our recent alumni panel on the State of Things: The Impact of the Current Economy on Non-Profits. The panelists were Nancy Burd, Founder/President of The Burd Group, Nancy DeLucia, Regional Director at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and Katherina Rosqueta, Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, who noted that her career path was “never about choosing a sector, but about making a difference.”

State of Non-Profits Panel: Issues and Trends from Penn Career Services on Vimeo.

When it Rains, it Pours…

by J. Michael DeAngelis

The week before winter break is typically a very quiet one here in Career Services.  Most of our students are either in finals or already off campus and our employer contacts are similarly enjoying a brief respite before the New Year.  I suspect that my colleagues, much like myself, were expecting a very quiet day around the office today.  So imagine my surprise when we came into work this morning and found this:

The Career Services conference room has seen better days.
The Career Services conference room has seen better days.

It seems that Grandfather Winter was wreaking a little havoc in the Career Services conference room and On Campus Recruiting offices over the weekend.  Perhaps he’s frustrated he didn’t get a pre-select slot with Goldman Sachs or just jealous that Mother Nature is always stealing his thunder.  Regardless of the reason, we’ve spent the better part of the day bailing out our offices, trying to salvage important paperwork and cherished personal items before the ever growing flood waters wash them away.

Our dreams of a peaceful morning went down the drain.  Thankfully, however, we are a high spirited staff.  Moans and groans quickly turned into laughter and smiles.  Those of us with good boots teamed up and waded through the water to move boxes of files and personal effects to higher, drier ground.  Though as I write this the water is still pouring in, there’s little more we can do except wait for things to dry out.

It may sound cliché, but there are parallels here to your  entry on the job market.  As you go through the job search process, you are no doubt hearing about what a difficult task lies ahead and great proclamations about the shaky state of the economy.  As time marches on without the security of employment, it can indeed feel like the flood waters are rising.  Still, you have to press on. Let’s use today’s actual flood as an example of how to cope:

1. As the late Douglas Adams famously stated: DON’T PANIC.  Any lifeguard will tell you that panicking in an emergency is a one way ticket to drowning.  Keep your head about you.  No matter how bad things may seem, panic and worry aren’t going to help.  Make a game plan and set goals that will keep you high and dry – for example, set aside dedicated time to work on your job search and use it wisely.  This can mean applying to jobs, revising your resume, searching resources like PAC Net, or even consulting with Career Services over break.  Focus your energy instead of trying to swim without direction.

2. MOVE AWAY FROM RISING WATERS. Much like there is little point in me standing in the OCR office while icy waters rise up above my ankles, it’s equally important for you to set aside time where you are not focused on your job hunt.  Go for a walk, read a book, wait in line for hours to see Avatar, finish that one last essay that you promised you’d complete over break…just step away for a moment.  Though we obviously want you to stay committed to your search, becoming overwhelmed isn’t going to help you.  Make sure that you use at least some of your break as an actual vacation!

3. DON’T KICK LEO OFF THE RAFT. Titanic – the timeless love story of a girl, a boy and the icy waters that came between them.  Yes, we all swooned when Leo bravely plunged into the murky depths so that Kate Winslet could live, but let’s face it – she’s probably not a factor in your job search (If she is, please let us know how in the comment section!).

Image courtsey of Paramonut Pictures.
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Just as the Career Services staff teamed up this morning to clear out the water damaged sections of our office, you should remember that you don’t have to fight your flood alone either.  Many of your peers are going through the same thing you are – draw on them for support, encouragement and advice.  Don’t kick your friends off the proverbial raft – even if you are competing for the same jobs.  Celebrate each others’ successes and carry each other through difficult times.   Career Services is here to help as well – tossing you a life preserver if you need it through resume and cover letter reviews and job search guidance…even during the break.

4. WEAR REALLY GOOD SHOES.  A good pair of gortex boots will keep your feet dry during a flood and a tough, positive attitude will get you through your job search.  Not only will it do you a world of good to stay optimistic, but potential employers are more likely to respond to someone with a “can do” attitude rather than someone who acts as if they’ve lost the job before they even get it.

Dr. Peter Stokes demonstrates the importance of a good pair of boots.
Dr. Peter Stokes demonstrates the importance of a good pair of boots.

As you can tell, it’s been an interesting Monday.  Have a safe break – and we promise to dry out before you get back!  In the meantime, as you traverse your own flood waters, feel free to call or e-mail us over the break – we’ll re-open on January 4th…come hell or high water!

Seniors: Five Job Search Tips for Winter Break

by Kelly Cleary

Once the semester stress is behind you and you’ve had some time to rest up and celebrate, I imagine many seniors will start to focus on your post-grad plans. Even through, for many industries, the application timeline won’t begin until later in the spring semester, there are some things you can do now to better position yourself when you do start applying for jobs. Below are a few tips and resources to help you get started.



1. EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS: Spend some time exploring career possibilities by looking at some of the websites below. This can be an overwhelming project but it’s an important first step.

  • First Jobs and Graduate Schools for Penn Grads, listed by major–  these are long lists of what Penn students have done with their major in past years.
  • Career Plans Surveys for the Class of 2009 and earlier years – you might be surprised by the wide variety of paths your predecessors have chosen. And hopefully you’ll be encouraged to see that while only about 30% of the College Class of 2009 had accepted job offers by the end of December, almost 75% of them had accepted job offers by the end of May.  (The 2009 report is preliminary. It will include more detailed employer information soon.)
  • What Can I Do with this Major?—These PDF’s provide a helpful overview of career paths related to specific majors including suggestions for types of employers and advice on preparing for those jobs.
  • Watch ourCareer Exploration video:

Career Exploration from Penn Career Services on Vimeo.

2. RESEARCH EMPLOYERS: Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences for types of work, industries of interest, and where you hope to live, it’s time to start developing your wish list of prospective employers and build your list of favorite job search websites.

  • Vault & Wetfeet Guides – Yes, these two companies make great books to help students land i-banking and consulting jobs, but they also publish career and company guides for other industries like entertainment, fashion, retail, green, healthcare, pharma, marketing, PR, and many others. You can download the career guide books for free from our Online Subscriptions page.
  • PennLink – This is where employers who specifically want to hire Penn students post jobs. Under the “Advanced Search” tab, you can set up a Search Agent to schedule weekly emails of new jobs that match your interests so you don’ t have to log into PennLink every day.
  • Career Resources by Field – From Anthropology and Arts to Sciences and Sports, you’ll find job search websites and transcripts from alumni speakers. There are similar websites for Wharton, Engineering, Nursing, and Graduate programs.
  • Online Subscriptions – this page includes log in and password information for over 25 job search websites including Art Search, Ecojobs, JournalistJobs, Policy Jobs and many others.
  • GoinGlobalFrom GoinGlobal you can access international country and U.S. city guides that include lists of job search websites and links to local chambers of commerce which all have extensive employer directories for their regions.

3. TALK TO PEOPLE WHO DO WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO: Yes, I’m talking about networking. Outside of trying out a job through volunteering, interning or actually getting the job, talking with people who do or have done the job is one of the best ways to figure out if a career is right for you and to gather advice for landing a job in a particular field or within a specific company.

  • PACNet – Penn’s alumni career networking database is an easy way to connect with Penn alumni who have volunteered to be career mentors. They are a great resource for information and advice.
  • LinkedIn – Linked In, which is basically a professional version of Facebook is one of my favorite job search tools. If you don’t already have an account with an up to date profile, you should. Here are a couple of tips for making the most of LinkedIn for  your job search:
    • PEOPLE Search –  If you don’t find what you’re looking for in PACNet, you can search for alums (or even people with whom you don’t have a common affiliation) who work in the fields and/or organizations that interest you. You can view their profiles to see sample career paths and you can send direct messages to ask for advice. While this is more like cold calling, if it’s done respectfully and professionally, it can be worthwhile.
    • GROUPS – There are thousands of groups (i.e. alumni, specific industries, etc.) in LinkedIn where people share job postings and other career-related information, and they also serve as a forum for asking questions and gathering answers from more experienced professionals. Joining the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Group is a great first step.
    • Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Check the LinkedIn Guide for Recent Graduates. Tutorial from LinkedIn.com.
  • Watch our Networking Tips video.



  • Unless you’re heading straight to graduate school, it’s likely that it will be a while before you have such a long mid-winter break again, so  sleep in, eat well, and enjoy good times with your loved ones.


Good luck with your remaining finals and papers. I hope you all have a safe and fun break. We look forward to seeing you in 2010!

“Makes ‘Em Laugh:” A Comic Strip a Day Gets the Dissertation Written

by Julie Vick

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com
"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com

Are you deep in the middle of writing your dissertation and feel you are far removed from normal life?   Or might you be an undergrad wondering what graduate school is really like (or at least want to appreciate the funny side of academic endeavors)?  If so, take a break and have a laugh with Piled Higher and Deeper, a comic strip written about life in the trenches of graduate student-hood.  Jorge Cham, the author of Piled Higher and Deeper got his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, and was a full-time Instructor and researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 2003-2005.    His strips have been collected into three published books and a fourth is due out soon.  Jorge spoke at Penn last year to an overflowing room of more than 200 people.

If you’re a first-time reader, there’s a page to check where you can find out about the characters and link to the most popular strips.

Not only are the comics themselves great to read but so is the fan mail:

“Oh God, it hurts! It’s all so true, and so evil! I can’t tell whether I should be laughing or crying in sympathy” -Chemistry grad from Caltech

“Your comic strip rocks. I’ve decided not to go to grad school.” -Elect. Eng. undergrad from Yale U.

“Everybody in my lab loves your work. The songs help soothe the hurt when my experiments fail and I think about the next 6 yrs here” -Microbiology grad from NYU

Give yourself the gift of laughter and spend a little time with PHD!