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
  • 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!

Author: Kelly

Kelly Cleary is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates.