Hello, my name is…

By Claire Klieger

Summer is a time when lots of you will be traveling, attending parties and have countless opportunities to meet people on planes, trains or automobiles or even your local grocery store. And anytime you have a chance to meet someone is a potential opportunity to network.  Over the years, I’ve heard many stories from students who said they made their first contact with an organization randomly, by meeting someone in airport or elevator. These chance encounters can sometimes lead to interviews and even possible job offers if the conversation goes well.

As the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!  Develop a short spiel, sometimes called an elevator pitch, about yourself and your interests—“Hi, my name is Claire and I’m a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Anthropology. I’m really interested in….because….” That said, often the best way to network is to ask questions. Most people really like talking about themselves so it may be easier to tailor your personal anecdotes once you know a little bit more about someone else.

Let the conversation flow naturally. No one wants to feel put upon with requests from strangers. Think of it more as a chance to get know someone new and if the conversation goes well, ask for a card or contact information so that you can follow up with them later.

Of course, you also need to be open to having these sorts of encounters which means doing more unplugging from your ipod, ipad or smart phone. So, the next time you’re on a plane and you hear the dreaded announcement of “please turn off all electronic devices…,” instead of pulling out a book, perhaps try striking up a conversation with your neighbor. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn.

For additional networking tips and resources, check out our Networking video and Making Contacts page.

Want to watch this video on your mobile device? Click here!

Don’t Take It As Hard As Vincent…

…they had wall-papered their entire front hallway, from floor to super-high ceiling, with the rejection letters they had received from job and grad school applications.

by Jamie Grant, C’98, GEd ’99

A few years back, I went to a graduation party at a good friend’s off-campus house.  He and his roommates were an interesting group of soon-to-be Penn alums: from different majors, all very smart, and applicants for a wide variety of jobs and graduate programs.  Most memorable, however, was the many rejection letters they had each received, with which they had wall-papered their entire front hall, from floor to super-high ceiling.  They laughed and pointed them out to everyone.  These were bright guys with Ivy League degrees -what were they going to DO after Penn???!

Chances are you’ve received such letters – and possibly felt keen disappointment.   When Vincent Van Gogh was rejected, he cut off his ear; thankfully my friends took rejection much better than he, and I hope you will, too.

It’s likely there is not one specific answer as to why you did not get a particular job offer or invitation to a graduate program.  Sometimes companies have too many great candidates from which to choose for a limited number of jobs in a tough economy.  Perhaps your research interests detailed in your personal statement don’t align closely enough with what the faculty are doing in a graduate program.  It’s possible that at the end of a mere 45 minutes, your interviewer didn’t think your personality or style fit into the existing culture of the organization, regardless of your qualifications.  There are a multitude of reasons why rejection letters are sent out, and sometimes it has nothing to do with you at all.

I encourage you to remember that despite any rejections you may receive, it’s likely that your career will turn out exactly as it should, and you will be glad for where you end up.  As the old saying goes, a door closes but a window opens – make sure you’re ready to climb through!

My friends?  I ran into a few of them at a wedding recently – one went on to study literature at Oxford, another started his own business, one worked abroad and later went back to school for an MBA, another got an offer later that summer at a not-for-profit, yet another decided to travel and now works in an engineering firm.  Each took a first step on a path that while perhaps obscured at first by that sea of rejections, seems to have worked out just fine.

My advice to you?  Please – be patient, stay positive, come in or call and speak with a career counselor for guidance, but trust that you, too, will find your path.  And for those people that keep asking what your next step is?  Smile brightly, let them know you’re still seeking – and by the way, do they know anyone who is hiring??

Lazy Summer Afternoons in the Career Services Library

by Mylène Kerschner

Have a little downtime this summer? A break between summer school classes or an afternoon off from your internship?  It’s easy in the summer to seize those free moments and just kick back completely – turn on your music and head for Rittenhouse or Clark Park to relax and think of nothing. You’ve certainly earned it after your coursework this academic year!  But maybe one day if it looks like a thunderstorm is threatening  or, say, it’s 90 degrees and you can see the heat rising from the street, you should come in to the Career Services library and explore the books we have available to read in our comfortable air conditioning.

The Career Services Library
The Career Services Library

While we have lots of books divided by industry (from accounting & finance to education & teaching to scientific research), we also have a whole section on how to decide your career path if the mere thought of selecting from one of those other categories makes you a little nauseous.

Here are just a few of those offerings, all with great tips:

Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People
What Should I Do with My Life?
No More Ramen

Summer is a great time to set aside an afternoon for a little self-reflection. Come on in, get out of the heat and check out the Career Services library.   We’re here Monday through Friday, 9 – 5.  (And you can still listen to your music in here – with headphones!)