Careers to be Thankful For

by Julie Vick

Like my colleague, Barb Hewitt, who wrote a blog post earlier this week, I am also grateful for many things.   In fact, thankfulness is an approach to life I adopted years ago and it has served me well.  I am always thankful for my husband, children, mother, sister and brother and extended family and the fact that, at the moment, we all seem to be pretty healthy.  And of course I’m thankful for my wonderful job at this great university where I get to work with terrific colleagues providing career services for interesting Penn graduate students, postdocs and graduate alumni.

But there are workers out there for whom I am also thankful but might not be so obvious…such as research scientists.  I am grateful that they make amazing discoveries that change our health and way of living whether they are Nobel awardees or postdoctoral fellows working under their mentor’s supervision.  A career in science is not for the fainthearted.  These people work so hard and such long hours and often their projects fail and they have to start over again.  In addition to college, a PhD program and 3-5 years of a postdoc they also write grants to fund their own work, train those who work in their labs, present their research in papers at meetings and articles in journals, and on and on.  Their dedication is incredible and can benefit all of us.

News reporters, particularly those who write for newspapers and news stations like NPR spend a great deal of time investigating issues and uncover crime, corruption and incompetence.  They are the ones who keep this country a real democracy by investigating and writing about issues other would like to keep hidden.  As one who lives in New Jersey and regularly takes the PATCO high speed train line to work and drives over one of the bridges to go to the theatre, museums and restaurants, I appreciate the Philadelphia Inquirer’s many recent articles on waste and misuse of public funds in the Delaware River Port Authority, the agency that runs PATCO and the area bridges.

At the same time I am grateful for many government employees at all levels.  While there are many public employees who do not do their job well, I know there are many more who are incredibly responsible, hardworking and talented.  I appreciate those who keep our planes flying, our traffic flowing, our water clean and provide assistance to citizens in need.

I am thankful for those young Americans who volunteer to serve in our military in a war that I don’t think we should be part of but who do the very best they can trying to help Iraq and Afghanistan take charge of their own nations.   My small thank you to them was the donation I made on Veterans Day to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Speaking of thanking, one morning this week I received two thank you messages.

A current graduate student applying for a position had gone over the fine points of his job hunting materials with me before sending them.  A few days later he wrote, “Just wanted to thank you again for sharing your time and expertise this Monday.  It was such a relief being able to run it by you prior to sending off the application.”

An alumna who graduated earlier in the decade lost her job more than a year ago.  I spoke with her a few times but hadn’t in several months.  She wrote to let me know that through a previous connection she had interviewed and gotten an offer for a new job.  She described the job and ended with, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and offer your suggestions.”

My job is to help people and I don’t expect to be thanked beyond a thank you right before someone leaves my office or hangs up the phone.  But when I get an unexpected thank you like that, it makes my day.   And I will remember both of those people.  Taking the extra effort to thank people makes you memorable in a wonderful way.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Author: Julie Miller Vick

Julie Miller Vick is the Senior Associate Director in Career Services for graduate students and post docs.

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