A Study Break

by Anne Guldin Lucas

It’s that marvelous time of the year—Final Exams—when I will confess that I’m relieved that I’m not a student anymore.  Thinking back to my first semester of college (well over 30 years ago!), I remember the stress of my first final exam period.  Living in a freshman women’s dorm (and oh yes, it was single sex back then), the panic was palpable.  So how did I handle it?  My best friend suggested that we stop studying and bake cookies!

Holly and I took a long study break to buy ingredients and headed for the dorm kitchen.  We crafted cookie “ornaments,” personalized with the names of the women on our floor and other selected campus friends.  We threaded ribbons through the holes we poked through each cookie.  Then we raced around the dorm and the campus, delivering our edible ornaments.

Thankfully I managed to do well that term, and Holly has enjoyed a successful legal career.  Apparently there were no ill effects from our study break.  The fresh air and cookies renewed our energy.   What’s the point of my silly story and how in the world does it relate to you?  Hopefully you’ll agree that a “life well lived” includes more than a fabulous career.  Friendships, family, and the pursuit of other interests are vital ingredients in true success.

So while I applaud and admire the devotion to everything Penn students do so well—academics, extracurriculars, service, and job search—I urge you to seek balance in your life.  Recognize when it’s time to catch your breath, hang out with friends or family, and bake!  In this spirit, my holiday gift to you is a study break, courtesy of Jimmy Buffett and the Zac Brown Band.  Take it away, boys!

Medical School: A Major Opportunity

by Peter Stokes

Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Humanities and Medicine Early Acceptance Program received a lot of media attention this year—for example from the New York Times and, more recently, the Daily Pennsylvanian.  The program allows admitted sophomores, who have shown promise in science and math and as compassionate future physicians, to take physics and organic chemistry at Mt. Sinai during the summers before entering the medical school.  This frees up some space during the regular year for students to pursue, extensively, disciplines in the humanities or social sciences.  It’s an interesting program, so long as you know that medical school, and Mt. Sinai in particular, is for you, and you have a plan for what to do with that extra room in your academic schedule.

But don’t let the fact that the program is called “Humanities and Medicine” fool you into believing that it provides the only way you can combine an interest in both those areas.  Admissions officers at medical schools everywhere repeatedly tell us that they look for students with any major, and the numbers back up what they say.  Over the last several years, statistics show that around half of medical school matriculants have majored in the biological sciences; roughly 30% have majored in humanities or social science disciplines.  The remainder majored in such areas as engineering, nursing, physical sciences, mathematics, and business.  That’s the case nationally, and we see the same pattern for those who are admitted to medical school from Penn.  You have a pretty good chance of getting in if you major in, say, Biology or in Biological Basis of Behavior; you also have a pretty good chance of getting in if you major in Anthropology, Classical Studies, Economics, English, Fine Arts, or International Relations, to name just a few among the impressively diverse list of majors of recent successful applicants.

Of course, whatever you major in, you do have to complete the required science and math courses, and do quite well in them.  But your choice of major should be independent of your decision to go to medical school.  Any major is fine—and since you’re most likely to do well in what you are most enthusiastic about, it’s usually best to pick what you’re genuinely most interested in.  It is in fact quite feasible to combine any major with the pre-med requirements, and we and your academic advisors can help you figure that out.

Note also that you don’t have to rush through medical school requirements.  Two thirds of Penn applicants apply after their senior year, taking some time between undergrad and medical school, and thereby giving themselves the chance to spread the required courses over four years—or even, in some cases, complete some or all of them after graduation.

There are many ways to get to medical school.  Medical schools look for people with all kinds of interests, so don’t make all your decisions based on what you think they might want!

Career Services’ Top 10 of 2010

With almost 15 days left in 2010, the top ten lists of the year are starting to pop up online and in print.  I’m dedicating this blog entry to the top ten highlights from Career Services in 2010 – these are in no rank-order because they’re all great achievements from the last 12 months.

1. Penn & Beyond Blog.  As of today (December 14, 2010), we have had over 70,000 hits (72, 921 technically)! Some of the top posts are:

Beware the Hippo: Choosing Where to Apply to Medical School

How to Become the Next Intern Idol

Responding Sincerely is Very Professional

It’s not too late! (Good) Internships are still out there.

Why Reneging on an Offer is Bad for Your Career Mojo

FrankenFood for thought! How lunch can help you find a career.

2. @PennCareerDay. We launched a new Twitter account, @PennCareerDay, that features alumni who post about a day in their life.  Alumni in consulting, venture capital, education, publishing and international healthcare recruitment all contributed.  A record of their posts can be found on our Twitter resource page.

3. PennLink. Since January 1st, 2010 we have had over 2,000 new employers, as well as over 8,000 job and internships posted in PennLink.

4. Video Conferencing. We had 17 international companies speak with students through our video conferencing equipment this past year.  Companies were in the UK, Germany, Dubai, Israel, India, China, Hong Kong and Japan.

5. Career Fairs. We held 10 career fairs here on campus, 2 were virtual fairs, with 500 employers in total.

6. Make an Impact.  We had another successful line up of programs on careers with the federal government.  Speakers visited campus from NASA and the CIA at the Science & Engineering Jobs in Government, the State Department  at the presentation on the Foreign Service Oral Exam, as well as from UNICEF and USAID at the Careers in International Development panel, to name a few. Stay tuned for more programs like this in 2011!

7. Website Re-Design. We re-organized our website to help you find resources more easily and feature new content. One of the biggest changes were updates to the undergraduate resources – if you haven’t seen them yet, visit the undergraduate page here.

8.  On-Campus Recruiting (OCR). There were 7,708 interviews on campus this fall, up over 10% from Fall 2009.

9. Interview Stream. We added Interview Stream to our list of partners in PennLink. This resource lets students practice interviewing and watch themselves through the playback feature.

10. Vimeo Video Channel. As part of our growing use of social media to provide you with a variety of content and resources, we have grown our video collection on Vimeo to include over 50 videos with 7 specific channels. Whether you seek advice about law school, what to do while you’re abroad or to get advice from alumni first hand – there is a video for you.  Check out our channel today at http://vimeo.com/penncareerserv.

Here are two other Top 10 Lists I came across recently:

Top 10 Job Hunting Tips of 2010 from Lindsey Pollak

Time Magazine’s Top 10 of Everything 2010

What do Employers Want?

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

This fall, a number of employers responded to this question in a survey administered by NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers, of which Penn is a member). NACE published the results in Job Outlook 2011. Employers identified a number of factors that were important or extremely important, such as GPA, internship or leadership experience, and major. They also ranked the following “soft” skills or qualities as most important in new college hires; in order, they were:

• Verbal Communication Skills
• Strong Work Ethic
• Teamwork Skills
• Analytical Skills
• Initiative

This is not that surprising; these skills and abilities are frequently cited. What is more interesting is that employers were also asked how satisfied they were with their recent college hires in these areas. They were “very satisfied” with their new recruits’ teamwork and analytical skills, but less so with verbal communication skills, initiative, and work ethic.
The message to you as current students is that certain things may get you in the door: a Penn diploma, good grades, a sought-after major. Once you get there, though, you have to earn the success you envision for yourself. Raising your hand and taking the initiative, and working hard go a long way with every employer, in all fields. And good verbal communication skills will take you far. If you haven’t already developed confidence as a speaker or communicator, take steps now to improve. For example, be the one to present your group project. Ask for feedback from the professor after doing so. Take note of the areas that need work.

One way Career Services can help in this regard is through our interviewing training. Sign up for a mock interview with a counselor. If you are going to be interviewing in February for internships, participate in our mock interview day in late January. Current MBA students and employers have graciously agreed to provide the mock interviews. Check out our InterviewStream program, an online tool to practice responding to a range of interview questions. (Go to PennLink to access InterviewStream; you will need a web cam on your computer to use the program.)

Finally, since this is my final blog post of 2010, best wishes for the holidays and the new year. May it bring peace and prosperity to us all.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? That is the question. (And the answer is “To tweet.”)

By Lin Yuan

Chances are you check Facebook at least once a day, but refuse to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. Or maybe you’ve signed up for a Twitter, but don’t use it very much at all. Surveys show that while Twitter may be exploding for many demographics, it hasn’t taken off for college students, young adults, or teens. In fact, according to one study, the majority of Twitter users (or “Tweeps” in Twitter lingo) are over 35.  

Why exactly are we, the generation of so-called “Digital Natives,” so reluctant to embrace Twitter? It makes more sense that we’re the ones who make a site like Twitter popular, then our parents and grandparents join, not the other way around. There even seems to be a stigma attached to Twitter among people our age. The following conversation is pretty common among my friends when someone is outed as a Twitter user.

Person A: (accusingly) “You have a Twitter?!”

Person B: (sheepishly) “Yes…” (quickly) “But I barely use it!”

In any case, people seem to have a hard time figuring out why 18 to 20-somethings aren’t on Twitter as much as one would think. Maybe that’s because there’s no good reason for it in the first place. In my opinion, misconceptions of twitter are the reasons we aren’t on it. Here are the top reasons I’ve heard for not being on Twitter. (And seeing how this is a career blog, I promise, Twitter is relevant to your career aspirations. Skip ahead to Misconception #3 if you don’t believe me.)

Misconception 1: Twitter is for narcissistic losers I have heard so many of my friends say that Twitter is for obnoxious people who think everyone wants to know where they are and what they’re doing at all times. Before I signed up for Twitter, I thought so too. Checking Facebook, if I saw someone had posted a bunch of mundane status updates, I would quip that he/she needed to get a Twitter. After getting more acquainted with Twitter though, I’ve seen that sure there are plenty of bad Twitter users out there, but even more good Twitter users. The upside to a more mature user base is that people have more mature things to say. The twitterverse as a whole is very concerned with what differentiates bad tweeting from good tweeting. People see crafting 140 character tweets as a skill, even an art and they try their best to make their tweets as interesting, informative, funny, and non-narcissistic loser-y as possible. Tweeters want to be worth following, so they are conscientious about writing good tweets.

Misconception 2: Twitter is ruled by Justin Beliebers Yes, there are tweeters out there that love them some JBiebs, but believe it or not, Justin Bieber is not the only thing people talk about on Twitter. Celebrities on Twitter do attract a huge follower base (Lady Gaga has more than 5 million followers!) but they’re not the only users with a significant Twitter presence. National newspapers, large corporations, and other organizations are all on Twitter because it’s a great way to share information. Influential people like politicians and esteemed professors are on Twitter for the same reason. For example, the President has a twitter account for sharing the latest policy developments…though he does have half a million fewer followers than Gaga. Still, bottom line: legitimately important people are on Twitter tweeting about legitimately important topics.

Misconception 3: Twitter is just one more site to waste time on This is probably the biggest misconception of all and the most unfortunate. Twitter is worth spending time on because it really isn’t just an alternative to Facebook or just another way to stay in touch with your friends. Twitter is useful for this purpose but it is even more useful for another purpose: furthering your career. Twitter can be an incredibly powerful career tool if used correctly. You can follow companies you’re interested in working for to stay up-to-date on the latest news in the industry. You can conduct a job search using Twitter since many recruiters and organizations tweet information about job openings. You can even make Twitter itself your career as social media marketing becomes more popular and in demand.  Most importantly though, you can use Twitter to show employers exactly how thoughtful, passionate, and well-spoken you can be. Your tweets can be a way to share your ideas and put your best foot forward.

Even though I was a skeptic at first too, this is one millennial who is definitely a Twitter convert.

For more articles about Gen Y and Twitter, click on the links below. Also, go to our twitter resource page for tips on how to start tweeting.

Why is Generation Y Not Into Twitter?

To the Gen Y Twitter Haters