Deciding on a Job or Internship Offer with Uncertainty

By: David Ross

You’ve spent much time an effort on your job or internship search. Your efforts attending various recruiting events, applying for numerous positions and enduring countless interviews have left you in an interesting predicament – you’re fortunate enough to have secured multiple job or internship offers. Or perhaps you’ve received one offer and are awaiting final decisions from other employers. What should you do and how should you handle the situation?

For starters, take a deep breath and try to relax. Consider that you’ve already made great progress in your search and may be very close to finalizing your job or internship plans. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to accept a job or internship offer:

Be aware of your timeline to decide on the offer. While this may seem obvious, the more important point is to consider how much time you have to obtain the information you need to make an informed decision. It can be very tempting to wait until a day or two before your deadline to make a decision and, all of a sudden, realize you’re missing some crucial information that may be helpful for you.

Review your priorities and interests. Now that you know the employer wants to hire you, take a moment to revisit your priorities, interests and goals for the position. When applying for many positions it can be very easy to submit your application without scrutinizing any particular job or internship closely. So take some time to really evaluate your offer. While it may difficult to find a job or internship that meets all of your established criteria, having an understanding of how well this opportunity “fits” with your expectations may relieve some of the angst you encounter making a final decision.

If you are interviewing or awaiting final word from other employers, reach out to them with an update. You may want to reach out to companies you have interviewed with to provide an update on your status and find out more about their decision-making timeline. Perhaps they may consider making a final decision on your status before your offer deadline but always be very professional when explaining your situation and avoid making demands.

Accept that uncertainty may be part of the decision-making process. In an ideal world, everyone would know all of their final options before making the best informed decision. However, with some employers recruiting for positions with different hiring timeframes, you may not have the luxury of knowing all of your options at the same time. This happens quite frequently, so the more comfortable you feel making a decision under these circumstances, the better prepared you will be for similar situations that may arise later on in your career.

When you find yourself deciding on a job or internship offer, be confident and trust your judgment. While you may feel your decision will dictate the rest of your future career opportunities, realize there are many paths one can take to reach desired career goals. You can always seek opinions and solicit advice from those you trust, but be sure to make the final decision on your own – after all, this is your life and your future.

Your resume is lonely for its BFF…

If you find that you’re applying to internships or full-time positions, or for interview consideration through On-Campus Recruiting, but are not getting the response you seek, it might be that your resume is lonely!

by Jamie Grant, C’98, GEd ’99

If you find that you’re applying to internships or full-time positions, or for interview consideration through On-Campus Recruiting, but are not getting the response you seek, it might be that your resume is lonely!   I don’t say this to be silly (resumes don’t really have feelings…although sometimes I imagine they do cringe under my ferocious editing pencil).  Rather, I encourage you to more carefully consider the value of a well written and individualized cover letter as part of your search – and as a new BFF for your lonely resume.

By sending a resume, through a website, attached to an email, for OCR, without a cover letter, you are giving away your power – to demonstrate your excellent writing skills, to take ownership of how your resume is reviewed, and to persuade your recipient that YOU are the best candidate for the opportunity at hand.   Like a boat without a rudder or a car without a GPS, your resume alone can lack obvious direction and easily get “lost” amongst the many applications a recruiter may receive in this competitive job market.  This is especially true if you are applying to an opportunity not directly related to your major or your background – without a cover letter, how might your reader understand how someone with your skills, background and experience could be an ideal candidate, and not just dismiss you outright because you’re not the most obvious fit?

My advice?  Don’t leave it up to your recipient to draw conclusions or make assumptions as to how you are the best candidate for the job.  Take control and exercise your job seeking power – use the job description, company website, or any other resources you can find to help you understand the type of candidate the organization is seeking, and spend time carefully drafting a cover letter – or the body of an email, or even text to include in the “Miscellaneous Comments” box on the web application – to accompany your resume.  Explain exactly how you are the person to add value to the firm and inspire your reader to contact you for more details, and hopefully an interview!  Trust me, your resume will be much more impactful, productive – and thankful! – if you don’t send it out into the world alone.

Nonprofit Career Fair & Year of Service Panel

By Kelly Cleary

Community and Economic Development, Education, Environment, Healthcare, Homelessness, Human Rights, International Affairs, Social Justice…

These are all issues that Penn students express their concern for and demonstrate their commitment to improving those conditions for others through the hard work and dedication they give to their extra-curricular activities. But many students don’t realize that they can continue contributing to these causes while building on the professional skills they gained here at Penn by pursuing internships and rewarding careers in the not-for-profit and public service sectors.

Idealist’s Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-time Job Seekers is a great primer for students interested in exploring careers in the not-for-profit sector.

Students interested in interning and working in the nonprofit sector in Philadelphia are encouraged to attend this event on Friday:

Philadelphia Not-For-Profit & Public Service Career Fair on Friday, February 25th, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Bryn Mawr College, Thomas Great Hall

This is your chance to meet and talk with 50-60 representatives from a wide variety of not-for-profit and public service employers with internships and jobs serving many missions. Employers include those in the arts, education, environment, health, law and justice, politics and government, religious and ethnic causes, science, social service and women’s issues.  Bryn Mawr is an easy train ride from Penn. Click here for directions. For more information including a list of the over 65 participating organizations, please visit:

Interested in a Year of Service/Gap Year? Another great way to gain professional experience in the public service/nonprofit sector is to do a post-graduate year of service. Several organizations who offer these programs will be attending the fair on Friday, and you can learn more about Service Corps and Gap Year options at tomorrow panel:


Do you want to make the world a better place?  Are you looking for a job during the “gap year” between college and graduate school?  There are a plethora of community service fellowships out there that typically include work in the U.S. or abroad in a wide variety of fields (teaching, advocacy, community development, health care, immigrant services, social work, environment, etc.).  Many programs also feature a training program prior to the work period, living in community (or own one’s own), deferment of student loans, and scholarships for graduate school.  Come to this workshop + panel to learn about these fellowships and service corps programs, whether they are right for you, and how to submit strong applications.  A panel of current and former fellows from selected programs will also discuss details of their experiences and give their take on vetting programs and applying to them.

Five things my cats can teach you about finding a job

Dr. Joseph Barber

1) Patience
For every 5 minutes I spend wiggling a piece of string in front of my cats to entice them to play, they only spend about 1 minute actively chasing it. They spend most of the time carefully watching it…, waiting for just the right moment to pounce on the string when it looks like they have the greatest chance of catching it unawares. This strategy seems much more successful than wildly chasing the string around and around. You could say, then, that the cats are investing a lot of time preparing for each pounce, resulting in an increased likelihood of success. Try the same thing when it comes to your cover letters and resumes, and you’ll find that you will also probably have much more success compared to sending out a large number of identical cover letters and resumes to many different employers. Tailor your application materials to each job and you’ll definitely end up with more than just a discarded old shoelace that is slightly moist with cat spit!

2) Take every opportunity to walk through an open door
It doesn’t matter if I am opening a kitchen cupboard, the front door, the coat cupboard, or any type of cardboard box, there is always a cat there as soon as I do. It is as if they have never heard of the old saying about curious cats! But who knows what surprises might be on the other side of those doors, or what delicious treats could be just waiting to be found inside those boxes? By being curious and taking a bit of a risk, my cats get more information about their environment – information they can use to be even angrier at me for there not being any nice surprises or delicious treats for them! At Penn, you can also look for opportunities to find delicious treats behind different doors – if by “delicious treats” you mean the opportunity to join student groups, meet new people, learn new skills, and get involved. You’ll find that the experiences you gain from getting involved will actually help to open more doors for you later on – after all, the best resumes not only illustrate academic and research skills, but also transferable ones like leadership, management, team-work, and problem-solving.

3) Always focus on the positive
Cats like to make a good impression. They try to impress upon people their graceful agility and poise. Every now and again, and despite all their efforts, however, they will fall. Splat! It is the cat equivalent of tripping up the stairs on the way to receive an award on stage – there is no hiding it! But cats have an amazing ability to focus on the positive, to suggest that they actually meant to fall, because falling somehow gave them the opportunity to do something that they had wanted to do right from the start – like licking their paws, for example. Lots of things don’t quite go the way we plan. You might be doing research that isn’t leading to any useful results, through no fault of your own. When applying for jobs, you need to focus on the positive aspects of these seemingly negative experiences. You can phrase every research set back as an opportunity to try new methods or techniques, or to seek out new collaborations. Many employers value initiative and problem-solving skills, and showing that you can face adversity with an upbeat and enthusiastic attitude will be seen as a positive. What you have achieved as well as how you have been approaching challenges in your work are both important.

4) Make new contacts and build on existing relationships
OK, so this is something my cats could do better. I have three cats, and they don’t always get along. As long as they have their personal space they are good, but any peace in the house doesn’t last long. Believe me, I have tried explaining the benefits of having a good network of contacts to them – especially when I find them yowling at stranger cats through the window, but they won’t listen. Although I sometimes find them making an effort to make new professional contacts, they could certainly do more. The problem is that cats like to live in the moment. To them, time spent working on relationships for some future benefit takes away from time that could be spent in the here and now trying to gnaw through a plastic container containing muffins (no, I don’t know why they like muffins so much). What they don’t realize is that I might be more likely to share some of my muffin with them if they sat on my lap more, and at least pretended to be friendly towards me. That’s the thing about networking – you are never guaranteed that it will help you find a job, but if you treat it as an opportunity to build long-term, professional contacts and share information (i.e., give and take), you will eventually reap some benefits. Of course, it is almost certain that actively “not networking” won’t be of much help at all – unless you have really sharp claws and teeth, and really want that muffin.

5) Make use of the resources available to you
My cats are very good at making use of the resources that are made available to them (and even those that aren’t). Whether it is pawing at my face at 2am to be let in to the toasty bed on a cold night, or taking a sip of nicely filtered ice water that I left (for me) on my bedside table, cats are very resourceful! By hanging around the kitchen in the morning, the cats get to sit in the warm rays of the morning sun and might get the opportunity to lick the last few drops of milk from my cereal bowl once I am done (or before if I am not looking). And the cats obviously see anyone getting up from the sofa to refill their cat-licked water glass after supper as an invitation for them to sit on the just-vacated and nicely-warmed cushion. One of my cats has perfected the “you are not still using this seat, are you?” look. Are you making use of the resources available to you? Have you attended some of the workshops, discussion panels, and career fairs that Career Services organizes? Have you scheduled a one-on-one counseling sessions with an advisor? Have you explored PennLink and INet, or considered what opportunities may be open to you through On-Campus Recruiting? Do you know how to make the most of PACNet and LinkedIn? If you follow the example set by my cats, you will see that these resources are ready and available for you to exploit.

A Day in the Life: Web Design & Marketing

Read Jillian Kuhn’s archived tweet feed here:

There’s more to websites than meets the eye – Who built the site? What is the site’s goal? What are the results?  On Thursday, February 24th, alum Jillian Kuhn will tweet for @PennCareerDay about her day with Viget Labs.  If you’re interested in web design, marketing or growing a business online – follow Jillian this week! Learn more about Jillian below.

Jillian Kuhn

Jillian Kuhn is a web project manager for Viget Labs (, a mid-sized agency that specializes in web and mobile visual design, development, user experience design, and marketing.

As a project manager, Jillian is responsible for project planning and execution. She is the lead consultant — overseeing the budgets, schedules, strategy, and deliverables of her team, as well as managing client communication.

On any given day, Jillian is actively leading several diverse projects. Her clients range from non-profits to start-ups to big brands, and they span industries from entertainment to healthcare to higher education.

Jillian graduated magna cum laude from the School of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in Communication. Prior to working with the web, Jillian was a television promotions producer for local news affiliates.

To connect with Jillian, follow her on Twitter – @jillyk, or find her on LinkedIn –