Capitalizing on the Career Fair “Love” Connection

By Claire Klieger

So you meet a great employer at a career fair (perhaps the spring career fair this past Friday) and it’s love at first handshake—sparks fly, resumes and business cards are exchanged and you feel like you’ve really made a connection. But just like coming down from the high of a great first date you ask yourself, now what? How do I follow up? Do I wait for him to call?  Do I email? Who initiates the next move? Just like a budding romance, it’s about finding that balance between demonstrating interest and not coming off as desperate. Here are some tips and things to remember when following up with employers after a career fair:

Email a thank you note

Even though hand-written notes are wonderful (and all too rare these days), recruiters who attend career fairs are likely to be on the road a lot so sending them an email is much more efficient and guaranteed to get to them promptly. So, email a note (ideally within 24 hours of the fair).

Err on the side of being more formal

After a first date you probably aren’t ready for someone to start addressing you as “Babe” and many employers won’t feel that you know them well enough to refer to them by their first name. Unless during your initial conversation a recruiter specifically asked you to call him or her by their first name, still use a formal greeting (“Dear Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.”). Also, use formal language. Avoid slang, acronyms (TTYL!), or emoticons 🙂 because they just aren’t professional.

What to say…

An email to an employer should be relatively brief but detailed. Reiterate your interest in the organization and remind the recruiter of details you discussed at the fair. “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me at the Penn Career Fair on Friday. As I mentioned when we met, I’m really excited about this internship because as a health and societies major, it blends my interest in healthcare and communications. In particular, I enjoyed hearing about the kinds of projects that past interns have had a chance to work on and believe my leadership role as publicity chair for my sorority will enable me to…(reference what you will be doing in the position)”

Show that you really listened

You know how impressed you are if someone you’re interested in remembers something you mentioned (like a book you read that you enjoyed), unless, of course you have a stalker and then it’s just creepy. The same holds true for recruiters. If there was advice or information that a recruiter gave you at the fair (a professional association or recruiting website to check out), thank them for making that suggestion and show that you followed up on their advice. “Thanks so much for recommending ______. I spent some time looking at it this weekend and it’s a wonderful resource which I think will really help me….”

How long is too long?

It’s important to provide some details about your conversation so the recruiter has a way to remember you specifically but you don’t want your email to be too long. Remember that recruiters are really busy and don’t have much time so they want to be able to get through your message quickly. Ideally, it should be a couple of (2) SHORT paragraphs. I think a good rule of thumb is whether or not the entire text of your message can be seen when the message is opened on a regular computer screen. If the recruiter has to do scrolling, it’s probably too long.

Not getting a response doesn’t necessarily mean they “just aren’t that into you”

While some recruiters will respond to individual emails not everyone is good about replying. Don’t assume that if you don’t get a response that the recruiter isn’t interested in you as a candidate. They may just be too busy. That said, if it’s been more than a week since you initially emailed, it’s fine to follow-up with a second (even shorter) email saying that you’re really interested. If you’ve applied for an opening in the interim, you can say that you’ve done that and look forward to the possibility of discussing the position further during an interview. After that second follow-up if you still don’t receive a response, it’s time to back off a little (remember, being labeled a stalker on the job market is no better than in the dating world). The “ball” is in their court and they will get back to you if (and sometimes only if) they are interested. Remember that all employers are on different timelines so it may take some time to get a response.

The Spring Career Fair is Today!

Don’t forget: The Spring Career Fair is today from 11:00am – 3:00pm!  The fair will be in Bodek Lounge and Hall of Flags (both levels!) in Houston Hall.   Remember to swing by with lots of copies of your resume and your PennCard!

Please note that this event is open only to current Penn students and alumni.  For information about who we serve, please click here.

Take a look at the amazing list of employers who will be on hand!

EMPLOYERS BY INDUSTRY & POSITION TYPE (FT: fulltime, I: Internship, PT: Part-time)
The following employers are registered to attend Friday’s career fair.A career fair

CBS Interactive (FT, I)
Insight Global, Inc. (FT)
Initiative (FT, I)
J&L Marketing (FT, PT, I)
Madison Square Garden (I)
MediaCom (FT, I)
Razorfish (FT, PT, I)
Time Inc. (I)
University Directories (I)
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (I)
Zipcar (PT, I)

Aon Hewitt (FT, I)
Argus Information & Advisory Services (I)
Corporate Executive Board (I)
Maximus (FT, I)
Navigant Consulting (I)
Opera Solutions (FT)
PriceSpective LLC (FT, I)
Princeton Consultants (FT)
Prudent Infotech (FT)
ZS Associates (FT, I)

Diversity Internship Recruiting

Breakthrough Collaborative (I)
Center for Talented Youth – Johns Hopkins University (PT, I)
China Education Initiative (FT)
EducationWorks (FT, PT)
ESF Summer Camps (FT, I)
ISN International Student Network(FT,I)
MATCH Charter Public School (FT)
Revolution Prep (FT)

Bentley Systems, Incorporated (FT, I)
First Quality Enterprises, Inc. (FT, I)
InterDigital (I)
Schlumberger (FT, I)
Tyco Electronics (FT, I)
Freudenberg North America (FT, I, Fellowship)
Illinois Tool Works (FT)


Environment America (FT)
Green Corps (FT)

Aflac (FT)
Bloomberg (FT, I)
Canon Financial Services (FT, I)
Capital One (FT, I)
Eze Castle Software (FT)
Fredericks Michael & Co. (FT, I)
Harding Loevner LP (FT)
Hudson Housing Capital (FT, I)
Independence Financial Associates (FT)
Jane Street (FT, I)
M&T Bank (FT, I)
Morgan Stanley (FT, I)
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (FT, I)
Revolution Prep (FT)
SMB Capital (I)
Spot Trading LLC (FT)
Street Solutions Inc. (FT, I)
Two Sigma Investments (FT, I)
Travelers (I)

Government/ Public Administration
Air Force Officer Programs (FT)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I)
Concepts & Strategies (Defense) (FT)
Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support (FT,I)
Grassroots Campaigns (FT, I)
Maximus (FT, I)
Peace Corps (FT)
U.S. Department of Labor (FT, PT, I)
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (FT, I)
U.S. Navy Officer Programs (FT)
U.S. Marine Corps Officer Selection Station

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (FT, Fellowship)
InstaMed Communications (FT, I)
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (FT)

Aflac (FT)
New York Life Insurance Company (FT)
Travelers (I)

China Education Initiative (FT)
Contact Singapore (FT, I)
International SOS (FT, I)
ISN International Student Network(FT,I)

Nonprofit/Public Service
AmeriCorps VISTA (FT)
City Year Greater Philadelphia (FT, I)
Congreso de Latinos Unidos (FT, PT)
Environment America (FT)

Nonprofit/Public Service (continued)
Grassroots Campaigns (FT, I)
Green Corps (FT)
Peace Corps (FT)

Retail/Consumer Products/Hospitality
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (FT, I)
Apple Inc.  (Apple Store Leader Program) (FT)
Campbell Soup (FT)
General Mills (FT, I)
Hillstone Restaurant Group (FT, I)
Lord & Taylor (FT)
Mars Inc. (FT, I)
The TJX Companies, Inc. (FT, I)

Alcatel-Lucent (FT, I)
Bloomberg (FT, I)
CA Technologies (FT)
CBS Interactive (FT, I)
Comcast Converged Products (FT, I)
comScore Inc. (FT, I)
Eze Castle Software (FT)
First Quality Enterprises, Inc. (FT, I)
Harding Loevner LP (FT)
InterDigital (I)
Microsoft Corporation (FT, I)
Prudent Infotech (FT)
Razorfish (FT, PT, I)
Stone Ridge Technology (FT, I)
Street Solutions Inc. (FT, I)
Tyco Electronics (FT, I)
WANDL, Inc. – Wide Area Network Design Laboratory (FT)
ZL Technologies, Inc. (FT)

P.J. Fitzpatrick, Inc. (PT)
Zipcar (PT, I)

What should freshmen be doing with their summer?

Most Penn freshmen have just settled in on campus before their in-boxes get flooded with emails about different opportunities. So, I am not surprised that freshmen are often concerned about what they should be doing over the summer.

For some students, the summer is a great time to kick back and hang out with their friends and family. Others might wish to use their three months to try out a career idea, to gain new skills and experiences, or make money. Penn freshmen have spent their summers writing plays, competing in sports, babysitting their siblings, doing community service, traveling abroad, taking classes, and working full- or part-time jobs.

The options are unlimited and there is no right or wrong answer. My bias is that students should do something, ideally something that they don’t get to do during the other nine months of the year. I also think that they should be careful not to spend so much of their time during the Spring semester searching for that perfect internship.

So, for instance, I spent the summer after my freshmen year in Hong Kong working at a university because I wanted to travel and speak Chinese. The job itself was boring, but everyday I got to interact with Chinese people and eat good cafeteria food. The summer after my sophomore year, I got an internship in advertising. I share this because what students do each summer don’t have to be a spectacular career move.  Just be productive and deliberate with your time.

So, what should freshmen be doing over the summer? To answer this question, weigh your priorities and also consider whether these priorities are best met during the summer after freshmen year. So, what is most important to you?

– To save money
– “Build resume” or meet people in a particular industry
– Try out a potential career or major
– Help people/community
– Learn something
– Check out a new city/country
– Spend quality time with family and friends
– Catch up on sleep
– _______________

If you want to see examples of other things Penn students have done in their summers, check out the Summer Survey Reports posted on the Career Services website.

Love Is In The Air….or maybe not quite yet!

By Barbara Hewitt

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many of you are probably thinking about roses and chocolates from your significant other, but those of us who are career counselors have been having lots of conversations with students wondering “Why haven’t I received that perfect internship offer yet? Where’s the love from all those prospective internship employers?”

On-campus recruiting can give a distorted perspective of the typical timing for internship offers. The myriad of financial services, consulting, and other (mostly for-profit) firms that visit campus each spring often  are pretty far ahead of the general population in terms of conducting interviews early in the spring and getting internship offers out quickly – often by mid February. These offers generally focus on students in their penultimate year at Penn (a.k.a. juniors) so that they can extend full-time employment offers to interns after the summer if it truly is a love match. However, what about employers in all those industries which don’t actively participate in on-campus recruiting like nonprofits, government entities, smaller firms, communication agencies…the list goes on. What about sophomores? When do they typically receive offers?

The answer is – often later in the spring. It is important that students interested in interning this summer start the process soon (or continue looking if you haven’t received an offer yet)…but it is just as important to realize that it’s not too late to find some amazing opportunities. When we look at data on when sophomores at Penn (all schools) received internship offers for Summer 2009, the most common month was April (coming in at 30.6%). Another 20.6% received offers in May, 7.1% in June, and 1.3% in July. In fact, only 23% of the sophomores received an internship offer by the end of February in 2009 (and today we are only midway through the month!).

It’s also helpful to know that sophomores found their internships in a wide variety of ways. Networking was very helpful as 30.2% found their internships through a contact. Other methods for landing internships included applying directly (26%), non-OCR Career Services resources such as career fairs, iNet and PennLink (18%), OCR (5.1%), websites (4.8%), returning to a previous employer (4.8%), participating in a special program such as SEO or Inroads (3.5%), and the catch-all “other” (7.4%).

If you’ve already started the internship search, keep moving forward with it and perhaps add some new search methods suggested above. If you haven’t started the search, jump in now if you want to intern this summer – it’s not too late! Be sure to check out all of the resources we have available on the Internships part of our website.  Also, don’t forget that nearly 100 employers will be at Penn this Friday for our Spring Career Fair. Many of them have internship opportunities available.

The Revised GRE

by Peter M. Stokes

As any of you who have heard me speak may have guessed, I hail from the United Kingdom, a magical land where Harry Potter casts his spells, entire summers pass without the sun appearing, and graduate schools don’t require the GRE[*]. Here in the real world of the USA, however, most of you planning on applying to graduate schools that don’t have their own kind of standardized test will need at some point to take the Graduate Record Examination.  In fact, though, if you take the test after August 1st, 2011, you will take the GRE Revised General Test.

The test is changing this summer, both in the way that questions are structured and in scoring.  Scary as change can be, this actually looks like a good thing.  Gone from the verbal section will be, for example, antonym questions that permit allow test-takers to succeed purely through memorization.  Instead the test will emphasize things like text completion and reading comprehension that require a more global understanding of the English language in context.  In the quantitative section the emphasis will be on data interpretation and problems explained in terms of real-world scenarios.  There will actually be an on-screen calculator so as to de-emphasize basic calculation in favor of the ability to reason through problems.

In terms of scoring, the 200-800 scale with 10 point increments will be replaced by a 130-170 scale in 1-point increments.  The idea, evidently, is that small differences in scores aren’t really very significant, and they want to make that clear by having differences of, say, 2-3 points instead of 20-30 because the zero makes the difference seem big (really, no kidding here).  Presumably this won’t provide problems in comparing scores across the old and new tests since schools will also be able to look at percentiles as well as the raw scores.

For much more information on the revised test, see:

But what should you do?  Take the test now?  After August 1st?  Run screaming in panic down Locust Walk?

One concrete reason to take the test before August would be if you need your score before mid-November (which is before most grad school deadlines—but that’s something to check).  I assume they want to wait that long before giving scores so that they have a big batch of scores and can make sure they’re scoring equitably. In any event, they won’t release any revised GRE scores until November.

A concrete reason to take the test after August 1 is that between then and the end of September, they sweeten the deal by giving you 50% off (and the thing costs $160).

More generally, though, I don’t see a particular reason to rush to take the current test this year if you weren’t already going to do it that soon.  As I say, the test looks like it will actually improve.  However, you might want to take the test this summer, perhaps because you’re planning on applying in the fall and the summer is when you have time, or because you’re graduating and just want to make sure you have the test done before applying later.  In that case, you might consider shooting for before August 1 just because there are plenty of preparation materials and practice tests available for the current, soon-to-be-superseded test.

Having said that, though, there are already some materials and practice tests for the revised GRE too, and you’ll find some available for free by scrolling to the bottom of the page linked above.  And as always, if you’re perplexed about the GRE or any aspects of planning for graduate school, please make use of the pre-grad advising services here in Career Services.

[*] OK, a couple programs at places like LSE might just ask for it, so if you want to apply to programs in the UK, do check, and buy an umbrella.