A Day in the Life: College Instructor

Read Ceceilia Berkowitz’s archived tweet feed here: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/CeceiliaBerkowitz_Feed.pdf

Teaching isn’t just for the K-12 level, many colleges and universities offer teaching positions for individuals with graduate degrees – and you don’t need to have a Ph.D. necessarily either.  Next week on Wednesday, March 30th @PennCareerDay on Twitter welcomes Ceceilia Berkowitz who teaches higher education courses in New Jersey.  Follow her to learn about this great career path and how she’s managed to transition from a private sector career into one in education.  To learn more about Ceceilia, read below and don’t forget to follow her on the 30th!

Ceceilia Berkowitz (C ’00, W  ’00) is a College Mathematics, Statistics, and Business Mathematics Instructor at several Northern NJ Colleges.  She currently is teaching 18 developmental math credits this Spring semester at William Paterson University and Union County College.  In recent years, she has also been tutoring high potential minority and international low-income undergraduate students in math and business subjects for the Educational Opportunity Fund Program at Seton Hall University.  She has also taught Business Calculus and Developmental Math at other schools including Seton Hall University and Felician College.

As a Class of 2000 graduate of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at Penn, Ceceilia is also considering teaching College Business courses or even French courses as her schedule permits at the nearby colleges.  She has been working for Medows CPA, PLLC, a boutique New York City accounting firm as a Training Manager, with Senior Accountant and Marketing Assistant responsibilities.

In addition to her Penn undergraduate degrees, Ceceilia has an MBA in Professional Accounting from Rutgers Business School, where she was a Dean’s Scholarship Recipient.  She has over four years of work experience in telephone and E-commerce sales and customer service at Tiffany & Co, Weichert Realtors, and MetLife, mostly before she entered the 2007-2008 MBA program.  She also has worked in jobs and internships, mainly in accounting and finance at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Merrill Lynch, Prudential’s 1999 IPO Team in the Controller’s Office, a medium-sized NJ CPA firm, and HotJobs.com (now part of Yahoo!).

At Penn, Ceceilia was involved as Treasurer of the Women’s Club Tennis Team, participated in Wharton Women, visited nursing homes with Penn students in Bridges Community Service group, played French Horn her Freshman year in the Penn Wind Ensemble and also in the Penn Law School production of Guys & Dolls, lived in the Maison Francaise French House on-campus residence her Senior year, and studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, during the second semester of her Junior year.  She also enjoyed Penn’s campus social life at the local restaurants and coffee shops, and parties of all kinds at frat houses, friends’ apartments, and at the Huntsman Program office, as well as occasionally attending Penn Football and Basketball games.  She mainly studied in the main Penn library on various floors, though also occasionally at Center City Xando Cosi locations and Bucks County Coffee, both Wharton buildings at the time, as well as some solitary studying in the upstairs very heated mathematics library in DRL. She frequently explored Center City restaurants and shops including her favorite restaurant Monks Cafe, and the Liberty Place JCrew.

Follow Ceceilia on Twitter for more information – @ceceilia


Career Lessons from Rebecca Black

By Lin Yuan (C’2013)

By now, I’m sure you are all familiar with the musical sensation that is Rebecca Black and her enthusiasm for Fridays. (If you haven’t seen it, here is the infamous video )

Whether you love her or hate her though, you do have to admit one thing: at least she’s trying, right? If the 13-year-old wants to be a famous singer, she’s well on her way to becoming famous, at least. Black’s original YouTube video has over 43 million views and her song is also now a top-downloaded song on iTunes! Furthermore, her 15 minutes of fame could already be generating enviable profits for her.

But, all this from a song stating the day after Friday is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards? It doesn’t seem like Rebecca Black has much innate talent for songwriting… Sure, we should give her credit for putting herself out there, but maybe she would be better off channeling her efforts elsewhere. A singing career may not be in the cards for Rebecca Black and that’s okay. Everyone has something they’re good at – Rebecca Black just needs to figure out what that might be for her and work towards her strengths.

So, here are the career lessons we can learn from Rebecca Black:

1)      Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – Taking a risk every once in a while could pay off! Even if you feel it could be a long shot, it never hurts to try. If you’re really enthusiastic about a job or internship, but aren’t sure how competitive you are for the position, consider sending in an application anyway. An employer just might like what he sees. Also, take advantage of online networking platforms to further get your name out there. They can be a great way to share your ideas and gain more notoriety for yourself. (Check out our tips for networking using social media )

2)      …But make sure you do it right – You don’t want to generate buzz for yourself for all the wrong reasons. Be honest with yourself about what you’re really good at and not so good at. Inventory your skills and know what your unique skill set is.

Bottom line: Know what you want, know what you’re good at, then don’t be afraid to go for it! (Who knows? It could be fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.)

Lingua Franca

by Julie Vick

via harvard.edu

Are you applying to a doctoral program because you feel teaching students and doing research would be an exciting career?  Perhaps you are already in a doctoral program and preparing to write your dissertation or maybe finishing it up.   Regardless of your stage, you are probably aware of the importance of learning the language of your discipline but did you also know that when you look for a job you need to learn the professional language of higher education?

Every occupation, whether it’s in an academic discipline or a professional field, has its own language and higher education is no exception.   An example you have probably come across is a “CV” as opposed to “resume.”

A CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, meaning “course of life” in Latin, is used by candidates seeking college and university teaching positions as well as by those applying for other research jobs and for fellowships.  A CV (which is also referred to as a “vita”) includes details about one’s academic work, including publications and presentations and is usually much lengthier than a résumé which should be tailored for a specific kind of job.  Of course, the purpose in preparing either is to interest a prospective employer enough to invite you for a personal interview.

As a career advisor who works with doctoral students, I co-author a column every 4-6 weeks for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a daily news website/weekly newspaper devoted to all aspects of higher education.  Because many Penn doctoral students and postdocs ask questions about terms and abbreviations used in the job search process I, with my co-writers have written three columns on the language of higher education that is important to master while applying for faculty jobs: If you want to find out the meaning of chalk talk, SLAC, soft money, ABD and degree in hand, as well as other terms, check out these articles: Learning the Lingo, Learning the Lingo, Part 2 and Learning the Lingo, Part 3.  And be sure to learn the language of your own field!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

by Rosanne Lurie

Though few of us have had occasions to paraphrase Shakespeare’s inspiring (and parodied) valedictory speech, we all have the opportunity to impress future employers with a well thought through valediction. I am referring to the closing lines we write in emails and letters, you know the ones like:

• Sincerely yours,


• Take care,

• Have a great day,

• All the best,

According to Wikipedia, “A valediction (derivation from Latin vale dicere, ‘to say farewell’), or complimentary close in American English, is an expression used to say farewell, especially a word or phrase used to end a letter or message, or the act of saying parting words- whether brief, or extensive.” In its more day-to-day form, a valediction is not inspiring bit of dramatic oratory, but a chance for you to impart a final tone to whomever you are writing to – one of intimacy, formality, or in the case of a potential employer, one of professionalism. We career advisors spend a fair amount of time reading cover letters and emails from eager candidates who work hard to craft documents that will impress hiring managers. I want to remind you that your valediction counts. There are formal ones and informal ones, appropriate for different readers. The standard for writing to someone you don’t know (but want to work for) shouldn’t vary much from one of the following:

• Sincerely yours,

• Sincerely,

Other, less commonly used, but generally accepted professional valedictions are:

• Best regards,

• Regards,

• Cordially,

• Yours truly,

Your valediction reminds an employer that you understand the writing standards of the working world, and that you yourself are professional in your communications. Language and communication evolves, so there are no hard and fast rules but rather conventions you can learn which will help you make the impression that you would fit well in the employer’s world. Here are some recommendations:

1) Stay away from anything that sounds emotive or implies intimacy (Love – Warm regards – Take care) or something too casual (Best wishes – Cheers – Have a nice day).

2) International students in particular may make a poor impression inadvertently, when they write letters with valedictions which are appropriate at home. Mostly I have seen more honorifics in these students’ letters, which are not used in conventional business letters in the USA. This means that “With greatest honor” or “With deep respect” or “Most humbly submitted” sound formal, but in fact are not quite what is called for in professional correspondence. As a result, these letters show a lack of understanding, not the respect they intend. If you are unsure about writing cover letters or other job search correspondence, look at the samples and guidelines provided on the Career Services website, or ask an advisor.

3) Additionally, when you are emailing, do not skip the valediction. “Sent by my iPhone” does not help your cause, unless you are applying to Apple for a job (and even then, maybe not). More often than ever, people close their letters/messages with just an automated signature or their name. This may be okay in informal correspondence but not when you are writing to an employer or recruiter.

Your impact, with a valediction, is to bring thoughtful closure to your message. And, with that said, I will sign off –

GLHF (good luck, have fun),

– Rosanne

Storytelling & The Job Search, Or Why English Majors Make Successful Job Applicants

By Kelly Cleary

“Perhaps the only job I’m qualified to do at this point is to write cover letters,” was a response I recently received from an English major to whom I had given a glowing critique for a very well written application letter.

While it’s true that there is a long tradition of English majors who fell into the world of career counseling (including me), of course, as an English major that student is qualified for a great deal more than writing cover letters (see First Jobs & Graduate School for Penn grads and What Can I Do With This Major (general). That said, she raises a good point—English majors, and other students who are required to do a great deal of reflective analysis and writing through the study narrative forms are also building skills that will help them write the most effective and persuasive resume and cover letters, and to really shine as a memorable candidate during interviews.

Despite Garrison Keillor’s frequent references to the (un)employability of English majors during his comical segments sponsored by the fictitious Professional Organization of English Majors, incorporating the elements of good storytelling into the job application process is a great way for candidates to clearly demonstrate their qualifications, professionalism, and enthusiasm for a position in a memorable, personable, and unique way so their application rises to the top, even during this highly competitive job market.

Here are a few lessons from English class that should be applied to your job search:

  • Think before you write. Any good writer will tell you they spend a great deal of time thinking about a story before they actually put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. The same goes for the resume and cover letter. Job seekers must reflect on their skills, values, and interests and how they fit into a particular career path or organization’s culture before actually creating or updating their documents.
  • Carefully consider your intended audience. While some creative writers are indeed writing for themselves, writers who achieve some commercial success, and students who do well in English courses, tend to have a solid understanding of their intended audience(s) (i.e. their professor or fellow students) and the message they hope to relay to them. A resume should always be tailored to best match the applicant’s skills and experiences to the job opening, and a cover letter should always be written with the goal of impressing the hiring manager.
  • An interesting and relevant plot with memorable characters will keep the reader coming back to see how the story ends. Of course resumes and cover letters should always be professional, and in general it’s better to err on the conservative side, but approaching resumes and interviews as ways to “tell your professional story” and to use cover letters to create narratives that clearly explain how your past experiences have prepared you for job openings is a very effective way to persuade an employer that you may be a good fit.  Support your thesis (“I’d make a great —insert job title here—”) by including relevant and impressive details, and quantifying results and the impact you made on an organization.
  • Personal style and tone are how you make your mark. Thousands of resume and cover letter templates and samples are available online and in bookstores. Samples can be a helpful starting point, but following them too closely makes it hard to differentiate you from other candidates. Submitting a personalized, original letter with an appropriately professional tone is one of the best ways to set your application apart in a large stack of resumes.
  • Grammar counts. Strunk & White may not have been thinking about the job search process when they wrote The Elements of Style, but using correct grammar in error free documents is essential to a successful job search.

Career Services resume and cover letter guides are available here:  http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/undergrad/documents.html

For more advice on applying your inner muse to the job search, read Quintessential Career write Kathy Hansen’s Career Storytelling Tools for Job Seekers.