Notice: Memorial Day Weekend

In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Career Services will be closing at 2:00pm on Friday, May 27th and will remain closed until 9:00am on Tuesday, May 31st.

We hope that you have a wonderful holiday weekend.  Remember, Career Services is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday over the summer and you can always access this blog or our website for more information.

Make ‘Em Laugh or What Not To Do During The Interview

By Kelly Cleary

Interviews are stressful. Laughter relieves stress (even the Mayo Clinic tells us that’s no joke.) In this quick clip, Jessie Cantrell of Tiny Apartments and John Milhiser of Serious Lunch present interview tips while also offering some pretty hilarious comic relief– at least in career counselor circles…

Jessie Cantrell: Job Interviews:

While a sense of humor is something most of us seek in prospective colleagues, wacky humor doesn’t always come across well in an interview. Projecting the right balance of professionalism, authenticity, confidence and good humor requires thoughtful preparation of both the content of one’s answers and the way that information is presented. Career Services’ online Interview Guide and the webinars on InterviewStream, an interactive interview prep resource accessible through PennLink, can help you find that balance to help you turn your interviews into job offers.

TO DO: Connect with your Mentor…

One of the best ways to prepare for life after Penn – as well as to help you make the most of your time at Penn – is to find a mentor.  Once you have one….the idea is to stay in touch!  Alumnae Liana Esposito (EAS ‘2007) has kindly shared her recommendations for connecting with your mentor, enhancing your experience at Penn…and beyond.

TO DO: Mentoring

Making the Most of Your Mentor

  1. Get involved! Having a mentor will help you learn about career options and may guide you through an often overwhelming process of choosing a career path.  Your mentor may become the start of your professional network.
  2. Be proactive. Do a little background research on the type of industry and position in which you may be interested.  Mentors are volunteers who participate in the program because they want to assist people less established in careers by providing information and advice.  Allow them to help you.  Be proactive about establishing contact and initiating the conversation.  Understand that having a mentor will not guarantee you a job or an internship.  Talking to your mentor will shed light on a type of job or industry of interest to you and put you in direct contact with a professional in that field.  Your mentor is a personal resource who will guide you as you explore career options.
  3. Ask the hard questions. General questions will get you an overview but specific and direct questions will allow you learn more from your mentor.  For example, you could ask how it is working for [insert industry/company/etc. here], but you will learn a lot more by asking what is it that drew your mentor to X, what keeps them at X, what is the most challenging thing about being a part of X or one thing that they would change about X.  Asking poignant questions will give you thoughtful and direct responses and facilitate your conversation.
  4. Nurture the relationship. Be conscious of how much time passes between e-mails or phone calls.  Often, it is easier to decide at the beginning of the relationship how often you will be in contact.  There is no “correct” schedule, the amount of contact depends upon both parties and their availability.
  5. Learn as much as possible. Take advantage of the personal time with a professional in your field.  Share your resume with your mentor and get feedback.  Ask for advice about academic and career decisions.  If given the opportunity, meet with your mentor in person, tour their work facility and meet and speak with some of their coworkers to expand your network.

5 Job Hunting Tips You Can Get From Dr. Who

Dr. Joseph Barber

1)      Your resume is actually bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. What? Well…, ok, all I mean is that the way you describe your experiences and knowledge by using specific illustrations of your skills in action achieving tangible outcomes will make even a 1-page resume feel like it is chock-full of relevant information. Your resume won’t contain any swimming pools, though.

2)      You can’t actually regenerate – and so don’t try, but you can and should talk about your experiences in a different way when applying to different positions. There is no one-size-fits-all resume that will work for two different jobs, even if they are in the same industry (e.g., pharmaceutical industry jobs, consulting). The more time you can take tailoring your resume and cover letter (and even your academic CV to a certain extent), the better you will be able to convince an employer that your experiences are a good fit for their requirements.

3)      If you spend too much time by yourself, you will end up talking to yourself. If you spend too much time looking at your own resume, your brain will begin to tune out, and you will start to miss those small errors that can creep in. Additionally, sometimes we can find it hard to think about the range of different skills we have used in different experiences – we get so used to talking about ourselves in one way that we can forget that we do actually have a bunch of transferable skills that are applicable to many jobs. Come to Career Services to get a critique of your resume, and you’ll find this fresh perspective to be helpful.

4)      Time travel is actually quite hard, and rarely goes exactly according to plan. This means that you can’t go back and change your past – that really never works out well in the future anyway. For example, back in the past you may have started a PhD thinking you wanted to be a professor, but in the present you may have decided not to take the academic career path. Make use of your time at Penn to gain a wide range of different experiences to explore your options, take some courses outside of your subject, join and actively participate in some student/postdoc groups. Make sure you also have a convincing narrative as to why you are seeking the jobs you are applying to. Note: no employer wants to hear: “I realized I didn’t want to be a professor, and so I decided to apply for this job”. This isn’t a convincing reason why someone should hire you. Talk about what you gained from your academic and non-academic experiences, and how you can use your skills and abilities in a way that would make you an ideal candidate for the jobs you are interested in.

5)      For someone with an identity problem, the Doctor has a rather extensive network of contacts. True, it is easier to make contacts when you own a small blue box that is bigger on the inside than the outside, and travels across time and space…, and when you are 900 or so years old/young. However, with a bit of courageous outreach to your own list contacts, and good use of social networking platforms like LinkedIn and, you’ll find that you can soon generate a comparable network – relatively speaking (which when talking about relativity can get very confusing). Don’t leave it up to chance, though. Set aside some time each week or month to connect with new people who might be doing jobs you are interested in, or to get back in contact with former colleagues, supervisors, and advisors. Networking is about building and maintaining meaningful connections with people over time…, wherever or whenever that time is!

Congratulations, Graduates! Now what?

On behalf of everyone in Career Services, I want to extend our congratulations to everyone who is receiving a Penn diploma today. It was a pleasure and a privilege to get to know you as you pursued your degree. In fact, you are the reason we do the work we do: you are an impressive group indeed, and have much to contribute.

Now what? Well, if you have made your plans for post-graduation, please fill out our survey. The undergraduate survey is here. If you received a graduate degree, please respond when we ask you to complete the survey, or go to our web site and find the form for your program. Thank you! And please do stay in touch. Drop us an email and let us know how that new job, graduate program, or post doc is going. We value your insights.


What if you don’t have a firm plan yet? Please let us know how we can help you over the next few months. As Penn alumni you continue to have access to our services. In many fields, we know that the job market is still challenging. In others, opportunities are only now starting to be announced. We can help you figure out how best to approach your job search. If you are planning to apply to graduate or professional school for 2012, we are here to help with the application process.

We are here all summer, and available to meet with you. If you are not staying in Philadelphia, we are happy to schedule a conversation over the phone. Soon we will offer Skype appointments as well. And keep an eye on our web site and our social media. There is much there that can be helpful to you.

But for today, enjoy the chance to reflect on all you have accomplished. Once again, congratulations, and all the very best as you leave Penn to meet your future.