What I learned on my summer vacation

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

Actually, I didn’t get much of a summer vacation. Those of us who are administrators work all summer. Of course I did take one week off to vacation with my family, and several long weekends, and I learned I like these mini-vacations, rather than one long one. I read a recent article on vacations, which described research on what makes them satisfying. I learned that the anticipation is almost as important as the actual vacation. So I did lots of anticipating, and I enjoyed that.

I also learned that yes, this region of the country can have an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week. Anticipating Irene was awful, but at least here in Philadelphia we got lucky. But I learned to have sympathy for those states south of here who must endure hurricanes almost annually. At least I didn’t have to anticipate the earthquake, which was fortunate.

I didn’t learn how to putt better, or to come up with a filing system that works, or to do any number of things I had hoped to do. But I learned long ago not to make New Year’s resolutions, or summer vacation resolutions either. The important thing about summer is to find some time for family and friends, to eat produce fresh from the farm, to find a hammock (or a suitable substitute), and read a book. If you found time to do this, you are lucky. I know I am.

Summer’s over now. What did you learn, about yourself or otherwise?

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OCR Activities Officially Begin

Wow, summer really is drawing to a close! Soon Locust Walk will be bustling with students again. For those of you planning to graduate between December 2011 or August 2012, on-campus recruiting activities officially begin today as many of the resume collections for full-time recruiting opened. (However, don’t worry if you don’t plan on diving into recruiting quite yet. The first OCR deadline is not until Wednesday, September 14th, so you still have some time to work on your resumes and cover letters! ) For students interested in financial services, consulting or other large employers with structured training programs, you will not want to miss these early deadlines. On the other hand, if you are thinking about fields like nonprofit work, publishing, or entertainment, breathe a sigh of relief as your job search likely won’t rev up until much closer to graduation…

To begin exploring which recruiters will be visiting Penn this fall to conduct interviews for full-time positions, log onto PennLink and click on PennLink listings under the Jobs tab. (Make sure to select “on-campus recruiting listings only” and “full-time post-graduate” under position type unless you want to see all of the non-OCR job listings and internships as well.) While you will see many position listings employers have already put up on PennLink, please note that we are in the process of reminding additional employers with early recruiting dates to post their positions, so more will appear in the coming days.

If you plan to participate in On-Campus Recruiting this fall, be sure to either attend a live On-Campus Recruiting Orientation or watch the online OCR Orientation at your convenience. You can also find lots of useful resume and cover letter tips on our website. (Undergraduates should check here and graduate students can check here.)

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the last remaining days of summer break!

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Getting Your (Law School Application) Ducks In A Row

by Todd Rothman

 

 

Students often ask me the same thing in various iterations about the law school admissions process during this time of year.  Sometimes it comes in the form of a reluctant acknowledgment, sometimes in the form of a series of rapid-fire questions, and sometimes in the form of a panicked confession.  But in the end, it usually sounds something like this – “I have no idea what I should be doing right now.”  So, since most 2011-2012 law school applications will be officially released to LSAC in the next week or two, here is an attempt to address that very dilemma… as well as what you need *not* be doing right now (which is often equally important).

The To-Do-Now List:

 

1.       Open a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) Account with LSAC.  The CAS account is an essential part of the law school application process, as LSAC helps you to organize (or “assemble”) all of your application materials (or “credentials”) for the law schools to which you will be applying.  The bad news is that it comes with a $124 registration cost that, in our electronic age, cannot be avoided, as this is now a mandatory part of applying to law school in the United States and Canada.  The good news is that the CAS does an excellent job in coordinating and simplifying the application process for applicants *and* your registration is actually valid for five years.  More information about the CAS can be found on the LSAC website: http://www.lsac.org/jd/apply/cas.asp

2.       Think About and Draft Your Personal Statement.  Although the official law school applications with their instructions and prompts have not yet been released, most law schools will ultimately provide such open-ended questions in the personal statement section that applicants rarely find the prompts to be particularly helpful in drafting their personal statement.  I always encourage applicants to visit the Career Services Pre-Law Website for some basic guidelines before the drafting begins (http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradprof/law/guide.html#essay).  The most important advice I can offer, though, is that your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your strengths, personality traits, passions, and interests in a way that “shows” rather than “tells” the reader about yourself.  This is a chance to relate some personally meaningful anecdotes in your experiences so far that will help you convey those strengths, personality traits, passions, and interests in an interesting and engaging way.  Think of it as a substitute for an admissions interview – if you had fifteen minutes with an Admissions Committee, what about yourself (besides what is already included on your application) would you want them to know?

3.       Update/Reformat Your Resume.  Law schools either require or strongly recommend that you submit a full resume along with your application, and this is another terrific opportunity to enumerate and articulately describe all of your major activities and accomplishments.  Unlike a resume that you might prepare for the job search, a law school resume has some important distinctions – (a) it can be more than one page, (b) it should devote as much attention and detail to your campus/extracurricular activities as your professional/internship activities, and (c) it should not have an “objective,” nor do you need to highlight your typing speed (even if it is 100 words per minute) nor your computer/technical skills like your “Working Familiarity With PowerPoint.”  Consider the audience here.  You can also refer to the sample law school resume on our Pre-Law Website as a guide: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradprof/law/LawResume.pdf

4.       Contact Potential Letter of Recommendation Writers.  Most law schools require two letters of recommendation and most, if not all, law schools prefer that these letters be academic in nature.  After all, this is an academic program to which you are applying.  Professional and/or extracurricular letters of recommendation might also be helpful and appropriate in light of your experiences, provided your involvement was indeed substantive in nature.  With that in mind, you should identify at least three possible letter of recommendation writers (you never know if someone is on sabbatical/out of the country/doesn’t remember you as well as you think they do) and begin to contact them to see if they can write you a strong letter of recommendation.  I strongly recommend giving your recommenders at least a month for turn-around time, so if you haven’t already begun that process, you should certainly do so now.

5.       Send Your Official Transcripts to LSAC.  You will need to request official transcripts from all of the undergraduate and graduate institutions you attended, including any institution at which you took a college-level course.  And the sooner you start that process, the better.  Yes, that means that your advanced high school course in Accounting that was affiliated with your local community college or university.  Yes, that means the summer college course in Sculpture that you just took for fun during your summer in New York.  Any academic situation that generated a college-level transcript for you, even if those credits never transferred to Penn, must have an official transcript sent to LSAC.  More information about transcripts for law school can be found on the LSAC website: http://www.lsac.org/JD/Apply/cas-requesting-transcripts.asp

6.       Research and Formulate Your List of Law Schools.  As with any admissions process, your list should be a comprehensive, realistic compilation of schools that represent a range of schools in terms of selectivity.  This is similar to when you applied to college, as there should be a critical mass of law schools that represent “safety schools,” “in-range/target schools,” and (everyone’s favorite) “reach schools.”  Unless you are very strongly tied to one narrow region of the country (for example, if you only want to attend law school in the Pacific Northwest), I recommend applying to between 10-15 schools, provided that the schools represent the aforementioned range of schools in terms of selectivity.  So if your list of 10-15 schools is a photocopy of the Top 15 Law Schools in US News & World Report’s most recent issue, we have a problem.  The choice of where to apply to law school is a highly subjective one, so a good deal of research is highly recommended; a good place to start is the LSAC website (http://www.lsac.org/JD/Choose/customize-your-law-school-search.asp).  Ultimately, your list should represent a synthesis of Where Do I Want To Go (in thinking about geography, reputation, class size, employment prospects, particular areas of interest) and Where Do I Stand A Good Shot Of Getting In (where you should be comparing your quantitative information… undergraduate GPA and LSAT… with the published 25th/75th percentile and median information for the schools on your list).

 
Since many applicants find some (or all) of this to be overwhelming and confusing, that leads us to the last item of this To-Do List…

7.       Get To Know Your (Friendly and Knowledgeable) Pre-Law Advisors.  And our names are Todd Rothman (that’s me) and my colleague, Anne Reedstrom.  We are available through 30-minute individual advising appointments (in-person or by telephone), email advising, our weekly Pre-Law Walk-In Hours (Thursdays from 2:00-4:00pm in the Career Services Office), our various seminars and programs throughout the semester, and through our Pre-Law Listserv (here is how you sign up: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradprof/connect.html#email).   We are here to help you with any and all of your questions about this process, so feel free to call our office (215-898-1789) to make an appointment with one of us or send one of us an email with your questions.  More information about our services can be found on our website: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradprof/connect.html#services

 

The No-Need-To-Do-Now List:

1.       Visit Every Law School on Your List.  Unlike applying to college, law schools do not weigh whether or not you made an actual campus visit to their school as a “plus factor” in their admissions process.  In fact, while I’m sure that they would happily have you on campus to check things out, it will not factor at all into their decision-making process.  I strongly recommend visiting some of the law schools to which you are admitted later in the process (think Admitted Student Programs in the Spring) as you finalize your decisions, but there is no need for a “law school tour” in the summer or fall.  I promise.

2.       Decide Where You’re Going to Law School.  Otherwise known as not putting the cart before the horse.  This is a long, hurry-up-and-wait process and, although you may have a first choice or a favorite “dream school” at this point, all you need to focus on in the next few months is applying to a range of appealing schools and putting your best foot forward as an applicant.  What happens over the course of the admissions cycle will – for better or for worse – help to inform you about your options and, as your decisions start rolling in usually beginning in December, you can begin to think through the actual options in front of you.

3.       Panic.  Applying to law school – much like law school itself – requires endurance, stamina, patience, and the ability to handle stress in the face of challenges.  Though it might feel overwhelming at times, please know that being accepted to law school is an entirely attainable prospect, provided that you stay on top of deadlines, set realistic goals, and keep things in perspective.  So, do your research and start working your way through your own personal To-Do List with diligence, attention to detail, and enthusiasm about what lies out in front of you.  And if you don’t have a To-Do List yet, feel free to use this one for now.

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Spotting Job Post Scams

 By Claire Klieger

You’ve all seen the scam emails you get from a prince in Nigeria who doesn’t have access to his bank account but if you just send a $500 he will reward you with a much higher sum as a form of gratitude. Sadly, there are increasingly similar scams in the form of fake job posts which can sometimes be harder to spot, particularly since they often appear on reputable job boards (we even occasionally find them on PennLink!). Here are some tips to help you identify and avoid these doozies:

1. First and foremost, trust your gut. Chances are good that if something appears “sketchy” or too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Be wary of individual emails you receive that are not from a recognized source. While you may be on a number of list servs from which you receive regular emails, it’s unlikely that a real job announcement would come to you in an unsolicited email from an unknown source. Especially in an economy like this, where competition for jobs is great, there is no reason for employers to target potential hires via mass individual emails.

3. Does it pass the “Google” test? While there are some instances where a company may be so new as to not yet have much of a presence online, you should be able to find out something about the organization or the person who posted the position using a Google (or whichever search tool you prefer) search. If you’re not able to find out much information, that should give you pause to reconsider.

 

RED FLAGS

There is bizarre language or phrasing in the job posting. If there are a lot of grammatical errors or phrasing that does not seem like something a native English speaker would use, beware.

The contact email for the employer is a personal account like gmail or Hotmail.        

The job requirements seem overly easy or there aren’t any. Ask yourself, why would an employer want to hire someone without skills that related to the position?

You get offered a job without interviewing first. An employer would never hire someone based solely on their resume.

Anything that requires you to transfer money. You should never be asked for your bank account or checking information as part of a job application.

The company has a generic name like “Insurance Company” or “Finance Corporation International.”

“One doth protest too much” – Are there statements (such as  “We do not need access to your bank accounts” or “Actions depicted below, are authorized by Our Company, and therefore sustain legitimacy status”), which seem to go out of the way to try to assure you that they are above board? Ask yourself, why are they trying so hard?

Here are some other resources to educate yourself on job scams, including information on a number of international programs that can be questionable:

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Pathways

The 2011-2012 edition of Pathways: The Career Services Manual is now available online!

Pathways is prepared each school year to provide students, parents, alumni and employers with an overview of the Career Services office.  Inside, you’ll find sample resumes and cover letters, guidelines for On Campus Recruiting, information about career fairs, interview advice and even examples of business etiquette and attire.

Physical copies of the book are available year-round in our office, as well as other major campus hubs and resources centers.  Incoming freshmen and new graduate students may be given a copy as part of their new student orientation and parents can pick up copies during move-in or over Parent’s Weekend in the fall.

This year, we are also please to provide two electronic editions.  A PDF version for your PC, Mac or Amazon Kindle and an ePub version for your iOS device, Nook or other completable e-reader.  Click on the link of your choice now and begin utilizing the many resources that Pathways has to offer, as the summer winds down and we gear up for yet another exciting year here at Penn.

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