A Day in the Life: Technology Analyst/Software Engineer

@PennCareerDay on Twitter, our day in the life feed, is back!   As we kick off OCR and Career Fair season, we hope that you’ll tune into @PennCareerDay to learn about the potential paths available to you – and keep coming back as we’ll feature a variety of careers all semester long.  On Thursday, September 15th we welcome Luke Kopakowksi (C ’09).  Luke will highlight one of the many paths  available in investment banking – technology. To learn more about Luke, please read below and don’t forget to follow on Twitter!

Luke Kopakowski is a technology analyst at Barclays Capital in New York City.  He started at Barclays with a summer internship in 2008 and then joined fulltime after graduating from Penn in 2009 with a B.A. in Physics.   He went through the year and a half grad program at Barclays Capital, rotating through 3 divisions for 6 months each.  Now, after 2 years at Barclays, he is a software engineer for the cash equities division and works mostly with java, web development, unix/linux, excel and databases/SQL.   His team manages, develops and improves a complex software system that calculates fees associated with Barclays Capital’s equities trades.

What’s going on in this year’s job market? Are you ready?

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

A new semester, a new year, a new job market. Are you ready for 2012?

I have been getting reporters’ questions, from the DP to The New York Times, on what fall recruiting will look like. Here is my take: it may be a bumpy ride, but because you are at Penn, you are well-positioned to succeed. But you must be ready; hold on tight.

Most employers don’t like uncertainty, and we are living in uncertain times. Will our recovery continue at its painfully slow pace, or will we fall back into recession? Will consumer confidence falter, making consumers reluctant to resume spending? Will our federal government manage to solve our debt crisis? Will President Obama be re-elected? Will the current Congress? Having sat in this seat a long time, I have found that the spring before a presidential election, employers are more likely to sit on their hands and wait and see what November will bring. Will 2012 be any different?

As you face the fall hiring season, or the later internship recruiting cycle, it’s important that you not give in to gloom and doom. The fact is, employers are coming to recruit. Next week, about 140 employers will attend CareerLink over two days, September 13 and 14. The following day, September 15, almost 90 will attend Engineering Career Day. Additional career days will follow in the months ahead. On-Campus Recruiting will begin on September 27, and we are all booked up until early November. Another burst of activity will be in February, marked by the start of internship recruiting on February 1, and the huge Spring Career Fair on February 17, where a broad range of employers will be recruiting both interns and 2012 graduates. Many employers don’t visit campus, but post their open positions throughout the year on PennLink.

Employers always need entry-level staff. The question is, how many will they need? We already know that the federal government, as well as state and local governments, besieged by budget cuts, will not be doing a lot of hiring. Some of our traditional employers, such as the largest investment banks, are doing more and more of their full-time hiring from their intern classes. Those who would like to interview for bank jobs may see more opportunities at boutiques and regional firms, or on the buy side (for example, at investment management firms) than on the sell side.

If hiring is flat (a good thing for us at Penn, since last year was a very good year) or down a little, the best advice I have is to be ready (our workshops have already started, and employer information sessions begin today), be prepared, be flexible, and be smart: use Career Services. We really can help you put your best foot forward, regardless of your ultimate goal. We’re here – come and see us. Good luck. And don’t let this volatility scare you: opportunities are out there.

Employers, Employers Everywhere…Tips For Making the Most of Employer Information Sessions

Barbara Hewitt

As part of the on-campus recruiting process, many employers hold information sessions on Penn’s campus. These sessions provide a great opportunity for students to learn more about the industry, the specific employer, and the specific positions available with the firm. Information sessions also provide the chance to meet some of the organization’s employees, often Penn alums. Whether you are a sophomore wondering what an investment banker really does or a senior fully focused on landing a specific job with a particular employer, information sessions can be of great benefit to you.

However, given the huge number of sessions available to attend, you may be wondering where you should even begin. The Career Services office schedules hundreds of information sessions each year. The first sessions this year start tomorrow, Wednesday, September 7th. There are eight different information sessions scheduled tomorrow night and another eight on Thursday. This is not uncommon – on some evenings there are even more. Employers can schedule “open” sessions which all students are welcome to attend. Some of these may be focused on full-time, postgraduate positions and others may be focused on internship positions. Employer also frequently schedule “night before interview” sessions. These events are mainly for students who will be interviewing with the employer the next day and should be considered mandatory for all interviewees. If you absolutely cannot make a “night before” due to another commitment such as an exam, be sure to let the employer know in advance. You can check the Events tab in PennLink for a complete list of employer presentations. (Be sure to click on the date hyperlink in PennLink for the exact location.) Sessions are also listed on the main Penn calendar.

As we begin “info session season,” here are some tips to help you navigate the process:

1. Prioritize. You simply won’t be able to attend all of the employer information sessions, even if you want to. On many days the sessions start at 4:00 pm and can run until 10:00 pm, often with multiple sessions running concurrently. Decide how much time you can devote each night (or week) to the sessions and plan accordingly. As a student, you should also be sure to save adequate time for your classes and other commitments.

2. Clarify Your Goals. Think about what you hope to get out of the information sessions you attend. You may want to simply learn more about a particular industry and so may decide to just sit quietly in the back and hear what is said. You might want to find out more about the specific employer or job to see if it would interest you and if the organization would provide a good cultural fit for you. Many students use the sessions to network and get to know employees of the firm. If you make a good impression, this can be very helpful in the recruiting process as the individuals who attend the information sessions are frequently also the same individuals who review resumes from Penn students during the on-campus recruiting process.

3. Be Professional. Information sessions often start with a senior speaker who will make formal remarks or a brief presentation about the firm. This is often followed by a more informal networking reception where you will have the opportunity to mingle and chat with additional employees, often relatively recent Penn alums. Even though these individuals may be close in age to you (you might even know some of them!) remember that this is a professional interaction and act accordingly. We recommend business casual dress for open sessions and more formal attire for night before sessions. Think of some good questions to ask the representatives. Often open-ended questions are ideal because they can encourage a longer conversation than a simple yes/no question would require. It is a good idea to bring a well-crafted resume to the session in case someone asks for it, but don’t feel obligated to distribute it if it feels inappropriate. Many employers prefer to simply collect resumes via PennLink or their internal job boards.

4. Follow-up. If you determine that you are indeed interested in the organization and the position(s) they offer, follow-up with one or more of the individuals you met at the session. (Make sure to ask for business cards for people you spoke with at the session so you will have their contact information.) You can thank the individual for his or her time or advice and ask any follow-up questions that you may not have had the opportunity to ask at the session itself. While following-up is helpful in developing the relationship, keep in mind that the representatives are often busy professionals with limited time. Don’t become a nuisance by contacting them too frequently or expecting too much from them.

5. Be Open-Minded. You will quickly notice that the large, well-known firms can attract hundreds of Penn students to their information sessions. If you are interested in their opportunities, by all means attend. Realize, however, that smaller firms which are less well known often attract many fewer students, even though they may have terrific opportunities. By attending these sessions you can really stand out and have the chance to engage in more in-depth conversations with the firm’s employees.

Most of all, try to enjoy the sessions and learn from them. They may be the first step to landing a wonderful full-time or internship position!

PARENTS: this one’s for you! (STUDENTS: read on and get some insight to what your parents might be thinking.)

by Sue Russoniello

September, again. Here you are, sending your children off or back to college.  They are beginning to look like adults; they are also beginning to make decisions on their own, without your constant guidance. That’s a bit scary for us parents, after 18+ years of making daily decisions for them.

Having two sons of my own who have been through college, I know some of your concerns.  Are they happy and getting enough sleep, making good friends and behaving responsibly?  Are they keeping up with their coursework and connecting with their professors? Are they finding internships and jobs or getting into “the right” graduate or professional school?  The cost of a college degree is concerning enough, without worrying that they might not have a good job lined up when they graduate.  In addition, you’re hearing stories of your friends’ children and your children’s friends who seem to either have something “fabulous” lined up, or are having trouble making ends meet on their own.

Besides being a parent, I have worked in Career Services for fifteen years, so I have watched this process from both sides.  I sympathize with the concerned parents who call Career Services to see what they can do to help.  Some parents just want general information on the current job market.  Others ask for specific information so they can be closely involved in their son or daughter’s job search.

Wearing my parent’s hat, I can relate to your temptation to do the leg work for your busy children and give them a list of things they should do next in their job search.  Up till now you’ve always been involved with the important decisions they have had to make.  Wearing my Career Services hat, I see blossoming, independent, young adults excited about making their own way and looking for jobs of their own choosing, which aren’t necessarily what you think they want.



For instance, my older son who as a young boy only wanted to eat hot dogs and peanut butter, and who I thought would be a wonderful coach or teacher, is now a chef in a fabulous restaurant in Wyoming!  I thought my younger son had the perfect skills to be an architect. His choice was to study geology and as we were celebrating his college graduation, he announced he had lined up a job in Alaska and was leaving in two days!  After my initial surprise and uncertainty about their decisions, I’ve realized how both of them have made good choices and are happy finding their own way.

Based on the experiences I’ve accrued working in Career Services combined with those of my own family, I respectfully make this suggestion to parents: give your sons and daughters space to make some decisions on their own.  I am NOT saying to back out of your son’s or daughter’s life; I’m just saying back up a bit.  They still need you and you still need them.  But they do have some serious decisions to make about the direction in which they want their lives to go;  in giving them the freedom to make these decisions, and showing them you respect their ability to do so, you will probably find that the lines of communication between you are stronger than ever.  Let them run ideas by you and ask for guidance without the added guilt of thinking you don’t approve, or worrying that you are disappointed by their choices. They do really care what you think, and want to please you, but also want to do what is right for themselves.

Harry S. Truman said: “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”  Take note of what makes your child’s eyes light up and respect his or her need to pursue those things; they might choose a specific job that they love, or they might choose to live in a place that lets them enjoy favorite activities outside of their work.  Give them the freedom and support to try something different and come to their own conclusions about what is right for them.  Remember that “success” means different things to different people, even our own children.  They should also know that if a decision they make doesn’t work out as they had hoped, you still love them and support them.

I’m not suggesting that your sons and daughters will all head for the hills like mine did.  Your daughter might think that NYC is the ideal location with the art, culture and night life opportunities, in addition to it being a center of the financial and business world.  Your son may want to be in Miami, especially after the past two winters in the northeast.  Your children may choose to be in Texas or Iowa because that’s where a fabulous graduate school opportunity lies for them.  And don’t forget the significant other who might be a part of this decision…I remind myself that I married when I was 22, and that was a factor in some of the decisions I made gladly so that we could be together.

By all means, browse the Career Services website and learn what you can about the opportunities available to our students. Visit us during Family Weekend and learn about the programs and workshops, career fairs and advising sessions we offer them.  Offer to help create networking opportunities for them with your friends and colleagues. Talk with them about their options.  If you think your son or daughter needs a bit more guidance as they go forward, remind them that we are here to help.  Guide them gently in ways to ask for help, but let them be the ones to do the asking.  Face time is still very important, despite the prevalence of email and social media. Think back, honestly, to your own decision making when you were their age, but also remember it’s a different world out there, with different opportunities and resources than we had.

In the end, what we parents (and Career Service professionals) really want for our (your) sons and daughters is for them to find careers they enjoy and excel in, and to live happy, rewarding lives.