Holidays with The Family

As the Fall Holidays begin and you return home, the first question that relatives invariably ask is “How is school going?” But quickly followed by that is the “What are you doing with your life” prodding inquiry that many people dread. (You may be thinking must I decide now? How do I know what the rest of my future will hold?)

You may even have opportunities available or on the horizon, but maybe it’s still too early to say. The thing that’s important to remember is that all parents want you to be successful and they simply want to know that you’re on the right path. Therefore, you will likely need to share some uplifting news to them.

While it’s been a busy semester for all, you can start your search after the thanksgiving break by attending out Summer Job Search Workshop on Wednesday, November 30, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm at Huntsman Hall, Room 245.

For those that who are seeking full-time positions or internships next semester, there are several routes in which you can explore and inform your family. First, there is of course, PennLink, which posts job and internship information every day from employers. During the break, you can check out some of the opportunities that are available online. Currently, there are quite a few listings already for information sessions and internship opportunity for the companies that will be recruiting in the spring.

Don’t forget also that the Spring Career Fair is next year on Friday, February 17. Last year, there were over 100 employers that attended the fair.

Also, be sure to check our Career Services Events on the main Penn Calendar at:

or on our website at:

Hope you have a relaxing Thanksgiving break!


Developing Professional Skills in Unexpected Places

My daughter got married this fall and, because she and her fiancé were getting married in Philadelphia but live in Canada, I helped them with a lot of the organizational activities, including creating, refining and using the master invitation list. At the start, it became apparent to me that, in order to do this most efficiently, I should learn how to use Excel.

Younger readers to this blog will think to themselves, “Doesn’t everyone know how to use Excel? It’s so basic.” I’m of the older generation who started using computers in my second professional job in the late 1970’s and bought my first personal computer in 1983. And while I have learned (and forgotten) a whole raft of programs over the last three decades, I stayed away from Excel, partly out of fear – it looked too complex and numerical for me — and partly because my office mainly uses Access for data management.

I’ll never be an expert but, in addition to being able to make mailing labels for the invitation, I was able to keep a running tally of who was coming on which side and create files for seating arrangements, dietary preferences and escort cards
I’m telling you this because you need to remember that what you do outside of class, the library or the lab may help you in your job search or, if you’re already employed, do better in your current job.

Undergraduates are very good at including extracurricular activities on their resumes along with the GPAs, but graduate students (the group I work with at Career Services) are less likely to think of them as opportunities where relevant strengths are developed and demonstrated. In fact, many will say, “I don’t have time for anything extracurricular!”

It doesn’t have to be organized activities and you don’t have to do anything big or be very engaged in. For another example from my life, there are currently a lot of assessment activities going on in student services offices and some of the assessment methods involve using rubrics. When my children were younger their school used rubrics to assess learning outcomes and involved parents in the process. So now I may be using something I learned about in a somewhat passive way, and I imagine you have done something similar.

So, expand your thinking in regards to your skills. As the line from the “hokey-pokey” says, “put your whole self in!”

So You’re a Freshman…

Kathleen Rause

Welcome to Penn! The fact that you are already reading this blog makes you a proactive career-planning superstar. Of course, freshman year should be a time to make friends, get acquainted with Penn, explore academic interests, get involved in co-curricular activities, and have fun! But it is never too early to acquaint yourself with Career Services (check out our manual for a great introduction) and start thinking about career planning and career goals.

First, get familiar with the Career Services website. It can be a bit overwhelming, but only because there is so much great information and so many awesome resources. To help as you begin to navigate the career planning process, here are a few places to start:

Career Services Website:

1. Career Resources by Field – a great way to learn about and explore opportunities in different career fields.
2. Informational Interviewing – one of the best ways to build your network and gain knowledge of career fields. We offer an explanation of informational interviewing, tips and sample questions.

1. PACNet (Penn Alumni Career Network): This database of Penn alumni who can offer career advice and guidance to students with career questions. An EXCELLENT place to start when setting up informational interviews.
2. iNet – database with internship and summer opportunities in a broad range of geographic locations.
3. PennLink – Penn’s job and internship database, with listings of employers coming to campus for on-campus recruiting (OCR), as well as those who are not. You will also find listings of employer information sessions.

Social networks:
4. LinkedIn* – “Professional Facebook.” Create a profile now and begin connecting with you peers, professors, advisers, recruiters, and—most importantly—those you meet for informational interviews, at career fairs or through professional associations/events.
(*Also attend “How LinkedIn Can Advance Your Career” on November 29.)
Of course you are welcome to make an appointment with a career counselor – we would love to meet you in person.

Until then, enjoy freshman year and good luck at Penn!

LinkedIn is Coming to Penn

by Shannon C. Kelly

Last week, my colleague Michael highlighted the importance of linking in here on Penn & Beyond. I’m here to support his post, but stress how critical it is to connect in the coming weeks when you’re home for Thanksgiving.  High school reunions, spending time with cousins/aunts/uncles and visiting with old friends is the PERFECT opportunity to build your network.  Utilizing LinkedIn is a very handy tool to keep track of these connections and stay in touch.  So, what’s the deal with all this LinkedIn attention lately?

Well, I’m excited to announce that LinkedIn is coming to Penn after the Thanksgiving break.  John Hill is LinkedIn’s Higher Education Evangelist (yes, that’s his real title), and he’ll be here to speak to you – undergraduate and graduate students – on Tuesday, November 29th at 12noon in the Ben Franklin Room at Houston Hall.   Why should you come?  Here are two really important reasons:

First and foremost,  college students and recent graduates in the job market are joining LinkedIn at twice the rate of its overall membership, according to a recent interview with LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner on ABC (Weiner is a Penn alum).  This means a lot of your peers are on the network, and you should be too.  This will help you compete in today’s job market, but also stay in touch with them.

Secondly, what better way to understand how to maximize this tool than from someone who works at LinkedIn?  This is a rare and unique opportunity to get your questions answered straight from the source.  Hill has been traveling all over the country and world to listen to feedback and share best practices when it comes to using LinkedIn.  There is only one of him at LinkedIn and hundreds of universities out there – we are very lucky to have him!

Hill’s talk on November 29th is about helping you understand this tool because it is powerful. I hope that you join us and John Hill.  If you would like to come, just give us some notice and RSVP here.

Warming Up to Cold Calls: Follow Up Strategies for the Job Search

By Sharon Fleshman

So you’ve just come back from that career fair or employer presentation and you’re staring at a bunch of business cards. Or you’ve completed the application for that position on the company website and you hit the “Submit” button.  Now what?

Find ways to connect. Email those who spoke with you at a given recruiting event, making note of what you appreciated about your conversation and highlighting your most relevant qualifications. If you’ve applied to a position online, you can send a concise and thoughtful email a day or two later, indicating that you have already applied, but want to reiterate your interest in the organization and the position.  If the online application did not allow for a cover letter, you can attach one to the email, along with your resume.

Using email for follow up (at least to start) gives you a chance to think about what to say and how to say it.  It also allows recruiters, who tend to be out and about, the flexibility to respond to you at their convenience.  If you eventually make a phone call, a previously sent email will give you a handy point of reference.  However, there are times when you can’t track down an email address or even the name of an appropriate contact person.   Assuming the job description doesn’t say “NO PHONE CALLS”, it may be time for you to pick up the phone, even if it’s just to ask for a name and email address of the most appropriate person to contact.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for phone follow up:

Be professional and polite.  Make sure you call from a quiet place without distractions. Initially, you will likely reach the “gatekeeper” of the office and will need to ask to be connected to the right recruiting contact, whether by phone or email. Not only should you be courteous, but you should also try to pick up on cues. For instance, if you sense that the person to whom you are speaking is swamped, ask if there is a better time to call or if email is preferable.   If the person is reluctant to provide the recruiter’s contact information, graciously inquire whether he or she can forward your message to the recruiter.  Regardless of the outcome, thank the person for his or her time.

Be prepared and purposeful.  For the most part, you need to be able to introduce yourself and your reason for calling as concisely as possible. Don’t call to ask questions for which there are answers easily found on the organization’s website.  Make it apparent that you have done your preliminary research before your inquiry.   If you reach someone’s voicemail, you will need to leave a clear and concise message; write a script ahead of time if necessary.  You also want to be ready in case a call turns into an impromptu interview. Have your resume on hand so that you can discuss your qualifications on the spot.

If you’d like to discuss follow up strategies further, remember that advisors at Career Services are available to help.