When I speak of “reading days”, I’m not referring to those days between the last day of classes and finals. I’m talking about setting aside some time to catch up on reading of the non-academic variety. This is something I’m definitely anticipating as I wrap up a class that I’ve been taking and the pace in my office slows a bit.
After finals, after graduation or at some point during the summer, consider blocking off a few hours a week to read and reflect on developments in your field. Think of several newspapers, magazines or trade journals that are respected in your current (or targeted) industry. Commit to regularly skimming these periodicals for articles that intrigue you and provide you with updates and trends. For online resources, make sure to bookmark the websites for quick access. You may even want to take a break from your screen; pick up a relevant newspaper or magazine and note items of interest. Either way, this practice has two primary benefits:
You stay informed about your field. If you are seeking employment, your growing awareness of your field will likely enhance your conversations during job interviews or networking meetings. Once you are employed in your field of choice, continuing to be well-read will facilitate your professional development.
You uncover hidden jobs. For example, you could be reading the business section of a regional newspaper and see that a division of a given company is expanding. As you peruse a website geared toward the non-profit sector, you might find that an organization has received funding for a new project. Both of these scenarios would present opportunities for you to investigate the possibility of applying to jobs that haven’t been posted yet.
If you’d like to brainstorm ways to make the most of “reading days” for your career development or job search, contact a Career Services advisor or consult with a mentor in your field of interest. In the meantime, be sure to also venture into other genres, such as novels, biographies, or essays, which can inspire and energize you for the road ahead.
The semester officially ends in just a few more days, but we’re still going to be here at Career Services for you. As the manager of our social media efforts, I’ll still be tweeting, posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, and adding pins to Pinterest. This school year on our social media platforms I focused each week on different career paths or tips to help manage your search, like our Stress Busters focus this past week with finals. This summer is no different, as I’ll continue to have themes. Here’s a glimpse of some of our themes to look forward to this summer:
May 7th to May 11th – Alumni Resources & Staying in Touch. This theme is to celebrate Alumni Weekend and all the commencement ceremonies, where our current students will officially become alumni of Penn. Learn about resources you can utilize after you officially leave campus and how you can stay in touch with your fellow Quakers.
May 21st to May 25th – Summer Professional Development. A big part to any career, and any stage in that career, is professional development. Summer classes start here at Penn on the 21st, so we’re going to look at how to manage an internship and summer classes. We’ll also highlight popular conferences, how to network at conferences and other ways to take advantage of the slower pace many industries experience from May through August.
July 2nd to July 6th – Federal Careers. In celebration of the Fourth of July and our nation’s independence, we’re going to showcase the diverse paths that support our country. We’ll include tips for applying to federal careers, the various programs to take advantage of and what skills you’ll need to succeed.
These are just a few of the themes for Summer 2012, so stay tuned to our social media platforms to see what else I’ll have in store for you!
What is work? . . . Drumroll, please. The jury has spoken.
With apologies regarding my thoroughly unscientific method, I want to share some of the input offered by you through my survey “What Is Work?” (still open to anyone who wants to complete it).
I asked respondents to define work ranging from “to earn a living” (1) to “a purposeful calling” (7) with “an even balance between the two” (4) in the middle. The ideal vs. realistic definitions of work swung from ideal being at the higher end of the scale—just above “an even balance between the two” (4.48)—to the realistic being closer to the bottom—near “to earn a living” (2.94), with over 50 percent of the responses being a 1 or 2.
This wasn’t a surprise. Most of us want and seek meaningful work but must balance that with the necessity of earning a living. The open-ended responses were more interesting.
33% mentioned earning a living (“making ends meet,” “livelihood”).
15% described doing something you “love” or “enjoy.”
12% mentioned “money.”
12% mentioned doing something “meaningful.”
1% mentioned “enjoying” it.
Only one person used the word “occupation.”
The actual responses ranged from bluntly realistic to idealistically hopeful:
“Beyond being a societal norm to have ‘work,’ people thrive on being busy. It offers an important (at times frustrating) contrast to leisure.”
“Don’t know yet. What you do.”
“Work is a huge portion of one’s life. It is crucial that it is enjoyable and challenging so that one does not feel as if he or she is wasting away all of his or her time to earn a living, but obviously money cannot be ignored either.”
“A necessary part of life”
“Work is personal labor that fills our time and life with expressions of our particular gifts and skills.”
Thanks for your input! (The overwhelming majority of respondents were Penn undergrads but also included a handful of others (people employed full-time at Penn or elsewhere).) I find articles, opinions, and artistic creations about “work” very interesting and apropos—given my own work as a career counselor—and I’ve enjoyed sharing current Philadelphia artistic endeavors about work in two blog posts this year.
I just bought a clock for my three year old to help her know when it’s time to get up in the morning, or rather, when it’s not time to get up, such as the ungodly hour of half past four. The face of the clock glows blue when it’s bedtime and stays that color until her designated wake time, of the only slightly more reasonable 6 am, when it changes color. In our first night of its use, it worked like a charm—no more middle of the night awakenings to the pitter patter of little feet, and subsequent elbows, to our bed. Instead she walks in cheerfully, in the way no one but small children can at that hour, and announces “It’s time to get up, guys! My clock turned yellow.”
Sometimes I wish such a device existed for students in their job search. With some searches (OCR) starting so early in the year and other jobs needing people to start right away, it can be hard to know at what point in the senior year to apply for jobs. Well, consider this your official wake-up call (though, sadly, yours does not come with a yellow light and happy song). Now is the perfect time to begin your job search. That’s right, you heard me. You are not too late and contrary to the seemingly popular belief among many Penn seniors, there is no ticking time bomb that will make your life and all job prospects implode upon graduation. Employers do not have a certain window of time in which they will consider hiring college students after graduation. They hire for openings all year round but the right time for you to apply for jobs is not until you’re actually available to start work, which is why now is the ideal time to be on the job hunt.
If you started applying for jobs earlier in the semester but have not had any success it may not be you. Because employers who post jobs usually need someone who can start immediately you would likely would not have been considered for jobs that were posted in January, February or even early March; it was probably just too early. So, don’t get discouraged. As Penn grads, you have many great qualities to offer employers.
So, grab a cup of coffee and, once you are done with finals, start your job search anew. Come see us in Career Services so that we help you revitalize your job search. And even though you may feel like “The Final Countdown” is the theme of your life at the moment, try to ignore the “tick tock” of any proverbial countdown on the career front. There is no deadline to find a job. If you still don’t believe me, here are some actual quotes from our career plan surveys from the class of 2011 and 2010:
Words of Wisdom from Alumni
“I would say the keys to finding a great and fitting post-grad opportunity are patience, reflection and initiative. I made many bold moves over the past year. Not rushing into programs simply because I didn’t know what to do; not succumbing to the pressures to just “take whatever’s available”; and having the audacity to apply for a highly competitive program that was my fit…you have to know what you want and be willing to reach for it. Be patient. Reflect. And go for it.”
“My job search started in February/March of my senior spring and ended shortly after graduation… I was interviewing for the job I ultimately accepted (a rotation analyst position with Nielsen, in their leadership development program) for around 2 months (an intensive process). Was almost convinced I wouldn’t get it after interviewing for so long but was persistent, prepared extensively for my in-person interviews…Was offered the job a month after graduation and accepted gladly.”
“Searching during the Spring semester was pretty difficult; I really had no idea what direction I wanted to follow after graduation. The opportunity I ended up taking was one that I initially passed up because I wasn’t really interested…In the first week in September I came upon an old flyer for the same opportunity and after many months of summer rest/rejuvenation/reflection I realized that this was the perfect position for moving toward my goal. “
“Took an unpaid PR internship in NYC for the summer, and began applying for jobs in early July. I received 2 interviews within 4 days, and got offered a job the day after one of the interviews.”
“I started in January, and it took me until April to get the job. You have to be very persistent, but rest assured you will find something.”
“I accepted a paid internship in August in a field that I wanted to be in, which had the potential to turn into a full-time job in 3-4 months, given my performance and the financial status of the company. However, a previous internship employer contacted me about a full-time opportunity [where I am currently working] during my paid internship.”