Graduating Students: Resume Submissions for OCR Start Today!

By Barbara Hewitt

We hope you all had a great summer and are ready for your final year at Penn. For those of you planning to graduate between December 2012 and August 2013, on-campus recruiting activities officially begin today as many of the resume collections for full-time recruiting open. (However, don’t worry if you have other things to do this week, as the first OCR deadline is not until Thursday, September 13th, so you still have some time to work on your resumes and cover letters!)

In any given year, we typically have about 400 employers recruit at Penn, and last year scheduled well over 13,000 interviews. On-campus recruiters tend to fall into a somewhat narrow range of industries (for example, financial services, consulting, technology, retail, and other large employers with structured training programs). OCR works well for these employers because they can predict well in advance how many new hires they will need in the coming year, so can make offers well in advance of start dates. On the other hand, if you are thinking about fields like nonprofit work, publishing, or entertainment, realize that your job search will probably kick into high gear closer to graduation.  If you would like to discuss strategies for approaching those employers who do not typically recruit through OCR, please feel free to schedule an appointment with a Career Services counselor.

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.)

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

Considering Compensation: It’s not just about salary

Whether you already have an offer, are hoping soon to receive one, or are just exploring different career fields, chances are good that one of the things you’re seriously evaluating is salary. In my years in this office, candidates have asked me everything from “what am I worth?” to “what is a good salary?” to “what do Penn students typically make?” – questions usually focused on pay rather than compensation. With the high cost of Penn’s education potentially financed with student loans, you (and your parents) often want to make sure that you have a good return on your investment. This is certainly understandable and should be a factor in any offer you consider but I urge you to think bigger. Salary is usually only one part of your compensation package and the value of some of those other benefits can be quite high. Some, like healthcare, retirement contributions or stock options, you may be able to quantify but many are harder to put a price tag on.

A colleague of mine recently shared a story from a student with whom she had met who was evaluating an offer. My colleague asked her, “Did you get options?” “Yes,” she replied excitedly. “I have the option of working from home one day a week!” Even though our staff member had been referring to stock options, this student’s response speaks volumes about what else you should consider when you get a job offer. Many of these intangibles like flex time, the ability to work remotely, professional development opportunities or other perks can make a huge difference in the quality of your work life.  At some places it might be free food. I was at a start-up a few weeks ago that in addition to offering free beverages (including a beer fridge) and fresh organic fruit daily brings in a masseuse to offer free chair massages to employees once a month. One online retailer keeps life coaches on staff to help employees meet either personal or professional goals. Another employer offers free shuttle service for employees living in several counties surrounding their headquarters. At Penn, I can take one class per semester for free as an employee.

Some of the greatest perks, however, are likely to be ingrained in the office culture. Even though I am in a field where I know that I will never make a lot of money, I wouldn’t want to work in another industry because I love the climate in higher ed and, in my office in particular, because it is supportive and flexible. It means the world to me that I am trusted to get my job done even if that doesn’t always happen on traditional schedule. Whether I need to work from home for a day when my child is home sick or leave work a little early to go see a house with my realtor, I feel so lucky to know that I work in an environment where I can arrange to do those things and not fear professional repercussions. That said, these are benefits that you usually only earn as a reward for doing a good job and proving your worth over a course of time. Needless to say I would not have asked for either of those two things in my first year on the job.

So as you evaluate any professional offer I urge you to consider more than just your monthly or annual wage. What are those other benefits worth both to your pocketbook as well as your emotional health? I can tell you that, for me, quality of life at work is priceless.

Career Wormholes

Dr. Joseph Barber

Space and time are two very complicated concepts. Hopefully, someone will eventually have some success in explaining them to me one day, but I honestly don’t think my brain is set up to understand phenomena like black holes. One of the reasons that I study animal behaviour is that it offers tangible and physical actions that can be observed and eventually explained. More nebulous concepts that I cannot see easily (e.g., particle physics, most types of statistical analyses, molecular biology), I have much more trouble understanding.

What I think I do understand about space and time is that to travel between two separate points in space will take time. Obviously, the further apart these points are, the greater the time needed to traverse the distance. Let’s call wherever you are in your academic life right now “Point A”. We can then call the ideal job that you see yourselves eventually doing as “Point B”. Since you probably don’t imagine your ideal job being an entry-level position, we can see that it will take some time to get from A to B (especially if the path to do so is not a straight one, which is regularly the case). That brings us to another way of looking at this journey. Let’s say that you are completing a PhD in History or Chemistry, but no longer see yourself focusing specifically on these subjects in your future. Your journey will involve a transition stage where you will be identifying new paths that interest you, and taking stock of what skills you currently have that are transferable to the new paths you choose. This takes time, too.

The challenge with these scenarios is that the universe offers a seemingly endless number of possible destinations. So, to ensure that you end up at your preferred “Point B” rather than some random “Point F2xG!”, you need to think very carefully about the path you are on, and which direction you head next. The first job you get after Penn won’t be your only job, but it will help you to build a solid foundation of skills, knowledge, and contacts that might help you to reach your next destination. During your time at Penn you can ask yourself some of these questions:

  1. What internship or volunteer opportunities might give me hands-on experience or connections to people relevant to my future career?
  2. What student groups can I actively participate in that will allow me to demonstrate some of my relevant skills in action?
  3. Who can I talk to in my network, or the broader Penn alumni network, who can offer me insights, advice, and support to help me navigate my future paths effectively and efficiently?

Of course, it would be nice to find a shortcut between points A and B as a way to get you to your dream job faster…, or perhaps instantly. This would be the equivalent of a wormhole that connects two points in space without the need to expend the usual amount of time to travel between them. If you watch enough TV, then you know that wormholes are hard to find, often unpredictable, sometimes filled with either benevolent or malicious alien entities (or both), and regularly lead to all sorts of trouble. Taking the longer, non-wormhole route can actually provide you with the right amount of time to really research the path you are on to make sure it is indeed the best fit for your professional and life goals. For example, assuming that a career within academia is going to be the best choice for you simply because you haven’t yet explored the alternatives is perhaps not the best approach to take.

If you are interested in finding a wormhole to your ideal career destination, then the best advice that I can give you is to be a really great networker. The more people you know (and have a professional relationship with), or better, the more people who know you, then the greater the probability that they can act on your behalf to steer you towards opportunities, recommend you to other professionals in your field, or simply support you in your endeavors. They won’t hand you your dream job on a plate, but they can certainly point you towards a good restaurant that serves the kind of dish you enjoy. And unlike wormholes, the process of networking probably won’t result in you finding yourself on a ship…, a living ship, full of strange alien life forms, being hunted by an insane military commander. Well probably not, but space and time can sometimes be very strange!


Summer: It’s a Wrap!

by Anne Marie Gercke

As the summer winds down, many of you are probably wrapping up summer internships or jobs to come back to Penn. You may also be feeling that familiar ache deep in your stomach that always seems to come around this time of year – this season, so often packed with fun and sun, is coming to a close. Hopefully you’ve had great experiences at your respective jobs and now have helpful skills to add to your professional history. However, as you are getting ready to say farewell to the old 9 to 5 to head back to school, maximize the benefits of your experience by using these simple tips:

1. Send a thank-you note. Take some time to write a note to your boss/mentor thanking him or her for all the help provided throughout the internship. Make sure to also point out some of the projects you enjoyed working on at the company. Was there anything you did that you thought was really cool? Include it! This is a great way to express your ambitions and interests, as well as add some closure to your job while keeping a window open for any future opportunities. Plus, you are more likely to get a good recommendation if you make a good impression.
2. Update your resume. While it’s still fresh on your mind, add your recent experience to your resume making sure to highlight your accomplishments. If your title was “intern” while working at the company, talk to your supervisor about possibly using a more descriptive title when detailing your internship. For instance, if your job duties involved managing the social networking sites and helping plan company meetings (in addition to grabbing coffee and a muffin for your boss each morning) something like “Social Media and Events Coordinator” may have a nicer ring to it. Don’t embellish, obviously, but it’s okay to be a little creative if it brings useful information to the table.
3. Network, network, network. LinkedIn is the perfect, professional online networking tool to connect with colleagues from your internship. Knowing and staying connected with people in the industry is key to breaking into the business, whatever it may be. A broad network of professional contacts makes any job search easier. Check out our LinkedIn alumni group here!
4. Plan your next steps. Did you like working at your internship? Can you see yourself working in that field in five, or even ten, years from now? What didn’t you like? What types of internships would you like in the future? Does Penn offer any classes that may help you expand on these interests? Are there any professional organizations you can join to stay connected? Determining your future goals now while you are still in “work mode” is a good way to get on the straightest path to achieving them.
5. Recharge and replenish! You’ve been working hard. With the school year quickly approaching, you need to take some time to get yourself ready and together. Catch up on sleep. Read a book…for fun. Exercise to clear your head. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Take a daily vitamin. Spend time with family and friends. These are all ways to ensure that you will come back to Penn with the energy you’ll need to have a stellar year, perhaps your best yet.

While the first day of classes isn’t too far off, you still have plenty of time to check off all these items from your list. As always, we are here in Career Services to help with any of your career needs, so remember to stop in to see us once you get settled back at Penn… and most important, enjoy the rest of your summer!