If OCR’s not for me, what should I be doing now?

By Kelly Cleary

If you’re on Penn’s campus this month you’ve likely seen many seniors in dark suits spending their afternoons attending information sessions and career fairs and their nights updating their resumes, applying to On Campus Recruiting (OCR) jobs via PennLink.

But what should you be doing now if you’re not interested in working in for the finance, consulting, consumer products, and technology firms that recruit on campus in the fall? It is nearly impossible to provide a “one size fits all” job search timeline since each type of position you apply for comes with its own industry-specific protocols, but if you’ve asked yourself the question,” If OCR’s not for me, what should I be doing now?” here is some advice:

  • If you’re not sure where to begin, visit our Career Exploration page where you can access career interest inventories, resources for researching different kinds of careers, handouts on “What Can I Do with My Major?”, and specific information on first jobs and graduate schools for Penn alumni.
  • Ready to start looking? If you have an idea of the types of jobs or industries that might interest you (and it’s smart to keep an open mind about this), then visit our Job Search page where you’ll find tips for finding a job and specific resources for job postings. Since most industries don’t hire for post-grad positions until the spring, for now you can develop your wish list of prospective employers and gather a list of favorite job posting websites. Now is also a great time to network and do informational interviews with alumni and others who work in your field of interest.
  • Considering a Gap Year or a Year of Service? There are many interesting and worthwhile alternatives to starting a traditional first job. Our Year(s) of Service/Gap Year Programs website highlights many opportunities and resources. If you’ve met with me, you may know I’m a big fan of heading abroad or doing a year of service after graduation if you’re inclined to do so. My first job after college was as a teaching intern at an international school in Italy. I didn’t make much money, but it was an amazing experience that certainly helped shape my career path. Some of these Service programs and some government agencies do have earlier deadlines.

 The Policy & Government Fair on Friday September 28th  will be a great opportunity for you to learn about some of these post-grad options.  Registered attendees include service programs such as the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Americorps, as well as the U.S. State Department, the FBI, U.S. Courts, Americorps, American Enterprise Institute, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who will be hiring for internships and full-time positions. For the full list of registered organizations, go to:  http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/undergrad/GovFair2012studentinfo.html

For more resources on public service related careers, visit our new Common Good Careers website. The International Opportunities Fair on October 25th will be another great change to learn about post-graduate service programs and jobs.

To make sure you don’t miss out on these types of events and opportunities, join our Common Good Careers and International Careers listservs for updates on related events and opportunities.

To subscribe to either of these listservs, send an email from your Penn account (NOT from a GMAIL or another account connected to your Penn account) to:    listserv@lists.upenn.edu with this command in the body of the e-mail:    SUBscribe CommonGoodCareers  AND/OR  SUBscribe InternationalCareers

  •  All of that said, be open to OCR opportunities  since some consulting, marketing or research positions might be attractive to “Non-OCR types” If you’re not an “OCR-type” you still might enjoy and be very qualified for some consulting, marketing, research, paralegal or government positions that are available through OCR (which really just means they collect resumes through PennLink and conduct interviews in our On Campus Interview suite in McNeil instead of interviewing people at their office or by phone or Skype.) Create and schedule a Search Agent in PennLink to make sure you don’t miss out on any OCR or general job postings that match your interests.

You have enormous flexibility over when you start your job search, but it almost always takes longer than one wishes to find a job, especially in a tough economy. For most job hunters, three months is the minimum amount of time it takes to find a job you want (this would mean if you want to start in June 2013, you’d start applying in March or so.) Good luck with your search!

Author: Kelly

Kelly Cleary is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates.