More on references…

By: David Ross

As students and alumni work on their resumes for job and internship applications, it can be easy to overlook generating a list of references. At some point during the application process, candidates will be asked to provide references who can speak to a candidate’s capabilities and potential. My last blog posting on creating a list of references provided some recommendations on how to proceed – here are a few additional tips:
– During your initial contact with potential recommenders, be sure to indicate what types of positions you are applying for and industries you are interested in – it can be very helpful for recommenders to know what aspects of your background and skill set to emphasize to potential employers
– When drafting your list of recommenders to submit to a recruiter, include their current position and employer along with contact information. You may want to indicate your current or former working relationship with each recommender
– Once you have secured a position, be sure to thank your recommenders for their assistance. Continue to keep in contact with them periodically after you have started your new position to maintain your professional network – you never know when their assistance may be helpful in the future

Using your liberal arts education for the common good – Q & A with Wyn Furman, CAS 2009

Wyn Furman graduated from Penn in 2009 with double majors in History and French. She is currently the Manager of Community Research for The San Diego Foundation, a community foundation that stewards philanthropic funds on behalf of the San Diego region. She recently shared her thoughts on her nonprofit career with Career Services.


1.       What got you interested in working for a nonprofit, and in the philanthropy field, specifically?

My interest in working in the nonprofit sector developed when I realized how much I had benefited from the generosity of others—particularly in receiving my education—which made me want to “give back” through my work. Arriving at Philanthropy was a happy accident. In our field, we feel that people don’t graduate from college hoping to enter our line of work, probably due to a lack of familiarity with this part of the nonprofit sector. As a result, some of us are hoping to introduce more intentionality to this career path by encouraging young talent to pursue philanthropy sooner.

2.       Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and why it’s important?

Primarily, I serve our donors by helping them learn more about the issues and organizations to which they would like to dedicate funds. This includes providing background on challenges our region faces and even evaluating organizations’ financial position via tax records (which I enjoy, even though I was a history major!).  In addition to the research component, I also solicit reports from organizations that describe the work they do with grants from our donors.

The aim of my work is to help donors feel more informed when deciding which organizations to support. This is great for the community because we help donors act on their passions. For instance, we’ve had donors who read about an organization in the paper call us to vet the organization before making a grant. In those cases, we’ve helped turn news coverage into dollars that support the community!

Our capacity for research is also among the services that help distinguish The Foundation from other institutions that manage charitable funds, like banks. Although my role is “behind the scenes,” I think it is important because I provide tools that help my colleagues strengthen their relationships with donors, and that help donors feel more connected to the community. It’s a win-win that ultimately benefits our region.

3.       What are the different hats you’ve worn since joining the San Diego Foundation?

I started by helping to coordinate Our Greater San Diego Vision (, a campaign that engaged 30,000 people across the greater San Diego region in planning for its long-term future. After more than a year and a half in that position, the bulk of the project was complete, so I chose to apply for the newly created position of Manager, Community Research.

This work draws on the regional knowledge I gained by working on Our Greater San Diego Vision. The nice thing about moving from a programmatic role (working on the Vision) to donor stewardship is that I have a solid understanding of the responsibilities and priorities of our two major areas of operation, and relationships throughout our organization. This has led to being engaged in some exciting projects and discussions in which I might not otherwise have been involved.

Continue reading “Using your liberal arts education for the common good – Q & A with Wyn Furman, CAS 2009”

The (Adaptable, Resourceful, Multitalented) Versatile PhD

Graduate students and postdocs may be aware of Career Services’ many resources on academic careers and the academic job search.  But are you also familiar with the resources we have for PhDs/ABDs who are considering a career beyond academia? The Versatile PhD is one of the valuable tools Career Services provides to help you in your decision making and your job hunting.

The Versatile PhD is a web-based resource that you can use anytime, from any computer.  It includes:

  • A thriving, supportive web-based community where you can participate in discussions, network with real “Versatile PhDs” (humanists, social scientists and STEM trained individuals working outside the academy) or, if you prefer, just read and learn.
  • An online collection of compelling first-person narratives written by Versatile PhDs who describe how they established their post-academic careers and give their best advice for you.
  • An associated LinkedIn group where you can begin to build an online presence and network with Versatile PhDs in a wide variety of fields.
  • Free online “Career Panel” discussions where Versatile PhDs working in a given field share their specific professional experiences in that field and answer questions from members. Online panels in 2012 included Careers in Market Research, Careers in Corporate and Institutional Research and Careers in Program Evaluation.  Panels from prior years are archived on the site.

Coming up on November 12-16, 2012:  Entrepreneurship for STEM PhDs featuring STEM PhDs currently running businesses they started from the ground up, or working in small start-ups.  The panel is presented in an asynchronous format; participate anytime during the week.

University of Pennsylvania graduate students and postdocs have access to all the content areas on the website, including the upcoming panel  – go to the Career Services Reference Library (on the left side of Career Services homepage) and click on Online Subscriptions.  You will be asked to provide your PennKey and password to access The Versatile PhD.

It’s (Really) Only One Number… I Promise (And I Know That You Still Don’t Believe Me)

Since the delayed release of the October LSAT scores following Hurricane Sandy – as if anyone needed any further suspense and build-up – I have spoken to many students in the past week about their scores and its impact (or more accurately, their perception of its impact) on their law school aspirations.  With that in mind, I thought it timely to repost a blog I wrote about this very topic two years ago to help settle nerves and provide some grounding and perspective about this particular component of the law school application process.  My hope is that it does just that… and that it allows you to now get back to finishing up those applications!

Continue reading “It’s (Really) Only One Number… I Promise (And I Know That You Still Don’t Believe Me)”

Love Your Decisions

“Should” is a tricky word. I hear it almost every day in Career Services, and some students use it without thinking:

  • My parents said I should take the internship because it will really help me get a good job after I graduate. 
  • I’m thinking I should major in Finance…I’m don’t really like it, but might as well since I’m here.
  • Should I accept this job offer? Everyone else from my major is telling my how lucky I am to get offered this position, but there is another job I think I like better.

Does any of this feel familiar? It does for me.

Continue reading “Love Your Decisions”