Descending the Corporate Ladder

By Rohini Venkatraman, CAS ’10

I graduated from the College with a Psychology degree, after which I landed a job as a product manager at a large tech company. Eighteen months after graduating, I decided that I wasn’t doing the “big things” I planned on doing when I received that diploma. A recreational blogger, I, somewhat on a whim, decided to write a book in my free time. I didn’t quite know what it would be about, and nothing I came up with felt “good enough.”
Early in the book-writing journey, I found myself out at a bar with friends, sharing my writing aspirations with a middle-aged man and complete stranger.

“Wait what? You just told me that you are a product manager at a technology company down the street. You are writing a book?” He asked judgmentally. I chose not to respond. He continued, of course. “Your life is boring as shit. You need to accomplish something first. You want to write a book? Go work for Kiva. Go make a difference. Then write about what you learned. That’s what people will read.” This destroyed me. For days and maybe weeks, I couldn’t have felt more insignificant. I was wasting my college degree, my potential, my life. And then it struck me: this “conversation” could be the premise of my book.

My first few years in the real world were much less than what I expected them to be. After spending my academic years pushing through to the finish so that I could set myself up for some palpable and immediate success, the corporate world came as a disappointment. More specifically, at a point in my life when I believed I would be able to soar and take the world by storm, I was instead learning how to bullet my emails and buzzify my speech. Mostly driven by a need to prove that I was capable of a corporate job, I forced myself to try to be an intense career person like the many of my friends who ended up on Wall Street. While it never felt right, I never let on to that. It took several trials for me to finally accept that it wasn’t necessary for me to mold myself into my first corporate role and that, for the first time ever, my work did not need to be my life. I needed to turn inwards and reflect not on what I was doing but why. And sometime during that journey, I really and truly discovered my true passion — this, writing.

In talking to friends and witnessing a few more waves of people enter the real world, I realized that my experience was anything but unique: We’re all trying to do these “big things” and at some point or another, we’ll convince ourselves that we are not making any traction. And that’s the problem: While plowing towards that title that looks wonderful on paper, we’re discounting our day-to-day as nothing but a means to an end.

It has been three years since I graduated from Penn and while I don’t know a lot, I know a little more than I did back then. I’m here to tell you to forget your epic ending and instead get lost in the pages. Think about what you deeply value. The dreams that consume you. The moments that define you. That’s your story. You’re writing it every day and you get to make it a good one. If you want to read my story, check out my book, Descending the Corporate Ladder, on Amazon.

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Sue Russoniello

Today, July 25, falls right in the middle of summer.  I’m sure we all have fond memories of summers past….running freely around the neighborhood, spending time at the swim club or beach, attending camp, taking family vacations, visiting with grandparents.  As a child, the hot days didn’t bother us.  We were happy to be outside playing.  We’d rush through dinner so we could spend another hour or two playing outside before the street lights went on, living the carefree life of a child, enjoying our “summer friends”.

Alas, as we grow up, we spend more time working than playing.  Most of you are probably working this summer, either at a summer job to earn money for school expenses, or at an internship to help you choose your career path.  However, even for those of us who have full time jobs, summer seems to be less demanding, and just plain fun.

I hope whatever you’re doing, it’s enjoyable, and you also finding time to relax and play outside of work.  There is great value to changing your routine.  It helps your clear your head and regroup.  It lets you try something new, see different people, read books you don’t have time for during the school year, look at life from a different perspective.

Continue reading “Summertime and the Living is Easy”

Summer Resume Renewal

Summer is the time to spend with friends and family, travel to exotic places, and procrastinate reading all the books you didn’t actually read during the academic year. For many students, summer also means summer jobs and internships. Now that the end of summer is looming ahead, this is a great time to start getting your resume together, especially for seniors and those interested in OCR. Even if you didn’t land that all-time dream internship or summer job, you can still use what you did do to make your resume stand out by highlighting transferable skills that are important in any industry, such as communication skills, multitasking, time management, project management, etc.  Even for those who did not participate in any academic or work related activities during the summer, there may be skills that you have picked up through your recreation or hobbies that can be added to your resume, such as writing skills, technical skills, or problem solving skills. Making a list of all the jobs/activities that you did during the summer, and then looking at what skills you used or learned is a great way to start accessing your transferable skills!

Start My Job Search Now?

summersearchStart my job search now? Yes! Whether you will graduate next year or are an incoming student, it’s not too early to start developing your job-search skills. And note that I said “job-search skills,” not “job skills.”

“Job skills” include abilities necessary for a specific type of work (such as lab techniques, programming languages, art skills, knowledge of particular facts) as well as transferable “soft” skills (such as communication, collaboration, organizational skills).

“Job-search skills,” however, include knowing how to explore and find opportunities in the career field(s) of interest to you.

“Job-search skills” are not necessarily as challenging as they are time consuming. So, if you can start now, do! Devoting some time to developing competence in the following abilities will help you get ahead of the game (and make it easier to excel in these practices in the future). These suggestions for developing your job-search skills can also be rather fun!
Talk to People
Be Curious
Pursue Interests
Become an Expert Communicator
Be Amazed
Tell Stories
Send Fan Mail
Be a Sleuth
Get Experience
Start Now!

Continue reading “Start My Job Search Now?”

You Like Us! You Really Like Us!


That’s how many visitors we’ve had in the past academic year (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) to Penn & Beyond: The Career Services Blog.  That’s our best number since we launched in 2009!

Thank you so much for your readership.  We continue to strive to make this the best career services blog not just for the University of Pennsylvania, but for all.  Thank you for your comments and suggestions – we always welcome them.

Here’s a look back at the most visited blogs this year: