Timing may not be all, but it’s important

In November we completed our career plans survey of the class of 2013. We had a tremendous return: 2,021 graduates responded, just over 80% of the class. A return this high is a reflection of the graduates’ willingness to let us know what they’re doing, but it also reflects the huge amount of work people in Career Services do to reach out and cajole those we hadn’t heard from. I am grateful to all.

The results are extremely encouraging for current seniors. The members of the class of 2013 were employed full time at a high rate (almost 74%), up from 71% last year and 68% for 2011. Slightly fewer (16%) are going directly to graduate school, down from 18% last year and 20% in 2011. For the last two years 6% of the class reported that they were seeking employment by the November closing of the survey. This year, only 5.8% were still seeking, an extremely low number. The lowest we have recorded was 4% in pre-recessionary 2007.

The employment by industry changes are worth noting. For example, the percentage of the full-time employed graduates working in finance dropped from 33% in 2011, to 31% in 2012, to 29% this year. Health care dropped to 6%; it was 9% the past two years. Consulting remains very popular: 19% are working in consulting, down from 20% last year but equal to the 19% in 2011. Similarly, education was the choice of 9%, up from 8% last year and equaling the 9% in 2011. Technology took 9% of those employed, up from 8% last year and 7% in 2011. These industry swings are modest, but interesting.

Medicine and law remain the most popular graduate school choices, but fewer students are going directly into these programs each year. Of those who are in graduate school, 21% are in medicine, down from 22% last year and 25% in 2011. Law dropped from 19% in 2011 to 18% in 2012 to 17% this year. Engineering graduate fields jumped from 14% in 2011 to 17% for the second year in a row. The biggest change was in science. Those pursuing graduate degrees in science disciplines jumped from 8% in 2011, to 9% in 2012 to 14% this year. Clearly the demand for STEM graduates is influencing graduate school choices.

For more information on the class of 2013, including top employers and top graduate schools, please see http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/files/Class2013CareerPlans.pdf. Combined with the decline in the national unemployment rate (it’s now 7%, a five year low), the survey results mean that seniors should feel confident that job opportunities will be available to them. It’s a good year to be graduating and starting a career.

Bring on the Career Joy!

By Barbara Hewitt

We recently added a new addition to our household – Carmen, a cute Shi Tzu/Yorkie mix (who knew they were called “Shorkies”?) from a local animal shelter. It has been fun having her around, as can be evidenced by the very happy picture with one of my daughters below!

CarmenDuring the weeks since Carmen joined us, we’ve come into contact with a variety of individuals who have chosen careers working with animals and I’ve noticed how much they all seem excited and engaged by their work. The workers and volunteers at the shelter from which we adopted Carmen were incredibly upbeat and thrilled to welcome prospective adopters to their shelter. The atmosphere was a little crazy, as it was rather crowded with prospective adoptive families and volunteers along with (as you might imagine) lots of barking dogs. Even in the hectic environment, the staff took plenty of time to answer our questions to ensure that the transition went as smoothly as possible for Carmen and our family. The staff followed up a week or so later to make sure everything was going fine. I mentioned to one staff member how impressed I was with the entire upbeat environment, and she smiled broadly and said “Yes, we love our animals!” Clearly she had found her passion.

A few days later we took Carmen to a groomer and again I noticed how incredibly positive and excited about working with dogs the staff was there….Same thing when we visited the vet for a check-up a few days later. The vet and assistants were happy to meet our new addition and again spent lots of time getting to know Carmen and even let my kids check out her heart rate with the stethoscope. We’ve enrolled Carmen in a training class and the instructor is an incredibly energetic owner of two amazingly well-trained boxers…she is wonderfully enthusiastic about her work and the opportunity to meet and work with new dogs on a regular basis.

I can’t imagine that any of these individuals chose their professions because of  huge paychecks, but rather because they love the work. While we all consider the benefits and “perks” we receive when considering a new job (the pay, the benefits, a short commute, flexible work hours, etc.), the most important thing to consider is the intrinsic nature of the work – do you like most of  things you will be doing on any given day? Does it give you energy instead of leaving you drained? Many individuals find “mission-oriented” work extremely fulfilling, when their work is aligned with a cause that is important to them, often in a nonprofit setting. But I’ve also spoken with plenty of individuals who find deep fulfilment in other sorts of work, depending on their individual values. I’ve spoken with students who interned in consumer product marketing who have told me they find it incredibly gratifying when they are at a store and see someone purchasing their product ….and I’ve also had students tell me that they realized they were in the wrong career entirely when they came to the realization that they couldn’t care less if more consumers bought the new potato chips they were promoting. It all boils down to what is important to you as an individual and what you most highly value. Pay close attention to what makes you tick and brings you joy….there are plenty of career clues embedded in that joy.

Deadline Drama

by Beckie Stokes

So here we are, back from Thanksgiving break.  Your food coma may not have even broken yet, but you’re already dangerously close to staring finals in the face.  You’ve got just over a week until exams begin, and you may be wondering how you’re going to accomplish everything that needs to get done – especially when all you’re looking for is the light at the end of the semester.  It’s time to start breaking down how you’re going to meet all these deadlines.  What a good time to develop this skill!  You’ll use it in your daily life in your career as well – unlike all those algebra/history/Greek mythology classes in high school that you swore you’d never use in the real world.*  Here are some tips and tricks that have always helped me deal with my own deadlines.

  • List out everything that has to be done and categorize by priority.  I like to make an “active” to-do list and a “backlog” to-do list.  Limit the active list to 3 very important items.  Once an “active” item is complete, move the next most important task from “backlog” to “active.”
  • Give yourself several smaller deadlines.  Here’s where the lists come in handy.  Assign a deadline to each item on the list.  And be reasonable!  Sure, you’d like to have all 300 pages of assigned reading done by tomorrow, but that’s probably not realistic.  And then you’ll just feel more stressed out that you missed your deadline.  Figure out how much time each task reasonably takes.
  • Make sure you’re clear on the requirements of the assignment.  Nothing is worse than wrapping up a project and re-reading the syllabus only to find out that you have twice as much due than you’ve already done.
  • Avoid the roadblock of being overwhelmed.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I feel like a looming deadline is insurmountable, I shut down.  It’s really hard to get moving again after you’ve had the “it’ll never get done, why even try” freak-out.  So don’t let yourself get to that point.  Practice stress-relief exercises – yoga, snack break with friends, you get the idea.  Just don’t let your brief respites turn into procrastination (I’m looking at you, drawings of pterodactyls).
Image: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

It’s such a good idea to develop effective project management skills now.  You’re always going to have deadlines, you’re always going to have to collaborate on assignments (sometimes with people you don’t like very much), and you’re always going to need to figure out how to balance all these things without going completely crazy.  It’s possible that your future boss will appreciate your dinosaur pictures, but just in case she doesn’t, learn now how to juggle deadlines like a professional.

*You totally use them in the real world.  Greek mythology included.