By the Book: Brand New VAULT Guides Now Online!

Vault released our newest guidebooks titles and updates this week! Titles include Vault Career Guide to Energy, Vault Career Guide to the Internet and Social Media, Vault Career Guide to Insurance, Vault Career Guide to Advertising, Vault Career Guide to Accounting, Vault Career Guide to Public Relations and Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceuticals and Biotech.

Vault Career Guides offer an insider’s perspective on what’s happening in these industries, what it takes to break in, and how to advance your career.  Each volume provides a comprehensive overview of the industry and expert advice and tips for uncovering job opportunities, networking, preparing your cover letter and resume, interviewing, and keeping current on industry news and trends. Interviews and case studies guides offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of what hiring managers look for in a candidate and how others have succeeded in landing their jobs or advancing their careers. These guides place you in the shoes of an established professional, and an extensive glossary and resource list put all the industry knowledge you need to succeed at your fingertips. Each Vault Career Guide includes:

  • The Scoop: Everything you need to know about what your industry does, its history, who works in it, and where it’s going.
  • Getting Hired: Practical information on researching potential employers, networking, interviewing, and getting in the door.
  • On the Job: A look at life on the job and the industry culture.
  • Talk Like a Pro: A glossary of industry jargon and key terms.
  • Resources: Associations, organizations, Web sites and other resources to help you plan and advance your career.

VAULT Guides are made available to current Penn students and Penn alumni with an active PennKey.  Visit our Career Services Library Online Subscriptions page to gain access to these new guides


Advice from Your Peers: Penn Doctoral Students on the Job Search

Have you wondered how Penn PhDs are using Career Services in their job search efforts?  Each year, Career Services works with hundreds of Penn doctoral students and postdocs in their career exploration, planning and job search efforts.   We also conduct “Career Plans Surveys” of recent PhD graduates, to find out their post-graduation plans and to ask them to share their advice with current students.  Below are just a sample of the responses we have received very recently – each with some direct and doable suggestions for making the most of your time and the resources here at Penn.  These graduates, representing a wide variety of disciplines, utilized Career Services for doctoral students/postdocs as one component of their job search efforts. We encourage you take advantage of their insights:

Linguistics PhD (2012), currently a lecturer at a university in the United Kingdom:  
“I made heavy use of the Academic Job Search Handbook, the sample materials available on the Career Services website (and similar materials on the website of Berkeley’s Career Center), and one-on-one meetings with Career Services staff. I strongly think knowing how to craft a well-formulated research statement and cover letter helped me get a leg up, because I was short-listed for two jobs in departments where I didn’t have any close contacts, and I really think that was due to how I sold myself in my application materials. That said, for the one offer I did end up getting, I had three close faculty contacts in the department: so there is a large element of networking and luck in the process. But I do really feel that Career Services helped to demystify the process and show me how to write about my work in a promising and intelligent way.”

Sociology PhD (2012), currently a postdoc at a R1 institution:
“One of my committee members hired me for a project he is working on.  In terms of advice I’d give other students, I’d say develop ties with academic people outside of your committee, talk to people in your field, meet as many people as possible.  Also I would highly recommend using Career Services.  Although that’s not how I got this job, I had interviews thanks to the help I got from the career advisors at Penn.”  (Check out Career Services resources on the academic job search.)

Bioengineering PhD (2012) currently a consultant with an international management consulting firm:
“I went to Career Services first to get my first few concrete steps, which were to write a resume along with reaching out to alumni on PACnet (now called QuakerNet). The initial networking and research helped me determine which field I wanted to pursue first, so I could focus the limited time and energy I had on optimizing my resume and cover letter for that niche. I then went to Career Services about eight more times to hone my resume and cover letter, so I had a solid platform to apply to many jobs quickly.  After that, I reached out to anyone who would talk to me in that field to either get advice or do case studies.  Pithy advice: prioritize; get an outside coach who knows the process to let you know where you should focus your energies because you can’t do everything.” (Click here for information on consulting for PhDs.)

Communications PhD (2013), currently a postdoc at a R1 institution:
“1. Create a list of what you want out of a career, what you enjoy doing, what you are good at doing, and where you would like to live.
2. Networking throughout the entire time as a student is important to get to know organizations, institutions, or individuals who do similar types of work or research. This could be at informal meetings, lunch seminars, conferences. And it helps to inform your choices of courses, projects, and research topics during the program. Don’t wait until the last year to do this.*
3. Start about a year before the expected date of graduation to scan through position announcements that seem to match those in the list and get a sense of skills and responsibilities that are required.
4. Attend many of the excellent Career Services workshops; make appointments with the CS advisors along every stage of the job search process.
5. Keep in touch with your referees during the search process about your plans, outcomes from interviews, etc.
6. Before interviewing, talk to as many people as possible who are familiar about the organization e.g., alumni, advisors, or faculty.
7. Staying positive and keeping the search in perspective and balancing the search with other daily demands is really important too.
8. Thank everyone who helped you and gave advice along the way.”

View our suggested PhD career planning steps/timeline here.

Speaking of “thanks”…..  Career Services is grateful for all the doctoral students who fill out our surveys and take the time to share their advice with us on behalf of their peers.

Why I Go To the StartUp Fair – A Student Perspective

With Penn Career Services’ StartUp Fair (open to Penn students and alumni served by Career Services) scheduled for Thursday, February 20, I wanted to share a student’s perspective on attending the fair. Thanks to Chenyang (Ray) Lei and Wharton Entrepreneurship for sharing this story:

The following blog is posted courtesy of Wharton Entrepreneurship.

Why I Go To The Startup Fair
By Chenyang (Ray) Lei ENG’16

Last year, I went to the Career Services Startup Fair. I was only a freshman, but I knew that I wanted an internship at a startup that summer. And I got one.

It wasn’t an easy process. As a freshman without any working experience, I received countless rejections. I suspect that many companies didn’t even bother to read my resume. I almost booked flight tickets back home to China (Thanks! It was too expensive.) Heavily disappointed, I decided to take another approach.

From the Career Fair, I was familiar with SaleMove, and I was excited about the work they did, replicating an offline personalized sales experience in an online environment using cutting edge technologies. I called up Daniel Michaeli, the CEO of SaleMove, and I told him about myself: what I was studying and what I was looking for. I did everything I could to show him my passion for entrepreneurship.

Daniel told me later that he was surprised by the amount of confidence shown by a freshman—and he decided to give me a chance. I was assigned a coding project. The only problem? It was due during midterm week. I pulled a couple of all-nighters and finished the project with the help of some friends. After that, I went to New York for an onsite interview. And as you already know, I got the internship.

I was successful in negotiating a stipend for the summer from SaleMove. The problem was the high cost of living in NYC, so I applied for a Wharton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship and was award a Cai Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow (Read my Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow report here!).  I highly recommend that people apply for these fellowships.

My path to getting an internship at a startup wasn’t a straight line. It was hard, and I had to do more than just send out resumes and wait for the phone to ring. But it was worth it. I want to start my own tech venture in the future, and a real startup environment pushed me towards being a better technician and a potential entrepreneur. My experience at the startup did change me a lot. I had an awesome time in New York City, with all the great experiences offered by the Big Apple. I built up my career connections, technical skills, and self-confidence.

I’m going to the Startup Fair again this year, and I encourage you to do the same. You’ll meet people, talk to them, learn about opportunities—and you never know when those connections may come in handy. I’m already interviewing for some engineering summer intern positions on the West Coast, but last year’s experience taught me that the process of getting an internship can be complicated, and I want to see who else is hiring. I may need to cold call one of them.

5 Ways the Bolt Bus is Like your Job Search

by Dr. Joseph Barber

Greyhound_BoltBus_80021. It’s a little chaotic
The process of getting on board the Bolt bus can feel a little confusing – especially if it is your first time traveling using this service. People are standing around asking each other whether this is the right place for the bus to wherever. The most common response is often “I hope so…”. Your own job search can start off in a similar way. You’ll ask your friends and colleagues what they are doing to look for jobs, and there will be some group-level hope that you are doing it in the right way. Don’t worry, you’ll soon find your way after what seems like a stuttering start. If you see the job search as a multi-step process, then this can help you navigate your path more effectively. Step 1: feel mentally prepared to begin and then do so!

2. That $1 ticket
When you are booking your bus tickets online, occasionally you will catch sight of the elusive $1 ticket. Typically, this is for a journey time that doesn’t work for your plans. Having some flexibility in your travel plans can help you take advantage of this. Similarly, you may find great opportunities beyond the narrow search parameters you might have set yourself at the beginning of your search. There is likely a niche for your passion and skills in every industry and career field.

3. You never know who you will meet
I would be very happy if I always had 2 seats to myself on the Bolt bus. Cheap tickets to and from NYC are hard to resist, though, and so you are likely to have some company. See these as networking opportunities. When you are on the job hunt you will be interacting with many different people, and the questions you ask and clarifications you seek can be the beginnings of really useful discussions.

4. Seatbelts
Sometimes the bus journey can feel a little bit rough. Don’t feel embarrassed to wear your seatbelts. In job terms, take the time to stop and chat with a career advisor if you feel stuck or have hit some obstacles. We are happy to discuss action plans and next steps with you.

5. Point A to B
Getting that job is your goal, and if you use the right tools then you will eventually get there. The Bolt bus doesn’t do a bad job – even on icy days like today. It isn’t the only way to get to NYC, though, and with some forethought you can also integrate different strategies to reach your destination. You next job will likely come from a combination of online applications, career fairs, networking, informational interviews, and a sprinkling of blind luck.

Good luck and come and see us in Career Services soon. Perhaps I’ll even see you on the Bolt bus this semester!

4 Tips to Writing an Effective Personal Statement for Professional School Applications

The personal statement can be the most daunting part of an application to professional school. What do I write about? How do I eloquently convey my thoughts? How can I possibly stay within the stated space limit? Here are 4 quick tips to help you make the most of this opportunity to share yourself with the admissions committee.

  1. Be self-reflective and introspective. What insights have you learned about yourself through a particular experience? Share one or two of your personal qualities, abilities, or characteristics by focusing on a meaningful experience you had. Do not simply restate your resume in narrative form or summarize all of your college experiences. Rather, convey something about yourself beyond your test scores, transcript, and resume. Use your personal statement to tell the admissions committee something about yourself that they cannot glean from the rest of your application, such as your compassion, determination, or meticulousness.
  2. Be concise and straightforward. Admissions officers will be reading thousands of these essays. They won’t have the patience for rhetorical flourishes. The introductory sentence and paragraph are the most important parts; use them to grab the reader’s attention and create a good first impression.
  3. Keep it positive. A personal statement is usually not the place to explain a weakness in your application, such as a low grade or test score. Save that for the secondary application (for medical school applicants) or a brief addendum.
  4. Proof-read! Again. And Again. And then have someone else read it and give you feedback. Ask that person what your personal statement says about you. Is that the impression you want to make? Finally, be sure to follow character or length limits to demonstrate that you can follow directions.

We in the pre-professional team here in Career Services are happy critique your personal statement and provide you with feedback. We also offer Personal Statement Workshops; you can find the dates and times on the Career Services calendar: