Networking: Depth vs. Breadth

By Mei Long

 Today’s social media and technology allow you to reach just about anyone. With QuakerNet (the Penn Alumni Database) and networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, thousands of alumni and professionals are just one click away. These networking sites are a great tool to identify and connect with people working in different fields and they provide an excellent opportunity to expand your network well beyond your direct social circle.

However the downside of the ease of these networking tools is that they can make networking a numbers game. But building a network is more than just growing the number of your connections.  In fact, the number of connections you have is meaningless if there is no depth in them, and depth starts from a genuine interest. If you are not interested in other people’s careers and you haven’t done enough research about them, chances are you are not likely to craft a personalized and compelling message, and they are not likely to respond to your request. So read their profiles and learn more about their careers and the fields before you reach out to them.

If they accept your request, this is just the beginning of the relationship. You can then ask for informational interviews to learn more about what they do and seek out advice.  Then show your appreciation by a hand-written note and a thank you email. But don’t let the relationship stop there. You want to continue to nurture it by keeping them posted on your progress once in a while – if people have invested time in your career, they want to see results. Besides, any long lasting relationship is a mutually beneficial one. So you don’t just talk about you and your career, you also show interest in their career advancement and personal well being.

Whenever it is possible, you should also give back. Ask what you can do for them. You may think because you are just a student, there is nothing you can offer. But trust me everyone can use a little bit of help here and there, as long as you are genuine in your offer. You can offer to write a recommendation for them on their LinkedIn profile. If they are Penn alumni, there may be opportunities for you to nominate them for an alumni award. If they are working on a very labor-intensive project, find out whether there is anything you can do to support. This list can go on and on, but the point I am trying to make is if you are mutually interested in each other’s careers and lives, chances are your relationship is going to blossom and your connections will look out for you just like they would do for their family and friends. Why? Because people tend to support those who care about them and whom they care about. This is simply human nature.


A Walk on the Wild Side: Love What You Do

lou-reedFor a while, I felt a little self-impelled to write Lou Reed kind of songs. I should have understood that a Lou Reed song was anything I wanted to write about.” – Lou Reed

Sglamour_women-of-the-year-maya-angelou-s-2009-speechuccess is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

The two quotes above are from American artists and cultural icons who passed away very recently. Together their statements address an issue that is often overlooked: while at this point most graduates are used to hearing the advice “do what you love,” I think it is just as important to love what you do.

There is a lot to be said for focusing on the rewards that, rather than coming from external recognition, are derived from self-development, being true to who you are at any moment, and enjoying the person who is growing and maturing. You do not always have to know your long-term goals, or even “follow your passion” in order to like yourself, like what you do, and like how you do it.    It is hard to argue with Ms. Angelou’s definition of success.  When Lou Reed stopped limiting himself to what he thought was the Lou Reed sound he found authentic appreciation for his own work.

To me, “love what you do” isn’t an exhortation to find something you love, but suggests that whatever task you take on, whatever role, you have the opportunity to make it yours. A job, project or career path has the potential to provide a measure of fulfillment if you look for the aspects of it that you appreciate. You can focus on what would improve it, and work towards making change. Or you can find that a job, even one you don’t want to do “forever,” might give you more insight into who you are and what matters to you.

In Honor of Memorial Day

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

In honor of Memorial Day, I want to thank all of the individuals who sacrificed their lives for others through their service in the U.S. military. Their heroic efforts have allowed many generations of individuals to pursue their dreams and ambitions. Today, as I reflect on this, I am also grateful for the opportunity to pursue one of my ambitions as a Career Services professional. So, on this day, I encourage everyone to reflect and be thankful for the chance to pursue your personal dreams and ambitions – career-related and otherwise.

Please note the Career Services office is closed today but will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, May 27 at 9:00AM.

Preparing for Consulting Case Interviews

By Barbara Hewitt

This spring I’ve met with a number of students who plan to devote time over the summer to preparing for consulting interviews for the upcoming year. In case interviews, the candidate will be given a real business challenge that an organization may face and be asked to have a conversation with the interviewer about the problem and possible resolutions to it. Case interviews are used to ascertain how well candidates listen, whether they think logically, and how well they can articulate their thoughts in a coherent and well-thought out manner. As a candidate in a consulting interview you are likely to get case questions for industries or problems with which you are unfamiliar, so it is impossible to know exactly what the “question” will entail. It is possible, however, to develop an understanding of the types of questions you might be asked and some typical solution structures. Many consulting candidates find it helpful to both review general approaches to solving cases as well as practice specific sample cases in advance of their actual interviews.

Career Services subscribes to two excellent resources for students who would like guidance on preparing for case interviews. They include:


Vault Career Insider



wetfeetWetFeet Insider Guides.


Both are available for free to current students from the online subscriptions link on the library section of the Career Services website. A valid PennKey and PennKey password are needed to access both resources.

Happy reading!

By the Book: Summer Preview

The Career Services office is open all summer long to help you with your career or graduate school planning.    This summer, we’re adding some stellar new additions to our library.  Why not stop by and cool off this summer in our comfortable library with one of these great books?

Here’s a sneak peak.

lean inLean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
From the publisher:
Expanded and updated exclusively for graduates just entering the workforce, this extraordinary edition of Lean In includes a letter to graduates from Sheryl Sandberg and six additional chapters from experts offering advice on finding and getting the most out of a first job; résumé writing; best interviewing practices; negotiating your salary; listening to your inner voice; owning who you are; and leaning in for millennial men.

In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In became a massive cultural phenomenon and its title became an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of best-seller lists both nationally and internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theaters, dominated op-ed pages, appeared on every major television show and on the cover of Time magazine, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership. Now, this enhanced edition provides the entire text of the original book updated with more recent statistics and features a passionate letter from Sandberg encouraging graduates to find and commit to work they love. A combination of inspiration and practical advice, this new edition will speak directly to graduates and, like the original, will change lives.

This title should be on the shelves in late May.

lean startupThe Lean Startup by Eric Ries
From the Publisher: Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

This title should be on the shelves in late May/early June.

mcat2105MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review Created for MCAT 2015 by Kaplan
From the Publisher: The MCAT is changing in 2015. With the addition of three semesters’ worth of material, more advanced critical thinking skills, a longer duration, and changes in content, the new exam requires even more diligent prep with resources from Kaplan Test Prep.

The seven-book MCAT set emulates Kaplan’s tried and true classroom experience. With its easy-to-follow format and helpful teacher commentaries and advice, students can be completely prepared for Test Day success.

Kaplan’s MCAT Review offers:

UNPARALLELED MCAT 2015 KNOWLEDGE: The Kaplan MCAT team has spent years studying every document related to MCAT 2015 available. In conjunction with our expert psychometricians, the Kaplan team is able to ensure the accuracy and realism of our practice materials.

THOROUGH SUBJECT REVIEW: Written by top-rated, award-winning Kaplan instructors. All material has been vetted by editors with advanced science degrees and by a medical doctor.

NEW PRACTICE QUESTIONS THROUGHOUT: Brand-new end-of-chapter questions and the introduction of Interactive Concept Checks, which allow students to identify their strengths and areas of opportunity in real time.

MORE PRACTICE THAN THE COMPETITION: With questions throughout the book and access to three full-length practice tests, Kaplan’s MCAT Review has more practice than any other MCAT books on the market.

TOP-QUALITY IMAGES: With dozens of new images and full-color, 3-D illustrations, charts, graphs and diagrams from the pages of Scientific American, Kaplan’s MCAT Review turns even the most intangible, complex science into easy-to-visualize concepts.

KAPLAN’S MCAT REPUTATION: Kaplan gets more people into medical school than all other courses, combined.

These books will be available in early July.