The Twisted Career Path of John Hodgman

J. Michael DeAngelis, Information Resources Manager

Cheesemonger.  Book Editor.  Literary Agent.  Magazine Writer.  Advice Columnist.  Author.  PC. (Not a Mac.)  Actor.  Comedian.  Internet Podcast Judge.  Deranged Millionaire.

The path John Hodgman took to his current career is not your usual one.  In fact, I’d say it’s one of the more unique I’ve come across.  Listening to John tell the story of how he went from not knowing what career he wanted at all to becoming a “minor television celebrity” is, to me, inspiring.   I’ve written in the past about my own non-traditional career path, but what I like about John’s story is how he used each part of his career path to springboard him into the next, even if it didn’t look like a logical leap on paper.

Most of all, I admire his willingness to take chances and to say yes to opportunities that were presented to him, even if they seemed scary or unattainable.  Enjoy this video with John discussing his unexpected career with comedian (and native Philadelphian) Paul F. Tompkins and think about what turns your own career may take.

Your Summer Network

by Shannon C. Kelly

“It’s all about networking.”


No matter what your summer plans were, whether you interned, volunteered abroad, or conducted research on a college campus, if you met new people, your network grew.  Now that summer is wrapping up, it’s important to make sure you can take your summer network with you.  The saying “It’s all about networking” is true because it’s not just who you know, but who knows you when it comes to looking for your next internship or full-time position.

1. Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the first tool that comes to mind to stay in touch with your new connections.  If you’re not using LinkedIn yet, sign up right now, or at least when you have 5 minutes.  Their Student Jobs 101 website is immensely helpful with tutorials and checklists to get you up and running on the platform.

2. Personalize Connection Requests.  On LinkedIn, the power lies in your connections.  When you reach out to your colleagues or peers you met this summer, make sure you personalize your note.  Adding a simple line makes a big difference to show you took the time to remind them how you met and/or why you’d like to connect.  This rule applies to other platforms, too.

3. Leverage Other Platforms. There are many other social networking sites that can help you stay in touch with your summer network.  Facebook is a natural choice, but be mindful of who you’re adding and how you use Facebook already.  Do you want to keep it personal or are you comfortable adding professional contacts? Twitter is also helpful, especially if you’re an active user already.  Twitter can help you build your network beyond those you met this summer through by including popular hashtags related to your professional interests, participating in Twitter Chats, and following organizations and their employees.

If you’d like to learn more about using LinkedIn or social media to stay in touch with your summer network or build it up even more, utilize our resource, Build Your Brand. Remember, we also over LinkedIn Profile reviews – so come in to see us if you have questions!


Let it Go (and other Career Take-Aways from Frozen)

By Claire Klieger with contributions from Jamie Grant

frozencastYou can get just about any merchandise these days with Elsa, Olaf or Anna splashed across it and it’s everywhere. Even during my visit to the shore last weekend all of the boardwalk stalls were lined with Frozen shirts (side-by-side with more traditionally kitschy shirts featuring such slogans as “Rules for Dating my Daughter,” “I pooped today,” and “Twerk Champion”). As the mother of two young daughters, it’s difficult for me to go a day without a few “Frozen” moments of song or movie. So, ready or not, here are some take-aways from the film (you’re welcome!):

“Let it Go.” Of course, it goes without saying that in addition to being arguably the most overplayed song of spring 2014, this is the most obvious career-related message from the movie.  Let go of some of the career expectations you or others have for yourself because you are most likely to be successful in any career that is aligned with your talents and interests. While it may not result in an eternal winter, being pressured into a role that isn’t the right fit for you or being in the wrong job for the wrong reasons can be pretty miserable. So, embrace your own interests – and if that happens to be ice architecture…great.disney-frozen-elsa-ice-palace-chandelier

Don’t decide on a career (or job offer) in a day. Anna takes a lot of flak in the movie, both from her sister and others, about accepting a marriage proposal from someone she met that same day. It quickly becomes clear (spoiler alert!) that she hasn’t thought things through and perhaps jumped into her decision a little too hastily.  Similarly, students who accept job or internship offers too quickly can also often experience “buyer’s remorse.” While accepting a job offer is hopefully not as critical of a decision as accepting a marriage proposal, still take a day or two at minimum to fully consider the offer.  And, while you do, come talk to us about how to best negotiate if you’re serious about the position.

OakenBe entrepreneurial (or willing to take risks). Frozen is filled with characters who have made their own way. Whether it’s  an ice vendor entrepreneur, a small trading post owner, or a cryokinetic queen, these characters embrace their independence and are not afraid to forge their own paths, even in the face of adversity (who buys ice in winter?) or the opinions of others (i.e. Elsa finding a place she could be herself).

“Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs.”  While it is probably not advisable to go around hugging random strangers, there is definitely something to be said for being nice to everyone you meet throughout your olafcareer journey. This is a theme you’ve heard before on this blog, but “honey” goes a lot further than vinegar in getting what you want in a professional setting. From networking to interviews to negotiating salary and being successful in your workplace, being professional and cordial works wonders! Of course, a little of Olaf’s self-deprecating humor never hurts either.

Your own happy career “ending” may not be only 120 minutes or so away, but these are all principles that can help you get there!

Change your feet…, and other useful career advice

Dr. Joseph Barber

Those of you who have watched Disney’s “Brave” will probably have taken away some of the following points from watching the film:

  1. Your fate is in your own hands – be proactive and stand up for what you believe in
  2. Some witches believe that turning people into bears is the answer to any problem
  3. Don’t buy gammy spells from scaffy witches!

There is all sorts of important career-related advice one could probably take from this film – I’ll leave you to extract most of this. It is pretty direct in terms of the message it tries to get across…, unless you are four-year-old who isn’t very familiar with Scottish accents. If you happen to be one of these people, then the film makes no sense at all. With that nice Scottish accent, the key message of the film, “change your fate”, ends up sounding more like “change your feet”. I know this because when I asked my four-year-old what she thought “Brave” was all about, she said it had to do with taking your shoes off and getting new ones. From her perspective, Brave was all about finding the right shoes – a process involving:

  • Magical sprites
  • Terrifying bears
  • Limb loss
  • Suitors competing with one another
  • Mother-daughter arguments
  • Witches
  • Spells
  • Regret, resentment, and guilt
  • More terrifying bears
  • Mother-daughter bonding
  • Self-discovery
  • Did I mention the terrifying bears?

It is perhaps not surprising that my daughter is not so keen on going shoe-shopping when given the choice. From her perspective, the high likelihood that some of these situations may arise must certainly be a trifle off-putting. Actually, changing your shoes is still not a bad analogy for all sorts of good career-related advice in terms of the process of changing your fate. In fact, it is a much more practical approach that is easier to visualize and implement. I might be wary of messing with the cosmos by playing with my fate…, but I am much less scared by the notion of trying on a different pair of shoes for a while to see if they fit, or if I like the way they look, or the direction they are taking me.

The advice I am going to extract from this film for you, however, is focused on how you talk about your experiences in your application materials. Accents don’t interfere with what you write in your cover letter or CV/resume, although poor English certainly does, but there can be accent-like issues. If you describe your experiences and skills by talking solely about your academic research in a very academic research kind of way, then you will have a “research accent” or an “academic accent” to your resume. People who read this resume who are not researchers (perhaps they are program administrators, HR staff, or business executives) may not understand what skill you are trying to demonstrate when they read your descriptions because of these accents. They may take away a completely different meaning from what you have written, even though it sounds like it makes perfect sense to you. As you apply for jobs in a broad range of career fields, you will need to become familiar with the different accents you can use to translate your experiences in different ways. It can be hard to first understand and then learn new accents if all you do is read about them online, so the best approach is to immerse yourself in environments where those around you are using these accents all the time. In other words, network with people working in different career fields and find opportunities to interact with them (e.g., volunteer opportunities, informational interviews, internships). You’ll pick up some of the accent in no time at all, and it will be very helpful in your applications and interviews within that career field.

Whether you hope to change your fate or your feet, you will find that the fantastic network of Penn alumni you can connect with through QuakerNet and LinkedIn will be invaluable. Like the wisps, they can point you in the right direction…, unlike the wisps, they probably won’t lead you down a path that ends with terrifying bears (probably). Listen to what they say and use what you hear to help you refine the way you talk about your own experiences.

Next time, perhaps I will talk about the career advice you can glean from Disney’s “Frozen”. Here’s a hint, I think it will be along the lines of “Let it go…, Let it go…”

The question is, what is “it”?


The Summertime FAQ Blues

Tamara Mason, Administrative Assistant, Wharton and Engineering

With the end of summer break quickly approaching, it might be difficult for some to get back into the swing of university life again. Whether it’s working at an internship, doing summer volunteer work, or just hanging out with friends, the beginning of the school year is just around the corner and the transition can be somewhat jarring. Not to be an alarmist or cause any undue feeling of doom and gloom as the end of summer nears, but as the Administrative Assistant for the Wharton and Engineering schools here at Career Services, I find that all too often students come back to campus only to be bombarded by the onslaught of school responsibilities while at the same time trying to navigate the sometimes treacherous path of Fall recruiting. Because most of the panicked calls come directly to me, and to alleviate some of the stresses associated with the On-Campus Recruiting season, I’d like to address some concerns that students will inevitably have upon their return.

1. Although it is popular belief that On-Campus recruiting is for Wharton students only, the misconception is completely false. On-Campus recruiting is for any undergraduate/graduate/PhD student (within one year of graduating) who wants to apply for full-time positions or summer internships for those who are not within one year of graduating.

2. “I don’t see the On-Campus Recruiting link on my PennLink account”, says Student X half way through the recruiting season. Please, please, please, before you start your foray into On-Campus recruiting, be sure that your PennLink account is up-to-date. There have been countless students who have come into the office half way through the recruiting season to alert us that they haven’t been receiving notifications about resume drops for positions to which they would have loved to apply. This is the most common issue I run into with students at the start of fall recruiting and unfortunately once the date has passed there is nothing we can do to plop a student into closed resume drops. The On-Campus Recruiting link only appears when a student is eligible for it and the system determines that based on your graduation date. If for any reason your graduation date has changed, it is your responsibility to change it in PennLink (it will not be done automatically). Every student should be in the habit of making sure that their PennLink account is up-to-date and that all the necessary fields are filled in on their profiles. For additional OCR tips, please see our OCR page here:

3. Most importantly… while On-Campus recruiting, or the job search in general for that matter, can be somewhat hellish and stressful, don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t get so worked up that you turn it into a bad experience. On-Campus recruiting was designed to be an aid to students so that they didn’t have to juggle school work with trying to travel to different companies for interviews; it was made for your convenience. Take it easy on yourself!

The Career Services office is always here to assist students in their career planning needs. Stop in and see us! We are open 9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday. Check out our website at where you will find lot of additional information to assist.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you back here in September!