A Natural Fit

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Melody Cooke, WH ’16

COOKE2After living in Florida and California for most of my life, I had very few expectations and reference points as to what my summer experience would be like in New York City and Long Island. In addition, there wasn’t much information online about the program or company I was interning at and even less information about the area I was living in. Nevertheless, I took a chance and I couldn’t be happier with my decision as this was my favorite internship experience by far.

The company that I was interning at was called Hain Celestial. Most people have never heard of the company, in fact I knew nothing about it until I applied. Although the company’s name doesn’t ring a bell, a lot of their natural and organic brands ring a bell in consumers’ ears. For example, they own Celestial Seasonings Tea, Terra Chips, Sensible Portions, Almond Dream, Health Valley and Greek Gods Yogurt to just name a few. In fact, walk into a Whole Foods and you’ll run into one of their products/brands in almost every aisle. It wasn’t until I started working at Hain that I realized that it was actually the leading CPG (consumer packaged good) company for natural and organic products. On the food and beverage side, almost all of Hain’s products are USDA Organic and/or Non-GMO Project Verified along with gluten, dairy and allergen free lines and overall healthier and cleaner ingredients than comparable products. On the personal care side, almost all of Hain’s products are free from harsh chemicals, parabens, petrolatum and phthalates, have 100% vegetarian ingredients and no animal testing. Even though it was a niche and less well known market, it felt great to be working with high quality and wholesome products that are healthier and better for people and their families.

COOKE1During the summer, I got to work with the Snacks Marketing team on Terra Chips, Garden of Eatin’ and Sensible Portions. I was assigned an amazing mentor who challenged me and awesome team that supported me and gave me feedback. Both my team and projects were a great fit because we had similar work styles and thinking plus I was able to apply and develop my analytical, communication, presentation and collaboration skills on a variety of projects and hands-on tasks. Everyday I had the opportunity to learn something new about brand management and CPG, a field that I’m very interested in pursuing after graduation. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to participate in meetings and work on projects that were actually applicable to my team and Hain’s future competitive strategy. What’s great about Hain was that it was big enough to have a diverse portfolio to work on yet still small enough to have a tight knit team to allow faster execution of plans and opportunities to spearhead projects for Hain’s growth.

Aside from my projects, I also had the chance to attend a sweet potato photoshoot with our communications and packaging team (yes, there is such a thing as a food stylist!) as well as visit the PR agency that we work with in Manhattan to learn about data analytics.

The HR department did an excellent job of organizing events that enriched the program. For example, every Wednesday we had lunch & learn’s where someone from one of the departments would present and answer questions about their work and past experiences. They also took us to the Terra Chip Factory in Moonachie, NJ and gave us a Long Island experience by taking us to a Mets game. Finally, all of the interns from different departments were assigned to a group project in which we presented in front of upper management at the end of the internship. We even had an opportunity to have lunch with the CEO three times.


I was really amazed by the program and how well developed it was since was only established last year. They always welcomed feedback and continued to improve the program throughout the summer.  I definitely recommend the program to anyone interested in CPG, brand management/marketing and learning about the natural and organic industry (non-gmo project verified, organic, clean ingredient products).

Overall this was an amazing summer with a great internship that really fit my skills, interests and goals to pursue brand management in CPG. I want to thank Career Services for their generous support from first helping me with my application to finally making this internship and moving to New York possible.

Interning at Department of State

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Krishnan Sethmuadhavan, COL ’16

Krishnan Sethumadhavan (1)This summer, I had the privilege of working at the Department of State’s Economics and Business Bureau (EB), specifically in the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy. For somebody who has always had an interest in foreign policy, getting this internship was truly a dream come true. The ability to see American foreign policy being created first-hand was something that I only had dreamed of and the fact that I would have the ability (no matter how small) to shape it myself was really icing on top of the cake. At the University of Pennsylvania, I am studying economics in the College and Public Policy in Wharton and because the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy really lies at the intersection of foreign and economic policy, it furthered my understanding of what I was learning in classes in a practical sense.

The Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy (EPPD) works on a number of highly interesting issues, all of which I had the opportunity to take part in through my internship. The EPPD creates policy analysis for decision-makers and organizes seminars with outside experts to inform rapidly changing policy processes. EPPD also leads the US relationship with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on vital international economic issues and manages the EB Advisor Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP). Due to the diversity of the topics taken on, my role as an intern was part policy analysis, part paper-writer, and part event planner. Specifically, I worked on helping to create the Economics and Business Bureau’s strategic planning document over the course of the next three years. This document lays out the objectives of the Bureau over the near future and moreover, the indicators that will show success or failure of these objectives.

Two things really struck me about this planning document. The first was the sheer breadth that the document covered – nearly every region of the world and as many policy topics you could think of were part and parcel of EB’s plan for American foreign policy. This was a direct outgrowth of the fact that during John Kerry’s tenure as Secretary of State, he made the bold claim that “Foreign policy is economic policy” and that economic policy, short of war, is the way in which the United States will make its mark on the world. The second thing that surprised me was the quantitative nature of the metrics being utilized in the planning document and the number of indicators that existed. In deciding foreign policy, the State Department has begun moving away from seemingly wishy-washy ideas of success to a more measured and measurable methodology. This approach has its benefits and its costs, but on the whole, it appeared to be a commendable attempt at ensuring accountability in government.

Another major issue that I worked on during my time at EPPD was working with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although I had been aware of the OECD prior to this internship due to their ubiquity as a statistics database on all things in the global economy, I was not aware of the wider role that they play and their attempts to escape the image that they hold as a “rich man’s club.” These efforts include doing things like having Latin American countries accede to the OECD and utilizing a “key partners” framework to engage emerging economies like those of Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, and South Africa. Another key issue in which I was not aware of the OECD’s importance was in tax reform and the issue of Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) and the tax planning strategies of multinational corporations. Through my work at EPPD, I got a chance firsthand to see the power the OECD has in determining international tax policy and how jealously it guards it. For example, at the Addis Ababa conference on financing international development, developed nations (like those of the OECD) fought back an attempt by developing countries to create an international tax agency that would be under the United Nations and would remove the OECD’s role in international tax reform.

The amazing nature of my internship was further supplemented by the fact that Washington D.C. is such an amazing city. I had the opportunity to explore the many cultural and wonderful touristy sights that Washington has to offer. During my 10 weeks there, I saw everything from an outdoor French cultural festival to dancing construction cranes (courtesy of Capital Fringe) to the world’s largest Paella Festival! In addition, I got to take a picture with Secretary Kerry along with other State Department Interns and made a bunch of friends both from Penn and outside of it. I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything else in the world and want to thank both the mentors I met and Career Services for making this possible. I hopefully will return to DC in the near future as a Foreign Service Officer, something that my time in DC has confirmed will be my career in the future.


Job Search Self-Talk: Asking Yourself Better Questions

by Sharon Fleshman

Why am I not getting interviews?
Why didn’t I get an offer?
How many applications do job seekers typically send out?

For those in the midst of the job search, questions like these are posed at some point, and not without valid reasons.   However, I wonder about the effect of asking them too often and for too long.  I imagine that ruminating on the first two queries could produce a downward spiral of frustration that is counterproductive.  The hiring process can be complex and answers to these questions can be hard to pin down.  There may very well be concrete reasons for not getting interviews or offers, but might there also be better questions to ask to get reenergized? From time to time, I hear the third question from those who seek a formula for sending just the right amount of applications.  Yet, is such a strategy really helpful?

Consider the following questions:

  • How can I identify jobs that best fit my skills, interests and work values?
  • How can I connect the dots between my skills, strengths and accomplishments, and what is most important to the employer?
  • How can I show where my core values and interests align with the mission and values of the employer?
  • How can I speak with those who can offer more insight into the job market for my targeted career fields?

Notice the shift from disappointment toward possibility.  These questions are more empowering as they address actions that the job seeker can take in the quest for interviews and offers.  If you are feeling drained by the questions you are asking yourself about the job search, check in with a Career Services advisor who can help you refocus.

“What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” – Jonas Salk

Becoming a Member of the Team

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Whitney Carriveau, COL ’16

I remember when I first interviewed to be an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Wellen’s lab at the Abramson Cancer Center. It was cold, perhaps one of the first days of the winter season where the snow actually stuck to Philadelphia’s city streets. I had made the mistake of wearing open toed flat shoes and I was paying for it with nearly frost bitten toes. They were my only formal shoes at the time and I wanted to look presentable. “I’m a tough Minnesotan girl. I can handle the snow,” I repeated to myself as I quickened my pace down Curie Boulevard. I wanted this job more than anything in the world and I knew being late wouldn’t vouch for my seriousness; there was no time to return home to get new shoes. When I arrived, Dr. Wellen had showed me around the lab and introduced me to the other researchers. I was clearly over dressed, which made me further regret my shoe choice. Not only did I feel awkward and out of place, but I was intimidated by the professional setting of a reputable cancer research laboratory.

Much time has passed since that day, some things have changed and some have stayed the same. While I still appreciate the opportunity to work alongside the other researchers in Dr. Wellen’s laboratory, I can truthfully say that I no longer feel awkward or intimidated. Rather I feel as if I am a valuable member of this team. This summer has given me the experience and the confidence to effectively work alongside of this research team. I know that I am contributing in many ways to the research we are conducting. I’ve gained knowledge and learned experimental techniques that I hope will facilitate my future goals as an MD-PhD student. I have had the opportunity to collaborate on projects with some of the great minds that work here at the University of Pennsylvania and I’ve learned unmeasurable amounts of information about cancer metabolism.

This summer I was able to take things I had learned in the classroom, things I imagined I might never get to apply to real life situations, and apply them to work that I did every day. Specifically, I remember taking biochemistry my junior year and going through problem set after problem set, trying to arrive at predetermined answers provided on a key. However, this summer I had no key, but instead both a vast amount of resources allowing me to search for unknown answers and a post-doc who supported and guided me through the process.

More important than any scientific discoveries, I have built great relationships with people I now consider mentors and role models. The researchers I worked alongside of have made my experience as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Wellen’s lab exciting in many ways. They have helped me learn and grow as a young scientist in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Many of them are at different steps in their own academic careers and have provided great insight on how to pursue my future goals. They have ultimately helped me further shape my passions for cancer biology and plans for my future academic career.

Lessons in Language

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Kathryn Solomon, COL ’16

Most of us do not think much about our ability to communicate. Whether it was learning one, two, or even several different languages as a child, your ability to speak likely developed with ease. In fact, language acquisition is often described by linguists as instinctive–something that comes as naturally as eating or breathing. For many people, however, learning to speak is not so easy. At Boston University, the department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences trains students to recognize and diagnose speech and language disorders in children and adults–disorders that can impair the ability to physically form speech sounds, to understand language, or to express thoughts and ideas with language.

I spent my summer working in the Boston University Child Language Lab, studying speech and language patterns in typically-developing and autistic children under the guidance of Dr. Sudha Arunachalam. Working all summer in the lab, accompanied by students with similar interests, has helped to reaffirm my decision to pursue a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology after graduation. Although finding my niche in the incredibly broad field of psychology has been one of my greatest challenges while at Penn, I finally focused my interests onto the study of language after taking several courses in psycholinguistics this past year. In the spring, I was ecstatic to find out that I would be spending my summer working in the Child Language Lab studying language acquisition.

My time in the lab has taught me about some of the many methods used to study the way that children acquire language as they develop. Using a computer monitor that has built-in eye tracking software, we can track where a child looks as she hears a word for the first time. For example, a child participating in a study will be simultaneously presented with two videos, each displaying a different action. They will then hear a dialogue that contains a nonsense verb (e.g. “The boy is mooping”). The eye tracking software allows us to determine which video the child prefers to look at as she hears this new word, and this data is later used to infer what kinds of information she was able to extract from visual clues present in the video and from the syntax of the sentence. The knowledge that is ultimately gained from these studies helps to inform the development of clinical treatments for children with speech and language disorders.

While the studies themselves are fairly rigid in how they must be conducted, we also had plenty of time to play around and have fun with the toddlers and young children who came in to participate. The lab is well equipped with an abundance of toys and books that we used to help each child feel a little more comfortable in the new environment. Interacting with the children, who were hilarious and adorable, was by far my favorite part of working in the lab, and it only helped to strengthen my desire to eventually work with children in a clinical setting. I was also able to watch one of our PhD students perform developmental testing on several of the younger participants, which provided me with a much more thorough understanding of what my future career might be like.

Although most days were spent running studies, coding data, and organizing consent forms, the experience that I gained in the lab was not limited to research. I also had the valuable opportunity to learn about the study and practice of speech-language pathology from Boston University students pursuing a similar path. I made new friends with whom I shared plenty of stories and laughs, and I got to explore the beautiful city of Boston. Most importantly, I was able to spend my summer studying a topic that I have become extremely passionate about, and I am now that much more excited to begin training for my future career. Working in the Child Language Lab all summer was an incredibly fun, informative, and rewarding experience. Thank you to Dr. Arunachalam and to Career Services for providing me with this amazing opportunity!