“This Could Only Exist in Berlin”

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 Katie Black, PennDesign, LArch ’16

If there’s anything previous travel has taught me, it has been that almost always, my expectations of a city, it’s culture, places, and people, rarely match reality. Prior to moving to Berlin this summer, I kept this in mind.

Yet despite how much I tried, I had mental images of what the place would be like. In my stereotype-laden daydreams, Berlin was some kind of never-never land where artists and musicians lived in moody hovels, pushing the boundaries of their life’s work, while major political movements that epitomize the world’s zeitgeist forge on in the background. It was a hipster rats-nest, where you’re expected to stay up clubbing until sunrise and take advantage of the god-given ability to drink in its many public places. Everywhere in Berlin would be loaded with history, every street would have a million stories.

My convoluted images of the city were mish-mashed against the fact that I was coming to Berlin for work. My knowledge of landscape architecture offices, of deadlines and of cherished sleep after a long day of work, clashed with this David Bowie fantasyland I envisaged. I had no idea what my life would be like in Berlin, and when I got on the plane, I was scared.  How would I survive? How would I fit in?

The city and the internship that awaited me were both intimidating, and, for the first few weeks, life was lonely and challenging. Working at an international landscape architecture office on design competitions, I was one small part of a team of interns who helped to create graphics and design drawings that communicated the concepts, strategies, and intentions of the partners and associates at the helm of the firm. We were expected to work quickly and our office had high standards for our outputs.

While I worked long hours, I still had many chances to experience the city that at first seemed so daunting. My bike ride to work took me straight down Karl Marx Allee, a monumental socialist boulevard and a major axis of former East Berlin. I turned past the TV Tower towards the office, in an older part of city-center. My flatmates and coworkers were kind and welcoming, came from all over the world, and were happy to explore the city and show me their favorite places whenever we could.

Ultimately, my imagined disparity between a fantastical city and a demanding job proved untrue – they were not two separate entities but a tightly intertwined experience. As time went on, I found myself saying more and more, ‘This could only exist in Berlin’. My work experience, the projects I was exposed to, the people I met, all came together because of the pull of the city. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to learn about my chosen profession, international practice, and what makes cities magical.

More Than Resumes

by Fatimah Williams Castro, Ph.D., Career Counselor

I joined Career Services last year at the height of my team’s busy season – just a couple weeks before the fall semester began. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet graduate students and postdocs from many of the schools we serve during summer orientations and beginning of semester events.


My team is always sure to let master’s and doctoral students and postdocs know that we are here to assist with any of your career related or job search career questions – that’s right all of it. But students would still ask, “So you mean, I can come in with something other than just my resume?”

Any career advisors would answer, Yes and yes.


Truth is, the job search is never just about the resume. There’s all the questions that come before and after you submit a job application such as,

  • I want to use [this] skill in my future job, where can I find information on careers that use this skill?
  • How would I go about looking for a job in my favorite town on the West Coast while I’m here on the East Coast at Penn?
  • People tell me that I should network with alumni but I don’t know what to say to alumni or where to meet them.
  • How can I keep my options open for academic jobs and nonacademic jobs at the same time?
  • How do I manage multiple job offers?


These questions are wide ranging and address every stage of the job search and career development process, and they certainly extend beyond just resumes and CVs.

I’m writing this post to let you know that career advisors are here to assist you whether you are focused on positions research, teaching, industry/business, government, nonprofit or anything in between.

I’m still amazed that Career Services at Penn offers customized career support for graduate students and postdocs. Did you know that most university career offices primarily serve undergraduates? But lucky you (!), Penn is ahead of the curve with dedicated team members who understand master’s and doctoral training and how it shapes your outlook on your career options and career decision making.

So how can you get in on this customized career advice –and resume and CV help?

  • Schedule an appointment with a career advisor. These appointments are 30 minute advising sessions. Come in with your questions or even general comments like, “I’m not sure what I’d like to do, but I know I want help with figuring that out.” We are here during the summers in addition to the school year.
  • Stop by during walk ins. These are our 15 minute sessions that are most helpful when you have quick questions.
  • Attend the Job Search Series and the Academic Career Conference. We update our calendar regularly with new events and programs. Look for the ones that are specifically for graduate students and postdocs.

For an appointment and to check when we have office hours, call 215.898.7530. We look forward to seeing you at Career Services and around campus. 

An Upright Citizen

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 Aleah Welsh, COL ’16

WelshI’m running up 8th avenue. There’s a cool breeze but I’m hot and my legs are starting to cramp as my body rejects this sudden burst of physical activity it’s not accustomed to. It’s 4:53pm on a Friday and I’m going to be late to my interview with the Upright Citizens Brigade. I race into the lobby and slip on my “formal shoes” – suede booties with a small heel. I take the elevator to the twelfth floor trying to press the creases out of my shirt and letting the air conditioning cool my face and dry my sweat, the Declaration of Independence hidden safely in the lining of my briefcase. It’s 5:01. My breathing is still a little heavy as I meet my interviewer and look around at the other jeans-and-sneaker clad people in the office. I’m over dressed. I look down at the resume in my hand and realize it’s written entirely in comic sans. Dammit. I can’t believe I’ve screwed this up.

That day, as I walked aimlessly away from 520 8th avenue eating the street hot dog I had promised myself earlier, I convinced myself that this would be a funny memory if I got the job and not a painful tale of a horribly botched opportunity. You can imagine my surprise and excitement when, a month later, I got the news that I would, in fact, be spending my summer in New York City as a social media intern for one of the top comedy theaters in the world.

I’m one of four social media interns working with UCB this summer. My duties have ranged from drafting tweets to promote the various shows, to creating a photo scavenger hunt around Manhattan to promote the Del Close Marathon, an annual 56-hour-long improv festival. My boss handles all of the analytics for UCB’s social media presence, however, I have the freedom to craft posts for the company’s Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook. When I’m not organizing press mentions on an excel sheet or drafting tweets (I draft a lot of tweets), I’m familiarizing myself with UCB’s content and tone so my posts will remain consistent with the UCB voice. It has forced me to consider, from a branding perspective, the challenge of crafting a singular tone in the digital world that comes from multiple people.

The most exciting time of my internship was definitely working the Del Close Marathon. The festival brings together top improvisers from around the world including many famous comedians. During the marathon it was my job to keep UCB’s twitter account up to date on the size of the crowd at each of the seven venues so people could more easily decide which shows to attend. Walking from venue to venue all day gave me the chance to meet and talk to many different audience members, performers and creators. When I wasn’t working the festival I was able to attend some of the many shows and after parties. I got to know my fellow interns and really got a sense of what it feels like to be a part of this larger UCB community. I can confidently say that that weekend was one of the best experiences of the summer. The sense of excitement and community from participating in a celebration of something I love so much, something that everyone around me cares so much about, was joyfully overwhelming.

The end of the summer is near as is my time at UCB, but lately it feels like I eat, sleep and breathe comedy. I’m constantly engaged during my time in the UCB office but it doesn’t end there. As an intern I’m granted free admission to most UCB shows which I frequently go to with friends, other interns or sometimes alone. Some of the most memorable moments have been seeing performances by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Chris Gethard, Paul Adsit, Zack Woods and Amy Poehler (twice). Furthermore, being in this creative and supportive environment has inspired me to work on some of my own material; I’ve even tried my hand at stand up a few times.

This summer I’ve experienced what it means to like your job— not just your coworkers or the office environment— but what it’s like to be truly invested in the mission of the company and everything it stands for. Regardless of where I end up after graduation this is something I hope to find again, in any career.

My Female Summer in NYC – Living & Working With Women

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 Klaudia Amenábar, COL ’16

KlaudiaMy experiences working in groups of women has never been good. I’m a dancer and an actress, and in those environments it usually turns catty and unsupportive. So when I started my summer internship at MOGUL, a content sharing platform startup for women, and moved to a historic women’s boardinghouse in New York, I was honestly nervous. But on my first day, I went to a yacht party and saw T-Pain live. Welcome to MOGUL! This was going to be awesome.

I should start with living in New York. So far, I have found very few negatives – I feel the happiest I’ve been in a long time here, like I belong, like I have everything that I need around me. Sometimes I take a taxi to work just to stick my head out the window and feel the breeze and the city on my face. Even when I’m alone I feel like I’m in the right place, on the right path. I don’t know if this comes from what I’m doing or where I am, but I’ve always loved the city, and always loved New York. I come from Washington, DC, but the suburbs, and went to Penn because it was in a city. Deep down, I always knew I’d end up in New York after graduation, and this summer has only confirmed how much I want that. It has also given me the confidence to make that dream happen – I was honestly scared of moving straight to the city, but now that I’ve been here for a while in my “summer preview”, I can’t wait.

Despite loving New York so much, most of my time here has been dedicated to MOGUL. I knew going in that working at a small but fast-growing startup would be all-encompassing, but I had no idea what it meant professionally. When I worked on Capitol Hill, my work ended when I left. But at a small company like this, I have been given a lot of responsibility, and entrusted with a lot. Some days I go home and still have hours of work to do, but I remember that THAT is what I’m here for. 

While the work is engrossing and I’ve learned more than I could in a whole semester at school, my favorite part of the experience has been my coworkers. We work in a shared office, 4 employees plus some interns and remote coworkers, so we spend the whole day on our computers together. The conversation in the office flows seamlessly from closing investor deals to someone’s date last night, and we switch from laughing at cat videos to silently pinging each other on GMAIL chat. I feel personally connected to every woman in the office, especially the CEO Tiffany, and my mentor and department boss, Namisha. The women in this office are incredibly busy, and incredibly accomplished, and they take time out of their day that they could be making money to sit with me and teach me about marketing (and about life). I don’t mind staying late to work when I know I’ll have them by my side, simultaneously writing partner proposals and showing me an awesome new website to buy affordable dresses. 

My experience working at a startup, especially one staffed and created by women, has included everything from celebrity retweets and cool events to mountains of work and Chinese takeout. I am so glad they want me to continue working for them part time in the fall, because I would miss these women so much – their expertise, unique personalities and amazing generosity. 

Check out MOGUL at onmogul.com!