Dianne Hull, Associate Director

The conclusion of an academic year is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and to make plans and goals for the future. Students at Penn have so many successes to celebrate, but sometimes students focus more on what didn’t work out for them than what DID.  The reality is that even the most successful people have failures and setbacks – countless of successful people weren’t admitted into their top choice graduate program, lost out on a summer internship that they really wanted, or were told their work just wasn’t good enough to be in a show.

There has been much talk on college campuses about what employers are looking for in job candidates. One of the top “competencies” employers are focused on is professionalism, of which a big part “is able to learn from his/her mistakes.”  And the key to this?  Resilience!  Resilience can take shape in so many forms, but primarily in the ability to build skills to endure challenges and hardships.  Challenge is inevitable in everyone’s personal and professional life, but truly successful people take these setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow.

This spring, Penn’s Weigle Information Commons allowed students to highlight these challenges through their “Wall of Rejection,” where students were able to share the challenges they have experienced during this past academic year.

Something that may resonate with many students – a Princeton psychology professor who posted his “CV of failure” online.  He outlines degree programs which rejected him, grants and fellowships he did not receive, as well as his “meta-failure” – that his list of failures has received more attention than any of his academic work!

Since the challenges that students face at Penn may not disappear but simply shift as time goes on, take the time as a student to work on your skills of resiliency which will serve you well as a student and beyond.

Preparing Yourself to Succeed in an Ever-Changing World

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

I recently attended a conference with other Career Services professionals to discuss best practices and the latest trends. Many enlightening conversations were held throughout the day – but after one presentation, I kept thinking about an important question. How can students best prepare themselves to succeed throughout their careers? Knowledge and training can be very helpful – but what else is needed? Here are two recommendations:

– Develop a critical lens to enhance your judgment and decision-making skills. At some point, you will find yourself in situations in the workplace requiring your judgment and discretion. Having a critical lens which you can use to analyze a situation, consider your options carefully, make a well-reasoned decision and then proceed will equip you for these ambiguous situations where the “correct” decision is unclear.

– Become more observant and increase your awareness of worldwide events. Pay attention to what’s happening in the world beyond your immediate “bubble.” What can you learn about these developments beyond what is discussed or reported elsewhere? Think critically about current events you discover and how they may impact or pertain to your work – both now and in the future. Based on your own observations, do your best to anticipate future opportunities and problems before they happen.

These are just two examples of competencies you can utilize to be successful in the workplace both now and in the future. Regardless of the path you ultimately pursue, be sure to equip yourself with these and other competencies as you embark on the start of your career after Penn.

Coming Down and Going Up

In Britain not so many years ago, and maybe still today, you would hear that someone came down (i.e., graduated) from Oxford or Cambridge. To come down was to finish one’s studies, but the implication, at least to me, was that while at University the student was above the fray, removed from the hurly burly of life.

I am not sure those of you who are graduating next week will be coming down from Penn. While it is true that many of you have had the luxury of time to explore academic interests and pursue learning for its own sake, my sense is that for many others, to misuse a line from Wordsworth, the world is too much with you. For some time you may have had an eye on the next step. Soon you will be beginning that next chapter, whether it is a new job, or a graduate school matriculation.

Others of you have had responsibilities to families or to yourselves. You may have been working 20 hours a week or more, balancing your academic commitments with your personal obligations or financial needs. Or you may have been pursuing an entrepreneurial idea out of your dorm room or apartment, and are getting ready to introduce it to its intended audience.

To be a Penn student is to be a part of the world, and not apart from it. It is to be engaged with the community: to be a good citizen locally as well as globally. However you have spent your time here, the future is now. Go not down from Penn, but up, to meet greater challenges, and to find your way. On behalf of everyone in Career Services, congratulations and good luck wherever your path takes you.