A World Without OCR

By Dr. Claire KIieger, Senior Associate Director

It’s that time of year again—students are back on campus, the food truck lines are long, and that general buzz around the start of classes is in the air. Starting tomorrow, you’ll see something else that is as sure of a sign of the beginning of the fall semester as the changing of seasons—lots of people in business attire. For the next two months, Locust Walk will be a wash of ties, blazers and heels that signals the start of something else, the recruiting season at Penn as students attend employer information sessions, career fairs, and on-campus interviews. These sightings are as ingrained in Penn’s culture as throwing toast during football games.

But imagine for a moment that all of these things didn’t exist at Penn…or at any university: no employer information sessions, no career fairs, no on-campus interviews and even no Career Services office at all. Whether looking for a job or an internship, you would be entirely on your own, relying just on family or personal contacts. What’s worse, imagine that having a university degree might make it harder to find a job. Sound like an episode of the twilight zone? Actually, after 9 years at Penn Career Services, this was my alternate reality…living and working in Morocco.

I spent the last year working on a USAID funded program to address the issue of high levels of youth unemployment through the implementation of university-based career centers modeled after the American system. There, 80% of the country’s unemployed are youth, and college graduates have a particularly hard time finding a job—20% of them are unemployed as compared with an unemployment of only 4.7% for those with no education beyond high school. Thus, the idea to introduce Career Centers at public universities through this initiative.

So, as we gear up for this season of OCR and all of the stress and anxiety that comes with it, I ask you to stop, take a deep breath, and remember….that while this is an overwhelming time for many students, we sure are lucky to have the “happy” problem of an abundance of opportunities, both through OCR and beyond via Penn Career Services. For the 2015-2016 year, here is a breakdown of our numbers:

  • Over 13,000 job and internship postings on PennLink
  • 779 Employers visiting campus
  • 11 career fairs
  • 344 employer information sessions
  • 8,910 interviews held on campus
  • Over 10,000 appointments and walk-ins at Career Services

And those statistics seems just as foreign a concept to those Moroccan university students as a world without OCR does to a Penn one.


Author: Claire Klieger

Claire Klieger is an Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates. She earned her Ed.D. from Penn and did her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia. Fun Fact: Claire spent 11 years in the Middle East and North Africa.