A Chance to Make a Difference

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 their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This final entry for 2016 is by Ian McCurry, NUR ’17

ian“Time of Death, 11:16”. The young surgeon placed his stethoscope back into his pocket, averted the family’s gaze and shuffled from the room, not stopping to cover Stephen’s* chest.

The family and I said a prayer. They gathered their belongings while each person took a turn to sweep Stephen’s long brown hair off of his forehead, kissing him goodbye. I watched them walk off the Intensive Care Unit and out into a world without Stephen. In that moment it began to sink in, Stephen was gone.

I met Stephen a month and a half ago as I was settling into my summer of becoming a chaplain. Things had gone wrong in his surgery and he was medically weak. I listened to the care team present his clinical case the first day I met him. This was the part that I was ready for; my Penn Nursing education had prepared me to derive the medical picture of a patient from the quick set of lab values and physical exam observations. Stephen’s picture was bleak.

What I wasn’t prepared for, and I was frankly blown away by, was how deeply a hospital chaplain learns to care. I saw Stephen and his family every day during that month and a half. I grew to care for him, I grew to hurt for him. As his condition deteriorated he became unable to speak to us; instead I spent my time talking with his family. I spent my days feeling their pain, listening to their stories, walking with them through their fears about the end of Stephen’s life.

I was there until the last breath that Stephen took. The honor and joy of being a hospital chaplain is being able to become a family’s “Angel of Death”.

When most people think of the Angel of Death they picture a looming figure, cloaked in dark black robes. They picture them as the enemy who has come to take their loved one away. This summer inverted that conception for me.

I had the chance to step into this role, to guide these  families through losing their loved ones, to answer their phone calls at 3 in the morning, always assuring them I would be there as soon as possible. I had the chance to be their Angel of Death. I walked with them and their loved ones every step of the way. From receiving the first round of bad news until the very last moment, I was present. This is an honor and a privilege that I am grateful for each and every day. I had the chance to make a difference; I had the chance to be a part of these families’ story.

As I move back into my nursing career I know that the care I provide will never be the same. Penn Nursing taught me to provide the most knowledgeable, safe patient care possible. My summer as an intern with the Department of Pastoral Care at HUP taught me that this patient care is incomplete without deep, unguarded compassion. I am endlessly grateful to everyone who made this summer possible for me.

(*Patient name and identifying information has been changed to protect privacy.)

Public Interest Law

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 their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Olivia Graham, COL ’17

This summer I interned at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, in the hopes that I would increase my understanding of both law and the nonprofit sector. The Public Interest Law Center is a nonprofit that uses high impact legal strategies to protect the rights of marginalized communities in the Philadelphia area.

A large part of my job consisted of policy and issue research, which was notably rewarding in that it allowed me to expand my understanding of the Law Center’s six major advocacy areas as well as the political processes of Philadelphia. This research also gave me the opportunity to work with large amounts of data and required me to find creative ways to answer questions unique to the Law Center’s endeavors. This was great practice for the senior research project that I’ll conduct this coming semester as an Urban Studies major.

Another set of my responsibilities consisted of processing consultation requests. These are the cases brought to the Law Center that they then refer out to other legal organizations, for various reasons. It allowed me to begin to understand which cases or issues may have legal solutions and which ones may not. It, and the meetings that I attended and the work I saw being done, allowed me to explore my idea of law as a unique theory of change.

During my time at the Law Center, I was exposed to many different aspects of the Law Center’s issue areas, and definitely have a better understanding of the legal practice, but would have loved the chance to see more of the nuts and bolts of the practicing component. Each legal intern was assigned a staff attorney to whom they reported for the duration of the summer. I worked for almost every staff member, at least once, and was exposed to many different issue areas, though I primarily worked under the Executive Director.

The highlight of my experience was definitely getting to work with accomplished and socially-minded staff here; I learned a lot just from starting conversations and asking questions. I also really enjoyed getting to attend board meetings and accompanying the Executive Director to various meetings – I’m very interested in pursuing law but I’m also interested in non-profit management, and the latter was much easier for me to explore here given my position as an undergraduate student.

The public interest law field is extremely varied and no two organizations in the same city do the same thing, much less approach issues in the same way. It was an invaluable experience to get to work around attorneys who have been advocating for civil rights since the seventies – who have seen landmark cases passed and kept working, both through litigation and through advocacy, because they know that changing the law is only the first step in changing any type of inequality.


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 their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Ha Tran, COL ’19

hatranI spent this past summer living and working in New York, a rite of passage every Penn student seems to experience before graduation. I was lucky enough to land an internship with Fearless Media, a boutique marketing agency in Manhattan. Some of their notable clients include Bethesda Softworks and 2K Games. Bethesda is best known for their video games like Skyrim and Fallout 4. 2K has created smash hits like Borderlands and Civilization. Growing up, I’ve always been the kind of kid to immediately run to their gaming consoles after school. So for me, nothing could top working to promote video games (from publishers that I love!) and learning about media marketing.

Fearless Media had a small office of about 10 people while I was there. It had the feeling of a liberating start-up where work was not necessarily divided up by department and title, but instead by practical knowledge. As such, my responsibilities as a Media Intern were not always clear-cut. I took this as an opportunity to take up any work I could handle with the goal of learning as much as I could before my 10 weeks was up.

About an hour into my first day of work, I was asked to sit in on a meeting with a vendor detailing new developments in their media buying opportunities. My notes from that meeting was just a list of marketing terms I did not understand. The next couple of weeks was similar to that first meeting. I wasn’t responsible for anything too serious—I mostly made Powerpoints (a.k.a. “decks”) and worked with Excel. As I learned more over time, I was able to pick up more interesting projects and tasks that became increasingly challenging. Some examples of my projects were conducting research on competitive game titles on their spend and tactics for their launches, conducting research on possible partners for campaigns, consolidating information on price rates of past media buys for future best practices, and communicating with clients and vendors on the status of various campaigns. My final and most interesting project was to assess the effectiveness of a campaign launched in 2015 for one of my favorite video games. It involved looking through tons of excel data of different media and making insights on what worked, what did not, and what should be done in the future.

Fearless taught me about what kind of work environment I should seek out in the future. I enjoyed the collaborative nature of a small start-up and the fact that I was able to wear my Birkenstocks to work. I also enjoyed learning about media, marketing, and the purchasing behaviour of millennials. Will I become a media planner once I graduate?

Who knows?

Besides my job, I had a fantastic time living in New York! It’s a beautiful city full of fleeting moments, crazy interactions with total strangers, and a certain intangible quality that makes you feel like you’re right where you need to be. This summer is the first time I can really say I lived alone without an immediate support system, and it was a far cry from the life I lead in suburbs of Southern California.

Special thanks to Career Services for helping me seize this opportunity! I literally could not have accepted it without the funding Career Services provided.

CS Radio: “Episode 30: Thanksgiving Table Talk”


Happy Thanksgiving from Career Services!  This week, J. Michael and A. Mylène welcome back Patricia Rose, director of Penn Career Services to talk about how to handle stressful questions about your job search from your family during the Thanksgiving break.  Somewhere between the roast turkey and the sweet potato pie, start a new tradition and fire up this special Thanksgiving episode of CS Radio!

We’re off next week, but will be back with an all new episode on December 5th. Enjoy!

A Summer in Banking

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 their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Rajan Patel, COL ’18

rajan-p-pictureAs soon as I walked out of the terminal into the dry Arizona heat, I began to recall my childhood summers filled with swimming and lake visits. However, my plans for this summer wouldn’t have much space for lounging by the pool. Instead, I was about to begin a fantastic learning experience by working in the finance industry.

As an Economics major in the College of Arts & Sciences, I have had less exposure to the world of finance and accounting than my Wharton peers. Despite this, I’ve managed to pick up some technical skills through self-study, which has taught me textbook approaches to accounting and corporate finance. While self-study taught me some of the basics, it gave me little exposure to how these topics and skills were utilized in the real world, leading me to search for internship opportunities in banking. For this summer, I was fortunate enough to land a position at a boutique investment bank which promised to give me the same level of responsibility as a full time analyst at a major Wall Street firm. It wasn’t until I started that I realized the truth behind this claim.

My first week taught me to learn quickly, as I was immediately thrown into doing market research on the probiotic industry for a sell-side M&A deal of a major probiotic manufacturer. Using my Penn Economics background, I was able to create Power-Point presentations on market drivers, macro and micro trends, and industry breakdowns to be used in a pitch-book to potential investors. With guidance from the partners of the firm, I was also taught how to create market projection charts and revenue breakdowns, building my Excel skills and giving me an idea of how to visually represent financial data.

As the summer progressed, I was able to work on various stages of multiple M&A deals. Just like full-time analysts in big name banks, I was taught how to build out potential buyer lists, evaluate letters of intent, and was even given control of sections of confidential information memorandums as the deals progressed. My self-taught technical skills came into use as well, as I was tasked with consolidating balance sheets and income statements, creating financial summaries for numerous companies, and working on a leveraged buyout model. I attended meetings and calls with clients, and participated in discussions concerning asset purchase agreements, terms of engagement, and company valuations. I was even tasked with doing transaction and company screenings with S&P’s Capital IQ, creating a monthly M&A transaction newsletter for clients from scratch.

To most, much of my summer experience would seem lackluster or bland. However, as an upcoming junior student looking to break into the finance industry, I believe there was no better place to spend my summer as an intern. In total, I was given the opportunity to work on deals with a total transaction value upwards of $170 million, and each one gave me the opportunity to research and learn about an industry that I knew nothing about prior to my experience. On top of all this, I was able to communicate and get advice from everyone in the firm, from the senior analysts to the managing directors. Doing so didn’t just build my connections in the industry; it gave me insight on how to navigate my career path from people who had done it before, and had done it successfully. By exposing me to the industry through application and hands-on learning, this experience has prepared me to pursue positions at larger name banks. I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling and productive summer!