Permission to Take a Break

Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director

Keyboard with Coffee Break button, work concept
Keyboard with Coffee Break button, work concept

Let’s face it – it’s been a really busy fall for just about everybody, but especially those of you who have been doing what sometimes can seem like the Herculean task of being both a Penn student and also looking for a post-graduate or internship position. (And that’s not even mentioning the hours that most of you devote to clubs, activities, work study jobs, sports and many other endeavors!) We just finished a Career Services staff meeting and the career advisors uniformly felt that this has been one of the busiest semesters we can remember. With the move of on-campus internship recruiting to the fall, we not only met (and coordinated interviews for!) hundreds of seniors pursuing post graduate options, but also many juniors and sophomores seeking internships. There certainly hasn’t been much down time for either staff or students this fall.

We’ve heard from many students who have happily finalized their plans and have been able to step back from their job and internship searches to now focus on the many other things on their “to do” lists, but we’ve also been hearing from students feeling high levels of stress and fatigue at this point in the semester. It can be demoralizing to devote extensive energy and effort to attending employer events, writing cover letters, and donning suits for interviews, just to feel that it was all for naught if you haven’t yet landed an opportunity about which you are excited.

As I watched the Presidential election results come in late Tuesday night, I experienced what felt like a similar sense of stress. We’ve all been “living” the campaign on a daily basis for more than a year and many people had strong feelings about who they hoped would win. While some were elated with the outcome, many others came away with a sense of devastation. In both the election and our job searches, no matter how hard we work, we can’t guarantee the outcome, which can lead to even higher levels of stress, as “working harder” cannot always guarantee the desired outcome. A sense of uncertainty was certainly heightened for many people this week.

If you are experiencing this stress, either due to career related activities, the election, or some other circumstance, we in Career Services urge you to take the time to care for yourself. With the end of the semester almost upon us, give yourself permission to step away and take a break from job search activities for a few weeks, focus on your academics, and renew your energy and spirit. Use the Thanksgiving and semester breaks to reinvigorate yourself, and start 2017 with a new sense of optimism and energy to begin a new chapter.

And, of course, when you are ready to begin again, come see us. We are here to support you in exploring and achieving your career goals.

Author: Barbara Hewitt

Barbara Hewitt is the Executive Director of Career Services.