By Sharon Fleshman
Over the past week, I have presented on career resources at orientations for two one-year master’s programs. With career events kicking off earlier than ever in the academic year, I sense that it’s time to update one of my previous posts….
I continue to work with many graduate students who are in one-year master’s programs. If you are one of these students, you are in your first and last year, making it a challenge to juggle your coursework, internships/field placements and the job search.
As you’ve likely discovered, your time at Penn will feel like a sprint. In a race, pacing is critical. On one hand, you do not want to exhaust yourself by starting out too quickly. Don’t immerse yourself in career planning to the neglect of your studies or building relationships with classmates. On the other hand, it is not a good idea to have such a slow pace to start that you wait too long to pick up speed.
To get started, here are some other tips that I hope will help you to make the most of your fall semester:
Join a Career Services graduate student distribution list so that you receive timely e-mails about programs, events and job opportunities related to your career goals.
Get familiar with Handshake, our new recruiting system for connecting you with relevant career information, events and opportunities.
Make sure that you are aware of the timetables of various industries as it relates to hiring. While many organizations hire on a just-in-time, as needed basis in the spring, others may begin their recruiting process in the fall. Many businesses and technical companies use On-Campus Recruiting in the fall. A number of career fairs are held in the fall as well. Government agencies often have structured programs that may require early application. See the Go Government website for more information on opportunities in the federal government.
Update your resume so that it will be ready when you start attending career fairs and applying for jobs. The Career Services website has useful advice on resumes (and other related documents) as well as samples based on your academic program or career interest. Make an appointment or attend walk-in hours with Career Services advisors who are available to review your resume and other related materials.
Start researching career options and develop a list of preferred employers and job functions. Check out the Career Exploration section of our website. It can also be helpful to look at job descriptions to determine what is ideal to you. To help you with this, the Career Services website lists links to job listings and company/organization websites, classified by career field. Look for career services programs that are relevant to careers that interest you on our program calendar for master’s students.
Start building your network. As you begin to get a sense for the careers that you want to pursue, you should make plans to gain insight from people who are in those careers. QuakerNet and LinkedIn are two great places to start, particularly with informational interviewing.
Get Organized. Even what I’ve mentioned above may seem overwhelming in terms of getting started. Try to schedule your career planning so that you can be sure it’s not taking up too much (or too little) space on your calendar. Have some kind of system in place based on what works best for you. For example, you might decide to dedicate a couple of hours each week to researching career options and conduct at least two informational interviews per month.
Talk to a Career Services advisor. It is often helpful to have a listening ear as you brainstorm about career options and networking/job search strategies, or make decisions about job offers. It is always necessary to have a second pair of eyes as you put the finishing touches on that resume. Perhaps you just need some assistance in getting organized. Wherever you find yourself in the career planning process, be assured that Career Services advisors are available to help you as you prepare to cross the finish line into next phase of your career.