Excuse our appearance!

If you’ve stopped by our office in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that the Career Services Library seems to have vanished. We are at the beginning stages of renovations that we hope will be completed before classes begin, but it does mean that for the rest of the summer, the library has been emptied out. There are currently no computers available for public use and our library of books has been boxed up during the construction. The lounge area remains open for now, but as construction gets underway, that will be closing temporarily as well.

When the school year starts, the public computers will be back, though printing and copying will no longer be available. We have also greatly reduced the number of volumes in the Career Services library, but the most popular titles – including those on case interviews and graduate school preparation – will remain, as will daily editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and we look forward to welcoming you into our refurbished space this fall.

Five Quick Tips on Informational Interviewing!

Dianne Hull
The summer can be a great time to meet with people for informational interviews. You have probably spent time being interview-ED, but this is your chance to be the interview-ER, where you can hopefully gain some interesting tidbits which will help you in your future job and internship search, as well as hopefully making some connections which can be useful down the road.

1. Do not be afraid to ask!

Many people are anxious about asking others to take the time to speak with them about career options. Remember, you are not asking for a job, you are simply asking for advice. By asking someone for advice, you are implying that they have expertise and knowledge. This is a compliment and many people are flattered that you would even ask them. It is most helpful to ask for informational interview from people whom you have some sort of connection with – alumni are a great place to start.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Brainstorm your questions ahead of time – think about what you want to learn from your meeting, and create as many questions as you can think of. You may want to break your questions into two categories, one that is more generic and could be asked of other contacts, and another list of more specific questions, which may only apply, to this particular person and their career. Do not plan to get to ALL of your questions, as you hope to have a conversation that flows naturally.

3. Research Your Contact and Their Career

Thanks to the internet and social media, you should be able to do some background research on your interviewee. Utilize LinkedIn, alumni databases, and old-fashioned Google searches to gain a good understanding of this person’s background – where did they go to school and when? What did they study? How long have they been at their current employer? Not only will this information help to frame the questions you want to ask, but also you will not waste time asking questions that you could have easily found answers to yourself. And your interviewee will be impressed with your preparation!

4. Use Your Time Wisely

When you initially schedule the informational interview, be sure to indicate how much time you think your meeting will take – no more than 30 minutes – and ask if that works for them. Be mindful of the time throughout your meeting. The best way to do this is to wear a watch, as you do not want to be checking the time on your phone during your meeting and create the misconception that you are checking on texts or social media.

5. Follow Up and Final Questions

At the conclusion of your time, be sure to thank your contact for their time and expertise. It is always a good idea to ask them if they have other contacts they might think would be useful to you. You never know whom they might refer you to that might be helpful. After your meeting, be sure to send a thank you note. Make the note specific to your conversation and offer to provide your contact with updates as you progress in your job search. Keep in touch on a periodic basis and will help to keep the door open if they learn of opportunities that may be of interest to you.

Visit Career Services informational interviewing page to learn more about questions to ask. Schedule an appointment with a career advisor to learn more about making informational interviewing work for you!

But I Just Got Here… Career Planning and One-Year Graduate Degrees (Revisited)

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.



Take Some Time This Summer for Self-Assessment Using SIGI3

Some students arrive at college already having a pretty clear idea of what career path they plan to pursue and the path winds up being fairly straight forward and linear. For the majority of students, however, that is not the case, and the path has many twists and turns. Students may take an amazing class and discover whole new career areas they had never even thought about. Others might land an internship thinking it would be a great fit, but discover that the day-to-day work just wasn’t quite as interesting as anticipated. Some students may simply find a particular path extremely hard to break into, so would like to widen the scope of careers they are considering to increase the number of possibilities available.

There are many reasons why people choose to assess their career options and the summer is an ideal time for self-assessment and exploring how your values, skills and interests relate to a variety of occupations. Luckily for Penn students, Career Services offers a great FREE tool to help you explore your options. SIGI3 (System of Integrated Guidance and Information) helps students create a career plan that’s right for them by integrating self-assessment with in-depth and updated career information that is easy to use and provides individuals with a realistic view of the best educational and career options for future success. SIGI3 helps each user examine key motivators and matches work-related values, interests, personality, and skills to educational and career pathways, and then helps individuals explore a range of options based on their personal choices.

Career Services has purchased a license for Penn students to use SIGI3 for free. Student can access it from the Digital Resources link on the Career Services home page. (Note you must use your PennKey to gain access.) Enjoy the exploration!

New Staff Member: Helen Pho

Hello! I hope you’re enjoying the summer and having a chance to have fun, relax, and recharge! This summer has been great for me so far—I’ve explored different neighborhoods in Philadelphia, caught up on some TV shows that I was behind on, attended an amazing professional development conference in Houston, and, most importantly, began an exciting new role with Penn Career Services!

I joined the Graduate Student and Postdoc Advising Team as an Associate Director in May and have greatly enjoyed getting to know Penn and its community. Before starting this position, I worked at a higher education executive search firm where I recruited deans, provosts, and presidents for colleges and universities. Before that, I was a graduate student in the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin and wrote a dissertation examining the social, cultural, and economic impact of the American military presence in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Going back even further, I directed a summer program for first-generation students and was an admissions offer at Yale, my alma mater. At Penn, I’m excited to work with graduate students and postdocs to help them think creatively about their strengths, values, and career interests and to guide them in putting their best foot forward during their job searches.

A few fun facts about me:
• My first job in higher education was being a Peer Adviser at Yale’s Undergraduate Career Services, where I reviewed resumes and cover letters and spoke with students about job and internship opportunities. It was a job I loved, and I’m glad to return to the field of Career Services ten years later!
• I’m a huge basketball fan. I grew up in Oakland, CA and have been a Golden State Warriors fan for many years. Now that I live in Philly, I also cheer for the 76ers.
• I am obsessed with potato products! Baked potatoes, French fries, potato wedges, you name it!
I look forward to getting to know many of you in the future!