Women on Wheels

This is the first 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 Carol Krol, MLArch ’18

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in an internship with Kota Kita; a city planning NGO located in Solo, Indonesia. This organization focuses on community engagement and participatory. My role this summer was an intern for the Women on Wheels Project; a three year project that is aimed to empower and promote women of all ages living in developing countries to utilize cycling as an everyday mode of safe transportation. This summer, I was able to participate in the third stage of the project; the implementation stage. Through street surveying, data collecting, events at schools, and meetings with the government and bicycle activist groups, I was able to help design safe cycling infrastructure for Solo. These designs will be presented to the Department of Transportation to be considered in their upcoming budget and infrastructure plans.

As a recent graduate of the City Planning program and a dual degree with the Landscape Architecture program, I was able to directly apply my education to this internship. Specifically, I utilized my urban design and community engagement skill sets learned from PennDesign towards this project. My work at Kota Kita was unique in that I was exposed to an entirely different culture of city planning and transportation planning issues regarding women’s travel patterns and safety. While living in Solo, I had the opportunity to cycle as my mode of transportation. This allowed me to better understand the conditions in which I had to design for.

Transportation planning and transportation issues in Solo were far beyond anything that I had been exposed to in The United States. Luckily, my experience in a bicycle planning studio in Queretaro, Mexico exposed me to issues within transportation in third world countries. The experience from this studio was very useful to apply to a real world project. Solo is unique in that it has an entire dedicated protected lane (The Slow Lane) that was initially designed for cyclists, pedicabs and pedestrians. Unfortunately, design flaws and a lack of maintenance, policy and regulations have lead the Slow Lane to be completely taken over by motorcyclists and street vendors. Little upkeep has allowed for major potholes and cracks to form in the Slow Lane, making cycling very difficult. Resulting, many cyclists have no choice but to cycle among traffic in the major roads. The specific design that I participated in aimed to solve the issue of how cyclists, specifically female cyclists could essentially take back the bicycle lane and have a safe space for transportation. Now that I have worked in bicycle planning, I am grateful to have even more career opportunities in the future, including those within transportation planning and design.

In addition to gaining real world work experience, I am grateful to have been able to live and experience the culture of South East Asia. This allowed me to meet, network and form friendships with coworkers and other interns from around the globe, including having a roommate from Brazil. The staff at Kota Kita was incredibly supportive with helping me to adjust to and experience the culture of Indonesia from the food, to seeing plays and performances, going to markets, attending a traditional Javanese wedding and having several opportunities to travel throughout the country.

The opportunity to intern at Kota Kita and work at a NGO has allowed me to take one more step towards working in social impact design and public interest design fields.

5 Back to School Tips for Graduate Students!

The start of the new school year is an exciting time and full of possibility.  Whether you are a graduate student new to Penn, or one who has been here for several years, there are many things you can do to make the most of your graduate school experience.  Many of these tips have the added bonus of helping you to further discern your post-degree professional plans!

  1. Many graduate students suffer from “imposter syndrome,” in which an individual cannot take pride in their accomplishments and instead feels that they are fraudulent in their successes. They may feel that they have mislead others about their intelligence and live in fear of being found out.  This is a very NORMAL worry for graduate students.  To avoid falling into this trap, check in with your advisor regularly and spend time with your colleagues.  Your program chose you for a good reason!
  2. Connect with others outside of your academic discipline. Graduate students are very busy and it is very easy to surround yourselves with others who are focused on the same area.  Penn has many clubs and organizations specifically for graduate students
  3. Visit Penn’s Graduate Student Center. They have excellent programming for grad students, and provides a way to connect with students in other schools and departments.  Getting involved with people outside your immediate academic circle will widen your friendship circle, give you a breather from your research and lab work, and provide potential networking contacts.
  4. Take advantage of the tools available to graduate students interested in learning more about their career options. The Individual Development Plan (myIDP) tool from Science Careers, is an excellent resource for STEM students pursuing PhDs.  Create a free account and use it to create a personalized and strategic plan.  Imagine PhD is a similar tool for students in the humanities and social sciences and is launching this fall. 
  5. Visit Career Services early and often! Our team of career advisors work exclusively with graduate students and we can meet with you individually at any time during your time at Penn.  Whether you are certain of your career path, are looking for a “plan B,” or don’t know what you will do with your graduate degree, we can help you.  View a complete list of services for graduate students here.

We in Career Services look forward to working with you this fall and beyond!

Managing Career Fair Jitters: First-Gen Stories

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Assistant for the College Team

Career Fair and recruiting season here at Penn is fast approaching! I remember quite vividly my own experience first attending a Career Fair as a student. I was a first-generation college student and throughout my time at school, I was lucky enough to have supportive mentors that I could turn to for guidance when needed. However, this did not ease my anxiety any less when it came to the idea of walking around a crowded gymnasium, in an uncomfortable suit jacket (which I did not own), talking to strangers about why they should hire me.

The night before the fair I remember pacing around my room practicing my 30 second pitch and also stressing about what to wear. After pulling everything out of my drawers, I decided that I had nothing that would work and that is when panic wave #2 set in. I thought to myself, “Well, Alyssa, this is a sign, looks like you aren’t going to the career fair tomorrow.” Luckily, I worked my way through that ball of stress, and my roommate graciously offered me options from her own closet to choose from.

By the time the fair rolled around I felt as though I had been through every emotion, but I also felt confident going into the day. I had prepped my resume and I felt as though I had a firm grasp on what I was going to say to employers that I met. Let’s be real though, career fairs are intimidating. You are surrounded by your peers in a packed room, all trying to impress recruiters who you hope will offer you a job. I am happy to report that I made it through the event and even left feeling good about the connections that I made throughout the day!

This time of year can be stressful, which is why Career Services tries its hardest to offer as many opportunities as possible to prepare for fairs and upcoming recruiting events. In addition, we are so excited to be offering the Quaker Career Wardrobe again this year! Come see us on Thursday, September 7th from 10:00-3:00pm down in the On-Campus Recruiting Suite to pick out a free professional outfit that you can keep! We are also offering many Career Fair Prep workshops leading up to the events this semester to don’t miss out on those!

Career Fair Prep Workshop, Friday, September 8th 3:00-3:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 11th, 12:00-12:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 25th, 1:30-2:00PM | McNeil Room 97

And, if you can’t make any of those, check out our podcast on Mastering Career Fairs. It is okay to feel overwhelmed during this time of year, but know that Career Services is here to support you throughout!

Getting the Hang of Handshake – 5 Tips for optimizing your experience

Dr. Claire Klieger

In the first week of classes, many of the students coming in to see me have had the same question—can you just walk me through how to best use Handshake? While overall the system is pretty intuitive, there are some tricks and tips for how to best make Handshake work for you:

  • Fill out your Career Interests. The more information the platform has about your preferences and interests, the more tailored your experience becomes. Handshake will actually start recommending specific jobs or internships for your based upon these preferences.
  • Sign-up for CareerMail. When you fill out your “Career Interests” section referenced above you’ll have the option to opt-in to our new industry-specific newsletters. This allows us to let you know about upcoming events or jobs/internships in those fields of interest.
  • Upload your resume to auto-fill your profile. It’s always a good idea to fill in your profile as fully as you can but it will save you time to upload your resume to the system. When you do this, Handshake automatically adds things like your work experiences and activities to your profile.
  • Make your profile public to employers. If you are on the market anyway, why not make it easier for employers to find you?!
  • Created Saved Search Filters. As you may have noticed when you click on “jobs” it is very easy to filter Handshake by different search criteria. But it can save you time (and let Handshake know to highlight specific opportunities for you) if you save your search filters.