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 Shanab Menatallah, COL ’19

I have dedicated my summer to working with the Zabbaleen (garbage-collectors) here in Cairo through a local non-profit. Despite the vital trash-collecting services they provide, the Zabbaleen continue to suffer from persecution both in the local and governmental sphere. The Zabbaleen are a marginalized and impoverished community that has been tucked away in the mountains on the outskirts of Cairo. Using pickup trucks and donkey carts, men collect garbage door-to-door in Cairo and, upon return to their residential area, women and children participate in recycling and sorting approximately 10,000 tons of garbage every day. The area houses about 50,000 people today, who have developed their own informal, sustainable economic infrastructure centered around the waste management industry. The non-profit I intern at is called the Spirit of Youth Association (SOY) and is located in the heart of the Zabbaleen community. SOY works to empower the Zabbaleen through environmental education and formalization of waste-management systems. I have immersed myself in the Zabbaleen daily life, teaching in the recycling school and assisting with several economic-development initiatives. I am deeply cognizant of the amount of privilege I have and am constantly self-critiquing and actively working to utilize that power to benefit this community and its people.

“El-Zarrayib” or the residential area is tucked away in the Muqattam mountains and is not easily accessible by car. I would take a taxi to the opening of the mountain and then take a tok-tok—a small vehicle driven by children sometimes as young as 10 years old—about 15 minutes through small alleyways and tights streets until I reach the NGO building. There I worked intimately with teachers and students alike. Some days I worked with the teachers in the school for boys, brainstorming projects concerning improving the school curriculum and developing recycling programs for the youth. Other days, I would come in and delve right in, aiding the teachers in instructing the children in Arabic grammar. Eventually, I realized that a lot of the older youth wanted to improve their English language skills. So, I began giving lessons to several groups of girls ranging from middle school to college levels. I was kept busy with several disparate yet deeply rewarding tasks. Being immersed in the community made me cognizant of a lot of Egypt’s socioeconomic issues. I live in a relatively nice area called “Madinat Nasr”. It is a mere 20 minutes from the Zabbaleen area; however, the difference in living standards is disturbing. The wealth gap is jarring; the glaring inequality and massive wealth disparity continues to alarm me. I felt that by interning at this NGO this summer, I was able to discover the many faces of Egypt. The Zabbaleen were pushed into the mountains, on the outskirts of Cairo and out of public sight by President Gamal Abd El-Nasser and continue to be forgotten and ridiculed today despite the critical role they play in keeping the city clean. Working at SOY was a fruitful and truly unforgettable experience.

CS Radio – Episode 48: “The Curse of Reneging”

Happy Halloween! In this year’s terrifying installment of the CS Radio Halloween Special, we tackle the curse that follows those who reneges on a job offer! We also talk about ways that receiving a job offer can be scary and ways to tone down the terror of negations. It’s all treats and no tricks when Mylène and Michael are on the job.


Show Notes

When a Student Reneges on a Job Offer: An Employer’s Perspective (NACE)
Why Reneging on your Job Offer is Bad for your Career Mojo (Penn & Beyond)
Penn OCR Guidelines and Policies for Employers

Personal Wellness in Your Professional Life

by Sharon Fleshman

In job descriptions, you will often find communication, organization and analytical skills listed as important competencies. Will you see “personal wellness” in that description? Probably not, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  In fact, personal wellness is necessary for you to use those other critical skills effectively.  A helpful overview of personal wellness can be found on our recent podcast on Career Wellness and in our Penn7 Career Competencies summary sheet.

Below you will find three foundational strategies for personal wellness in your career along with several articles or resources that can help you implement those strategies.

Self-Assessment: assessing your interests, skills/strengths, and values, and identifying careers that align with them.
CAPS and Career Services Career Wellness Workshops
Self-Assessment Resources on the Career Services website

Self-Care: being proactive about establishing rhythms for renewal and cultivating a support system.
Breathe: The Importance of Self-Care
Pressing the Pause Button
Being Mindful at Work
Penn Wellness

Resilience: recovering and growing from setbacks and challenges.
Job Search Self-Talk: Asking Yourself Better Questions
Reaching Success…One Failure at a Time


Concept to Completion

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 Ajani Wilhelm, WH ’19, recipient of the Rich Ross Summer Funding Award in Entertainment

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at ESM Productions, a production company based in center city Philadelphia. ESM Productions is a ‘concept-to-completion’ business, meaning they work with clients from their most abstract ideas to develop a production for them. In addition to tasks like that, ESM also co-produces many events and works within teams to assist in other productions.

As an intern, I screened all the phone calls that came into the office, directing clients and vendors alike. During meetings, I kept the meeting minutes and listened to important strategy formulation plans. Us interns also acted as office managers, maintaining the conference room, running errands, and keeping inventory of our equipment and supplies. Aside from traditional office duties, I also got hands on experience with multiple production-related projects. Event production requires a lot of flexibility, so many of my projects tested various areas of expertise. My largest project, however, did not involve an actual production. My task was to create a presentation pitching the company to potential clients, as ESM secures many of their jobs through bids. My presentation detailed the history, mission, and objectives of ESM while also showing off several of their most distinguished clients. In the production business, past clients are very useful tools when choosing producers. ESM, having produced events for everyone from Jay-Z to President Obama, takes great pride in their reputation as a top-tier production company.

I had the opportunity to work on multiple productions this summer with ESM. I prepared schedules and created a directory along with the team for the Drexel Convocation, I assisted the camera crew in planning for the meadows festival, and I created production directories for the cities of Milan and San Francisco. These were the most significant projects of mine, but there were many to choose from. So much of what I learned about the production business is best taught through experience. I only experienced a summer with ESM, and I can tell that there is still a lot for me to learn. This was a great way for me to get my foot in the door and see what production really looks like, behind the stage doors.

Things that I will truly cherish from this summer are the relationships I have made with other people. The connections I secured with interns, staff, senior staff, contractors, and alumni have been instrumental in the success of this summer. Only through candid speech and personal experience can you really see the impact stressful jobs such as this create. The people I interacted with also helped me get an idea for what company culture looks like in businesses that aren’t as formal as those on wall street. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to come to work in shorts or a polo as opposed to a full suit.

Overall, I enjoyed interning at ESM productions very much. Their relaxed atmosphere, valuable business acumen, and star-studded list of clients are just parts of what makes ESM a premier production company. Being able to develop relationships here at ESM should help me pursue my career in this direction, possibly with ESM’s partner company RocNation.

A Summer to Remember at Thom Browne

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 Walter Little, COL ’19

I would like to start this reflection by thanking Career Services and their various donors for their financial assistance this summer. Without my stipend I would not have been able to accept my dream internship with Thom Browne Incorporated, a luxury clothing company based in New York. Thom Browne’s stunted male silhouette and his otherworldly creations for women have placed him at the vanguard of New York’s fashion scene. He is the recipient of multiple CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Awards and his company has grown substantially in recent years. The brand’s estimated $100 million valuation is evenly split between American, European, and Asian markets. The designer has an intense focus on menswear, tailoring, and textiles and had never had an intern from the University of Pennsylvania. It took months of networking and emailing to receive an interview, but thankfully I was afforded the privilege to work for such a prestigious designer.

The internationality of the brand is reflected in its New York office’s workforce. The workforce is evenly balanced between Korean, French, and American-born employees in addition to other nationalities. Working alongside people from different walks of life toward a common goal allowed my internship to not only be a professional experience, but a cultural one as well.

During my time at Thom Browne I assisted the sales team. Being that the sales team is relatively small for a company of this magnitude they are also tasked with handling merchandising, personal relationships, international consumer preferences, strategic pricing, and brand identity. They are also trained to recognize product elements such as repeated motifs, construction details, and fabric sourcing, as they are often the first and only point of contact for retailers. To adequately assist the sales team, I was trained as a jack of all trades and was expected to exceed in multiple areas. My self-starting attitude was an asset to me, as there was very little hand holding at this fast-paced internship. I was entrusted with a lot of responsibility very early on and frivolous mistakes could produce serious repercussions. This pressure reinforced my already meticulous approach to my work.

My duties included preparing for buyers meeting during Paris men’s fashion week, communicating daily with both international and domestic clients to process and execute seasonal orders, managing a 6,000+ item inventory database, and inspecting Thom Browne retail locations to ensure that in-store merchandising is consistent with the brand expectations. I also participated in on-site buyer and retail associate trainings at retailers such as Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Dover Street Market New York. Through this internship, I developed and enhanced numerous skills at once.

I intend to bring what I have learned from this internship back to the University of Pennsylvania and apply it to my various marketing courses, extracurricular activities, and work study. My time at Thom has fortified my passion for this field and I will now approach my duties, both academic and professional, with a new perspective and drive.