In the Public Interest

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 Anea Moore, COL ’19

When my dad first told me he wanted me to be a lawyer, I was five years old and instantly intimidated by the word. Lawyer. Nope, this profession definitely wasn’t for me. Big-eyed, three and a half foot me quickly retorted that I had no desire to be a lawyer whatsoever. Lawyers were mean. They were scary and they most certainly didn’t do what I wanted to do, help people.

It’s been a decade and a half since that conversation with my dad and a lot has changed since then. I’m taller and I’m a little bit less quick in my replies. My dad passed away two and a half years ago and instead of ignoring his suggestions, I’ve learned to cherish and carry them with me. It was probably my dad’s spirit that first pushed me to looking into being a legal intern at the Public Interest Law Center this summer.

During my time at the law center, I learned a variety of lessons. First, not all lawyers are mean and they are all definitely not scary. Within the walls of the second floor of a downtown Philadelphia building, I found wisdom, support, and patience in my supervising attorneys. When I made small mistakes in my legal assignments, I wasn’t met with negative reactions. The attorneys of the center supported me as a young college student trying to decide if she really wanted to pursue a legal career. They encouraged me to review and rework my assignments. Through this editing process, I learned how to become a more detail-oriented researcher and writer. My reading, writing, research, and analytical skills improved immensely. I learned how to look at things from a different perspective through deep engagement with the real life cases of the attorneys. Once after a deposition, I had to asses the gathered information and begun looking into loopholes and other possibilities. Paying attention to the details and really getting to know the ins and outs of the cases was so important. Those actions are what helped the clients the most.

This brings me to another point, lawyers can and do help people everyday. I watched the attorneys pursue incredibly interesting cases and work this summer that can potentially help so many people. In June, the law center filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania that took a stand against gerrymandering and called for the redrawing of fair districts because every citizen’s vote should matter. I created a 40-page report on the least restrictive environment requirements of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act and Philadelphia schools because every special education student in Philadelphia (and around the country) has the right to a proper, fair educational environment. I also spent a large proportion of my summer helping with cases that were fighting for fair housing for low-income citizens.

My summer was filled with so much inspiration, passion, and vigor. The attorneys and staff at the center genuinely want to help people and often work long hours in pursuit of a better, more just society. I will be forever grateful to them for letting me work under them and witness such an amazing process. I definitely want to be attorneys like them in the future, all hesitation and quick-witted responses aside.

CS Radio – Episode 50: “Thankful”

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re unbelievably grateful to have reached this, our milestone 50th episode! We’ve gathered together an all star line up of our Career Services colleagues to reflect on what they’re grateful for this holiday season. Plus, Mylène and Michael discuss how students can best use their Thanksgiving break for their career search and tips for having those sometimes stressful turkey day dinner table conversations. Thank you for listening and subscribing – here’s to the next 50!


Show Notes
CS Radio Episode 30 – “Thanksgiving Table Talk”

Think Tanks and Civil Societies

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 Hayley Boote, COL ’20

Living at Penn this summer was an unforgettable experience that opened my eyes to the many academic and social opportunities that Philadelphia offers. I was lucky enough to work as a research intern for the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the Lauder Institute for the first months of the summer. The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program is run by Dr. James McGann and it is a yearly publication that ranks think tanks by country, region, and specialization.

In this capacity, I explored trends with Think Tanks internationally and helped organize the data found by serving as Data Czar. I was responsible for organizing all 8,000 think tank entries in our database, as well as assigning tasks to teams to further our research goals. At the end of the internship, my partner and I communicated our findings in a PowerPoint presentation with interactive graphics and key quantitative and qualitative trends. We were also able to attend a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders at some of the nation’s top think tanks, which is an exciting venture and a great ending to the internship. I certainly improved upon my research, delegation, and data-managing skills in this role, and it was an invaluable experience for progression in my academic career.

This experience also helped me expand my knowledge of Philadelphia and the numerous significant attractions that it contains. At that point, even after living in Philadelphia for a year, I still had not been to key Philadelphian charms including the Philadelphian Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, Citizen’s Bank Park, South Street, Penn’s Landing, and Independence Hall. Being a student a Penn does not usually allow free time to explore these places, and most students at Penn go their four years without visiting most of them. Spending the summer at Penn allowed me the opportunity to visit these amazing places and learn so much more about the place that I call home.

Transferable Skills

Dr. Esther H. Ra, Career Advisor, Nursing, Education, & Social Policy & Practice

Often, I will meet with graduate students who are in one of two predicaments: 1) They are enrolled in a program here at Penn, but they find that they would like to career change after obtaining their master’s OR 2) they are an alum of Penn and would like to change gears to work in a different field, because the field they went into is not appealing to them anymore for a myriad of reasons. Conversations around these topics occur often in my office and I’m here to say, we here at Career Services are happy to help in these types of situations!

One important factor to remember when you would like to career change is that you DO have transferable skillsets. Often, I have students come in and say, “I’m not sure what I can do because I’ve only just been teaching up until now” or “I’ve only been a nurse for the past 7 years.” Working in any field requires a unique set of skillsets that may include, but not limited to leadership, management, organizational, and interpersonal skills. Often, Penn students and alums may overlook what they are capable of or what could be possible for them because they cannot envision that what they have been doing could be all that useful in another field.

The following skillsets could be useful or transferable to many fields:

Leadership: Do you lead projects, meetings, classrooms, and caseloads? Do you take the initiative to start something from the ground up at your workplace? Do you try to grow in your position to create new ideas?

Management: Do you excel at multi-tasking? Do you manage other employees and their work well? Do you act as a problem-solver and a leader on your team? Are you a self-starter and a critical thinker?

Organizational: Are you talented in organizing events, paperwork, or files? Are you good at the nitty gritty details at work? Do you prioritize responsibilities and delegate work as appropriate? Are you efficient with your time?

Interpersonal: Are you collaborative and a team player? Do you work well with others? Do you offer empathy and a collegial nature at work? Have you worked with diverse personalities and in various roles?

All of these skillsets are valuable and portable for many fields. An advisor in our office can work with you to emphasize such relevant skillsets on your resume and also highlight it in your cover letter. We can also advise you through a mock interview to highlight your transferable skills when asked behavioral questions.

Another resource here at Career Services that could of be of great help are the Penn 7 Career Competencies. This is a great checklist of competencies and or transferable skills valuable to whichever field you hope to enter. These competencies are helpful for all stages of a career and are great target points to expand on to become an asset to the workplace you hope to join. Mastering these competencies can help maximize your opportunities for career paths and strengthen your candidacy for many fields of work. If you have further questions regarding the Penn 7 Career Competencies and how to work on honing your transferable skills, please come in and make an appointment to speak with an advisor. We would love to help you.

A Summer at Friends of Farmworkers

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 Jonathan Guevara, COL ’19

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern at Friends of Farmworkers in Philadelphia. Friends of Farmworkers is a nonprofit organization that provides free direct legal services, education, and advocacy to low-wage immigrant workers in Pennsylvania. I was engaged in many different tasks such as conducting Know Your Rights presentations in Spanish to members of immigrant communities in central and eastern Pennsylvania; assisting attorneys with client interviews, drafting of affidavits, and fact-gathering for labor trafficking immigration cases and other litigation-related tasks in wage and discrimination lawsuits.

I really enjoyed my time at Friends of Farmworkers because my experience there helped me understand the struggle that agricultural and other low-income workers have to deal with on a daily basis. Workers deal with many problems such as not getting paid, getting discriminated against, getting abused physically and verbally, being detained in unjust manners, and even labor/human trafficking.

I began to see the world from two perspectives. While listening to clients tell their stories, I sought to see situations from the perspective of workers, and from the perspective of the attorneys who were managing their cases. I was exposed to many legal processes such as class action lawsuits against employers, the processing of T-visas for victims of labor trafficking, and services for victims of “notario” fraud.

In one situation, a team of interns and I were responsible for submitting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint to the Department of Labor. I was in charge of contacting the client, creating an affidavit, and explaining the affidavit to my team. Something else that was emphasized regularly, and that I learned to value, was confidentiality. The concept of keeping information confidential seems very simple, but it’s of vital importance to a nonprofit organization handling very delicate information.
Outside of the office, I was able to go to new places in Pennsylvania that I had never visited before such as Kennett Square, Chambersburg, and Harrisburg. At Kennett Square, I met with community members/workers to discuss issues surrounding the unfair deportation raids occurring in the state of Pennsylvania. In Harrisburg, I attended a two-day Victims of Crime Act Grantee training session hosted by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. In Chambersburg, an attorney and I did outreach to workers and immigrants at a Guatemalan Mobile Consulate.
Thanks to the wonderful staff at Friends of Farmworkers, I was able to get a taste of how nonprofits provide legal services to vulnerable populations. My work didn’t feel like a job at all. I loved every moment that I spent talking to my people. I will never forget the memories I made at Friends of Farmworkers; those memories will continue to push me forward so that one day I can give back to the community that I came from. I am thankful for all of those who made my dream to intern at Friends of Farmworkers come true.