New Year, New Career You! 4 tips for starting 2018 off on the right foot

By Dr. Claire Klieger

T ‘is the season for new year’s resolutions, which often focus on efforts to be healthier—eat better, exercise more, etc. As the spring semester kicks off, here are some ways to help keep your career aspirations (and yourself) healthy and on track:


  1. Update your resume. The start of a new semester is a great time to update your resume to reflect that new GPA, the addition of a new activity or research project, change the courses reflected in your “relevant coursework” line or anything else. Of course, we are always happy to provide you with feedback through our resume critique service or, better yet, come to walk-ins to ask your resume questions in person.


  1. Work smarter, not harder. Online, we have limitless information at our fingertips, but finding the right resources can be time consuming. Be sure to take advantage of existing tools and resources to make your internship or job searching more efficient: Check out Handshake’s new “Search Alert” feature to create customized searches that then automatically run and email you with new postings that fit your criteria. Use Penn Career Services digital career resources to find great information on employers through things like JobTreks (search and build lists of employers by industry and keep track of applications) and Vault (employer and interview guides by industry).


  1. Break your goals into bite size chunks. The job or internship search can be overwhelming. Rather than thinking about all of the things that you need to do to land that coveted job or internship by summer, give yourself manageable goals for each week. Maybe that’s finding 5 people you want to contact for informational interviews using our alumni database, Quakernet. Or, perhaps it’s identifying 5 internships or jobs that you want to apply for or maybe it’s researching employers attending the upcoming Creative + Common Good Career Fair. Advisors in Career Services can help you figure out how to set up the appropriate next steps that are right for you.


  1. Get outside of the Penn bubble once and a while. In many of my meetings with students I hear versions of “I know I’m so behind…all of my friends already have jobs.” When I dig deeper, I often find that these students are not behind at all. There are so many industry specific nuances (timing, method of recruitment/hiring, resume and interviewing expectations/formats) that there is no one size fits all strategy for career success.  Perhaps you are looking for something in an industry (like entertainment or non-profits) that hires much later than others (like finance or consulting).


The best thing you can do for yourself in 2018 is to tune out the chatter about what your classmates and friends’ plans are for the summer or after graduation.  At the end of the day, to truly stay career healthy, you need to focus on your own path and what makes sense for you. Let us work with you to strategize and identify resources related to your specific interests.


  1. Embrace what makes you, you. Every student I meet with has what it takes to succeed in the workplace. You’re bright, talented, and no matter what kind of previous experiences (clubs, volunteer work, internships, work study jobs, class projects) you’ve had thus far, you’ve gained transferable skills that are valuable to employers. I promise that you all have a compelling and engaging story to share. The trick is figuring out how to tell that story and package yourself (through resume, networking and interviewing) to employers. Personally, my favorite part of the job is helping students do just that. So, spend less time worrying about what you may think you are lacking and more time on presenting the best version of you.

Author: Claire Klieger

Claire Klieger is an Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates. She earned her Ed.D. from Penn and did her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia. Fun Fact: Claire spent 11 years in the Middle East and North Africa.