Starting My Own Project at PennVet

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 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 Guadalupe Ceja, COL ’19

Internships serve an important role of giving students a taste of what a career in that field would entail.  You meet mentors that will guide you and make connections with other people trying to climb the same ladder of success that you are.  In scientific research, an internship can really give you an understanding of what aspect of biology you are interested and are passionate enough to dedicate long hours of trying to study and understand.  However, biology labs depend heavily on grants and outside funding and thus do not always have enough money to pay undergrads trying to get laboratory experience. As I began searching for a lab at Penn Vet that fit my interest and was willing to allow me to start my own project, I began to realize that I would have to find my own source of funding for summer housing and food in order to take the amazing opportunity to work at a lab doing research in inflammation in multiple sclerosis in humans and granulomatous meningoencephalitis.  

I quickly started learning several lab techniques such as immunohistochemistry, histology, flow cytometry, and tissue cutting.  I have worked with the pathology department at Penn Vet, seen cerebral spinal fluid extraction from dogs admitted into the hospital.  I have had the opportunity of attending conferences and listen to veterinarians present their cutting-edge research. I have an active member of the lab, attending lab meetings and collaborating with my lab mates and aiding their projects.  I got to work as a team but also experience pushing my individual project forward.

These opportunities to advance my experience and knowledge would have never been possible if I wasn’t given help from the Career Services.  I have always had to worry about having a work study, which takes time away from my academic advancement. Because of the Career Services’ grant,   I was able to remain in Philadelphia and focus on my research instead of my bills and for this my academic experience that much better.


Your Career Fair Checklist

Dr. Joseph Barber, Senior Associate Director

If you want to make the most of your career fair experience, then try to achieve as many of the following steps as possible:

1. Find the dates for our upcoming fairs on Handshake – they are all listed right here:

2. Click on each of the fairs and gently browse the various employers who have registered, or do a more targeted search using filters such as job types, school year, major, and industry.

3. Take some time to think about some of your career fair goals. Are you exploring, networking, looking for information, checking in with employers you have already interacted with, or applying? And yes, you might well have different goals in mind for different employers.

4. Create a list of employers at each fair that you want to connect with. It doesn’t have to be a long list. You may only want to speak to a few, and that is perfectly fine, as it can still be an incredibly valuable use of your time.

5. Now that you have a preliminary list, you will want to prioritize it. You can sort the employers into different industries if you are exploring multiple career paths, and you can identify the employers that you are most interested in, those you are a little less interested in based on what you know, those you want to learn more about, and maybe have a few that you are just somewhat curious about.

6. Here is a really important step – do research on all of the employers you have listed. Look at their website to know what they do and how they do it. Look at the jobs that they have posted on Handshake. Look at the jobs they have posted beyond Handshake (LinkedIn the “careers” page on their website are good places to start). Create a list of smart questions you hope to ask (smart means not questions that can be answered through easy online research).

7. Since you cannot just walk up to a table at a career fair, ask a bunch of questions, and then run off without saying anything, you need to work on the narrative you are going to use when introducing yourself to employers. Make a list of information you want the employer to know about you. Again, this might be different for different employers. Put it all together into a well-structured narrative. Practice your introduction aloud, and do it several times until it sounds and feels natural.

8. Think about what you want to wear. You don’t have to be in a suit, but you still should look professional. Think about which companies are at the top of your prioritized list, and try to dress in a way that their representatives will be dressed at the career fair. For example, representatives from law firms that come to campus looking for PhDs to be patent law specialists typically dress in suits. If you turn up in jeans and a t-shirt, you will create an obvious, visual disconnect.

9. Have a good resume to share. This will usually be a document used as a shared reference for your discussion, rather than the document that is used for an actual application, but it should be good enough to do both. Get your materials reviewed before you go to the fair.

10. When you arrive at the fair, choose one of the employers that is lower down your list of priority organizations to ease yourself into the process – this will help you to practice your introduction one last time, and to get a sense of the timing of the interactions that you will be having with employers at the event. Since some fairs can be busy, the next employer you meet with should be one of your priority organizations.

11. Don’t start by handing someone your resume – start with a strong handshake and good eye contact. All employers have name tags on, and you can even start with a strong “Hello Julie, thanks for being here today…”. Did I mention that your handshake should be strong and confident…, and dry! Find out more here:

12. Introduce yourself, ask some smart questions, share your resume, ask for a business card, and offer to follow-up with an electronic version of your materials. Thank them again, shake their hands, and move on with a smile!

13. Within 24 hours, and if you have their email address from their business cards, send a thank you email thanking them again, telling them why you found your conversation together helpful, and sharing anything that you said you would share. You might learn something about an internship or a job from your discussion at the career fair that makes you want to change something in the general resume you took with you to the event in order to better highlight your fit for a particular position.

14. Make sure you apply for specific jobs you talked about at the fair through Handshake, and some companies will need you to apply through their websites too.

15. Celebrate your successes. Think about what went well from the fair, and plan to improve on what didn’t go so well when it comes to the next career fair you go to. There are quite a few of them each semester. An appointment with a career advisor can help with this.

Good luck with your networking and information gathering, if these are your primary goals for your career fair experience, and make the most of your conversations to update your application materials if you are actively applying for positions.

Changing Perspective

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 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 Luc Silver, WH ’19

I received funding to pursue an opportunity that would help me grow and understand what I want out of my career.

I spent the summer working for a small Chilean bank with operations in Chile, Colombia and Peru. With an office of nearly 15 workers, I was able to learn a lot about the process of Mergers and Acquisitions, and what the different job roles entail in terms of responsibilities and tasks. I enjoyed learning about this sector of finance and think that this knowledge has been helpful to me in understanding how other industries are shaped by mergers, and where to look for merger opportunities. During my time there I was able to fine-tune my skills on excel, and improve my Spanish to the point that I can now safely that I can navigate a Spanish speaking work environment comfortably. This was my first time working a ‘real’ job with an office and time schedules and all. The experience was sobering and maturing, an I am glad for it.

I believe that spending these two months the way I did has allowed me to learn a lot about what I want and don’t want out of a career, and to learn it earlier rather than later. I entered the summer thinking, like many of my peers, that a six figure salary would be worth a less than entertaining life for few years. I don’t think so anymore.

Over the summer, I would get up at around 8:30am five days a week, put on a suit and tie, and face the drudging commute to work in a over packed, overheated subway. Once there I could look forward to creating PowerPoint presentations for a myriad of clients, or spending the day on the phone trying to find buyers for our clients. The work was neither hard nor easy, neither thought provoking nor mind numbing. Rather it was mundane.

In the office there was no space where people could gather to take breaks and relax for a bit. Rather people settled for checking their WhatsApp or the news every now and then while remaining glued to their chairs for 10 hours a day. A little after 8 I got to go home after enduring the crowded subway one more time, as if reminding me that sitting at my office chair staring at my screen wasn’t so bad after all. Once home, knackered and weary from a day of work, I’d muster enough energy to cook dinner or order in a pizza and then watch a little TV before going to sleep. I had hardly any time to work on my other passions or just relax before I had to go to bed to do it all over again in the morning.

But this was a good. Now I know that I not only want, but need a place where I can have ownership over the work that I do, liberty to think of new ways to grow the company, and real rewards for that work beyond a pat on the back. I need a place where the office is not just a workplace but a community. Where upper level management and lower level employees mingle and share ideas. A place where I can have an impact on the company and quick ascension to a place of real responsibility. Spending years making my way from junior analyst to senior analyst to associate is not for me. And I have you to thank for that knowledge.

Democratizing Knowledge

This is the first in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 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 Brittany Bing, COL ’19

Brittany Bing at buddah shrineThis summer I had the opportunity of interning with the consulting startup Lynk Global in Hong Kong. Lynk defines itself as a global expert network which seeks to democratize access to knowledge. The company is just one of a small subset of companies called expert networks. Lynk’s mission is unique in that they are attempting to do what Google has done for information. They are trying to give people and companies easy access to reliable sources of knowledge from people with specific experience in different industries.

I worked on the Client Solutions team performing a sales-like role. We were the first point of contact for expert recruitment to act as independent consultants. For example, when a prospective client (typically a management consultant) approaches Lynk, they have a specific request to speak to someone from a specific country who is knowledgeable about some niche subject. That is where the job gets a little tough. Sometimes the turn around time is very quick – as fast as a single weekday. It is also difficult to navigate around time zone differences when the experts are recruited from places that are far away from Hong Kong.

There was one time where I was staffed on a project where I had to identify, recruit, and screen experts who were knowledgeable about mobile money payments in sub-Saharan Africa. All of the outreach that I had done earlier that day was made when they were sleeping. There was one particular expert who was very eager to become a consultant after I informed him about compensation options. Just as I was about to go to bed for the evening at midnight, I received a phone call from a number in Nigeria. I declined. Fifteen minutes later I received another call, and I remembered that I should probably onboard this man for the project. I answered the call from a man who I initially approached after finding his profile on LinkedIn. I informed him that it was midnight in Hong Kong and his immediate response is “okay, good. Anyway….” Perks of working at a global firm!

Brittany Bing in Hong Kong

Indeed, I learned a lot about startup culture and what it’s like to be in sales. I appreciated having the full responsibility as someone who worked there full time. Contrary to other internships that I had in the past, the work that I did for Lynk was actually helping to contribute to the bottom line. I was cold calling and pitching within a week of starting there. I cannot emphasize enough the sheer amount of independence that interns were given there. I guess that’s what comes with the startup life. It was so refreshing to be treated just like every other employee instead of being designated as the local intern.

I also learned lots about the actual work of management consultants since they comprised most of the clients that I worked with. It gave me insight into different industries ranging from telecommunications to auto engineering since I was tasked with contacting them and learning about their specializations.  Lastly and most importantly, I made a number of friends along the way. I became close with different people from different backgrounds at Lynk. The relatively informal setting was conducive toward forging relationships that weren’t forced or under the hazy guise of professionalism. The atmosphere at Lynk was equal parts easy-going and productive.

A Season of Opportunities

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Welcome back to campus! We are excited to have you back as we start to see moving trucks lining Walnut and Spruce streets. As you savor the final days of summer before classes begin, this is a time to reflect on what you hope to accomplish this academic year. Preparing for success is more than purchasing all your supplies the bookstore, Target, Amazon, and Bed, Bath & Beyond; it’s also considering the lessons learned from last year and how you’ve grown during that time. During the summer months, many offices take the opportunity to have team retreats to review all they have accomplished in the past year, celebrate wins, evaluate areas for improvement, and formulate a strategy and concrete plan for the coming year. This is so helpful because it gives you a chance to reset, clearly understand what you hope to achieve and build upon past successes.

Such an exercise can be beneficial for you as an individual as well. Even though it’s been a while since my student days at Penn, I like to do this. For example, when I bought my 2018-2019 planner at the bookstore I considered new ways I could organize my projects this year to be as efficient as possible.

One thing I often hear students say is that they wish they had started their job or internship search a little earlier. At Penn Career Services, we are happy to meet with you whenever you are ready; of course depending upon your industry of interest, there optimal times to prepare. Connect with career advisors for your specific college and will be happy to share about timelines for the industries you are considering. In all the years I’ve been a career advisor, I’ve never heard anyone say that they wish they had waited longer to come see us. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You don’t have to know what you want career wise to come to Career Services


When meeting with students, the first question I always ask is “How can I help you today?” There’s no right or wrong answer to this and it shows that we want to meet you where you’re at – whether that’s needing help with your resume, wanting to explore various career paths, requesting mock interview help, questions about specific jobs, how to connect with alumni, or asking for more information about all the resources we offer.

2. You can’t cram a job search

While some people thrive under the threat of a deadline, the job and internship search process is more of a marathon that cannot be crammed into one weekend. Ideally, it’s something that you will weave throughout the year and Career Services is here to help you every step of the way.

3. Don’t miss opportunities to connect with employers – Checkout out Handshake today!



There are a lot of events the first few weeks of school including workshops on every career topic you can think of, career fairs starting just after Labor Day, upcoming information sessions, and a host of job listings (and even some internship postings) in Handshake. Be sure to activate your Handshake account right away and check out all the great events coming up. Even if you are interested in an industry that does not recruit until later in the year, it’s still a good idea to explore an array of options and attend workshops now that can help you prepare.

Hope this is a wonderful academic year for you! Please be sure to check out for walk-in times and come see us!