Summer with I Have a Dream Foundation-Los Angeles

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 Cathy Hanh Tran, COL ’19

During the summer of 2018 I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the I Have a Dream Foundation-Los Angeles (IHAD-LA). I Have a Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves youth from low-income communities as early as kindergarten and works with these children until college. Through first-hand experience, I saw how this long-term commitment to their students unfolds.

Over the first 3.5 weeks of the internship, I worked directly with one of their LA student cohorts. These children were entering the freshman year of high school. The organization planned a summer program for the children designed to help them with their transition into high school. I occasionally had the pleasure of tutoring the children in math, and throughout this program I lead an arts and crafts class which helped me get to know the students and their interests and talk to them about how college relates to it. It was my greatest joy being able to connect two students to current college students at universities that they were interested in applying to.

As the weeks went by, the commitment that the program coordinators have for each child to provide well-rounded services became even more apparent to me. Program coordinators scheduled home visits with the students’ parents to assess the needs of the children and their families. After these visits, I researched resources (e.g. free food pantries, housing shelters) that we could direct families to. During this time, I also drafted a curriculum for the students’ ninth grade program. The core components touched upon: academic, college/career, socio-emotional development, and health and wellness. Based on my experiences with the students, I analyzed their needs and incorporated what the parents expressed as their child’s needs.

One of my favorite memories of the internship was during the organization’s end-of-the-year party where all the LA student cohorts came together to enjoy great food, music, and activities. This was where I met an inspiring program coordinator who was celebrating the high school graduation of the cohort she had been working with since they were in first-grade. She is now preparing to start the cycle again with a new first-grade cohort. As I watched the high school graduates come up to her with joy, I could tell that their relationship was more than a mentorship. For me this reinforced the importance of investing in children and creating programs that offer them opportunities.

Prepping for the Rest of the Semester

Kevin Haines, Associate Director

Now that the Fall semester has started and you have a few weeks of class already completed, it’s time to look at the rest of your semester and map out important dates and events. This includes planning for the Spring semester (I know, we’re not even at midterms yet and I’m already talking about NEXT semester), summer 2019, and for some, graduation! Below, I’ve compiled a list of items you might want to consider reviewing that can help put your mind at ease. Some are just “food for thought” and “don’t forgets” while others are essential. Take a look and see if more than a few of these apply to you.

  • Adjusting to classes 

By now you’ve been to quite a few classes and have reviewed all your syllabi (hopefully!). Take a look at all the assignments, quizzes, homework, and tests that will be given in each of your classes and mark the due dates on your calendar. It’s always better to have more reminders than none so that you don’t forget anything. If you’re finding that the course is difficult, talk to your professor or TA. They can help you figure out what you’re struggling with most and give suggestions on how to succeed. Before you know it, it will be Fall break, and then only a few classes will remain in the semester.

  • Research courses for next semester (if you haven’t already) 

What? But this semester basically just started! Yes, that’s true, but it’s always best to get a jumpstart on next semester’s courses. For many majors, courses are already mapped out ahead of time for each semester, however, that’s not always the case. Start looking at course options for next semester so that you have an idea of what you need/want to take and aren’t running around last minute trying to get into a course that’s already full. This should help reduce some stress knowing that you know what you’ll be studying in the Spring.

  • Check-in with your advisor 

At this point, you may not necessarily need to consult with your advisor about classes, but it’s a good idea to still check-in with them. You can talk about current courses, next semester’s courses, study abroad/internship opportunities, or simply how you’re feeling about the semester. Keep them in the loop of what’s going on in your life if you think there is something important they should know. They are there to help, and so is Career Services!

  • Get your resume updated/prep for interviews and OCR 

While many Penn career fairs have already happened for this current semester, you can still stop by Career Services walk-in hours or make appointments to go over your resume and cover letter. We are here Monday-Friday, 9-5pm, so even if you have a last minute question or concern, check walk-in hour times, schedule an appointment, or send us an email. While OCR is coming up, it’s not the only time you can find a job or internship. Job/internships are posted all the time. In the past, some students found something as late as May. While for most people that is not ideal, it’s still a possibility. So, if you haven’t found anything just yet (it’s still early!), just know that there will be plenty of opportunities coming up. Add OCR to your calendar and get yourself ready to interview. It can be stressful at times, but with proper planning, and talking to us at Career Services, we’ll help you figure out a plan. We also help with mock interviews, so if you’re feeling nervous about an actual interview you have, come practice with us. Sometimes all you need is some constructive criticism (and praise!) to help you ace your interview.

  • Strategize for study abroad or summer abroad internships 

Looking to leave the US for a semester and study at a different university or with a specific program? Studying abroad is an incredible experience where you will be able to immerse yourself in another culture while taking courses in a different language (or not!) and learn in a new way. You should start the process a semester before you want to go abroad, but make sure you meet with Penn Abroad in time, as deadlines for Spring 2019 are coming to a close very soon. There are programs for all schools/majors. Additionally, Penn Abroad can help you intern abroad. Be sure to check their website for important updates and information sessions. Schedule an appointment with an advisor after doing some initial research on where you would like to go (and whether or not you are eligible for that particular semester). Represent Penn, abroad!

  • Begin networking with alumni (LinkedIn!) 

Now is the perfect time to start networking and getting to know the people in the career you see yourself in soon. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to learn about Penn alum, what they do, and where they work. LinkedIn allows you to search alum using keywords and locations, so begin searching! Sometimes, you may recognize people that you know or read about and messaging them is only a click away. Don’t be afraid to send someone (or a few people) a message introducing yourself and asking to chat with them. Should they respond, try setting up an informational interview with them to understand how they got to where they were and what their experiences were/are like. Definitely do not start your email out asking them for a job, but rather advice on moving forward in your career. You may only get a conversation or email from them, which is still great, but who knows, in the end, you may end up landing yourself an internship or job!

  • Update family and friends on what’s going on in your life 

Make sure you are checking in with family and friends. School can and is stressful, so sometimes you can go days, even weeks, without talking to family members or close friends. Remember to keep them updated on your life as it is important to hear from them as well and learn about what’s going on in their lives. School is very important, but so is balancing it with your personal life. Let family know how your semester is going and what you have to look forward to in the coming weeks/semester. They know you have a busy schedule, so taking time, even just for a phone call, can put a big smile on their face!

  • Take care of YOU!

The most important thing to take care of this semester, and always, is yourself! Life is ever changing and always busy and it’s easy to let self-care fall to the side. Be sure you are remembering to set aside time for yourself, whether it’s a few hours a week, a full day, or every day. Watch a movie, listen to music, go for a run, eat ice cream, have vegan food, catch up with a friend, paint, sing, explore the city, etc. The list goes on and on. Just remember that YOU are important and that this includes your health and mental health. Take care of yourself always.

CS Radio – Episode 66: “Resume Pitfalls”

Welcome to Season Four!

Your hosts A. Mylène Kerschner and J. Michael DeAngelis are back, along with producer Karen Yang for another season of career information, advice and insight for the University of Pennsylvania community and other career seekers!

This week, Mylène takes a deep dive into some of the hidden resume pitfalls she’s seen students falling into this semester, and then Michael takes us on a quick tour of CareerShift, the newest digital platform in the Career Services portfolio.




World Relief

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 Alexandra Ciullo, COL ’20

This summer marked my first exposure to the world of professional internships. Like most Penn students, I started the application process early and wrote dozens of cover letters. I was–and still am–bent on the idea that I want to be an immigration lawyer. But could I really say that without ever having worked in immigration law in any capacity? I decided this summer it was time to find out. As an Immigration Legal Services Assistant at World Relief Chicago, that’s exactly what I did.

World Relief is an international organization that strives to welcome immigrants and refugees to the U.S. in many ways. They include English classes, help finding employment,teaching clients to use public transportation, and helping them secure legal status in the U.S.

This summer I got my first taste of the 9-5 professional life, and I loved it. I spent my days filling out federal immigration forms for clients, studying clients and their families in order to build personal narratives for their applications, interpreting for Spanish speaking clients, and even attended federal immigration court.

This summer at World Relief exposed me to the good, bad, and the ugly of U.S. immigration law. I learned how incredibly complex and intricate it is, the years and sometimes decades of waiting it requires, and how much of an emotional and financial burden it can be to try to become a U.S. citizen. However, I also got to personally notify clients that their DACA renewals had been approved, meaning they could remain in the country they call home for another 2 years. I was able to tell citizenship applicants that their applications had been approved and that they would soon have an Oath Ceremony. I was able to reassure a worried U.S. resident that she could return to Mexico to visit her sick relative, and that no one could take away her resident status upon reentry to the U.S.

Without this summer experience, I would be completely in the dark about what a career in immigration law truly entails. I learned that immigration law is wildly more diverse than I thought, and that I really enjoy certain aspects of it and really detest others. Going forward, I am certain that immigration law is still what I want to pursue and now I am much more prepared for what a career in this field will look like.

While my commute could be a pain and I didn’t spend my days lounging on the beach, I am extremely grateful to Career Services for affording me the opportunity to intern at World Relief this summer. I learned so much that could never be taught in the classroom and left feeling much more sure about my future career aspirations. Most importantly, I was able to play a small role in helping such vulnerable populations feel more safe and welcome in their new home.

The Hub of Hope

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 Carolyn Ziembo, MSW ’19

This summer I was fortunate to serve as the Graduate Policy Intern in the Office of the Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the City of Philadelphia. Over the course of the summer, I worked on a variety of projects, many of which focused on the City’s response to the current opioid crisis and associated northeast Philadelphia encampments, homeless prevention, and affordable housing. The experience provided me with a wealth of information on how the City serves vulnerable populations and responds to health crises, as well as skills in program management and memo drafting.

One of my favorite projects was supporting the Hub of Hope. The Hub of Hope is a daytime engagement center for people experiencing homelessness. It is operated by SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, Project HOME, and Philabundance in the subconcourse adjacent to Suburban Station. At the Hub, which opened in January 2018, guests are welcome to have a warm cup of coffee, eat a meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, get medical care, and access treatment and housing. Pulling from a list I maintained of current projects and tasks, I prepped agendas for meetings at the Hub every other week with program managers from the City and nonprofits. Attending the meetings was a great way to see how municipal staff and nonprofit organizations interact and successfully run a social service program together.

In addition to Hub of Hope logistics projects throughout the summer, such as ensuring volunteers had clear protocols and instructions in accessing to the Hub, I also took part in the outreach for Meals and More, a grant program designed to bring Philadelphia volunteer meal providers to the Hub. I was involved in every aspect of the grant process, including contacting potential applicants and collecting applications, creating criteria determinants and score sheets, scheduling and attending the review panel, and ultimately giving notice to the grant winners. I enjoyed working with the meal providers, who were all thrilled to begin serving at the Hub. It was another example of the City and nonprofit organizations partnering to best serve Philadelphia’s vulnerable populations.

Beyond the Hub, I sat in on many meetings and observed firsthand how the City is responding to the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. Again, collaboration was key in the planning and implementing of various strategies and meetings were attended by people from across many City departments, as well as from nonprofits directly serving those affected by opioid use disorder. It was also encouraging to see the City regularly hold meetings with representatives from Kensington-area community groups and advocates. Additionally, I was fortunate to go on a site visit to the area hardest hit by the opioid crisis and see for myself the work that had been accomplished. I found the trip very useful; being able to visualize what was being discussed in meetings was important to understanding all aspects the topic. I think this is true for any policymaking or programming.

Although I had worked and interned in nonprofits previously, this summer’s internship was a new look for me into how City government functions. I was fortunate to meet and learn from so many knowledgeable people and am grateful for all the insight I gained.