Managing Career Fair Jitters: First-Gen Stories

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Assistant for the College Team

Career Fair and recruiting season here at Penn is fast approaching! I remember quite vividly my own experience first attending a Career Fair as a student. I was a first-generation college student and throughout my time at school, I was lucky enough to have supportive mentors that I could turn to for guidance when needed. However, this did not ease my anxiety any less when it came to the idea of walking around a crowded gymnasium, in an uncomfortable suit jacket (which I did not own), talking to strangers about why they should hire me.

The night before the fair I remember pacing around my room practicing my 30 second pitch and also stressing about what to wear. After pulling everything out of my drawers, I decided that I had nothing that would work and that is when panic wave #2 set in. I thought to myself, “Well, Alyssa, this is a sign, looks like you aren’t going to the career fair tomorrow.” Luckily, I worked my way through that ball of stress, and my roommate graciously offered me options from her own closet to choose from.

By the time the fair rolled around I felt as though I had been through every emotion, but I also felt confident going into the day. I had prepped my resume and I felt as though I had a firm grasp on what I was going to say to employers that I met. Let’s be real though, career fairs are intimidating. You are surrounded by your peers in a packed room, all trying to impress recruiters who you hope will offer you a job. I am happy to report that I made it through the event and even left feeling good about the connections that I made throughout the day!

This time of year can be stressful, which is why Career Services tries its hardest to offer as many opportunities as possible to prepare for fairs and upcoming recruiting events. In addition, we are so excited to be offering the Quaker Career Wardrobe again this year! Come see us on Thursday, September 7th from 10:00-3:00pm down in the On-Campus Recruiting Suite to pick out a free professional outfit that you can keep! We are also offering many Career Fair Prep workshops leading up to the events this semester to don’t miss out on those!

Career Fair Prep Workshop, Friday, September 8th 3:00-3:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 11th, 12:00-12:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 25th, 1:30-2:00PM | McNeil Room 97

And, if you can’t make any of those, check out our podcast on Mastering Career Fairs. It is okay to feel overwhelmed during this time of year, but know that Career Services is here to support you throughout!

The Power of a Post-Interview “Thank You” Note

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant, College Team

It may seem like a simple gesture, but it is one that will go a very long way in making you stand out for all the right reasons after an interview. Sending a thank-you note to an interviewer is something that many candidates forget to do. If you take the time to send a quick note, it ensures that you will stand out from the rest of the candidate pool. The other benefit to a post-interview thank-you note is that you get the opportunity to restate your interest in the position and show the takeaways you learned from the interview. You should not use the thank-you note to summarize your interview and the points you made, however, often times we leave an interview wishing we had highlighted a certain experience more than we did. In your thank-you note, you can highlight this experience and expand on it based on what it seemed the employer was looking for, keeping in mind that you should only bring this up in your thank-you if it is an important thing to know for the role you are interviewing for. It is important that the emphasis of the note is still on thanking the employer for their time and consideration. Making the effort to send a quick note also emphasizes your written communication skills to the employer. Besides your application materials, this will be one of the first times an employer can see how you would potentially be perceived when communicating with clients or customers in this role.

The thank-you note should not be an in depth recap of your interview but a brief note in which you sum up and highlight why you would be a good fit for the position. Be sure to follow-up in a timely manner, if possible, in the same day as your interview.

Your thank-you note will go much further than you may think, it could even be the deciding factor whether or not you, or the person sitting next to you, gets the job.

Here you can find Career Services tips for writing a post-interview thank-you note!


Check out the new LinkedIn Students App

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant for the College Team

Last week, LinkedIn launched its newest feature, the LinkedIn linkinStudents app. The app is geared specifically graduating seniors who are looking for help in their job search. The app helps you look for jobs that are a good fit based on your major, companies that recruit at your school and the career paths of alumni with similar degrees.*

LinkedIn wants students to look at this new tool as their “personal job exploration guide”. When accessing the app you are given 5 items to review: a career suggestion based on your school and major, an article to read on various career-related topics, a company that often recruits from your school, a list of job suggestions based on recent alumni from your school with a similar major, and lastly, the app provides an actual job posting that you might be interested in based on your major/school.** What is also helpful is the “extra credit” option that allows you to swipe through more of these suggestions and add even more information about yourself such as your interests, goals and careers you find interesting. This option allows you to have a more personalized experience. Keep in mind that the app does tend to use a student’s major as one of the main data points when making suggestions. As we know, your major does not firmly dictate a straight path to your career. We’ve had English majors go into Finance and Religious Studies majors join the FBI! Just check out our survey reports to see! While your major should certainly reflect your interests, your supplemental activities and internships also help you learn what career path is right for you. This is especially true for our liberal arts students who can often have a variety of experiences that contribute to their career goals. That being said, be sure to utilize the extra credit section and add in those extra details about your interests and goals in order to have a more tailored experience!

studentappIn general, LinkedIn has received positive feedback from student users. The most common trend being that students reported the app very easy to use and navigate.

This is a great first step and career exploration tool for graduating seniors to use when planning for those next steps. However, be sure to utilize our office and resources as well! Again, we have career plan survey reports that offer great data and insight into what our recent grads are doing post Penn. And as always, call us to make an appointment or stop by for walk-in hours! We are here for all of your career related needs.


Be Cautious of Resume Templates

by Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant

Your resume can have as few as 5-10 seconds to impress a recruiter before they decide to move on. That means you have a short window of opportunity to really wow the recruiter and make them want to interview you. The best way to do this is to showcase a clean, readable document that highlights all of your great experiences.

Most templates you come across are poor quality and you run the risk of choosing one with a terrible layout and bad readability. Many times templates miss out on the details. They utilize bad spacing, inconsistent fonts and have an overall messy look to them. The templates to stay away from are your everyday Microsoft Word (or any other program), “click and enter information” templates. Those templates are impossible to edit and the formatting is always different. Associate Director, Anne Marie Gercke tells students their “resumes should be a fluid document that you change often and tailor for specific jobs.” Working within a template is difficult because it makes changing anything in the document next to impossible. Our office provides a resume tip packet with examples of resumes with great formatting and layout. You can use this guide to find a style that you like and make it your own. You want your experience to be presented in a neat and clean way, this will ultimately show the recruiter who you are and that you are professional.

Just one more reason to avoid templates is the fact that they give the notion that you aren’t spending too much time on the presentation of your skills. You want recruiters to look at your resume and be impressed not only by your experiences but also by your presentation. Don’t sell yourself short by presenting your amazing experiences in a lack-luster template resume. Showcase all the great things that you have done in a way that is yours and will hold the attention of a recruiter.

To sum it all up, be cautious of how you are presenting your skills. Think of your resume as an always evolving document of your professional experiences. You want that document to be the best portrayal of why you are the right fit for a certain job. Most templates are not designed by experts. Don’t put your professional future in the hands of an unknown template designer. Utilize Career Services and all of our resources to ensure that you are sending out your best resume possible.

Helpful Resources:

Resume/Cover Letter Critique Services– Career Services offers resume and cover letter critique services. Visit our website to see how to submit a document for review based on what school you are in.

Online Resume Workshop– Our office hosts multiple resume workshops each semester but if you are unable to physically attend one of those events you can utilize this online workshop.

Career Services Website: Resume Section– This page of our website has resources such as guides, tips and even resume samples for Undergraduate students as well as resources specific to different populations such as Graduate students, Design students, School of Engineering- Master’s students, School of Nursing students, GSE students, and Social Policy & Practice students.


How Voicemail Greetings and Email Addresses Affect Your Job Search

by Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant for the College team

When looking for a job we all know that first impressions and professionalism are very important. However, many people often overlook the image they are portraying to potential employers when it comes to their voicemail greetings and email addresses.

First, let’s discuss the power of a professional email address. Your email address is always listed on your resume as an avenue to contact you. Employers are going to take you more seriously and think of you in a much more professional manner if you list a professional email versus let’s say, Let’s face it, it’s fun to have a silly email address but that is not what employers are looking for. Instead you should use an email that incorporates the name you use professionally or even your Penn email.

Now that your resume (and professional email address) has passed the screening and impressed the recruiter or hiring manager, let’s make sure your voicemail will represent you in the best way possible. Unless you are expecting a call from a number that you know, most people just let the call go to voicemail. That is okay, however, I find that many people fail to set up their voicemail in the first place. If this is the case, how is an employer going to reach you to let you know they are interested? There are many talented candidates vying for the same spots so you wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity just because you hadn’t set up your voicemail, or your voicemail is full. Many people also leave the generic robot message that the phone comes with. Example: “You have reached 123-456-7891. Leave your message at the tone.” While this is fine, it is always nice to put some personal touch to your message. That being said, your “personal touch” should be professional. Do not rap your voicemail message to the tune of your favorite Jay Z song or make a haiku. While this may be funny and entertaining to your friends and family, a potential employer would hear that and think twice about even picking up the phone in the first place. Remember, it is important to convey a professional tone to potential employers so just record a concise message saying who they reached and that you will get back to them as soon as possible.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.