Travel Light and Hold on Tight

Anne Guldin Lucas

The title of this blog might suggest that I’m about to launch into a poem.  It’s tempting.  Spring and its beauty can certainly inspire songs and poetry in those talented enough to create such work.  Lucky for you I don’t possess those talents, so I’ll spare you any attempts at creativity.  So as I begin to type, I’m not sure what path I am following today.  Maybe that mystery actually speaks to the title and subject of this blog.

While your life to date may have been somewhat predictable—elementary school, middle school, high school, college, what comes next isn’t always a straight line.  For some it’s grad school—more tests, applications with mostly synchronized deadlines, acceptances, and an academic year.  For those seeking jobs or other post-graduation experiences, it’s seldom that simple.  Recently I’ve met with students who are rejoicing in job offers—and yet trying to juggle negotiations to buy time to see what other opportunities are presented to them.  Can they get a response from another employer in time to know their options for the summer or for next year?  Or will they say “yes,” withdrawing other applications, and never knowing what may have been…That happens a lot.  Ultimately you must make a decision and move on.

Speaking of moving, my daughter, who graduated from college in 2008, is currently planning her FIFTH move since graduation.  My husband and I are cleaning out the cupboards and closets of our home of over 28 years.  As you might imagine, our family is extremely focused on idea of “traveling light” right now.  Our daughter regrets buying that large and heavy bedroom furniture for her first post-college apartment, which was rather spacious.  It took the removal of windows from her bedroom to get the furniture into her current apartment, and the same technique will be required to get it out again in a few months.  The Number One requirement for her next apartment building will be an elevator—a LARGE elevator—along with strong movers–again.

She needs new living room furniture, and I’m recommending inflatable furniture in keeping with the goal of traveling light.  For those of you who are aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs, or investors, “plastics” may be returning as a buzz word.  Inflatable plastic furniture would be ideal for every young person who is entering the work world.  Between job changes and roommate changes, you will be on the move.  So travel light!  And if you need anything to get started wherever you land, please get in touch with me, and I’ll share with you some of the “treasures” that we have accumulated in the past 28 years (and perhaps even some things that my parents gathered even earlier and passed onto our attic).

As for the hanging on tight, I recommend to you that you hold on to people and relationships rather than stuff.  Nurture the friendships that you’re making at Penn.  Value your family.  There will probably be many phases of your life during which you will live far from your loved ones.  However, thanks especially to today’s technology, you can stay connected.  Be sure to talk on your cell phone or Skype, so that it’s not just texts and emails.  Even better, save your money and look for deals to travel to be together in person.  And when you’re together, get off those devices and really talk.  Sadly the art of conversation is dying, and I hope that you’ll help rescue it.

Enjoy  these lovely days of Spring.  Write a poem; sing a song.  And remember as you move away from Penn for the summer or for the rest of your life, to travel light, and hold on tight.

Chill—It’s February!

by Anne Guldin Lucas

Hey YOU—yes, you—the one reading this blog—YOU ARE GREAT!  If I’m going to write a blog, then I’m glad that someone—YOU—are taking the time to read it!  Thanks!

Of course you’re terrific for many more reasons beyond reading this blog. You’re at Penn because you have demonstrated a unique combination of academic talent and extracurricular strengths, and it’s that same combination that will be your ticket to an interesting career in the years ahead.   It is truly a privilege to meet so many of you in my work as a Penn career counselor for students in the College.  Thank you for sharing your  stories with me. I wish that each of you knew how smart and talented you really are and what a bright future lies ahead of you.  So please relax a little bit, believe in yourself, and make sure you live in the present, enjoying every precious minute you spend here at Penn!

To the senior who is still seeking post-graduation employment, please read the stats from our Class of 2011 College Survey as a reminder that only slightly over half the students reporting from that class had offers by the end of March.  Just under a quarter of respondents got their jobs via OCR.  That means that typically most students conduct independent job searches, and many of those searches take place in the Spring and even Summer of senior year.  I can assure you that every student, regardless of the timing of his/her job offers, is likely to pursue an interesting, successful career.   Here’s the link to the 2011 survey:

If you are an underclassman still seeking a summer internship, it’s still early!  Many organizations will post internships in the months ahead, and now is an ideal time to begin your search for many types of positions.  The CAS 2011Summer Survey also confirms this timetable.  Most internship offers come between March and June each year.  Please refer to the appropriate section of our 2011 College Summer Survey for more details:

While my colleagues and I are delighted by the emphasis that so many Penn students place on their career pursuits, please remember that your Penn classes, activities, and friendships are also important aspects of your Penn experience.  Stay engaged in the present so that you don’t miss out by looking too far into the future.  When you want tutelage in the logistics of a job/internship search and/or want help in figuring out career possibilities, we’re here for you.  In fact, this Friday we’re offering you a special event on campus to kick off your weekend in style—the Spring Career Fair!

***Please join us on Friday, February 17, from 11 AM – 3 PM in Houston Hall, wearing business casual clothes and bringing along a stack of resumes!***

Then, having paid your career dues, call your friends, and make it a fun February President’s Day weekend!  Surely February is the right time of the year to “chill,” even if just for a little while.  See you Friday!

Moving Through the Job Search—and the Alphabet

by Anne Lucas

Last month I blogged about the letter “O,” suggesting that instead of being Overwhelmed by the job search, one could be Optimistic about Opportunities.

A lot can happen in a month.  We in Career Services are hearing happy news from some seniors with job offers.  For them, I think it’s safe to say, they have arrived at the letter “R,” which stands for RELIEF.  And they are also looking forward to some R & R, REST and RELAXATION of course.

Those “R” words may not be the first to come to mind for others of you who have not REALIZED the success you hoped for or haven’t even begun your job or internship search.  RIGHT off, let me say, it’s not a RACE!  Please RECOGNIZE that it’s okay to set your own pace with your job or internship search.

RELAX!  (Everyone can make that “R” word your own!)  Let’s REVIEW some of the other “R” words that might be appropriate for the REMAINDER of you RIGHT now.

Perhaps you are READY to get started.  If so, let Career Services help you.  If you’re READING this blog, you have found our web site.  You can REVIEW and REGISTER for our programs and take advantage of our counseling services. Please REQUEST an appointment to meet with a counselor to REFLECT on your skills and interests.

If you slugged your way through OCR, only to find REJECTION, there’s no need to RETREAT into your ROOM.  While I REALIZE REJECTION is ROUGH, there are other ways to REACT.  RELEASE your REGRETS. You will RECOVER and REGAIN your footing—experience a RENAISSANCE!  Penn students always RISE to the occasion and ROLL with the punches.  REALLY, you’re REMARKABLE and will REBOUND and RECOVER as you RESOLVE to RECOMMIT to your search.

Maybe it’s time to RECONSIDER your goals.  Admit it—some of you only pursued consulting because it’s REGARDED as a REWARD for Penn achievement.  REMEMBER that you had other interests before you joined the consulting pack.  Some self-assessment might REMIND you of your childhood dreams or REVEAL new ROADS to explore.  Again, please REACH out to us in Career Services.  We can help you REGROUP and REORGANIZE, perhaps REVIEW your RESUME so that you can REVISE it.  How about REHEARSING an interview through ROLE play? We might encourage you to do some RESEARCH into other career fields you haven’t considered, and we can certainly introduce you to some career-RELATED RESOURCES, which are RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE for many good RESULTS.

Are you RARING to go with your job or internship search now?  We’re ROOTING for your success.  If you’d RATHER RUMINATE, you’ve got some time REMAINING.  After all, the RETIREMENT age is RISING.  RELAX.

The O Words

by Anne Lucas

Lately, whether greeting a student for an appointment in Career Services or watching the news, I’m reminded of the same “O” word–Overwhelmed.  Seniors especially are overwhelmed by classes, assignments, leadership roles on campus and now—oh no!—a job search too.  It’s understandable.

Our economy is overwhelmed by unemployment, a housing crisis, a frenetic and frightening stock market—and oh so much more.  Truly, it can feel overwhelming to confront these challenges and to develop and execute a winning strategy to become employed or remain employed.

So what’s a person to do in these overwhelming, uncertain times?  Okay, I can’t help myself.  I feel my Pollyanna Anne surfacing as I choose a different “O” word for our times—Optimism!  It seems to me that the time has come for us to remember and practice the old adage of looking on the bright side.  If you can just ignore recent political debates, I promise you that there is a bright side to 2011!

First, you are a student, perhaps an alumnus/a, of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best schools in the country and in the world.  Your Penn education can open doors for you.  Because you are affiliated with Penn, you must be smart and capable, with a pretty good work ethic too.  Throughout the decades I have been affiliated with Penn as a career counselor, I have witnessed so many students and alumni accomplishing amazing things—on campus and beyond.  You are next.

Every once in a while, the media even brings us a happy, positive story.  On September 23 Morning Joe interviewed Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, the entrepreneurial founders of Method.  They started Method in 2001, in the midst of a recession and, despite entering the extremely competitive field of laundry detergent and cleaning products, they have achieved wonderful success.  These two young, upbeat young men actually explained that they took “advantage of the recession to do things differently…focus and innovate.”  Clearly there still are plenty of success stories, even in difficult economic times, and you can be one of them.

So how do you begin to change “overwhelmed” to “optimistic?”  Rather than getting bogged down by—and perhaps even feeding—those nasty negatives, it’s important to seek and proclaim the positives in every day.  In fact, I currently have a contract with someone who has promised to text me every day citing two positive aspects of his day—one work-related and the other personal.  Sometimes he has to dig deep to find something.  It might be a compliment from a customer when he’s worked hard to solve a problem.  On a personal level it could be an exhilarating run in the park. It’s all about attitude, and I vote for Optimistic over Overwhelmed every time!

Once we get into the habit of deliberately identifying the positive situations in our lives, we’ll increase our levels of optimism.  As you probably know, Penn is home to a very famous professor associated with optimism—Dr. Martin Seligman.  Check out his homepage, “Authentic Happiness” at:

Let’s unite to make Optimism the Penn way.  Finally,  in case you need further inspiration, enjoy Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Accentuate the Positive:”

Summertime: Feelin’ Groovy

by Anne Lucas

Ah—summertime!  For many of us school is out, and it’s time for fun.  That said, I realize that we’re all pursuing different paths this summer.  What does summertime mean to you?  Perhaps you are working practically 24/7, aiming to succeed in an internship that might result in an attractive job offer.  Or maybe you finance a substantial part of your educational expenses so you are working two or three jobs, stashing away money to pay your tuition bill.

Some of you are seeing the world–vacationing, studying, or doing good works. Others of you still wish that you had found a summer job that provides good experience and/or decent wages.  (It may not be too late!) Whatever your circumstances, I hope you’ll devote some time to some important activities that I believe summer is intended for—rejuvenation and reflection.

We all have our preferred methods for recharging our batteries and making some space in our brains to daydream.  For me, there’s nothing like a long, solitary walk—preferably on a beach—to help me reflect on where I’ve been and plan where I’d like to be going.  Letting our minds wander a bit is not a waste of time—quite the contrary.  I believe that electronics-free, mind-wandering time is essential to helping us discover where our passions and dreams lie—and possibly begin to brainstorm as to how to achieve those dreams.

How many times do we hear employers insist that they seek candidates with a passion for their particular field?  How often do we hear that dreaded interview question, “Tell me about yourself?”  Yet how can we identify our passions or know ourselves well enough to share our insights with others unless we make and take the time for quiet self-discovery?  I submit that in order to get to know ourselves better—and thus be able to communicate our interests and strengths and reasoning to prospective employers—we need to slow down and give ourselves time to ponder.

What could be a better time for this slow down than summer!?!  There’s still time in the Summer of 2011 to prepare for your upcoming job or internship search during the next academic year.  July is almost over, but August lies ahead of us.  I hope you’ll carve out some time from whatever you’re doing to find a place that soothes your soul where you can breathe deeply, open your heart and mind to the possibilities, and dream.  When you’re back on campus this fall, make an appointment to meet with a career counselor at Penn, and let us help you translate your passions, skills, and dreams into a fulfilling career.

Happy R & R!  See you in September!