Summer: A Time To Recharge

Image result for iphone low battery screenSo many of us, whether it be on our phones, tablets or laptops, feel an overwhelming sense of panic when our screens alert us that only a few precious percentage points of battery are remaining. I don’t know about you, but when I get the message that my phone is about to die I stop what I’m doing, scramble for a charger and immediately plug in my device until it’s back to its healthy color of green – out of the “danger zone.” Anything below 20% makes me start to sweat just a little bit.

Why is it then when our bodies tell us to recharge, that they are almost out of power, we are so prone to ignore them? Very few of us stop what we are doing and make it our priority to rejuvenate ourselves. Somehow it’s so easy to give up the sleep we need, ignore diet or exercise plans or fail to practice daily mental relief activities that can make us feel healthy, energized, motivated, balanced – and out of the danger zone.

For many students, the summer can be an excellent time to recharge. It can be a break from school work, a shift in your normal pace of life and you may be surrounded by family and friends you don’t see during the school year. All of that can be refreshing. But in so many instances, we forget to take advantage of the summer while there is time. After thinking about this a bit, I started to create a list of summer “best practices” that focused on healthy habits, but, in turn, found that our Director, Pat Rose, has already done it for me in her (still very relevant) 2012 post ‘Summer Checklist’. Pat advises to incorporate healthy living activities like reading a book for fun, catching up on sleep, having positive interactions with people and broadening your career network through casual, low stress conversations, to name a few. I encourage you to read her post to see how you may incorporate some of her recommendations into your own summer schedule.

We have a solid 7 weeks left of the summer before classes begin again. Try to focus on using that time wisely. Don’t constantly operate at a charge below 20%. Do what is good for you so you can feel your best and, therefore, hopefully do your best. By prioritizing your physical and mental health, you have the best chance to enjoy your summer, and ultimately come back to Penn fully recharged for the 2017-2018 school year!

Networking Using Technology: Quakernet & LinkedIn

Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director

The term “networking” can be daunting, especially for those of us who don’t find “schmoozing” or “wheeling and dealing” to be experiences we typically enjoy. For that reason, job-seekers may feel frustrated or even stressed when it constantly pops up in career-related conversations. When I ask my students about their networking endeavors, I will sometimes hear, “Oh, I don’t really have any helpful connections.” In reality, any Penn student or alum with a PennKey has thousands of connections. They just need to know where – and how – to look and find them.

So, here is a quick tutorial to help those students and alumni who have not yet been able to master the art of networking.

First, this is what you’ll need:

  1. Computer/internet access
  2. PennKey and password

Second, here is what you can proactively do:

  1. Create a LinkedIn account (if you don’t already have one)
  2. Bookmark these sites: LinkedIn Find Alumni Tool | Quakernet
  3. Join the University of Pennsylvania LinkedIn Alumni Group (you are welcome to join as a current student)

Next, we will start with LinkedIn to find some alums. When you go to the Find Alumni Tool, you’ll see a page that looks like this:

The site currently pre-populates with over 145,000 alums who have Penn as their most recent university. You can filter the results so that you are working with a more manageable number. For ease, we will narrow it to alums who work at Google in San Francisco. You can do this by clicking on the tabs for Google and San Francisco Bay Area and the results will automatically refilter.

Now we have 256 results. We could narrow even further, but this will do for now. I’ll scroll down to the first row of results to see what we have.

I’ve hidden the identities of these alums to respect their privacy, but this screenshot should give you the general idea of what you’ll see. These are the first five of 256 Penn alums working at Google in the San Francisco Bay Area. This view allows you to see some basic information, like their graduation year and if you have connections in common (see red arrow). If you click on their name and then their profile, you can learn more about them and their career. Let’s click on that first result.

We can see that this person works for Google as the Latin America Marketing Lead. If it would make sense to connect based on your interests, you may reach out to one of your mutual connections (in this case, the screen is showing us we have two connections in common, but again, I hid the photos of the connections to protect their privacy since this tutorial is for information purposes only). I could then potentially reach out to a mutual connection to ask for an “e-introduction” with the alum. The goal would be to set up a 15-20 minute conversation to ask the alum about his/her role, experience at the company and advice he/she may have for you in the field. This is what we call informational interviewing and this is how networking is accomplished.

I know what you are thinking. Is it normal to contact strangers out of the blue? Short answer: yes. Your peers are doing it. More importantly, your direct competition is doing it. You should be doing it. Most alums are very happy to chat. For any job you are considering applying to, it’s a really great practice to try to reach out to at least someone at the company beforehand to try to make a connection. As you can see here, thanks to technology, it doesn’t have to take a ton of time.

Sometimes you will not have anyone in common with the fellow Quaker. Perhaps when you click on the person’s name, however, you see you are in the same group.

If you are in the University of Pennsylvania LinkedIn Alumni Group and you see the word ‘Group’ like you do above, it’s very plausible that is the group to which you both belong as there are currently 40k+ members. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn requires you to simultaneously request to connect if you want to message someone (if you aren’t already connected). But if you are in the same group, you can navigate to that group, type the person’s name into the member search, toggle over their name and a little email icon will show.

That’s how you can send an email through LinkedIn without having to simultaneously ask to connect.

Now let’s say you find someone you’d like to have a conversation with, but you have no connections in common and you aren’t members of the same group. Here’s where Quakernet can come in handy.

Quakernet is a great tool because it’s all encompassing of everyone who has come through Penn, with their email address. When someone gets a new job or is promoted do they run to Quakernet to make sure it’s up-to-date? Maybe. But probably not that often. Since it is such a large database, it’s very difficult to keep it as accurate as LinkedIn, which is solely updated by the individual and much more a part of mainstream social media. That said, here is why Quakernet is a very valuable tool.

Let’s look at this person (see below) as an example. Because I see the 3rd in place of 2nd (meaning we have common connections) or Group (meaning we are in the same group), I know that the only way I could reach out to this person through LinkedIn would be to simultaneously request to connect. Some alums are fine with this, so you can use your discretion on how comfortable you are requesting to connect with people you have never met.

However, another method would be to plug the alum’s name into the Quakernet keyword search to find his email address.

Voila! As you can see, his information hasn’t been updated in Quakernet, so if I had run a search in Quakernet this alum wouldn’t have been part of the results because he doesn’t have Google in his profile. However, when I click on his profile I am able to get his direct email address (in most cases several emails addresses) so the database is an excellent too for finding contact information. Once I found him through Quakernet I’d send him an email indicating I found his information through Penn’s networking tools and I’d be really grateful for 15-20 minutes of his time to talk about his career in marketing. Again, having these conversations and making connections is an effective and efficient way to network, and if you follow the steps I outlined, it doesn’t have to be quite as daunting as it seems.

You can learn more about networking on our website, and we are happy to walk you through the process in person, as well. Now that you have the tools and know how to use them, get out there and connect!


“So, I know I’m really behind in my job search…”

Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director

“So, I know I’m really behind in my job search…” Sound familiar? This time of year, this is one of the most common phrases I hear from students as they sheepishly sink in into the chair in my office and go on to list all of the reasons they feel behind the 8 ball. After they stop to take a breath, typically I ask the student what industries he/she is seeking. Since I’m lucky enough to work with undergraduates from The College of Arts and Sciences, I often hear a variety of answers ranging from legal services to non-profit to healthcare to retail to…a whole bunch more. That’s when I offer up four simple words that seem to lift the weight of the world off the student’s shoulders: “You are not behind.”

While there are particular industries that begin recruiting very early, some as early as the summer before the school year even starts (like finance, as well as some consulting and technology), the majority of employers in other industries do what we call ‘just-in-time recruiting’. This means they don’t know quite so far in advance what they will need in terms of full-time employees or interns come the following summer. Those infamous OCR companies that come every fall? They reserve their interview rooms during March or April of the previous school year, a full 3 semesters before the summer for which they are hiring. Employers in other industries don’t necessarily know how many hires they will need so far in advance, so they tend to recruit closer to graduation and/or the summer.

So am I telling you that anyone with interests outside of finance, consulting and technology should kick up their heels and not think about jobs or internships until mid-spring? Absolutely not! Exceptions do exist and I would not be a good career advisor if I failed to encourage you to do your research before the deadlines hit. There are several steps you can take in order to best prepare. Identify key companies of interest. Learn about different job functions and industries by creating a Vault Career Guide account on our subscriptions page. Network with alumni at various organizations and conduct informational interviews. Understand when industries recruit – I often recommend our timing of career fairs as a loose guide as to when various industry recruiting occurs.

Most importantly, while you may feel behind, know your facts before you decide that you’ve messed up in any way. A positive outlook is imperative, because to successfully succeed in your career search, it’s best to feel confident and prepared because that’s what employers will notice when they meet you. If you find you’re lacking confidence or can’t figure out how to best prepare, we’re here in Career Services to help! Call to schedule an appointment with an advisor so that we can help you navigate this daunting process that many of you may be doing for the very first time. You may find that finding the right job isn’t as difficult as it seems, and that you aren’t, in fact, behind at all!

(Please note, it can be challenging during busier months to schedule an appointment since the volume of students we serve is quite large, but we do have walk-ins every weekday, which are first-come, first-served, and these are found on our website and updated daily.)


Become a Career Services Ambassador!


ambassadorAre you looking for an opportunity to get more creatively involved on campus? Read on to find out about a unique opportunity to be a part of the Career Services Ambassador program for the 2015-2016 school year!

This program will consist of a select group of undergraduate volunteers ranging across all schools to partner with our office and serve as the “face” of Career Services within the student community. The role of the Ambassadors will be to raise awareness on campus about the wide array of resources we provide and the events we offer (such as career fairs and workshops)…and to have fun! The successful candidates will need to make a commitment for the 2015-16 academic school year. Ambassadors will gain valuable marketing and advertising experience and may hone their public speaking skills by co-presenting with career advisors on specific topics.

The strongest candidates should be gregarious and motivated team players with stellar communication and writing skills, an excellent sense of humor and a particular interest in at least one of the following areas: marketing, advertising, graphic design, co-presenting and special events planning and assistance (such as working at career fairs). Successful applicants must be willing to commit 1-2 hours/week (on average) throughout the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. Each Ambassador will also be required to write at least one blog post for this Career Services blog, Penn & Beyond. (Please note this is an unpaid opportunity.)

For more information about qualifications, check out PennLink ID# 812395 or contact Anne Marie Gercke at

Tips for Achieving an “Unbreakable” Career Plan (Through the Words of Kimmy Schmidt)

by Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director, GSE ’14

Earlier this semester I clicked ‘play’ on this new Netflix original called ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ while I was doing dishes at my apartment. I figured I needed some background noise to keep myself occupied. SEVERAL (let’s just leave it at that as the actual number is too embarrassing to admit) hours later I resurfaced from the abyss after finishing the entire series. For that reason, I was far from surprised when the fictional show, which follows a 29-year-old woman (Kimmy) as she adjusts to life in NYC after her rescue from a doomsday cult in Indiana, went to take on the pop culture community by storm. Kimmy’s (quite literally) unbreakable spirit is contagious and her positive attitude is endearing. As I watched and laughed along at her hilarious one-liners, I also realized that many of her messages are very appropriate for some of the challenges and struggles we can face on our career paths. Here are just a few that stood out to me:

  1. Just take it 10 seconds at a time. Everything will be okay.

It’s very normal to feel overwhelmed in college, even when it just comes to your school work. When you throw in your career exploration process, the stress level can often skyrocket. I meet with students every day who are doing AMAZING things. While many appear to be holding it together on the outside, often times once we shut the door and chat one-one-one I learn that they’re struggling to keep it together internally. In the show, Kimmy overcomes challenges by taking them 10 seconds at a time with the motto, “You can survive anything for 10 seconds.” While ultimately everyone needs to develop some sort of long-term plan to be successful, sometimes it’s helpful to break down your exploration process into parts to relieve feelings of being overwhelmed by looking at it as one huge task. To do this, try to think of what steps you need to take to achieve your goal and then start taking each step, one at a time. To identify these steps, consider meeting with a Career Services advisor so that we can design a path that is unique for your needs and goals.

  1. A female dog? The thing that makes puppies? Nice compliment!

Success is often closely connected with one’s perspective and having the ability to pick out the positive in situations, even if it’s different from what someone may normally perceive. Being self-confident and proud often stems from an ability to look at situations with the “glass half full” perspective. No matter what your plans are this summer, there will be sure to be hiccups. Perhaps you’ll make a mistake at your internship or your supervisor isn’t how you expected her to be. Believe it or not, most challenges we face in life do end up having some sort of silver lining. We can discover it if we look closely enough!

  1. I’m having candy for dinner!

Successful “career-ing” in my opinion comes hand in hand with the ability to take risks and think outside of the box. Sometimes you have to take a chance and go for something that isn’t typical or what society (or your friends or family) would expect of you. Finding the right career path is certainly about doing your due diligence to research and network, but often times my best tip is to trust your gut instinct and have fun with it!

  1. Smile until you feel better. I call it Kimmying.

We all know that you can’t actually smile yourself into feeling better, but I think the underlying message in this quote is to take your career search in stride and trust there will be many more good days than bad days. While sometimes tedious and stressful, discovering things about yourself that will help map out your life is actually a really fun process. Whether just starting out at your first internship or doing a major career change later in life, you’ll always look back on the journey (hopefully fondly) as a unique time in your life. Try not to take every little thing too seriously – making smart, well-informed decisions is important, but in the end you can only do what you can, with what you have, where you are. (And if you aren’t feeling like smiling about your career search, by all means come into Career Services – that’s why we’re here!)

  1. Be You. Be what you want. And then become unbreakable.

At Penn, there seems to be a drive to stand out while also fitting in. Feelings of intense competition can exist socially, whether it be who is getting that OCR consulting interview, who scored an awesome internship with a big name production company on the west coast or even who has parents that are “well connected” in the working world. While a little healthy competition never hurt anybody, there does come a point where you just have to put on “blinders” while refusing to look left or right to figure out who you are and what you want…and then stick to it (regardless of pressures from family or friends who mean well but can’t see situations as you may see them). We also know it’s scary to make big decisions and sometimes figuring out what resources you need is tough. Keep in mind that as your career advisors, we can help you through this process with an unbiased attitude, so be sure to include us in the conversation to walk you through the process or to be your sounding board.

So there you have it. When it comes to making a career plan and accomplishing goals, we can all from time to time feel like we’re trapped in our own bunker, being held hostage against our will with no one to rescue us. That’s when it’s most important to have the right attitude, perspective and confidence in yourself to make good choices. For those times that you do feel you need rescuing, shine the Career Services bat signal and we’ll be there to pull you out of the bunker…or just call (215) 898-7531 to make an appointment. We’re here to serve!