The Penn Internship WHAT?

Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director

One resource in Career Services that is seemingly underutilized yet highly useful is the Penn Internship Network.  As a current student, you may be familiar with our annual pleas to fill out our Summer Surveys to tell us what you did with your summer whether it be travel, intern, take coursework, etc. We then compile extremely robust reports with the data for students to use as a point of reference for their own exploration and search. What we ALSO do, however, is ask the students who complete the surveys to indicate if they’d be willing to be an information resource for future students interested in the same type of opportunity. If they say yes, we include them in what is called the Penn Internship Network. The quickest way to find the tool (aside from clicking the hyperlink I just provided) is to type “Penn Internship Network” into the search box on our website. It’s usually the first thing that will pop up.


You only need your PennKey and password to access the database and once you do, this is what you’ll see:


Notice that you can search by multiple fields including industry, job type, major and more! Are you a freshman wondering what types of internships other freshman have gotten in the past? Use the ‘Choose Class Status’ dropdown to sort by class year! Want an internship this summer but know you need to live at home in California? Search by location! Once you select your criteria and hit search, you’ll find a list of students who have agreed to be contacts for other students interested in the same type of summer opportunity. We’ll provide their email addresses and you are more than welcome to reach out to them to do some informational interviewing. (For tips on informational interviewing, click here.) The point of this process is to learn from your peers and perhaps get better connected and acquainted with various opportunities through networking. One of the greatest perks of coming to Penn (aside from your stellar education, of course) is the personal and professional network that you will build over your four years here and beyond – and there is no time better than the present to get started! For questions on better utilizing the Penn Internship Network or anything else career-related, feel free to stop in to see us so we can help!



Happy Internship-Hunting Season!

With On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) internship season upon us, it’s important that any student participating be on top of all things OCR – that means understanding the process, making sure your PennLink account is working properly and looking for and taking note of who is coming to campus and when. By embracing some of these best practices, you’ll be in your best frame of mind to alleviate stress and cruise through the semester.

The OCR Process
Our website is a great resource to learn more about OCR and how it works. Be sure to check out our robust FAQ section for answers to nearly all questions you may have about the process. We also highly encourage you to attend one of our two OCR Orientation Sessions, which will be held on January 14, 2015 and January 16, 2015. Specific details about time and location can be found on our calendar of events.

Each year, we have students who frantically come into our office halfway through the recruiting season (after many deadlines have already passed) saying they just noticed their PennLink account is “missing” the On-Campus Interview tab. This can happen because of a technical glitch (which is too long and involved to explain in this blog post) but can be easily fixed – if you let us know! So, IF you plan to participate in OCR and before the first string of deadlines hits, take a moment to stop, log into PennLink and make sure you see that tab. Here’s what you should see:


If it’s not there, tell us right away because that means you don’t have access to any of the OCR postings and that’s definitely something you’ll want to fixed. 

Also, do you currently sync the PennLink calendar with your Google Calendar? If so, read on!

PennLink updated the system on November 17th. In order to CONTINUE SYNCING with your Google Calendar, you must follow these simple steps: 

1) Log in to the student interface of CSM
2) Go to the Student Profile, and within that profile, click on the “Privacy” tab.
3) Go to “Sync Events from the system with your Google Calendar”
4) Click the “Authorize” button, and then “Accept” CSM with Google. That’s it! 

If you have any questions about PennLink, please email

We know this time of year can be stressful for students, especially those hoping to land an internship or job for the summer. Please know Career Services is always here to help. While our appointments can often fill up quite quickly each week, please also know that most teams have DAILY walk-ins that are on a first-come, first-served basis. Specific counselors’ walk-in schedules can be found on our website and are updated daily.

Front Row Livin’ & A Question Worth a Billion

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A week ago I attended a conference in Annapolis for a group of career professionals and employers. The keynote speaker, Jon Vroman, was particularly memorable. As co-founder of his nonprofit company, the Front Row Foundation, Jon talked about the work his organization does to help those braving devastating health issues and challenges. The goal of the organization to bring a “front row” experience to these individuals at their favorite concert, performer, sporting event, Broadway show or other entertainment venue. The stories they told proved inspirational as the patients and their families gained valuable memories to clutch to for the rest of their lives. You can read more about that organization here.

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But Jon also shared his own growth stories and some of the struggles he’s overcome to live life to the fullest, or in his words, in the front row. He gave a personal example of being a shy kid lacking confidence and as a result having the tendency to fade into the background. One day, while fanning his passion for live music at a concert but standing in the back of the crowd and slightly off to the side, Jon noticed a group of people front and center dancing and singing along and having what looked like the best time of their lives. He felt envious of how free and involved they seemed – so a part of not just the crowd, but the performers experience themselves. He decided in that moment that he would no longer live his life standing in and fading into the background.

Jon then asked us to think about our own goals and our commitment to those goals, requesting we rate on a scale from 1 (being the lowest) and 10 (being the highest) how dedicated we are to achieving our goals. When we all had that number secured firmly in our brains, Jon asked us another question: “If someone offered you a BILLION dollars to accomplish that goal, would your commitment change?” The curious murmur that fell over the crowd proved Jon’s experiment had worked – very few of us who just moments ago felt 100%, tapped out committed could honestly say a billion dollars would not strengthen that dedication and push us that much harder toward achieving success. With added incentive, we found we were capable of even more.

Whether it’s a career goal or a life goal, I challenge you to ask yourself the same question. What is your commitment level to your goal and what, if anything, would create even more incentive for you? You may be surprised what you find, and it may help you know yourself better as you continue to plan your career path.

As always, we are here in Career Services to support you living your life in the front row and we are 100% committed, billion dollars or not! 😉


The Power of Networking

By Anne Marie Gercke

Many students who are currently seeking summer internships or full-time jobs often plop down in my office letting out a frustrated sigh. “I’ve applied to 80+ jobs and haven’t gotten ONE interview!” some have exclaimed. “Is it my cover letter? Is it my resume? What am I doing wrong?”

Believe it or not, this can be a fairly common concern for job seekers, and my first question is always the same: “Well, what type of networking have you done?” The blank stares I get in return usually give me my answer.

Networking – as intimidating and overwhelming as the act may seem – is one of the major players in the game of getting a job. Shannon Kelly wrote a nice post on networking a while back. Think you don’t know any connections in the field you’re pursuing? Sure you do. You’re at Penn! Combine that and the age of drastically expanding technology and the opportunity to network is just a click away. Three readily available databases for you are Quakernet, LinkedIn and the Penn Internship Network. All are free, and can be used to reach out to current students and alumni to conduct informational interviews and establish a web of connections in a particular field. Here is how to leverage each database:

  1. Quakernet: This is our alumni database. Use it to conduct searches using filters like industry or geographical location (among others). Each profile will include pertinent information, such as employment history and the alum’s involvement at Penn, but most importantly, the person’s contact information. You can then reach out to the alum by email, being sure to properly introduce yourself and say where you found his/her contact information, and requesting the opportunity to chat either in person, over the phone or by email about his/her professional experience since leaving Penn. Even though you would never come out and say, “So, hey, how ‘bout a job?” by establishing positive rapport, you can add the alum to your network as a potential contact in the future. That alum may also put you in contact with a colleague of his/hers, who may put you in contact with another colleague, and so forth. You get the picture.
  2. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is valuable for many reasons, but the main two are the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Network (under ‘Groups’) and the Find Alumni tool (under the ‘Connections’ tab). The Alumni Network on LinkedIn has well over 32,000 members – that’s a lot of Penn grads, which means you have a lot of connections! The ‘Find Alumni’ tool also helps you run searches using filters like location, industry, organization name, major, etc. Understanding how to navigate this site to make connections (and to possibly cross check them with Quakernet to gain more information) may seem a little challenging at first, but that’s why Career Services is here to help. Come in for a walk-in or schedule an appointment and we can help you through the whole process!
  3. Penn Internship Network: Surprisingly, I find lot of students don’t know about this database, especially those who have yet to visit Career Services. As many of you know, every year we survey Penn students and ask about summer plans. We also ask if they will be willing to be a mentor/contact for other students interested in the same or similar field. Those who check “yes” are entered into the Penn Internship Network. This database is much more simplistic than the aforementioned systems, but we provide valuable information regarding students who had internships last summer. There are many filters to narrow the search – industry, major, location, job function (the list goes on) – and as a result you can learn a lot quickly. Most important, however, is that the students in the network are typically still on campus, so you can contact them (we also provide the email address) and ask for an informational interview, as well. Students you may unknowingly pass on Locust Walk every day could be your connection to your future! Plus, gaining knowledge from your peers can be a very helpful tool to navigating your own job search.

Once you start building your professional network, applying to jobs becomes more meaningful. Instead of just submitting your application into a company’s database and feeling frustrated by waiting weeks and hearing nothing, you may leverage Quakernet to see if any current alumni work at the company and then contact them before you submit your application. “Hi, my name’s __________ and I’m a <<year>> at Penn. I’m currently seeking employment at <<company>> and will be applying for the _________ position soon. I found your information in Quakernet/LinkedIn/Penn Internship Network and saw you worked/currently work there. Do you happen to have any advice for my application?” It’s helpful to include some information about why you are applying – what excites you about the company and why you feel you are a fit – to establish that positive rapport. By connecting with people ahead of time, you improve your chance of getting noticed. Worst case scenario, the person you reach out to won’t reply; best case scenario, he/she will ask for your resume to put on the hiring manager’s desk (you would never ask for this yourself – however, if the offer does come, take it). Most likely, the contact will give some helpful advice about what may be beneficial to include in your cover letter or skills to highlight in your resume that could help move your application to the top of the pile.

Also don’t underestimate the old school form of networking: word of mouth. A few months ago, I attended a Christmas party in my hometown. I ended up chatting with a girl, Priscilla, who graduated high school with my brother – I hadn’t seen her in years. She told me she had graduated in spring 2013 from Thomas Jefferson University with a nursing degree and was still looking for a job in Philadelphia. I put my Career Services knowledge to good use and asked her questions about how she was conducting her search – when I mentioned the networking piece, she admitted she “wasn’t good at that.” I told her she was networking right then – with me! I also told her that I would put her in touch with my college roommate, now a nurse at HUP, since she’s been in the field for years and may have good advice. Once that happened, my roommate, Laura, put Priscilla in touch with her good friend, a hiring manager at Hahnemann University Hospital, and lo and behold, by mid-February Priscilla had a great job at that very hospital! After months of applying online and hearing nothing, she did a little networking and things moved in her favor in a matter of weeks. Even though every networking endeavor will not have that great of an outcome (because you will have to work for it), it does show that the process works when done right.

So start doing some research on Quakernet, LinkedIn and the Penn Internship Network if you haven’t already! Talk to your friends and family, and ask them to talk to theirs! Don’t be afraid to connect with people, because remember – you aren’t asking for help, you are asking for information, the cheapest yet most valuable job search tool out there!

As always, we are here in Career Services to help with your search process – stop in to see us!


#keywords #resumes #gettingnoticed

I don’t know about you, but lately I’m feeling #hashtagged2death. Despite its social media inception being as far back as 2006, it seems that the hashtag recently overtook not just the Internet at large, but pop culture in general. It is everywhere – T-shirts, television shows, bumper stickers – and when paired with some of the social media acronym trends, mediums like Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and Instagram posts can sometimes seem like a whole new language. (I will admit I Googled #yolo when it first took over my social hashtagyourlife-1024x768media feed and I once asked my 14-year-old niece what #tbt meant on Instagram. It’s hard to keep up!)

Admittedly though, hashtags are useful, in that they cleverly group together a myriad of thoughts and musings from different people centered on a single topic. I’ve been known to use them in my own postings, but more often use them to gather information. When Superstorm Sandy hit about a year ago and I was worried about family and friends at the Jersey Shore, I found myself compulsively monitoring my Twitter feed for any post that had #sandy attached to the end. When I participate in Tweet Chats for work, hashtags are a great way to communicate virtually and share ideas with other Career Services professionals all over the country. And I didn’t even have to watch this year’s VMAs to know that Miley instantly became the most popular Halloween costume of 2013 (#twerkortreat). In a sense, social media has turned into a series of keywords and I just have to pay attention, or at least be a good guesser, to find the information I want in one single feed.

Keywords, keywords…why does that sound so familiar? Ah yes! It’s the resume tip that we, as an office, stress to students #every #single #day. When you are applying for a particular job or internship, include keywords in your resume. We review mounds (literally mounds – just look at my desk) of resumes each week and, more often than not, students have not tailored their resumes for a particular job or internship. You must tailor your resume for a particular job or internship. Now, that’s not to say you should ditch your generic resume to guide you through each application, but when you have that specific position that interests you, your resume submitted should be geared directly to that role using keywords throughout the page. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds scanning your resume, so you want keywords that are highly visible and eye-catching.

Tip: Every single job opportunity gives you a “cheat sheet” right there in the job description. Make sure you take advantage! Keep in mind you’ll want to incorporate the keywords while ensuring accuracy and integrity in your resume (don’t just copy and paste line items from the job description and then hope you can explain your way out of your fabrication when you are called in for an interview – that would result in a definite #fail). But if a company is looking for a particular skill that may be buried deep in your resume, pull it out and make it front and center, even if it wasn’t a main component of your role. Recruiters are looking for evidence that you can do the job based on your previous experience.  In a way, think of keywords as hashtags – if you don’t “tag” it, your resume won’t get pulled into the recruiter’s “feed” and will instead just float out there in the black hole of cyberspace. (Disclaimer: Please don’t actually incorporate hashtags into your resume. I would like to keep my job.)

Don’t forget, Career Services is here to help you 5 days a week. In addition to appointments, mock interviews, our online resources and our Career Services Library, we do offer a resume critiquing service for FREE (for both current students and alumni), so please be sure to get your resume reviewed by an advisor in the near future. Contact the Career Services team that serves your school to set that up.

Good luck as you navigate your career path! #BFN (That’s “Bye for now!” – Googled that one, too!)