Networking for All Seasons

Networking for All Seasons With graduation and the end of the semester right around the corner, many Penn students are headed out to their first full-time career, a summer internship or research experience, or time abroad. Whether you will be returning to Penn in the fall to continue your academic work, or will be pursuing your interests in the world of work or academics, networking should be an important goal in the coming months.

Many think that networking is reserved for those in search of a job or internship, but truly, the best time to network is when you are NOT on the job market. Making and developing connections when you do not need to utilize them imminently is a great way to make contact with others in a more relaxed environment. Here are some tips on how to network during the upcoming summer, no matter where your travels take you.

Reconnect with old friends. If you will find yourself in your hometown, this is a great time to look up old friends and check in to see what they are up to. Chances are some of them are studying something interesting to you, and they may have a job or summer internship that you find interesting. Ask questions. Be inquisitive. Maybe they have learned something through their studies or job search that could be useful to you, too.

Try something new. If you will find yourself in a new city either temporarily or permanently, try an activity new to you. If you like to play sports, join a local intramural team. Like to read? Check out the local library for book clubs or lecture series. Now is the time to take yourself out of your comfort zone and meet new people. You never know how personal connections can turn into professional contacts later.

Seek out mentors, but also be a mentor. It’s easy to look for a mentor who is at the top of your organizational chart. Look instead for peers who are slightly ahead of you. Ask them to coffee to pick their brains about the ins and outs of your organization and/or your new city. What have they learned that would be valuable to you? At the same token, look for others to whom can offer assistance. If you are not in a new city, offer to show newcomers around.

Record keeping. Now is the time to keep track of whom you meet and where. This could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet, or you can utilize one of the many apps out there to assist you in managing your networking contacts. Keep LinkedIn updated. Make sure to update your profile with where you are working, what you are doing, and what skills you are acquiring.

No matter where your life takes you at the end of this semester, remember Penn’s Career Services is always here to help you. We offer services to alumni for life!

End of the Semester Productivity!

With the arrival of April comes lots of change – warmer weather, spring flowers, longer days.  For many students, April also brings along some dread; the end of the semester is near and that means lots of deadlines.  Projects and papers are due, labs need to be wrapped up, and you may be trying to track down letters of recommendation from faculty.  There’s lots to do and it seems like little time to get it all done. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay productive in the home stretch!

  • Create a schedule – It’s time to take out some actual paper and pencil and write a list of what needs to get done. Compartmentalize what you have to do into categories, identify how long it will take to complete each task, and then prioritize.  Remember to keep your goals attainable and realistic.  Remember – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  • Make time for other interests and activities. Facetime with your grandma, get outside for a run to enjoy the weather, or read a book that isn’t for school.  See suggestion #1 and build this downtime into your schedule!
  • Try doing your work another way when you get stuck – if you usually type, try hand writing some notes. A white board can be a great way to get ideas out and to visually see your thoughts.
  • If you must surf social media, take a break and try spending some time on LinkedIn. Update your profile and connect with those in fields of interest.  While this may not help you with your end of the semester deadlines, it will be invaluable in the future.

The time management skills you can develop as a student will serve you well in whatever career or profession you chose, so while you may be stressing out over the work you have to do, rest assured you are simultaneously developing excellent skills that will be useful in the future. 

The Power of Networking – Four Things You Can Do Today!

A recent article likened people’s reaction networking to that of speaking Voldemort’s name out loud.  While networking may not give you magical powers, it is an important aspect of your job search that is often overlooked or avoided by job seekers.  Connecting and speaking with new people can be intimidating for some and exhilarating for others.  Why is networking so important?  Is it really “who you know, and not what you know” that matters?  Here are some tips on getting started in connecting with others that will further your career search as you progress through your time at Penn and beyond.

Create and update your LinkedIn profile

Social media is a big part of how people connect, and having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is important for job seekers.  Follow these useful tips on how to create a solid profile in this advice from LinkedIn.  “How to Create A Killer LinkedIn Profile That Will Get You Noticed.”  Once your profile has been created, check out these resources from Career Services on how to connect with others and to join the Penn alumni LinkedIn group.  LinkedIn has recently launched a new app aimed at students as well.

Connect with alumni through QuakerNet

Penn has thousands of alumni living and working throughout the world.  QuakerNet is a database of alumni from all degree programs and schools and these alumni are anxious to connect with you.  It is a great tool to use when identifying contacts for informational interviewing, learning about living in a new city, or gaining advice from those currently working in your field of interest.  Click here to check out our tips for informational interviewing.

Get out of your bubble and meet new people

So many students find themselves staying with the same social networks and sticking with their academic department.  A great way to start expanding your network is by joining campus and community groups. You never know who you might meet that might be able to help you professionally in the future!

Student Groups at Penn
Graduate Student Groups at Penn

Meet with faculty

Take advantage of being on campus and having access to so many interesting and accomplished faculty.  Visit them during their office hours; feel free to connect with faculty who aren’t currently teaching you but who do work that interests you.  Faculty love to chat with students about their work.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to connect you with alumni or other faculty who they think would be valuable contacts.

Career Services has some excellent tools to help students and alumni at all career levels identify networking opportunities and make connections that can have a real impact on their job search.  Make an appointment with a career advisor to talk in more detail about how networking can help you!


Dianne Hull, Associate Director

The conclusion of an academic year is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and to make plans and goals for the future. Students at Penn have so many successes to celebrate, but sometimes students focus more on what didn’t work out for them than what DID.  The reality is that even the most successful people have failures and setbacks – countless of successful people weren’t admitted into their top choice graduate program, lost out on a summer internship that they really wanted, or were told their work just wasn’t good enough to be in a show.

There has been much talk on college campuses about what employers are looking for in job candidates. One of the top “competencies” employers are focused on is professionalism, of which a big part “is able to learn from his/her mistakes.”  And the key to this?  Resilience!  Resilience can take shape in so many forms, but primarily in the ability to build skills to endure challenges and hardships.  Challenge is inevitable in everyone’s personal and professional life, but truly successful people take these setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow.

This spring, Penn’s Weigle Information Commons allowed students to highlight these challenges through their “Wall of Rejection,” where students were able to share the challenges they have experienced during this past academic year.

Something that may resonate with many students – a Princeton psychology professor who posted his “CV of failure” online.  He outlines degree programs which rejected him, grants and fellowships he did not receive, as well as his “meta-failure” – that his list of failures has received more attention than any of his academic work!

Since the challenges that students face at Penn may not disappear but simply shift as time goes on, take the time as a student to work on your skills of resiliency which will serve you well as a student and beyond.

How to Use Sample Resumes and CVs

Dianne Hull, Associate Director

One of the primary components of your job search tool kit is your resume or CV. But where to start if you have never written a resume or CV before or have not updated these documents in many years? The internet has thousands of samples to choose from, but where to start?

Career Services’ website has multiple samples of job search documents to help you get started on your written materials. The samples we have on our website are from real Penn students and alumni who have agreed to share their resume or CV with other Penn students. Spend time looking at the samples on our website that match your educational background. A resume for an undergraduate from one academic discipline will not look the same as a CV from a PhD student. We offer not only samples to help you get started, but also general advice about the types of information you want to include.

You want your resume or CV to speak about you as an individual, so use the samples as a guide and not a template. Look at multiple documents to help generate ideas about what types of information you might include on your resume or CV given both your educational background and your career focus.

Once you’ve written a rough draft of your resume or CV, bring it to Career Services for a critique. You can either make an appointment or come to walk-ins. See our schedule for the appointment and walk-in hours that apply to you. And once you have used your resume or CV to secure an internship or job, send it to us and we will add it to our samples!