More Than Resumes

by Fatimah Williams Castro, Ph.D., Career Counselor

I joined Career Services last year at the height of my team’s busy season – just a couple weeks before the fall semester began. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet graduate students and postdocs from many of the schools we serve during summer orientations and beginning of semester events.


My team is always sure to let master’s and doctoral students and postdocs know that we are here to assist with any of your career related or job search career questions – that’s right all of it. But students would still ask, “So you mean, I can come in with something other than just my resume?”

Any career advisors would answer, Yes and yes.


Truth is, the job search is never just about the resume. There’s all the questions that come before and after you submit a job application such as,

  • I want to use [this] skill in my future job, where can I find information on careers that use this skill?
  • How would I go about looking for a job in my favorite town on the West Coast while I’m here on the East Coast at Penn?
  • People tell me that I should network with alumni but I don’t know what to say to alumni or where to meet them.
  • How can I keep my options open for academic jobs and nonacademic jobs at the same time?
  • How do I manage multiple job offers?


These questions are wide ranging and address every stage of the job search and career development process, and they certainly extend beyond just resumes and CVs.

I’m writing this post to let you know that career advisors are here to assist you whether you are focused on positions research, teaching, industry/business, government, nonprofit or anything in between.

I’m still amazed that Career Services at Penn offers customized career support for graduate students and postdocs. Did you know that most university career offices primarily serve undergraduates? But lucky you (!), Penn is ahead of the curve with dedicated team members who understand master’s and doctoral training and how it shapes your outlook on your career options and career decision making.

So how can you get in on this customized career advice –and resume and CV help?

  • Schedule an appointment with a career advisor. These appointments are 30 minute advising sessions. Come in with your questions or even general comments like, “I’m not sure what I’d like to do, but I know I want help with figuring that out.” We are here during the summers in addition to the school year.
  • Stop by during walk ins. These are our 15 minute sessions that are most helpful when you have quick questions.
  • Attend the Job Search Series and the Academic Career Conference. We update our calendar regularly with new events and programs. Look for the ones that are specifically for graduate students and postdocs.

For an appointment and to check when we have office hours, call 215.898.7530. We look forward to seeing you at Career Services and around campus. 

How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Career Fairs

by Fatimah Williams Castro, PhD., Associate Director, Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Team.

Virtual career fairs are similar to traditional career fairs that take place in person, except they are held online. Employers attend career fairs to network with and actively recruit new hires. Job seekers have the opportunity to meet employers and briefly discuss the company, job opening, and job seeker’s profile.   Virtual career fairs are a great way to meet employers that might not otherwise travel to campus, and to do so in a low pressure environment without the long lines.

The Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Fellow Unit is excited to be participating in the Ph.D. & Master’s Virtual Career Fair, sponsored by the Graduate Career Consortium, on February 17, 2015.   More than 25 employers are gathering in one virtual place to meet job seeking Master’s and Ph.D.s.   You just need a computer with internet access and an updated resume to participate in a virtual career fair.  Once you register online, submit your updated resume in advance of the fair. Employers may review your materials and determine if there is a potential fit between your qualifications and their hiring needs.

Employers from a broad range of industries participate in virtual career fairs, and they seek job candidates at all career stages – not just master’s students and Ph.D.s. Here are a few other virtual career fairs that may be of interest to you:

Prepare for the Fair
You may be concerned that you will not be able to stand out or interact with employers because of the online format of this career fair. Most virtual career fairs host online chat forums where employers and job seekers can get to know each other.  There may also be a video conferencing function that will allow you to virtually meet employers face-to-face. These live, interactive communication functions give you access to employers from the comfort of your home or office. Just be sure to prepare your background, lighting and camera angles, and dress as you would for an in person career fair, if you decide to meet with employers via video chat.

Connect in Real Time
Do your homework by researching employers before the fair begins. Virtual career fairs will provide a list of participating employers along with a description of their job openings. Review company details and the job opening. This information will help you have meaningful interactions with employers when you meet in chat forums or via video conferencing, and when you follow up with employers of interest after the fair.

If you would like a career advisor to review your resume prior to posting online you may stop by for Walk Ins (15 minutes) or make an appointment (30 minutes) by calling 215-898-7531. You can also take a look at these resume samples from UPenn undergraduate, graduate students and postdoc alumni to help you get started on your resume.

In addition to these tips, expert career blog, Brazen Life, also offers “8 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections at Virtual Networking Events and Online Career Fairs.”

Follow Up
Just like any other career fair or information session with employers, be sure to follow through after the event is over: send thank you messages to recruiters, and continue to express your interest in those companies or firms you found to be a good match for your job search and career goals.

Navigating the Job Search with a Disability

by Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro, Associate Director

Our diverse student body requires job search and career planning tools that support a range of groups and particular needs, from international students to students with disabilities to students researching abroad. The job search can present various opportunities and challenges, as you make new professional contacts, hunt down job leads, submit applications, and interview with employers. Our goal at Career Services is to help streamline this process for all students and postdocs so you can thrive on the job market.

So last month, I spent some time focusing on our career-related events and resources for students with disabilities. Here are a few resources that may interest you:

  • Lime Connect offers a helpful tool to search for internships and full time employment. Also, the USAJobs gathers and publishes federal job openings for job-seekers with disabilities.
  • Take a look at the list of job boards on our site such as Enable America and Getting Hired, which publicize job announcements from for-profit companies and other organizations.
  • Career Services regularly hosts panels and workshops on the academic job search and expanded career job search. To request accommodations such as interpretation, you may contact The Office of Student Disabilities Services at Weingarten Learning Resource Center at 215-573-9235 or Just be sure to request services at least three business days in advance of the event you plan to attend.
  • Career Services Listserv for Students with Disabilities: Career Services occasionally receives information about positions and career opportunities from employers particularly interested in connecting with students with disabilities.  All students who consider themselves to have a disability are welcome to be included on the list. If interested in being included on the listserv, please send Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director of Career Services, your Penn email.  Listserv members will remain confidential and only the list owner will be able to view who is on it.

There you will find positions like the one just posted for NASA Student Interns with Disabilities for Summer 2015. NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through its internship programs. Positions available for students up to the doctoral level in STEM fields. You can register for an account anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at

We support students and postdocs in preparing for all aspects of the job search, application and interview processes. If you have questions or would like to work directly with a career advisor, call us for an appointment at 215-898-7531.

Wishing you success in your job search!