My Career Path, from Accountant to Consultant to Professional Organizer

by Barbara Reich

My senior year at Penn was the first time ever that I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was what I didn’t want to do after graduation. I had explored career options within my major of psychology, eliminating one after another. I had considered law school, but concluded that a mountain of debt was too high a price for a degree that I didn’t really want. I thought about publishing, teaching, and advertising, but nothing felt quite right. Then, I heard about an Executive MBA program jointly sponsored by Price Waterhouse (now PriceWaterhouse Coopers) and New York University Stern School of Business. Depending on the semester, I would work or attend classes full or part time, and at the end of the program, I would have an MBA, no loans, and three years of work experience. I had never considered being an accountant, but I mailed a resume, secured an interview, took a train to New York City, and came back to Penn with a job offer. I was a little shell shocked, but it was a plan.

Unfortunately, the plan soon unraveled. I didn’t enjoy the business courses and had no passion for accounting. The months that I worked full time and went to school at night were brutal. I was staffed on a bank merger, working 12 hour days and weekends, leaving work to go to class, and returning to work afterward. I was exhausted and unhappy. And, since I had no time to even think about another job, I simply soldiered on, focusing on getting my MBA. At that time, I figured I could look to move internally to another area within PriceWaterhouse (an advantage of working at a large firm) while I came up with my next plan.

Before that happened though, fate intervened. In one of my MBA classes, I worked on a group project with a woman who was a human resources management consultant. Her job sounded compelling to me, and by the time the class met again, I had updated my resume for her. A few months later, I had a job offer from her firm, the Hay Group. I found the work interesting, and the culture at the Hay Group to be congenial and inspiring. Yet, after five years, I decided to move to a smaller firm where I would have a larger role. That, it turns out, was one of those mistakes that work out for the best. I soon determined that there was no reason to bring my clients to another firm when I could run my own. So, Resourceful Consultants, LLC was born and just four months later, my twin daughter and son were born.

During the next two years, I worked part time, picking and choosing clients that fit my lifestyle. Then, one day, I got a call from a former Hay Group colleague. She had a client who wanted to hire someone to organize a home office. Her words were, “Don’t kill me, but I gave him your number. You should do this.” And, so I did, and I LOVED it. I started calling myself a professional organizer, told everyone I knew, and soon had my second client. That person referred a friend, and each of those friends referred friends, and my business began to grow. Soon, I was meeting with two clients a day, five days a week, helping them organize their homes, offices and lives. In 2011, the NY Times wrote a two-page story about me and my business, and that’s when things really took off. Today, I’m the author of a book (Secrets of an Organized Mom), and have appeared on The Today Show, Inside Edition, Good Morning America, Fox News, and New York 1. In addition to the NY Times, I’ve also been in the New York Post, Real Simple, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, AARP Magazine, and O Magazine among other publications.

When I entered my senior year of college, I had never taken an accounting course or heard of a professional organizer, so every job I ultimately held was unimaginable to me at the start of my search. I hope sharing my path will help others realize that it’s completely normal not to know exactly what you aspire to be. I’ve heard it said that if you do what you love, the money follows. I’ve also heard it said that if you love what you do, it’s not work. Both of those sentiments apply to my career, and I hope one day to yours.

More information about Barbara and her organization can be found at or

The 7 Most Important Lessons I Learned at Penn (and How They Apply to the Job Search)

by Monika Haebich, COL ’15

There is a lot that an undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania will teach you. Want to talk about Pataphysics or Premodern female authors, the nerd in me would be happy to talk. But while you’ll find the classroom lessons at Penn invaluable, it’s the lessons that extend past the chalkboard that you may find the most helpful in your job search. As I exit my undergrad experience at Penn and enter the perils of the “real world,” here are the lessons I’ve come to value the most:

1. There is no script.

Regardless of the career paths that others may choose, you define your own success. Reflect on and recognize your strengths, and use them to your advantage. Moving to Atlanta to pursue a career at a startup may not have been the typical Penn trajectory, but at a university where every student is truly extraordinary, it would be reductive to define a single “Penn path” as the one for every student. Write your own script, and don’t be ashamed of the path you choose.

2. Don’t expect anything to be easy.

There will be times when it feels as if nothing is certain, but if there is one thing that is sure, it’s that your senior year, you will be faced with uncertainty. Not everyone will have a job or school lined up by the beginning of senior year, the beginning of the spring semester, or even by graduation, but really think about what you want to do post-graduation, and be confident in your strides towards that. It’s okay to feel lost; it’s okay to be scared, but know that everything will be okay. Nothing remarkable will ever happen within the confines of your own comfort zone, so push yourself, and know that you are not alone.

3. Ask for help; it’s easier than doing it alone.

Always use your resources, and ask for guidance, advice, feedback, and help when you need it. While there may be times when you feel behind, remember that you are all going through this together. I made my first mistake when I, like many others, attempted to go through the job search and OCR alone. Without consulting Career Services, my friends, my family, or my professors first, I became overwhelmed with possible career trajectories and devoid of a sound understanding of what I really wanted to do. Reach out to your friends, your family, your loved ones, your professors, and listen.  Requesting the guidance or assistance of others is not a sign of weakness; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Seek constructive criticism, lift each other up, and be of and ask for help when you can.  Really, not everything is a competition.

4. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

In whatever you choose to do, there will be people who tell you “no.” Don’t let insecurity or a fear of confrontation prevent you from getting what you deserve. Proceed with confidence, and the world is yours.

5. Surround yourself with the people who motivate and inspire you.

Inspire yourself everyday. Whether it’s with the people on your team, in your sorority, or in your office, surround yourself with those who will encourage, nurture, and inspire your growth. Faced with different job offers, I knew I would end up at my current startup, rented., after realizing that I had surely found a supportive and incredibly inspiring team. Even before accepting the offer, I had more guidance from the team than I could have expected. Taking the time to address my concerns, speaking with me on multiple occasions, and referring me to all the resources I could possibly want, rented.’s CEO,COO, and Vice President of Marketing all proved early on that I had found my new team.

Look for the workplace that will transform you for the better, and never underestimate the importance of a supportive team.

6. You’re here for a reason.

Sure, a title and degree will afford you many opportunities, but it’s your drive and passions and desire to achieve that brought you here in the first place. Remind yourself of the bigger picture, and remember all of the things that brought you to where you are now.

7. There’s always more to learn.

As inspiring as a Penn education is, it is also humbling. Each class is a reminder of just how much of the world is left for you to explore, and that learning certainly shouldn’t stop after college. Even in my first, short five months here at rented., the lessons I’ve learned about new industries, my work, and myself have proved to be invaluable.

Learn from every obstacle, challenge yourself to broaden your understanding of the world, and know that Penn will always be home.

Monika graduated from Penn in 2015 with a B.A. in English concentrating on Literary Theory and Cultural Studies and minors in Consumer Psychology and Fine Arts. Originally from New York, Monika now lives in Atlanta and enjoys photography, polo, and traveling in her free time. She is a Marketing and Sales Associate at  You can read about a typical day in her life at our @PennCareerDay Storify page.

Embracing Uncertainty

by Naz Ozbek, COL/WH ’14

If you’re reading this blog, it means that you know the ins and outs of the Career Services website, which means that it’s either not your first time here, or even if it is, it certainly won’t be your last. It also means that, just like a good majority of your friends, you’re scouring for a summer internship or a full time job, depending on what year you’re in.

If you’re anything like me when I was going into my third year (and most Penn students trying to find jobs are), you may be asking all sorts of questions to yourself. Why didn’t I get that interview? Why didn’t they call me back? My friend got an offer but I didn’t. What could I be doing better? Do I really want to be in finance? What should I be doing with my life? etc. etc. These questions may be of varying natures and severities, leading all the way up to a small existential crisis.

There’s only one piece of advice that I can give you, and you need to believe that it’s true, because it is—even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.

Here it is: Everything will be okay.

I’ve been in your shoes and I know exactly what it feels like. I applied to all the consulting firms my sophomore year to get a summer internship. Deloitte, BCG, Bain, Accenture. You name the company, and I’ve probably applied for an internship there. Not because I was dying to be in consulting, but because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I was going along with the famous OCR trend. Being an international student was an added challenge, as it was hard to find companies who were willing to sponsor my visa. After not getting a single invitation for an interview from any of the places I applied to, I entered a phase of self-questioning and doubt, and hours of Skype conversations with my parents to help me figure out what it was that I was missing or could be doing better.

After much discussion with my parents and days of self-pondering, I realized that I didn’t want to be in consulting or banking. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. So I decided to spend that summer with my family at home in Turkey.

The next year, the pressure was on again. Except, this time, I was a step ahead as I knew what types of jobs I was definitely not going to apply to. This was a huge step and relief as it meant that I would basically not be going through the OCR experience again. I wanted to try out an internship doing something creative in marketing, which meant that I would be applying to ad agencies or the marketing departments of some of my favorite brands like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks. This time, however, I went through a different type of challenge as I was submitting my application not through Penn, but through each company’s own careers website, or via direct emails to individuals. My dream was to work for Disney in Los Angeles, both because I’m a huge Disney fan, and because I wanted to experience living in LA to see if it would be a good fit for me in the long run. In January, I applied to about 10 roles on their website. 4 months passed, and a week after school was finished, I still hadn’t heard back from any of the places I had applied to. All of my friends had their summers lined up and had left Philly to go home before moving to New York or wherever else for the summer, and I decided to visit my best friend at home in St. Louis. Long story short, I got an invitation to interview via Skype for the Digital Marketing team over at Disney/ABC while in St. Louis, and a week later, I got a call saying I got the job.

I didn’t have a car (I didn’t even have a US driver’s license), I had never been to LA before, and I didn’t know where I would live, but I accepted the offer thinking I’d figure everything out when I got there. Which, luckily, worked out. I met some great people and had a great internship that summer.

I had a very similar story for finding a full-time job for post-graduation. One of my managers at Disney, who had moved over to Netflix, referred me to an agency in New York. They got in touch with me in May, and I landed my job a couple of weeks after graduating. By this point in time, I had learned to live with uncertainty, so the “not knowing” did not bother me as much as it used to. This doesn’t mean that I sat back and waited for the stars to align so that something would magically come my way, but rather, that I did everything I could do on my end of things, and had a little faith that something would eventually come along.

It’s hard to think of the bigger picture when you’re going through a rough patch. One thing I’ve found helpful is to stop for a second when things get overwhelming and ask myself the following questions: will this matter a year from now? Five years from now? Is it a realistic thought that I’ll be unemployed for the rest of my life? Most of the time, I laugh at myself because I realize my worries are groundless. Chances are, yours are too.

Right now, I’m working at a co-working space that caters to individuals in the creative industries. I left my job at the advertising agency because I realized I don’t want to be in marketing. Right now, I’m happy with where I am, and I have a pretty good sense of what it is that I want to do with my life. However, it’s because I didn’t get an internship in finance or consulting (which would’ve tied me to a pretty set, straightforward plan for the next couple of years), because I took some risks and tried different things, that I realized what I do not want enough times to realize what I do want to do.

So please don’t worry. You’re at a very good school and will eventually be employed. Maybe it won’t be five months before the internship is actually supposed to start, but that’s not how real life works anyway. Something will eventually come along, and if that something doesn’t work out, another something will. Don’t worry. Uncertainty can be a good thing. Teach yourself to embrace it.

Naz Ozbek graduated from Penn in 2014 with a BA in Sociology from the College of Arts & Sciences and a BS in Economics, Concentrating in Marketing, from Wharton.

The Stars Aligned

By Monica Gojman, ’12

“And that’s where David and I met” I distinctly remember her telling me.  She gazes through the window, a nostalgic sparkle glittering in her eyes, as she points towards the castle’s centuries-old wrought iron gate.  There’s a charge in the air at Château de Touffou that is almost contagious; an energy that pulsates with a mix of meaningful tradition and creative potential. All of us, the other WPP Fellows and I, along with a range of mentors, group executives, clients and Herta’s special guests, sit around the castle’s majestic fireplace listening to the most inspiring woman I have ever met tell her story.  I should mention that by David -she meant David Ogilvy, the man behind Ogilvy and Mather (and her late husband).  We were all completely starstruck. I remember watching the flames crackle in tandem with my excitement as I finally let it sink in: I actually get to live here for a week!

My senior year at Penn I found myself asking: what can I do with degrees in communication, public service, marketing and psychology? Perhaps it was my destiny to sell politicians. Indeed, after completing my public policy thesis, I felt like I could conquer the world. But I had no idea where to start. As a student from Mexico City, my job search was heavily constrained by limitations placed on hiring international students- something that many of my extremely talented Quaker friends faced as well. Yet I was also waiting to find a job that would inspire the same passionate zeal I felt (and still feel) for Penn when I first strolled through campus. And that’s when I found the WPP Fellowship.

As the leading and largest marketing communications company in the world, WPP presented an offer I could hardly imagine anyone refusing: the opportunity to spend three years in a global leadership rotational programme, working across three different operating companies, industries, and even continents. The best part? Fellows get to craft their own journey, choosing out of the 3000 offices and 110 countries in which WPP operates. There were no OCR interviews, cover letters, citizenship requirements or questions about how many pencils fit inside a swimming pool. The application centered around telling a story- your own personal one – in a compelling, creative and sincere way. Oh, and there was also the small detail of standing out against more than 2000 applicants worldwide for only 8 coveted spots. But somehow – after months of essays, interviews, and a final round in London- the stars aligned. I fortuitously managed to become a WPP Fellow. And the rest is history.

One year I was in New York working as a strategist for a top global tech client watching my campaign come to life –and the next I was in London advising top-level decision-makers on the political economy of Latin America and potential growth drivers of the region. Every day of the Fellowship has brought me an incredibly diverse set of challenges and opportunities, most of the time in completely foreign settings.  Penn taught me how to thrive in multidisciplinary and cross-cultural environments, and WPP has given me the chance to turn theory into practice within both.

So there I was, in the middle of my WPP Fellowship training at Ogilvy’s castle in the South of France, wondering how a job like this even exists. It wasn’t too long ago that I interned at Ogilvy and Mather as a Sophomore at Penn. Little did I know then I would have somehow landed in this grand dinning room, watching a meticulously- planned five-course meal unfold in front of me. But I didn’t even notice the food. How could I when I was sitting next to an Olympic silver-medalist on one side, and an accomplished neuroscientist on the other? And those are just two of the WPP Fellows. The privilege to be sitting among them, listening to their stories, is an opportunity I cherish every day.

Remember that electric charge we felt when walking through Locust? Or when we entered The Quad for the first time? Its exactly the same feeling on the WPP Fellowship. A perfect mixture of excitement and disbelief. Sure, the castle might make it seem like a fairy tale. But that electricity? We’ve all felt it. And it couldn’t be more real.

Monica Gojman- TouffouBorn and raised in Mexico City, Monica Gojman graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Communication and Public Service. She won the Eisenhower Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis and was elected graduation speaker for the Annenberg School for Communication. At Penn, she served as President of the Undergraduate Board of the Annenberg School, Vice-President of the Mexican Student Association, Under-Secretary General of the International Affairs Association, Marketing Committee member of Wharton Latino, and a Spanish Tutor at the Penn Language Center.  She currently works as a WPP Fellow for WPP and is spending her second rotation as an International Public Policy and Business Development Adviser in London. A lover of international affairs, languages and cultures, Monica has studied and worked across five different continents. She enjoys salsa dancing, singing, writing, and has a weakness for all-things dark chocolate.

A Day in the Life: Marketing Research or Consulting? Blurred Lines…

by Dina Liu, WH ’12

I read an interesting article this morning on my train ride to Kraft in Northfield, Illinois, about the rise of agency-bred & raised consulting shops.  These “sexy” agencies are starting to realize that their advertiser clients are demanding more insights, more analytic prowess, and most importantly, more actionable recommendations for what to do in-market.  From trying to stem the hemorrhaging of lost market share to re-positioning an old network as the new Hispanic Millennial destination, these agencies’ clients are demanding more.  Interestingly enough, while the world of agencies is still playing catch-up and starting to understand that it’s not sufficient to just be a “media shop” or a “creative shop,” Nielsen has carved a spot out for itself that is now ingrained in our clients’ business models.  And this is why I’m making the claim (you heard it here first!) that marketing research has replaced traditional consulting.  Gone are the days where your “research vendor” sat in the corner and only serviced you when you had a problem that required immense data crunching.  Now?  Now we sit with our clients, have dedicated consultative teams that align to our clients’ business groups, and provide the ammunition they need to make real-time decisions that make the most impact on top-line revenue and bottom-line margins.  Nielsen is the foremost leader in this area of consultative insights provider.  It’s not enough for me to tout my company’s credentials in this guest blog & claim that I’ve got one of the coolest jobs ever.  Here’s a short story on what happened not a few months ago:

nielsenI did a tour of duty through product marketing for a digital ad effectiveness product called Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR for short).   Nielsen’s focus on digital advertising has sharpened over the last five years, as the industry continues to see TV dollars migrating across screen to Digital and Mobile.  Not only did I get the opportunity to understand the depth and chaos that is digital advertising in this day & age, but I got to be part of an incredible product leadership team that created this product, from concept & ideation to full-scale production & commercial release.  OCR is now one of, if not THE, accepted currency on which digital advertising will be traded on, similar to how the Nielsen TV Ratings serve as the foundation for the television advertising world.  Nielsen’s focus didn’t stop there.  Domestic?  Sure, we’ve got the US market…but what about our clients who span multiple countries and continents?  One of my major projects was the preparation for the commercial launch of OCR in the French market- a European country whose privacy restrictions are notorious in technology/telecom.  Working hand-in-hand with our incredible team of engineers around the globe, our own data provider partners, and our client service and sales teams, I got incredibly close to this product and was sent to Paris by Nielsen to train the local Nielsen team and host a client roadshow across the biggest publishers, advertisers, and agencies in France.  Never thought two years ago, that here I’d be in Paris presenting to the directors of digital strategy for Starcom Media Group, Carat, Havas, Microsoft, L’Oreal, and Yahoo on why OCR will revolutionize digital advertising as we know it.

Long story short: Nielsen as a company embodies this incredible transformation we are seeing in how clients use big data and their consultative partners.  We are no longer just a “data provider” or a “research vendor.”  To sit on our laurels & accept those descriptors doesn’t do Nielsen justice.  The culture, the mentality, and the senior leadership continuously push us to be THE solution to our clients’ problems.  Spread sheets and number crunching?  They’re most likely here to stay, but at least we can say that this is no longer the ONLY thing marketing research can provide.

Dina Liu graduated in May 2012, from Wharton with double concentrations in Marketing and Management.  Primary extracurricular activities: President of Penn Mock Trial and member of Sigma Kappa, worked at the Penn Housing Office 3 out of 4 years.  Junior summer, interned at Blackrock supporting their retail Defined Contribution business in their marketing and sales department.  Currently working at the Nielsen Company as an Associate Media Analytics Consultant servicing the Viacom and Discovery Communications accounts in our Watch business.  Live in Manhattan, have 2 goldfish, and enjoy foodie dates around the five boroughs.