The Job/Internship Application Waiting Game: Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Kelly Cleary

You’ve spent hours researching employers, learning about your industry of interest, and crafting a tailored resume and thoughtful cover letter that highlights your qualifications and interest in the position. You hit “send” or “submit”. And you wait. And wait. And wait.

I think this stage of the job or internship search is one of the most frustrating since it’s a time when you really feel like you have no control over the situation. While some employers post actual deadlines and update candidates’ statuses on their online application systems, the great majority of employers do not. And there is no standard process for application review. Some employers call selected candidates on a rolling basis planning to hire someone as soon as possible, while other employers take months to call candidates in for interviews because they are simply too busy since they are short staffed, their organization’s hiring system is a slow moving process, or some other reason.

What can an eager candidate do? In most cases, I recommend you follow up. If you don’t hear back from the employer 10 days to two weeks after you submit your resume, it is generally a good idea to contact the employer—ideally the hiring manager as opposed to human resources since he or she is likely the person deciding which candidates will be interviewed. I recommend simply emailing or calling to confirm they received your application and to reiterate your interest and offer to provide additional information if that might be helpful. If you are a long-distance candidate from another city or state, you might also mention if/when you will be passing through and available for an interview (this is also good to mention in the cover letter.) You might also ask if the position is even still open and inquire about their selection process timeline. If the position has been filled then you can ask if they know of any upcoming openings that might match your skill set.

What if the job description doesn’t include contact information? Then use your research skills to find contact information. Go to the employer’s website or the online yellow pages. If you can’t find the number for the specific department, call the main number and ask for the department and hiring manager’s email address of phone number. Organizations won’t always provide this information, but many of them will. And certainly using your network to connect with people who work for the organization is one of the best and easiest ways to find this information. Visit our Networking and Mentoring page for advice and resources for connecting with alumni and others.

No phone calls please. If the job description clearly says “no phone calls”, then follow those directions and do not contact the employer.

Five Job & Internship Search Tips For Winter Break – REVISITED

by Kelly Cleary

This is an update to a blog I posted a couple of years ago. While some of the links have changed, the career exploration and job/internship process really haven’t, and neither has the fact that this is a great time to rest and recharge, reflect on what’s important to you, think about what you hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, and enjoy good times with family and friends. — And I just realized that the sentiment (and resources) mentioned in this post are pretty similar to Kathleen’s from earlier today, so you get double the winter break advice!

Once the semester stress is behind you and you’ve had some time to rest up and celebrate, I imagine many seniors will start to focus on your post-grad plans, and based on the number of juniors and sophomores who’ve been coming to Career Services in the past few weeks, we know underclassmen are thinking about summer internships. Below are a few tips and resources to help you get started in the internship or job search process.


1. EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS: Spend some time exploring career possibilities by looking at some of the websites below. This can be an overwhelming project but it’s an important first step.

2. RESEARCH EMPLOYERS & FIND OPPORTUNITIES: Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences for types of work, industries of interest, and where you hope to live, it’s time to start developing your wish list of prospective employers and build your list of favorite internship and job search websites. Most seniors won’t actually be applying to jobs until later in the spring, but underclassmen will soon be applying to internship with January and February deadlines.

  • Vault & Wetfeet Guides – Yes, these two companies make great books to help students land i-banking and consulting jobs, but they also publish career and company guides for other industries like entertainment, fashion, retail, green, government, healthcare, pharma, marketing, PR, and many others. You can download the career guide books for free from our Online Subscriptions page (Pennkey required).
  • PennLink – This is where employers who specifically want to hire Penn students post jobs. Under the “Advanced Search” tab, you can set up a Search Agent to schedule weekly emails of new jobs that match your interests so you don’ t have to log into PennLink every day.
  • iNetiNet Internship Network, is an internship consortium created and shared by 11 universities throughout the country. It includes internships in a variety of industries and geographic locations.
  • Career Resources by Field – From Anthropology and Arts to Sciences and Sports, you’ll find job search websites and transcripts from alumni speakers.
  • Online Subscriptions (Pennkey required)– this page includes log in and password information for over 25 job search websites including Art Search, Ecojobs, JournalistJobs, Policy Jobs and many others.
  • GoinGlobal (Pennkey required)From GoinGlobal you can access international country and U.S. city guides that include lists of job search websites and links to local chambers of commerce which all have extensive employer directories for their regions.

3. TALK TO PEOPLE WHO DO WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO: Yes, I’m talking about networking. Outside of trying out a job through volunteering, interning or actually getting the job, talking with people who do or have done the job is one of the best ways to figure out if a career is right for you and to gather advice for landing a job in a particular field or within a specific company.

  • PACNet – Penn’s alumni career networking database is an easy way to connect with Penn alumni who have volunteered to be career mentors. They are a great resource for information and advice.
  • The Penn Internship Network (PIN)– The Penn Internship Network is a listing of Penn students who have volunteered to speak with others about their summer internships.
  • LinkedIn– Linked In, which is basically a professional version of Facebook is one of my favorite job search tools. If you don’t already have an account with an up to date profile, you should. Here are a couple of tips for making the most of LinkedIn for  your job search:
    • PEOPLE Search – If you don’t find what you’re looking for in PACNet, you can search for alums (or even people with whom you don’t have a common affiliation) who work in the fields and/or organizations that interest you. You can view their profiles to see sample career paths and you can send direct messages to ask for advice. While this is more like cold calling, if it’s done respectfully and professionally, it can be worthwhile.
    • GROUPS – There are thousands of groups (i.e. alumni, specific industries, etc.) in LinkedIn where people share job postings and other career-related information, and they also serve as a forum for asking questions and gathering answers from more experienced professionals. Joining the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Group is a great first step.
    • Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Check the LinkedIn Guide for Recent Graduates. Tutorial from
  • Visit our Networking & Mentoring page for more tips on networking including an article on Informational Interviews.


  • Check our Online Resume & Cover Letter Guide for tips, samples, and instructions for requesting a critique from Career Services.
  • Even if you aren’t applying to internships or jobs just yet, it’s helpful to write a resume and cover letter draft based on a specific position opening so you can be sure the application is tailored to the specific position and company.


  • You’ll likely be busy this spring so sleep in, eat well, and enjoy good times with your loved ones.

I hope you all have a safe and fun break. We look forward to seeing you in 2012!

Giving thanks (and nurturing your network) in the digital age

By Kelly Cleary

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, hopefully most of us are finding a quiet moment here and there to reflect on what we are thankful for, including the people who have positively impacted our lives. I was prompted to formally write this kind of list last week when I was creating a “career network map” of people who influenced my career path while I was preparing for a career and major exploration workshop.  As I filled in the names of family members, teachers, coaches, supervisors and colleagues in the circles on my little map, I realized that these people not only influenced my academic and career plans, but they also helped make my life more interesting, fulfilling and fun. Of course, this overlap of personal and professional isn’t surprising since most of us spend the great majority of our waking hours at school or at work.

While self-reflection and taking stock in what is important to you is a worthwhile exercise in and of itself, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reach out to the important people in your lives to let them know that we appreciate them. For those people you aren’t in contact with very often, it’s also a chance to give them an update on what’s going on in your life. In our fast-paced world it’s easy to lose touch with people. Certainly Facebook and other social media have made it much easier to know what friends and acquaintances are doing or thinking about (and letting them know you “like” whatever it is they posted), but how often do you make the time to have meaningful connections or conversations?

I’m not necessarily recommending you write a panegyric to your favorite high school teacher, but a quick note to say, “Remember me? I really enjoyed your class in 10th grade, and it’s proven to be really helpful in getting me through my writing intensive course this term. In fact, I’m thinking about declaring an English major. I just wanted to send a quick note to thank you for being such a wonderful teacher,” could really make their day.

This is also a great time of year to reconnect with supervisors and colleagues from past internships or jobs to let them know that you’re still benefitting from what they taught you during the time you worked together and to give them an update on your latest academic or career interests and plans. It might also prompt a conversation that could open doors to new opportunities for you. It’s also a good time to reach out to alumni who’ve taken the time to do informational interviews with you in the past. Again, it doesn’t have to be a long letter, just sending a couple of sentences to express your gratitude will brighten someone’s day, and perhaps prompt them to offer some you some words of wisdom or valuable tips for your upcoming job or internship search.

It’s easy to put off writing thank you notes, but here are just a few suggestions for quick ways to say thanks to the people on your “I appreciate you” list:

  • Post a personalized message of thanks on their Facebook page.
  •  Tweet your thanks and praise (if the subject of the praise is a fellow Tweeter.)
  • Write a blog about them …I’ll have to find a way to forward this post to Mr. McCarthy whose voice I still hear when I’m reminded of Silas Marner, Caesar, or the experience of being exhilarated in a classroom learning something new from a great teacher.
  • Write a recommendation on their LinkedIn page.
  • Send a short, or long, email (or a handwritten letter) to let them know how they’ve helped you and why you appreciate them.
  • Pick up the phone! We spend a crazy amount of time talking, texting, and listing to music on our phones. Next time you find yourself walking across campus, take the time to call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. If you’re pressed for time, it’s ok to say, “Sorry this is short, but I was thinking about you and I just wanted to say, thanks.” You’ll probably just get their voicemail, but it’s still a nice way to make a connection and brighten someone’s day.

And THANK YOU, our Penn & Beyond readers. I greatly appreciate having the opportunity to meet with and advise Penn students and alumni on their careers and to work alongside my exemplary Penn colleagues. Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Interviewing Basics: What Employers Want to Know

By Kelly Cleary

Tomorrow is “opening day” for on campus interviews so many seniors are busy preparing, doing their best to keep their nerves in check. One of the best ways to manage this stress is to take the time to (over) prepare, and an important first step is to fully understand the task at hand. The purpose of an interview is relatively simple. The employer is trying to assess the candidate’s an aptitude for and interest in the position, and whether or not that candidate would be a good fit for the organization and department where the position resides. It is the candidate’s job to demonstrate his or her aptitude, interest, and fit for that specific position within that particular organization.


  • Do you have the skills and knowledge to succeed in this position?
  • What distinguishes you from other applicants?

As you head into the interview, keep in mind that it is your job is to prove to them that you are the most capable candidate – that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job. But that’s not enough. By using specific examples from past experiences, you need to prove to the employer that your skills, qualifications, or background distinguish from other candidates.


  • Why do you want to work for them?
  • Why are you interested in the position? 

Employers also want to know why you are interested in working for their organization, and why you are interested in this particular position. A common frustration we hear from recruiters is that the candidate did not seem to know very much about the employer or the nature of the position.

With aptitude and interest in mind, it’s a good idea to reflect on what distinguishes you from other candidates. I recommend coming up with at least three reasons why you are the best candidate based on the job description and what you know about the organization. These can be a combination of technical skills or professional knowledge, as well as “softer” skills like being highly organized or having strong interpersonal skills. Use the position description as a guide for selecting the skills and qualities you’ll want to highlight. And then keep several specific examples in mind so you can use them when the opportunity comes.


  • Will you fit in with the office/ department culture?
  • What kind of colleague will you be?

And finally, sometimes most importantly, the employer is looking for someone who will fit in with the organization and department’s culture and will be a great colleague. Along those lines, while an interview will certainly consist of a series of questions and answers, the goal is demonstrate that you’ll be a good fit by reaching a point where the interview feels more than a conversation than an inquisition.

Career Services has many resources to help you prepare for interviews. Our Online Interview Guide offers tips and resources. We also offer students access to InterviewStream an interactive interview preparation website where you can record and review yourself answering questions. You can access Interview Stream by logging into PennLink.

The On Campus Recruiting page includes videos of students offering advice for a successful on campus recruiting experience and a comprehensive OCR/PennLink FAQ that answers many common questions.

Good luck with your interviews!

Make It Personal: How To Build An Effective Social Network

By Kelly Cleary

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

What better way to say, “I’m not really putting much effort into this networking thing,” reminiscent of the way sending a resume without a cover letter might suggest, “I’m not interested enough in this position to take the time to tell you I’m interested and explain why I’m qualified.”

Making connections on professional social networks like LinkedIn is a relatively easy and very effective way to develop or enhance professional relationships and to reconnect with colleagues or classmates. That said, collecting connections by simply blasting generic requests to any profile names that look somewhat familiar, are in your alumni or employer networks, or are one or two connections away from you is generally not an approach that will likely lead to developing mutually respected relationships that will help you learn more about your field, and perhaps lead you to opportunities in the “hidden job market.”

Instead of immediately hitting “Send Invitation” and the generic auto-fill request when you decide you’d like to request a connection with someone, take just a minute or so to personalize the request with a little note to say hello. It might be helpful to mention where you met or if you have a particular affiliation in common, such as an alumni network. If you’re trying to connect with someone you have not yet met, then include a brief introduction of yourself and mention why you’d like to connect. If you have a mutual friend or connection that referred you to that person, then mention that as well. Since a primary goal for your building your network is to develop longstanding professional relationships, this type of personal note can set the perfect tone for an ongoing conversation.

From Penn’s Career Services on LinkedIn page you’ll find industry subgroups and many tips for using LinkedIn including How To: Network Professionally Online and How To: Build a Professional Student Profile.