The Countdown Begins!

Kevin Haines, Associate Director

Can you believe it’s already late July? I hope you’ve been having an incredible summer, whether you’re working, traveling, or just relaxing! While there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy your summer days and activities, now is the time to slowly begin thinking about returning to campus and all that Fall 2019 will have to offer. August 27th, the first day of classes (sorry to remind you!), will be here before you know it, so how can you start to prepare for your return? Here’s a quick list of things to consider (while still enjoying whatever it is you’re doing this summer):

  1. Classes: Make sure you review the classes you chose for Fall 2019 and look up any others that may be of interest to you incase you decide to switch any. Always have some back-ups in case you aren’t yet ready, or have a change of heart, for any of the original classes you picked out.
  2. Housing: I’m sure (or at least hope!) that you have your housing situated since you’ll be returning in about a month. Make sure all loose ends are tied up, questions for landlords are prepared, bills/rent money is situated. Additionally, create a list of things you need to bring back with you/purchase for your place to make move-in weekend easier for you!
  3. Resumes/Cover Letters: Have you updated your resume and cover letter yet with any jobs/internships you have/had this summer? I highly suggest doing that ASAP and then submitting your resume (and cover letter if you have one) to Career Services for review. You can always wait until you’re back on campus, however, September is a very busy month, especially the first 2-3 weeks of the semester! If you want to make sure that you have your resume and/or cover letter ready to go for September, take some time to update it now and email it or schedule an appointment to meet or talk with Career Services. Once you have that all reviewed and edited, you can focus other things that will come your way at the start of the semester!
  4. Study Abroad: Thinking you’ll want to study abroad Spring 20202? Be sure to do some research and look into programs that interest you before chatting with Penn Abroad. Then, schedule an appointment to talk with the appropriate Penn Abroad advisor. Typically, application deadlines are September 15, with some being October 1 (however, deadline dates vary, so check out their website!).
  5. Career Fairs/Campus Events: Take an hour or so to do some research before classes begin as to when career fairs and important campus events that interest you will take place. Knowing these dates and having a plan will make your semester go a lot smoother!
  6. Work-Study: Returning in the Fall with a work-study position? Now is the time to start thinking of your schedule, including your class schedule, to figure out what hours you’ll be able to work. Looking at future dates will be helpful to note which days you might need to take off work for important events, such as an interview, career fair, etc.
  7. Advisor Meeting: Check in with your advisor to see if there are any outstanding items you need to take care of or be aware of for Fall 2019.

Have a wonderful rest of your summer! Career Services looks forward to seeing you in September!

End of (Spring) Semester quickly approaching – still figuring out Summer 2019 plans?

Kevin Haines, Associate Director

Now that you’re back from Spring Break, I’m sure that you’re feeling like the pressure is on to complete the semester and get ready for summer 2019. Many students have figured out their summer plans already, whether they have an internship, a full-time job, or simply have the luxury of relaxing before entering into a job in the real world. Regardless of their plans, if you haven’t found the perfect internship yet, or are still not sure what you are doing this summer – that’s OKAY! It’s easy (and normal) to feel stressed after you hear that all your friends received offers from companies all over the world. Good for them – be happy for them! Just because you haven’t found something yet doesn’t mean it’s too late. Last year, we had students find summer internships as late as May. Yes, of course this isn’t “ideal,” but don’t worry – Career Services is here to help guide you. Here are a few suggestions to help you plan the remaining days of the spring 2019 semester and to help you land an internship/job:

  • Update your Resume and Cover Letter
    • If you haven’t already had Career Services review your resume and cover letter, do so ASAP. Even if Career Services looked at your resume last semester, it’s always a good idea to have another look at it, especially if you’ve updated it since last semester.
  • Network
    • One of the first things I ask students in advising meetings is “have you started networking yet?” It can seem awkward and silly at first to reach out to a random person/Penn alum, but, take that thought and throw it away. Networking has become one of the key ingredients for job success. Tap into your network and see who you know, or who you know who knows someone who knows someone else. Yes, networking is an ongoing, sometimes long process, but in the end, it will help you more than if you didn’t network at all. By cultivating networking relationships, you’re helping your future self in the internship/job search, while also meeting new people. So, take a look at LinkedIn and QuakerNet, because there are people waiting to hear from you!
  • Utilize Job Search Sites
    • LinkedIn, CareerShift, Indeed, Handshake, etc. There are tons of websites to help narrow down your search. One main resource is the Career Services website: “What Do Penn Students Do?” and “Resources by Career Field” are two sections of the website that showcase companies where students have gotten internships/jobs at in the past and also additional links to websites specific to majors. Check them out – you never know what you might find!
    • Yes, .co, not .com. Not sure if you have the required skills/experience for a job? Try using to see what percentage your resume matches the job description. If you’ve never signed up before, you get 5 free trials (10 additional for each time you refer someone to the website!). Copy and paste your resume on the left and then the job posting that you’re interested in on the right, and will scan your resume to see how much of a match you are for the job. Don’t be discouraged if you receive a low percentage – highlights sections you might be missing that you may have experience in that will help move your resume up above others. You do NOT need a 100% match – even if you just get your resume to be a 60% match – that’s still really good! Try using some of their suggestions, but make sure you are being 100% honest in all that you’re including on your resume.

Remember – don’t compare yourself to others. This is very important and you should remind yourself of this should you feel yourself thinking “well how come I don’t have an internship yet?” You have your OWN path. And whatever you choose will be just right.

Prepping for the Rest of the Semester

Kevin Haines, Associate Director

Now that the Fall semester has started and you have a few weeks of class already completed, it’s time to look at the rest of your semester and map out important dates and events. This includes planning for the Spring semester (I know, we’re not even at midterms yet and I’m already talking about NEXT semester), summer 2019, and for some, graduation! Below, I’ve compiled a list of items you might want to consider reviewing that can help put your mind at ease. Some are just “food for thought” and “don’t forgets” while others are essential. Take a look and see if more than a few of these apply to you.

  • Adjusting to classes 

By now you’ve been to quite a few classes and have reviewed all your syllabi (hopefully!). Take a look at all the assignments, quizzes, homework, and tests that will be given in each of your classes and mark the due dates on your calendar. It’s always better to have more reminders than none so that you don’t forget anything. If you’re finding that the course is difficult, talk to your professor or TA. They can help you figure out what you’re struggling with most and give suggestions on how to succeed. Before you know it, it will be Fall break, and then only a few classes will remain in the semester.

  • Research courses for next semester (if you haven’t already) 

What? But this semester basically just started! Yes, that’s true, but it’s always best to get a jumpstart on next semester’s courses. For many majors, courses are already mapped out ahead of time for each semester, however, that’s not always the case. Start looking at course options for next semester so that you have an idea of what you need/want to take and aren’t running around last minute trying to get into a course that’s already full. This should help reduce some stress knowing that you know what you’ll be studying in the Spring.

  • Check-in with your advisor 

At this point, you may not necessarily need to consult with your advisor about classes, but it’s a good idea to still check-in with them. You can talk about current courses, next semester’s courses, study abroad/internship opportunities, or simply how you’re feeling about the semester. Keep them in the loop of what’s going on in your life if you think there is something important they should know. They are there to help, and so is Career Services!

  • Get your resume updated/prep for interviews and OCR 

While many Penn career fairs have already happened for this current semester, you can still stop by Career Services walk-in hours or make appointments to go over your resume and cover letter. We are here Monday-Friday, 9-5pm, so even if you have a last minute question or concern, check walk-in hour times, schedule an appointment, or send us an email. While OCR is coming up, it’s not the only time you can find a job or internship. Job/internships are posted all the time. In the past, some students found something as late as May. While for most people that is not ideal, it’s still a possibility. So, if you haven’t found anything just yet (it’s still early!), just know that there will be plenty of opportunities coming up. Add OCR to your calendar and get yourself ready to interview. It can be stressful at times, but with proper planning, and talking to us at Career Services, we’ll help you figure out a plan. We also help with mock interviews, so if you’re feeling nervous about an actual interview you have, come practice with us. Sometimes all you need is some constructive criticism (and praise!) to help you ace your interview.

  • Strategize for study abroad or summer abroad internships 

Looking to leave the US for a semester and study at a different university or with a specific program? Studying abroad is an incredible experience where you will be able to immerse yourself in another culture while taking courses in a different language (or not!) and learn in a new way. You should start the process a semester before you want to go abroad, but make sure you meet with Penn Abroad in time, as deadlines for Spring 2019 are coming to a close very soon. There are programs for all schools/majors. Additionally, Penn Abroad can help you intern abroad. Be sure to check their website for important updates and information sessions. Schedule an appointment with an advisor after doing some initial research on where you would like to go (and whether or not you are eligible for that particular semester). Represent Penn, abroad!

  • Begin networking with alumni (LinkedIn!) 

Now is the perfect time to start networking and getting to know the people in the career you see yourself in soon. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to learn about Penn alum, what they do, and where they work. LinkedIn allows you to search alum using keywords and locations, so begin searching! Sometimes, you may recognize people that you know or read about and messaging them is only a click away. Don’t be afraid to send someone (or a few people) a message introducing yourself and asking to chat with them. Should they respond, try setting up an informational interview with them to understand how they got to where they were and what their experiences were/are like. Definitely do not start your email out asking them for a job, but rather advice on moving forward in your career. You may only get a conversation or email from them, which is still great, but who knows, in the end, you may end up landing yourself an internship or job!

  • Update family and friends on what’s going on in your life 

Make sure you are checking in with family and friends. School can and is stressful, so sometimes you can go days, even weeks, without talking to family members or close friends. Remember to keep them updated on your life as it is important to hear from them as well and learn about what’s going on in their lives. School is very important, but so is balancing it with your personal life. Let family know how your semester is going and what you have to look forward to in the coming weeks/semester. They know you have a busy schedule, so taking time, even just for a phone call, can put a big smile on their face!

  • Take care of YOU!

The most important thing to take care of this semester, and always, is yourself! Life is ever changing and always busy and it’s easy to let self-care fall to the side. Be sure you are remembering to set aside time for yourself, whether it’s a few hours a week, a full day, or every day. Watch a movie, listen to music, go for a run, eat ice cream, have vegan food, catch up with a friend, paint, sing, explore the city, etc. The list goes on and on. Just remember that YOU are important and that this includes your health and mental health. Take care of yourself always.

Career Tips Through Life Experiences

Kevin Haines, Associate Director

Hello! My name is Kevin and I just started working at Career Services here at Penn about two months ago. Prior to working at Career Services, I worked at Penn Abroad where I advised students for their study abroad experiences along with summer internships. While Career Services and international education may seem like two opposite career paths, both jobs actually have a lot in common.

But let’s start from the beginning – Career Services was not a term I knew back in my freshman year of college. If I would have asked 22 year old Kevin back in May of 2000 something (I won’t give away my age that easily) where I saw myself in 2018, it would have definitely not been where I am today. And that is 100% O.K. Throughout the years after I graduated from PSU (We Are!), I wore a lot of hats in several organizations. I think one of the hardest things about college is not being exactly sure of what you want to do with the rest of your life. It’s a tough decision and one that arrives quickly. Here is one thing I think all students should know and understand: it’s alright to not know what you want to do after you graduate. I think I just heard a lot of gasps. But really, it’s okay. You may start a job and years later find yourself doing something you never dreamed of doing. It’s through your many life experiences that help shape the person you are and the future that awaits you. Here are some tips if you find yourself asking “what do I do next?” and have no idea where to start (whether you’re a freshman, senior, or alum!):

1. Your first job will not be your forever job.
Graduating from PSU, I thought I had it all figured out: I’d become a teacher and have summers off and live happily ever after. Wrong. Once I actually started teaching, it wasn’t until then that I realized I wanted something more. I learned a lot, and to this day enjoy being a teacher outside the classroom setting, but full-time teaching just wasn’t in the cards for me. So, all those student-teaching courses/semesters back in college only to find out that it wasn’t my passion – great. But here’s the thing: that’s normal and perfectly fine. Your first job out of college will not be the job you’re in for the rest of your life (for some maybe, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone these days). You’ll never know exactly what you like until you try it. But isn’t that what college is all about? Blood, sweat, and tears for four, maybe five years studying non-stop, writing countless papers, taking quizzes/tests, joining clubs, volunteering, etc. to help land your dream job the day you graduate? Sure, but also in those four or five years you grow as a person and your mind changes at least six times a day about what you want to do when you get older. Take a breath, enjoy the moment you’re in, and know that in the end it will work out. You may have to go through a lot of jobs before you land the one that you wake up smiling and ready to start the day at, but until then, learn as much as you can and network. Which leads me to my second point of advice.

2. Network, network, network! It wasn’t until I lived abroad in Madrid for a year that I realized higher ed was my calling, specifically the study abroad field. After teaching college-level Spanish for a bit, I started reaching out to people in the study abroad field and setting up informational interviews with them to ask how they broke into the field and where they started. It was through emailing these people I had never met that I was setting up connections that would one day help me get into the field. This was something

I was nervous about. “Why would anyone want to chat with me, a stranger, about how they got into the field? I’m sure they have a million other things to do.” These were some of the things that went through my mind before reaching out. Don’t be shy – reach out to someone to ask about their job and/or company. This is how you get a tiny part of your foot in the door and your name remembered in case you choose to apply to where that person works. People who truly love what they do will find five minutes to talk on the phone or meet in person (treat them to coffee if that’s the case!) to discuss their field and position. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Attend networking events, talk to friends, use LinkedIn (definitely a game changer as you can easily search for companies you’re interested in and then see if you have any connections), email, etc. There are so many ways to network and by doing that, you are getting your name out there and learning more about a job or company that interests you.

3. Study/Intern Abroad or Intern locally (if you can!). Once I started working in the study abroad field, I was a coordinator then switched schools and became an advisor. It was through my own study abroad experiences that I figured out what it was that I wanted to do – help students get an international experience where they can learn about themselves, live in a new culture, and gain experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. If I never studied abroad spring semester of my junior year, I would have never been able to get the learning and traveling experiences I’ve had. It can and will be an expensive semester. However, thankfully, nowadays there are ways to get funding to help with that, whether it’s through campus/outside scholarships, financial aid, work study jobs, other on-campus funding, or program grants. Even if it’s just a week, or a month, a semester, or a year, any international experience you have will benefit you somehow. I once had to call the cable/internet company in Madrid myself and use my Spanish to explain what I wanted and set up a time for them to come out and install everything. Now, I know that sounds like an extremely easy task and pretty silly, but my Spanish was very limited and I was sweating the entire phone call repeating words and phrases and saying a whole lot of “vale, muchas gracias.” Being forced to do that made me step outside my comfort zone and push myself. From something that small, to being mugged and then going to court to point out which person mugged me (talk about terrifying, and it was all in Spanish!), all of those life experiences made me grow more confident in myself and grow as a person. I’m thankful that I was able to study abroad and I continue to be a huge advocate of it. There is so much world out there to explore and see, and there’s no better time to do it than when you’re an undergrad. If studying abroad isn’t an option, but interning is a possibility, that’s equally as amazing. While I’ve never interned abroad, I managed the Global Internship Program (GIP) through Penn Abroad (for about a year and a half) and helped send so many students abroad to all parts of the world. What I would give to be able to live and work in Nepal, Botswana, Singapore, or any other country for 8 weeks! Adding a study abroad or internship experience to your resume makes your resume jump out more and shows employers that you are ambitious, adventurous, hard-working, and up for a challenge. Not sure how to add those experiences to your resume? Make an appointment at Career Services and we’ll be more than happy to help!

4. Utilize Career Services! I must admit, when I was an undergrad at PSU, I never once stepped foot in the career services office. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I knew an office like that existed back in the year 20…whenever I was an undergrad. I think realizing something so resourceful as that office existed with internship opportunities, alumni I could have spoken to, workshops, career fairs, and career advisors, I would have had different summer opportunities. However, #noregrets. Since I’ve started working here at Career Services, I’ve been able to really see just how much information and how many resources we have for all students and alumni. Side note: just because it’s currently summer doesn’t mean you can’t get help from us! Sometimes, summer is the best time to meet with an advisor because it’s a lot quieter. Once the Fall semester arrives, the rush begins. If you need help with your resume, cover letter, mock interview, advice about a job, phone interview, or you just don’t know where to start with the whole job search process, we’re here for you. We’ve all been through it, so we understand what you’re going through. It’s our job and we are more than happy to help you. So, my advice for you is to stop staring at your computer screen trying to figure out a similar verb for “managed” or “worked” on your resume or how to address your employer – schedule an appointment and we’ll help you get through it!

I hope sharing some of my experiences has helped ease your mind a bit about planning for your future. Sometimes things work out differently than you thought they would, and that’s the beauty of it all – you’ll get where you need to be, just be patient, don’t give up, and believe in yourself. Until next time.