How listening to a podcast got me thinking about workplace dynamics

Natty Leach, Associate Director

With the summer now fully upon us, I’ve been trying to catch up on a few podcasts. Something I heard recently that instantly caught my attention wasn’t even part of an actual podcast, but more of a teaser.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and profound thinker of thoughts, has a fascinating podcast, Revisionist History, on things misunderstood and what implications may stem from these missteps. It was through a bonus episode leading up to the new season that I heard Gladwell speak with Adam Grant, University Pennsylvania’s own professor and podcast host of his own. The two talk mostly about social and cultural dynamics in the workplace, the effectiveness of teams, and more. And while they may not have been so explicit, I think there’s a lot to think about especially in regards to starting a new role or during an internship this summer.

A few highlights:

Specificity and Surprise:

Gladwell talks about how his creative process is driven by a sense of specificity rather than pontificating broadly. By examining minute details while keeping an eye on the lesson or implication this has for the big picture, everything is more interesting. That point may be relevant in how you go about examining complicated problems or could even apply to something like a cover letter where adding specific details can really illustrate your skills and accomplishments.

Teamwork and Organizational Fit:

Environment is hugely linked to success and many times this environment is created through teams. In whatever you’re doing this summer, think about how your work is influenced and strengthened by the environment around you and, in particular, how you fit into the groups of people who shape that environment.

When/How to Express Different Opinions at a New Job:

So, Gladwell’s answer of being as bumbling and passive aggressive as possible is probably not the best way to express your opinion. I did, however, just today on my commute to work hear a take on this through another podcast, Simms & Lefkoe, who highlight the importance of showing a sample of results when bringing a new idea to the table.

If you have some time this summer either to yourself or during a commute, the whole talk is definitely worth checking out and could even reveal some of the workplace dynamics of your summer internship or job.


What do Penn students do?

Every year, our office releases a wide array of surveys to help showcase what Penn students do either during the summer or after graduation. Both school-specific and Penn-wide, these surveys can be invaluable resources for students at Penn, no matter their year or career interest for a bunch of different reasons. Here are just a few things that our surveys can help with:


Freshmen / Sophomores:

Identifying a major – See what other Penn students have done after graduation with a particular major of interest in our First Destination reports. We often try to dispel the myth that your major needs to be fully related to your career goals so looking at the survey helps us reinforce that economics majors can be in the entertainment industry or music majors can work in investment banking.



Exploring summer opportunities – Use your peers’ experiences as a way to identify specific companies or internship programs that students have attended in previous years. You can also see when students received their offers to get a better sense of when the best time to look in a particular industry might be.



Brainstorming job titles or companies for your full-time search – Start your job search by finding exact positions that Penn students were hired in last year.

Researching for salary negotiation – Consider the salary ranges of past Penn students by industry and job function to help negotiate your starting salary.


With real world examples, our surveys are a wealth of information that can be a great practical tool in your future planning.

On-Campus Recruiting and Handshake

Natty Leach, Associate Director

As this summer is quickly evaporating, now is a great time to gear up for On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) next semester. Each year, OCR brings over 300 employers chomping at the bit to hire Penn students and soon-to-be graduates. Details on all of the employers and positions they’re recruiting for can be viewed in Handshake. Applications for full-time positions open tomorrow, August 23rd . Applications for summer 2018 internship recruiting opens September 28th .

Tips for viewing OCR positions:

1) Go to Jobs -> Job Search. This page has all of the jobs in Handshake but you can add a filter to see just active OCR positions by checking “Interviewing on Campus” under the “Categories” filter.

2) Sort by expiration date to help see what’s coming up sooner rather than later.

3) Find an overview of employers coming to campus by clicking on the “On-Campus Interviews” tab in blue at the top right.
While OCR is open to all undergraduate students, the types of employers that typically recruit during this time are mostly from industries with predictable hiring trends (often Finance and Consulting). On-Campus Recruiting is just one of many options to take advantage of here at Penn so stay in touch with Career Services so we can help you navigate whatever your future plans may be.

If you’re interested in learning more about Handshake, OCR, and ways to prepare for recruiting, take a look at our online presentation!

Embarrass Yourself This Summer

Natty Leach, Associate Director A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across Mike Boyd’s Youtube channel dedicated to learning new, often frivolous, skills. The first video I came across, for instance, focused on an MIT physicist’s peculiar ability to quickly make a dotted line across a chalk board. 

For the chalk trick, it only takes Mike a few minutes; other videos chronicle upwards of 8 hours of attempts. Regardless of the task at hand, every video shows him starting from scratch with what some might consider embarrassing results. And that’s what I found most impressive about these videos—through every failure, no matter how public, he betters himself until reaching the goal in mind. So this summer, I recommend that you do something completely new and different, even if it feels embarrassing to try at first. Whether you’re busy at a new internship or just taking a break this summer, do something you’ve never done before, no matter how big or small, and relish in eventually conquering it. If you’re not as bold as Mike and would rather do some trial and error before hitting the big stage, here are a couple of projects that you can easily do, embarrassment-free, from the comfort of your couch: A small thing to easily familiarize yourself with this summer: Handshake – Career Services’ new job and internship platform. Handshake Mastering Handshake will only take you a couple of minutes. Check out our Handshake Hints on getting started. If there’s anything I can stress, it’s completing your profile and marking some career interests. Handshake’s homepage shows you opportunities that are molded around your interests so the more choose, the more you’ll see. A bigger project you could tackle: Anything on Lynda, a tutorial database that’s free to Penn students. Lynda has a ton great, skill-oriented tracks you can follow along with. Most videos are digestibility small (10-20 minutes) while full collections can total 40+ hours of hands-on training. Last year, I took a few courses on drawing, game design, and JavaScript.


New Staff Member: Natty Leach

It seems one day back to the grindstone after spring break was enough to merit more time off. I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy some winter activities—sledding, sipping hot cocoa, or building tiny snow-Quakers. For my first ever Penn snow day, I enjoyed sleeping in and making breakfast sandwiches around noon. Since I am new around here, I wanted to take a chance to quickly introduce myself:


My name’s Natty Leach and I just joined the Career Services team a few weeks ago. My primary role will be meeting with students from the College about all of their future career goals. I will also be managing our job database system to help make sure Penn students are receiving great job and internship opportunities.

My interest in higher education started when I became an RA at New York University where I majored in Media, Culture, and Communication (a real mouthful). While at NYU, my favorite part of college was being able to explore an array of disciplines and subjects which I took advantage of by minoring in English and Web Design. After college, I advised pre-health students at Temple University for several years. Here at Penn, I’m excited to talk with you about all of your various interests and passions.

A few fun facts about me:

  • I love music. In college, I played guitar and sang vocals as part of a hip-hop band.
  • I love video games. I just beat Bravely Second over our snow day but still haven’t managed to beat DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) over the last 10+ years.
  • I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. I hear the weather’s great, though – today it’s -78°F.


Thanks for hearing a little bit about me – I look forward to getting to know more of you all in the future!