It’s Not Too Late

Classes end tomorrow, and exams loom next week.  If you are one of the students who has decided to put off the internship search until after the semester ends, the time for you to get busy draws near.  With luck, you have already given thought to what you might like to do, and where you would prefer to do it.  If not, schedule an appointment with one of our counselors, who can help you get started.  He or she can review your resume, if you haven’t yet prepared one, and can make sure you are taking full advantage of PennLink and iNet, our online internship platforms.

Internships continue to be posted into June.  And surveys from last summer show that, for example, a quarter of College students found their summer position in May or after, while another 28% accepted their position during this month of April.   So if you haven’t already done so, get started.  Believe me when I say, it’s not too late.

Location, Location, Location

by Pat Rose, Director of Career Services

Everyone who has ever done any house or apartment hunting knows the old saw that the most important three things to consider are location, location, and location.  The same is true for job hunters.

For example, you may need to stay in a particular city or town because you want to be near family, or because you are part of a dual career couple, or because you couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.  Fair enough.

But some of you may be a little more flexible.  You may want to focus on your career, and will go where the jobs are.  If you are in this category, I urge you to read a recent Forbes article,  “The Easiest and Hardest Cities for Finding a Job.

This article presents a study that compared jobs posted in the 4th quarter of 2010 with a salary of $50,000 or more in different U.S.  metropolitan areas.  While the methodology might be a little flawed, the comparative results are telling.  The easiest place to find a job is San Jose, CA, which had a whopping 126 job postings per 1000 of  population.  Second was Washington, D.C., with 116 openings per 1000 citizens.   At the other extreme, New Orleans had just 10 postings.  Tied for second lowest were Buffalo and Rochester, with 11 per 1000.

Of course there are explanations.  Washington, D.C. has the job engine of the federal government.  San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley, where tech firms are hiring.  In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article names the top 50 start ups.   Eight of the top 10 and 35 of the 50 were based in California, most in the Bay area.

Our economic recovery is uneven geographically.  Don’t lose sight of this as you look for your first, or your next,  job.  Remember, it’s all about location, location and location.

Early January – New Year, new semester, or maybe even new job

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

This week the new semester will begin. The wonderful thing about an academic calendar is that you can “begin again” twice in one year. This is a new chance to study harder, do better, participate in a new group or make a larger contribution to an organization you are already a part of. In January, some of these thoughts may coincide with New Year’s resolutions, or may be in addition to your determination to work out more, eat healthier food, wake up earlier, etc.

While those of us in the working world can and do have New Year’s resolutions, we don’t share the experience of starting anew. Work continues on, despite the new month and new year. This constancy in the world of work is one thing that some new graduates have difficulty adjusting to. I joke that drop/add ends at graduation, but for some new to the workplace, it is difficult to stick with assignments not just for the 14 weeks of a semester, but for a year or longer. I believe this is one reason new grads tend not to stay in jobs longer than a year or two. It’s a kind of drop/add for the workplace. When these graduates move to a second job, though, they tend to be happier. They are more clear about what is important to them in a job, or they have finally accepted that the world of work is much different from the academic world. They adjust to this new rhythm, and move ahead – at least until the siren song of graduate school beckons. Happy New Year!

What do Employers Want?

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

This fall, a number of employers responded to this question in a survey administered by NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers, of which Penn is a member). NACE published the results in Job Outlook 2011. Employers identified a number of factors that were important or extremely important, such as GPA, internship or leadership experience, and major. They also ranked the following “soft” skills or qualities as most important in new college hires; in order, they were:

• Verbal Communication Skills
• Strong Work Ethic
• Teamwork Skills
• Analytical Skills
• Initiative

This is not that surprising; these skills and abilities are frequently cited. What is more interesting is that employers were also asked how satisfied they were with their recent college hires in these areas. They were “very satisfied” with their new recruits’ teamwork and analytical skills, but less so with verbal communication skills, initiative, and work ethic.
The message to you as current students is that certain things may get you in the door: a Penn diploma, good grades, a sought-after major. Once you get there, though, you have to earn the success you envision for yourself. Raising your hand and taking the initiative, and working hard go a long way with every employer, in all fields. And good verbal communication skills will take you far. If you haven’t already developed confidence as a speaker or communicator, take steps now to improve. For example, be the one to present your group project. Ask for feedback from the professor after doing so. Take note of the areas that need work.

One way Career Services can help in this regard is through our interviewing training. Sign up for a mock interview with a counselor. If you are going to be interviewing in February for internships, participate in our mock interview day in late January. Current MBA students and employers have graciously agreed to provide the mock interviews. Check out our InterviewStream program, an online tool to practice responding to a range of interview questions. (Go to PennLink to access InterviewStream; you will need a web cam on your computer to use the program.)

Finally, since this is my final blog post of 2010, best wishes for the holidays and the new year. May it bring peace and prosperity to us all.

What happened to the Class of 2010?

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

We have almost wrapped up our survey of the career plans of the undergraduate class of 2010.  Despite a still sluggish economy, almost two thirds of the class reported that they were employed: 58% in full-time jobs, 4% in full-time post graduate internships, and 1% part-time.  Another 20% went directly to graduate school.  Only 10% reported that they were still seeking employment.   And 3% told us they were engaged in applying to graduate school.

The remaining 4% chose “other.”  Among this group are some who are pursuing acting careers, others who are traveling, one who is on a Fulbright, and another who is playing volleyball in France.   But the largest number of “others” are volunteering, both in this country and abroad.  This is not surprising, given the large number of Penn students who engage in volunteer activities over the course of their time here.

Those who are continuing their educations chose programs like law and medicine, PhD programs in a diverse range of fields:  Assyriology, Organic Chemistry, Ethnomusicology, Genomics, and Performance Studies;  masters’ programs in an equally diverse range of fields:  Urban Education, Economics of Development, Medical Physics, and Photography.  Some are even studying for diplomas in Pastry and Baking Arts and Gemology.

And of course, there are Penn people working in fields well beyond banking, consulting, engineering and nursing, whether they are teaching in Turkey or France, working for the federal government in Washington, D.C.  or as far away as Alaska in the Bureau of Land Management, earning a paycheck at the Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado or the National Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts, starting their careers at Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association, to say nothing of those staying right here at Penn or the Penn Health System, which together employ more than fifty 2010 grads.

The fact is that  these graduates, like those who came before, are doing an incredible range of things, despite the bad economy and despite in many cases fierce competition.  We celebrate this range, and the choices they made.  We look forward to hearing from these graduates in the months and years ahead, and bringing some of them back to campus to speak to current students, who are faced with career decisions of their own.