Announcing Handshake

I am delighted to announce that beginning in June, Penn Career Services will be moving to the Handshake platform for job and internship listings, workshops, career fairs, on-campus recruiting and employer presentations.  This platform is used by 170 schools (including many of our Ivy Plus peers) and 120,000 employers; it offers many features that we believe will enhance the student user experience, including the ability to make appointments with career advisors using the online scheduling system. We are excited to launch Handshake at Penn, as it is intuitive, well-designed and cutting edge in its approach.   We will keep PennLink, our Symplicity system, live through June 30, 2017.  After June 30 you will no longer be able to retrieve any information on past applications and interviews, nor will you be able to access your documents. 

We will be following up by email in late May with information on how to join and use Handshake.  Since both platforms will be live during June, you can download resumes or cover letters from PennLink and upload them to Handshake if you wish.  If, however, you will be busy in June, or traveling without good internet access, you should download your documents now.  They will not be available after June 30.

For now, full-time jobs and internships are still being posted on PennLink.  Many employers are advertising interesting opportunities, so please continue to check PennLink regularly.  And it goes without saying that our office will be open all summer, and we are here to assist you today and in the coming months.  Please let us know if you have any questions. 

Best wishes for the end of the semester. 




Patricia Rose
Director, Career Services


Have a Great Break

Those of us in Career Services wish all of you a relaxing and restorative break. We hope your travels are safe, and your celebrations are festive and meaningful.

During the next two weeks our office will be undergoing a makeover. We will have new paint, new carpet and new furniture in our Suite 20 public spaces. We look forward to showing the office off in the new semester — stop by and see us.

To expedite this work, we will be working remotely on December 22 and 23, and again on January 3 and 4. We are available via email on these days if you need us, and can schedule phone appointments as well.

All the best to you all. Have a happy new year!

Coming Down and Going Up

In Britain not so many years ago, and maybe still today, you would hear that someone came down (i.e., graduated) from Oxford or Cambridge. To come down was to finish one’s studies, but the implication, at least to me, was that while at University the student was above the fray, removed from the hurly burly of life.

I am not sure those of you who are graduating next week will be coming down from Penn. While it is true that many of you have had the luxury of time to explore academic interests and pursue learning for its own sake, my sense is that for many others, to misuse a line from Wordsworth, the world is too much with you. For some time you may have had an eye on the next step. Soon you will be beginning that next chapter, whether it is a new job, or a graduate school matriculation.

Others of you have had responsibilities to families or to yourselves. You may have been working 20 hours a week or more, balancing your academic commitments with your personal obligations or financial needs. Or you may have been pursuing an entrepreneurial idea out of your dorm room or apartment, and are getting ready to introduce it to its intended audience.

To be a Penn student is to be a part of the world, and not apart from it. It is to be engaged with the community: to be a good citizen locally as well as globally. However you have spent your time here, the future is now. Go not down from Penn, but up, to meet greater challenges, and to find your way. On behalf of everyone in Career Services, congratulations and good luck wherever your path takes you.

Way Finding

Over the past two weeks I have been fortunate to attend two meetings of career center directors, where we talk shop, benchmark our services and get new ideas from each other. These meetings are invaluable, and I learn a lot.

The most interesting thing I learned about this year was a course offered at Stanford called “Designing Your Life.” Taught by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, two professors from their D-School, the course teaches seniors a new way of solving problems: design thinking. With a belief that the future is unknowable, design thinking teaches students to build their way forward, and to re-frame problems to find actionable solutions. Since you can’t know the future, you have to prototype your way into it.

Using design thinking to solve the problem, “what do I want to do with my life,” the professors work with students to learn tools that will help them navigate life. In this approach, career planning is a way finding; their method can be used at other important times of life transition as well, not just at college graduation. I am simplifying, probably over-simplifying, what design thinking and the course are here. We all will have the opportunity to learn more in the coming months, when Burnett and Evans publish their book, Designing Your Life (Knopf, September 2016).

But I write today because this approach resonates with what I have seen in working with new graduates here at Penn. The truth is, most seniors and new graduates find planning their lives a daunting proposition. They may have a goal (I want to be a physician), and they take the first step along the road by matriculating in a medical school. Or they may want to have a career in business, so they begin their careers in consulting. They are way finding. They are taking a logical next step, and will take a next step from there, and so on. If their end goal changes, they will then find a new way. But the future is ultimately unknowable.

Dealing with the unknowable is pretty scary for 20 somethings. Those at Penn or those recently graduated have been scripted, organized, and focused on clear goals. But the next set of goals is less clear. I am fond of quoting the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Alice asks the cat, “What road do I take?” The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

More students and recent graduates than you might think don’t know where they want to go. Those of us in Career Services work with students to help them gather information (about themselves and about different career fields) to make a decision about next steps. In the final analysis, a new graduate has to pick a path and try something. Seen in this way, a first job, or even graduate school, is a prototype, to be tested and built upon in some manner. But for many of us, the path becomes clear only in retrospect. We design our lives as we go.

LinkedIn Student App coming soon

Rather than do my usual new semester blog post (welcome back, second semester is a new year and a new beginning, etc), I thought I would share a little information about LinkedIn’s new student app, which will be launched later in the semester. I got a sneak preview this week, and I liked what I saw. The app allows students to get five career tips a day on their mobile devices. For example, a student is shown a job title. If she is interested, she can read a typical job description, see sample current job listings, get a list of top employers who employ people in the role, see the skills people in this role typically have, learn about similar job titles or similar roles, and see alumni who are currently working in this position. All this information comes from the profiles of millions of LinkedIn members. If the student is interested in the job, she stars it. If not, she moves on to the next screen. Next time the student logs in, the app uses the starred choices to provide more accurate recommendations and information.

The LinkedIn student app will undoubtedly do more than what I saw during a brief demonstration. As soon as the app is ready, we will be sure to publicize. It has the potential to be a valuable source of real-time career information that can be customized to the student user through the power of data analytics.

A big problem for many students is lack of information. What, they ask, does a marketing manager do? This app can answer that question. It can suggest skills that students might want to develop, based on the skills of successful marketing managers today. If students have some of these skills, they should include them on their own LinkedIn profiles, so that they are more likely to be found in a search by hiring managers down the road.

So yes, welcome back, all the best in your new semester. Get the most out of your academic program: learn as much as you can, and develop your skills. Both will serve you well. Those of us in Career Services look forward to working with you to help you translate what you know, and the skills you have into career goals and next steps.