The Post-college Juggling Act

Sarah Hastings, Career Adviser

During a recent move, I was reminded of the stressors and challenges associated with the process. It’s true multi-tasking – planning ahead while tying up loose ends. This move got me thinking of my first summer out of college. I was not only moving, but starting a new job, managing significant expenses, and taking on many new responsibilities. Talk about juggling multiple life events at once! For new graduates, the post college adventure is likely both exciting and stressful. There are many life changes occurring in a very short period of time.

It’s important to continue the self-care you practiced during your college years and find balance as you navigate this transition. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

1 – Take advantage of the support and advice from friends and family. Sure, thanks to social media it’s never been easier to stay in touch. However, when you are managing multiple stressors it can feel overwhelming to stop and connect with others. Consider asking a close friend or relative to check in with you periodically. Knowing someone is there as a constant presence can make a big difference as you find your ground and troubleshoot new situations.

2 – Be aware of resources available to you as you make your next move. Knowing where to look for helpful information can save you time and take some pressure offer during stressful transitions. You’ll be able to anticipate next steps and feel more confident that you are making well-informed decisions. The Career Services website is a great place to start. Whether it’s a salary or cost of living calculator or our list of relocation tips, you are sure to find valuable advice and resources.

3 – Stay connected to Penn. There are Penn Alumni Regional Clubs all over the world. While living and working in London after graduation, I connected with my own university’s alumni chapter there and built a network of great people while settling in far from home. In addition to building friendships, I learned great tips on living like a local, the healthcare system, you name it!

Best of luck as you begin this next stage. Wherever your journey takes you, there’s nothing more important than taking care of yourself and having someone, even just one person, be your “go to” as you make your way.

5 minutes is all you need

I love networking events. It’s exciting to see students and employers in the same room. Connections are made, information is exchanged, and career paths many times begin to take shape. An employer meet & greet was held at the School of Social Policy & Practice this week. Several employers came with jobs to fill. On my way to the event, I passed students in the hall and encouraged them to attend, “Five minutes is all you need!” One student admitted that she wanted to attend but just had too much to do. With some encouraging she ended up stopping by. She later left the event saying, “I’m so glad I came.” She attended for a matter of minutes but made a positive first impression on an employer of interest. If that five minutes got her an interview, there is no doubt that was time well spent!

In my experience, I’ve never met with a student who regretted attending a networking event or reaching out to someone in a related field. I hear the opposite. Even a brief, positive encounter with an employer can make a big difference. It can seem daunting to find time in your day to attend events or seek out networking opportunities, particularly when it means putting on a professional hat in the midst of project deadlines, personal obligations, and other commitments. If you take advantage of the networking resources at your fingertips as a student, whether through a formal event like a meet & greet or an informal connection made through the alumni network, face-to-face interactions are powerful in the job search. The time dedicated to that process may very well save you hours of applications.

The point of my blog today is simple – take advantage of any opportunity for face time with an employer. In a sea of applicants, connecting in person can make a big impact. A strong handshake and a well-prepared intro are two key pieces to making a solid first impression. It just might get your resume to the top of the stack!

learning from mistakes

The finals of The National Spelling Bee are tonight. Reading about this year’s event brought back memories for me. Ok, so I didn’t participate in that spelling bee, but I did take part in a local spelling bee while in elementary school. I misspelled hippopotamus. Yep, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. Proudly wearing my Hard Rock Café sweatshirt, I easily made it through the first round only to get eliminated in round two. I can tell you this – I never misspelled hippopotamus again. Isn’t that usually the case with mistakes? We make them and then learn from them, hopefully never making them again.

The same goes for the ups and downs of the job search process. Interviewing certainly comes to mind when I think of the importance of learning from missteps. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t left an interview at some point in their professional life questioning whether they made a connection with an interviewer or answered a particular question well. It’s happened to the best of us. The important piece of the process is gathering and applying new information as you go – What do I need to do to prepare better next time? What am I most proud of from my recent interview experience? It’s easy to focus energy on what went wrong rather than what went well. Continue to build on and learn from these experiences. Set your sights on the next interview and put your best foot forward. Let’s just hope you aren’t asked to spell panophthalmitis.

Career Advice From Principal Vernon

The Breakfast Club recently turned 30 and just hearing this movie title had me singing its hit song and recalling memorable quotes like this one…

“You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.”    – Principal Vernon

Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard, but I can’t read this quote and not apply it to the job search. Impressing people is key to getting a job which, in turn, allows you to make something of yourself. Right? Hmmm. Let’s look at it another way. If you make something of yourself (a strong candidate), then an employer will be impressed and you’ll get the job. That sounds better. Here are a few tips for ensuring your time is well spent as you do just that:

Spend a little more time creating a targeted resume and cover letter. Tailoring your documents to the position of interest will allow the reader to quickly note key information – that’s important as employers may take only a few seconds to skim your resume.

Spend a little more time networking so that you can connect with professionals in your desired field or position. Networking is also an important way to learn about employment opportunities before they’re formally posted. Be that person the employer looks to when the next position opens up.

Spend a little more time preparing for upcoming interviews – Review the position description, organization website, and relevant publications so that you have a solid understanding of the employer’s mission and the desired skillset. That way, you can easily connect your own interests and experiences to the organization and position.

Make something of yourself by making yourself unforgettable. You’ll spend less time trying to impress and, instead, you’ll be simply impressive.


zero to one

Are you beginning the job search after time spent out of the workforce? Are you wondering where to begin or what resources are available to you as you kick start this next stage? You’re not alone. Whether the decision to leave the workforce was by choice or due to unforeseen circumstances like illness or employment termination, the initial stage of the job search process can feel overwhelming. One alumna I met recently began her appointment by saying, “Going from zero to one is the hardest part. I just have to get to one.” She felt that once she was immersed in the job search process she would gain momentum. I agreed with her. I believe that goes for a lot of people beginning the process when entering unfamiliar territory. Navigating and understanding the use of career resources related to today’s job market will make a big difference in not only gaining that momentum but reconnecting with and establishing professional connections.

As you make the decision to step back into the workforce, be sure to take advantage of resources available to Penn alumni. Whether it’s connecting with other alumni through QuakerNet or reviewing resume and cover letter writing resources on the Career Services website, relevant information is at your finger tips. The Penn Alumni Relations Career Networking website features a Career Tools Webinar Series which covers a variety of topics relevant to re-entering the workforce. How to Navigate LinkedIn and Women Return to Work are two webinars that may be of particular interest. So sit back, take notes, and get ready to go from zero to one.