Your Summer Network

by Shannon C. Kelly

“It’s all about networking.”


No matter what your summer plans were, whether you interned, volunteered abroad, or conducted research on a college campus, if you met new people, your network grew.  Now that summer is wrapping up, it’s important to make sure you can take your summer network with you.  The saying “It’s all about networking” is true because it’s not just who you know, but who knows you when it comes to looking for your next internship or full-time position.

1. Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the first tool that comes to mind to stay in touch with your new connections.  If you’re not using LinkedIn yet, sign up right now, or at least when you have 5 minutes.  Their Student Jobs 101 website is immensely helpful with tutorials and checklists to get you up and running on the platform.

2. Personalize Connection Requests.  On LinkedIn, the power lies in your connections.  When you reach out to your colleagues or peers you met this summer, make sure you personalize your note.  Adding a simple line makes a big difference to show you took the time to remind them how you met and/or why you’d like to connect.  This rule applies to other platforms, too.

3. Leverage Other Platforms. There are many other social networking sites that can help you stay in touch with your summer network.  Facebook is a natural choice, but be mindful of who you’re adding and how you use Facebook already.  Do you want to keep it personal or are you comfortable adding professional contacts? Twitter is also helpful, especially if you’re an active user already.  Twitter can help you build your network beyond those you met this summer through by including popular hashtags related to your professional interests, participating in Twitter Chats, and following organizations and their employees.

If you’d like to learn more about using LinkedIn or social media to stay in touch with your summer network or build it up even more, utilize our resource, Build Your Brand. Remember, we also over LinkedIn Profile reviews – so come in to see us if you have questions!


Day in the Life: Teacher at Success Academy Charter Schools

Ever wondered what it’s like to teach at one of New York City’s top-performing public elementary schools — in Harlem? Join alumna Paloma Saez ’11 on Tuesday, April 8, when she tweets for @PennCareerDay. Learn about Success Academy, the unique network of public charter schools that Paloma works for. Success Academy has been nationally recognized for its robust curriculum, degree of parent involvement, extraordinary professional development program, and commitment to “joyful rigor.” The organization serves mostly high-risk, low-income, inner-city kids admitted by lottery, and yet its schools rank in the top 1 percent in New York State in math and the top 7 percent in reading. It has not only closed the achievement gap, but by several measures it’s actually reversed it.

paloma saez bio photoPaloma teaches third grade at Success Academy Harlem 2. For her, being part of such an organization is inspiring. “When I learned about Success Academy, I fell in love with the model,” she says. “I loved the aesthetics. I loved how organized everything is and how supported the teachers are. The environment immediately felt social, intellectual, and stimulating in all ways. And the people I met were the kind of people I knew I wanted to be working with.”

She didn’t always know she wanted to be a teacher, though. When she started at Penn, she aimed for a career in chemistry, or, she thought, a combination of chemistry and art. Another option she considered was law, in particular juvenile justice. “The prison-to-school pipeline always fascinated me,” she says. But then she had a realization: “I though it would be better to focus on helping kids stay in school than on moving them from prison to school. That’s when I decided teaching was the way to go for me.” Saez taught for Teach for America for a year after graduating, and then started at Success Academy. The best thing about teaching third grade? “Seeing students succeed academically is great, but the moments that matter the most to me are when one student sticks up for another, or when students help and support one another. At this age you really see them becoming part of a team, and that’s an amazing reward.”

Insta-Advice: Advice Videos on Instagram

Are you following us on Instagram? If not, I highly encourage you to do so because we’re not only sharing moments we capture on campus, we’re sharing some candid advice, too.


Earlier this semester, we took advantage of Instagram’s 15 second video option to share some “insta-advice”.  We went around and asked you, our students and alumni, what your thoughts were on internships, career fairs, networking, career exploration, and more!  Check out these videos on our Instagram, and stay tuned for new editions on Tuesday!

Day in the Life: Associate Manager, Innovation Analytics at Nielsen

What’s life like at a leading global provider of information and analytics around consumer behavior, also known as Nielsen? Join alum, Sarada Bheemineni, SEAS ’10, on Tuesday, February 11th when she tweets for @PennCareerDay.  Learn about her career with Nielsen, advice for joining the field of consumer behavior and analytics, and understand what it’s like to be part of the Nielsen team. Did you know that Nielsen will be at the Spring Career Fair? Well, if you didn’t, this is a really great opportunity to help you prep for a visit to the Nielsen table, too.  To learn more about Sarada, read her bio below. Don’t forget to follow her on the 11th, either!

SaradaSarada Bheemineni is an Associate Manager, Innovation Analytics at Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around consumer behavior.  In her role, Sarada advises clients on their brand and innovation strategy using data-driven insights.  This involves consulting clients on category and marketplace trends, as well as drivers of global consumer demand.  Key clients include Colgate-Palmolive, Hershey, and PepsiCo.

Sarada has been with Nielsen since graduating from Penn in 2010, where she studied Materials Science and Engineering and Economics.  Sarada currently lives in New York City and in her free time enjoys running, exploring the city, traveling to other countries, and watching Mad Men.

The Startup of We: Review of Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha Startup of You

by Ana Schwartz

New Semester, Looking Ahead
OCR has already started and even for those students who aren’t seniors, this means a serious look ahead to life beyond these years in the university. Career Services offers a great diversity of resources to help prepare for that new world, but sometimes the most intimidating challenges are intimidating because they aren’t exactly specific, because they can’t be quite precisely identified, but they nevertheless haunt the more or less eagerly anticipated adult life in ways for which even the most proactive student can’t quite prepare. One hypothesis for this malaise: what happens to all my friends when we all have different jobs? The past several years as a graduate student, particularly in a field that requires such solitary work as the humanities, have offered a middle stage between the highly social, deliberately collaborative work of undergrad and the more specialized, often more lonely work of the adult. In this context, a book like The Startup of You, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s slim, but powerful career advice manual, seemed like it would be a pleasant way to imagine the experience of friends in the Engineering and Business disciplines. It turned out to have surprisingly valuable insights into other fields as well. Specifically, their insistence on more mindful social activity can supplement the professional life of advanced students and recent graduates, but it can also help smooth the transition.

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Reframe Your Career Narrative
The book begins with a bit of a scare: The occupational environment college graduates can expect to enter looks bleak. The world of work is changing. In the first pages, Hoffman and Casnocha present a crucial distinction and a memorable metaphor to give it impact: One primary characteristic of the new occupational landscape is the distinction between “labor” and “entrepreneurship,” an insight made more clear by the rise of Startup Culture. Mere labor is “working hard.” Entreprenurship is “working smart.” It’s no longer enough, they contend, just to work hard. The job market is an escalator, now jammed, and it’s no longer possible to ride mindlessly to the top, as it might have been for prior generations. Although both of the authors have a lot of experience with startups, they stretch the boundaries of startup thinking beyond the literal entrepreneurship world. For them, instead, it’s a perspective, a mentality of “permanent beta,” demanding on one hand, persistent flexibility, as well as rigorous personal accountability.

“Permanent Beta”
But these authors’ unique  experience in the Silicon Valley isn’t negligible. It offers them historical perspective, forward-thinking best practices, as well as undergirds their exemplary collaborative relationship. For the authors, the Silicon Valley’s parallels the rise of Detroit in the post-war American economy, and such a comparison gives a sense of the high stakes of startup thinking: Always think ahead. This is “permanent beta.” Given the tech innovation of the Silicon Valley, it’s tech tools and resources that will make the proactive entrepreneurial thinker successful. In particular, the authors plug use of platforms like LinkedIn, since, Reid Hoffman, of course, is the founder. Yet, given this inevitable emphasis, his insights are surprisingly profound. He’s less interested in the minutiae so much as offering a more expansive representation of the aims and ends of the platform. The premise that undergirds LinkedIn—that it’s not what you know, but who you know—is valuable not only for a career, but for a fulfilled and satisfied life. Thus, even in writing a book, it’s important for Hoffman to collaborate; Casnocha, author, venture capitalist, and social luminary is the perfect colleague. Together they use the insights of the past to anticipate tomorrow, but in the smartest and most dynamic company. This is the lesson that this book comprehensively describes as well as performs.

Best Practices
But, like any business, students, even the most organized and proactive, have limited resources of time and attention. Hoffman and Casnocha  acknowledge these limits. Even their most concisely vivid piece of advice: “One lunch is worth one thousand emails” has a sobering inverse: Only lunch with those whom you might imagine sending that many emails. This isn’t a snub. But face time is valuable, and it’s relative. In these insights, their book offers a perspective on social and professional life that helps prioritize the powerful resources available to students—knowledge, enthusiasm and passions, and above all, social connections. Some of the more memorable, and actionable pieces of advice for students are the following:

  1. Use social media for better self-understanding. Digital platforms can serve as a personal archive, especially for the younger generation, who have slipped more fluidly into comprehensive digital self-representation. Personal archives—the history of tweets, status updates, shared articles—offer insights into patterns and priorities and can guide students to discovering their most powerful passions and interests. Search your email and twitter feed to find the themes that you keep returning to, as well as your best interlocutors. Pursue those interests and nurture those alliances.
  2. Use social media to practice dialogue. “Ask better questions,” Hoffman and Casnocha advise, and platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter allow great experimentation for framing questions to get the most useful answers, relative to the situation. Twitter, for example, is a great resource for quick, concise conversation: it can swiftly disseminate queries and responses, citations and elaborations. LinkedIn, on the other hand, encourages and showcases longer, more thoughtful conversation. Sometimes a quick response is more valuable than a longer prose account; sometimes not. Practicing skillful inquiry on both these platforms can help to identify conversational goals and make these skills reflexive.
  3. Use social media to “Learn when to Let Go.” The authors specifically direct this advice to young people, and it has special traction for a college readership. They observe that one value of college is the time and proximity that structures social discovery and intellectual collaboration. These are vital to future success. But transitioning into a career in the professional world brings graduates to a social bottle-neck and it can be difficult to maintain all of these relationships at the same caliber, still more difficult to deliberately sever these ties. They by no means advocate ending friendships, but rather encourage students to identify which friends are the most valuable company—which inspire you, stimulate you, which encourage to better and more interesting work. These are the relationships to actively cultivate. Not at the expense of the others—and this is where the various platforms of social media can be valuable. Instead, sustain acquaintances and less important alliances through venues like Facebook or Instagram, so that, if the opportunity for renewed collaboration appears, you’ll be ready to seize it.

The Quaker Connection
In 1727, four years after arriving in Philadelphia, a twenty-one year old Benjamin Franklin started “The Junto,” a conversational club among his colleagues in the up-and-coming new urban community. They met on a regular basis to talk about their ideas, their readings, their innovations and plans for the city—ideas that, over time, would come to influence Franklin in his contribution to the founding of the United States. It’s no accident that, almost three hundred years later, the social group founded by Ben Casnocha in the South Bay would take the name “The Junto.” He, along with other citizens of the Silicon Valley see themselves as the inheritors of a historical trajectory that students at Penn here also claim. Social Media is one very powerful tool to claim that future together.