Personal Wellness in Your Professional Life

by Sharon Fleshman

In job descriptions, you will often find communication, organization and analytical skills listed as important competencies. Will you see “personal wellness” in that description? Probably not, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  In fact, personal wellness is necessary for you to use those other critical skills effectively.  A helpful overview of personal wellness can be found on our recent podcast on Career Wellness and in our Penn7 Career Competencies summary sheet.

Below you will find three foundational strategies for personal wellness in your career along with several articles or resources that can help you implement those strategies.

Self-Assessment: assessing your interests, skills/strengths, and values, and identifying careers that align with them.
CAPS and Career Services Career Wellness Workshops
Self-Assessment Resources on the Career Services website

Self-Care: being proactive about establishing rhythms for renewal and cultivating a support system.
Breathe: The Importance of Self-Care
Pressing the Pause Button
Being Mindful at Work
Penn Wellness

Resilience: recovering and growing from setbacks and challenges.
Job Search Self-Talk: Asking Yourself Better Questions
Reaching Success…One Failure at a Time


Good Distractions During Busy Times

By Sharon Fleshman

This past Monday, my office threw an eclipse party.  It was nice to get outside and enjoy some ice cream and popcorn as we listened to classics such as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Here Comes the Sun.”  An eclipse is a relatively rare occasion to witness and delight in something magnificent.  I found this to be a breath of fresh air given the times we live in these days.

As the summer comes (always so quickly) to a close, I can imagine that many of you may be thinking about what’s ahead for the fall. Penn students juggle a lot: classes, extracurriculars, part-time jobs/internships/field placements, graduate school applications, and the job search.  With so much pressure to shift between various tasks, it can be hard to stay focused as you work on laptops and check phones or tablets. 

What if we could be positively distracted from our screens every once a while? As much as I am tempted to work at my computer through lunch, I know that it is vital for me to get away from my desk, even if just for a few minutes to take a quick walk or sit outside and birdwatch.  As mundane as these activities are, they help me to hit refresh away from my keyboard. Even within the job search, there is much to plan for and be overwhelmed by.  Be sure to be intentional about good distractions that allow for self-care and reenergizing.

But I Just Got Here… Career Planning and One-Year Graduate Degrees (Revisited)

By Sharon Fleshman

Over the past week, I have presented on career resources at orientations for two one-year master’s programs.  With career events kicking off earlier than ever in the academic year, I sense that it’s time to update one of my previous posts….

I continue to work with many graduate students who are in one-year master’s programs. If you are one of these students, you are in your first and last year, making it a challenge to juggle your coursework, internships/field placements and the job search.

As you’ve likely discovered, your time at Penn will feel like a sprint.  In a race, pacing is critical.  On one hand, you do not want to exhaust yourself by starting out too quickly.  Don’t immerse yourself in career planning to the neglect of your studies or building relationships with classmates.  On the other hand, it is not a good idea to have such a slow pace to start that you wait too long to pick up speed.  

To get started, here are some other tips that I hope will help you to make the most of your fall semester:

Join a Career Services graduate student distribution list so that you receive timely e-mails about programs, events and job opportunities related to your career goals.

Get familiar with Handshake, our new recruiting system for connecting you with relevant career information, events and opportunities.

Make sure that you are aware of the timetables of various industries as it relates to hiring.  While many organizations hire on a just-in-time, as needed basis in the spring, others may begin their recruiting process in the fall. Many businesses and technical companies use On-Campus Recruiting in the fall.  A number of career fairs are held in the fall as well. Government agencies often have structured programs that may require early application. See the Go Government website for more information on opportunities in the federal government.

Update your resume so that it will be ready when you start attending career fairs and applying for jobs. The Career Services website has useful advice on resumes (and other related documents) as well as samples based on your academic program or career interest. Make an appointment or attend walk-in hours with Career Services advisors who are available to review your resume and other related materials.

Start researching career options and develop a list of preferred employers and job functions. Check out the Career Exploration section of our website. It can also be helpful to look at job descriptions to determine what is ideal to you.  To help you with this, the Career Services website lists links to job listings and company/organization websites, classified by career field. Look for career services programs that are relevant to careers that interest you on our program calendar for master’s students.

Start building your network.  As you begin to get a sense for the careers that you want to pursue, you should make plans to gain insight from people who are in those careers. QuakerNet and LinkedIn are two great places to start, particularly with informational interviewing.

Get Organized.  Even what I’ve mentioned above may seem overwhelming in terms of getting started.  Try to schedule your career planning so that you can be sure it’s not taking up too much (or too little) space on your calendar. Have some kind of system in place based on what works best for you.  For example, you might decide to dedicate a couple of hours each week to researching career options and conduct at least two informational interviews per month.

Talk to a Career Services advisor.  It is often helpful to have a listening ear as you brainstorm about career options and networking/job search strategies, or make decisions about job offers. It is always necessary to have a second pair of eyes as you put the finishing touches on that resume. Perhaps you just need some assistance in getting organized. Wherever you find yourself in the career planning process, be assured that Career Services advisors are available to help you as you prepare to cross the finish line into next phase of your career.



Moments and Milestones: The Power of Story in Your Career

by Sharon Fleshman

Recently, I went to a talk on professional development given by a professor.  The day was overcast with plenty of liquid sunshine, so I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of walking across campus to attend. But I’m glad that I did.   First off, lunch was provided (always a good thing).   More importantly, the professor opened by noting that he would share three stories from his life that have informed his career.  Something about that resonated with me.  He could have simply offered three principles, yet he framed his remarks so that the principles emerged out of his defining moments. I found that this was so much more memorable and formative for my own learning. 

As my colleague Tiffany Franklin suggests that you invest in professional development, let me also suggest that you do so as a collector of stories. As you reflect on your defining moments, you will recall pivotal life lessons and milestones that will help you remember what matters, learn from your successes and failures, and navigate your career going forward.

About Those Resolutions…

by Sharon Fleshman

According to a 2012 study conducted by University of Scranton, only 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions manage to keep them.  I haven’t practiced this tradition for quite some time.  When I did, I’m fairly certain that I forgot about my resolutions within a few months of January 1st.  Perhaps there is a way to reframe this exercise in goal setting so that it is more useful.

Focus on shorter term goals. Instead of focusing on what will happen this time next year, aim for what you want to accomplish in the next three months.  This can cut down on overwhelm and allow for tweaking your long term goals as necessary.

Express gratitude for small steps. It is tempting to wait for major milestones to celebrate progress, but practicing gratitude more regularly will stimulate your optimism and help you maintain the momentum you need.

Share your goals with a friend or mentor. Indeed, there is something about telling someone else about your goal, especially if you ask them to check in with you about it later.  In my experience, accountability to others has been very effective at nudging me from the path of procrastination.

If you would like assistance with setting goals related to your career planning, be sure to connect with a career advisor at Career Services after a well-deserved Winter Break!