Summertime and the Living is Easy

Sue Russoniello

Today, July 25, falls right in the middle of summer.  I’m sure we all have fond memories of summers past….running freely around the neighborhood, spending time at the swim club or beach, attending camp, taking family vacations, visiting with grandparents.  As a child, the hot days didn’t bother us.  We were happy to be outside playing.  We’d rush through dinner so we could spend another hour or two playing outside before the street lights went on, living the carefree life of a child, enjoying our “summer friends”.

Alas, as we grow up, we spend more time working than playing.  Most of you are probably working this summer, either at a summer job to earn money for school expenses, or at an internship to help you choose your career path.  However, even for those of us who have full time jobs, summer seems to be less demanding, and just plain fun.

I hope whatever you’re doing, it’s enjoyable, and you also finding time to relax and play outside of work.  There is great value to changing your routine.  It helps your clear your head and regroup.  It lets you try something new, see different people, read books you don’t have time for during the school year, look at life from a different perspective.

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Spring is Inevitable

by Sue Russoniello


Spring is almost here!  While I was doing yard work on Saturday and it began to snow, I was also listening to the birds sing while they frolicked in the trees, which is definitely a sign of spring. The end of winter and arrival of spring is inevitable.  It happens every year, even though right now we wonder if it ever will be warm enough to put away the winter coat.

Another inevitability is that as the semester winds down, students have turned their focus to finding summer and full time jobs.  A student I know said to me this morning that her second round interview for Friday is a “last ditch effort” at finding a job for the summer.  No, I told her, don’t give up.  There are jobs out there to be had.  Not everyone has lined up something yet.  Look at the student survey results on our website; you’ll see that many students find their jobs and internships in April or May; some even later, though it might seem like you are the only one still looking.  Keep an open, positive focus on finding an interesting thing to do this summer, or a full time opportunity if you’re graduating.

I know you’ve heard it before, but take the advice to heart.  Continue to attend our workshops and programs, and stick around to speak with the alumni and other people on the panel or leading the workshop.  Network with alumni, friends and family.  It’s inevitable that you’ll make connections, hear about interesting opportunities, talk with someone who is very willing and able to help you with your search.  Even if a contact doesn’t pan out for the immediate search, you never know when it’ll be helpful in the future, so make a note of their name and contact information and stay in touch with them.

Look around you.  Talk with people to whom you don’t usually reach out.  Go to places where you might see and meet new people; talk about different things you’ve done and are interested in, even with people you think you know well, and you’ll be surprised what a small world it is.  Meeting a friend’s new girlfriend, you discover that her mother knows your mother.  Or that her sister studied abroad in the same program at the same time as your brother.  An applicant for a job in our office turned out to be a friend of my soon to be daughter-in-law. Honestly, that gave him a leg up on the other candidates, and worked out well for both of us.  With a bit of careful directing of the conversation, and prudent follow-ups, these connections might lead to job opportunities we would not have found otherwise.

So as inevitable as it is that winter leads to spring, it is also inevitable that you smart, hard-working Penn students will find great jobs.  Some may take longer than others to find them, and you might not find your “dream” job right away.  But keep looking.  Keep a positive outlook. Keep reaching out to people, and the inevitable will happen.


Plenty to be Thankful For

In one of my favorite movies, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby sings  “I’ve got plenty to be thankful for…..”  (This movie is an oldie but a goodie with a happy ending….rent it one night, relax and enjoy!)

With the words of his song going round in my head, I thought it was appropriate to stop a moment and think of my own blessings.

I am especially thankful for a wonderful husband and our two sons and daughter-in-law-to-be who are healthy and happy young people, energetic about their lives, work and studies, with great futures before them all.

I am thankful for a roof over my head and food on our table, even more this year after watching the damage dealt by Hurricane Sandy.  There are many who are not able to enjoy their traditional turkey dinner at their own table because of the damage done to their homes, or even worse, injury to their loved ones.  I wish them good speed in their recovery and return to the daily routine of their lives. (If you can, send a little something to your favorite charity to help our neighbors get back on their feet.)

I am thankful for the comfort of a recovering economy where more and more people are having success in finding jobs, keeping jobs, and acquiring better jobs.  (Visit us in Career Services next week for assistance with your own career goals.)

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Leap Day

Sue Russoniello

Today, February 29, is Leap Day.  It’s an extra day added every fourth year to allow for the earth spinning on its axis to catch up with the calendar hanging on our wall.

I’m sure most of you have seen the movie Leap Year.  It’s a modern day comedy based on the old myth that said on Leap Day a woman can propose marriage to the man of her dreams, and the man must accept it.   Some of you may have friends or relatives born on the 29th of February, who joke about celebrating their birthday only once every 4th year…..a disaster in a child’s life (Mom, no birthday party this year?!?) but a great thing once you arrive at the age when you would be just as happy to stop counting birthdays.

Since you’re reading this on the Career Services blog, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I suggest we consider Leap Day from the Career Services perspective.  It’s mid semester –papers, mid-term exams, job searches and recruiting are in full swing.  Seniors and grad students soon to finish your schooling are chugging away on your thesis or final papers.  You’re also sending out resumes or CV’s, looking for a post-graduation job.  Some of you are waiting to hear if you are accepted to graduate or professional schools.  Underclassmen, you may be looking for a summer job or internship that will enhance your resume.

How does this relate to Leap Day you wonder?  Well, why don’t you think about this day set aside for the world to catch up as an extra day in your life, as well – a 29th day which you didn’t have last February and you won’t have the next few winters.  Aren’t we always saying “There’s never enough time in a week…..” or “Where did the day go?” Consider today to be found time.  Take advantage of this extra 24 hours and do something special with it.  Go back to that to-do list and do something on it.  Spend time researching industries and organizations that might be a good match for your skills and interests.  Schedule some informational interviews with Penn alumni who might give you some good advice related to your search. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor to review your progress or schedule a mock interview to improve your interviewing skills.  Seize the moment, pick up that phone and do something special related to getting ahead!

Whatever you end up doing, feel good that you accomplished something extra today and get a jump (or a leap) on the rest of your life.

Happy Leap Day!

PARENTS: this one’s for you! (STUDENTS: read on and get some insight to what your parents might be thinking.)

by Sue Russoniello

September, again. Here you are, sending your children off or back to college.  They are beginning to look like adults; they are also beginning to make decisions on their own, without your constant guidance. That’s a bit scary for us parents, after 18+ years of making daily decisions for them.

Having two sons of my own who have been through college, I know some of your concerns.  Are they happy and getting enough sleep, making good friends and behaving responsibly?  Are they keeping up with their coursework and connecting with their professors? Are they finding internships and jobs or getting into “the right” graduate or professional school?  The cost of a college degree is concerning enough, without worrying that they might not have a good job lined up when they graduate.  In addition, you’re hearing stories of your friends’ children and your children’s friends who seem to either have something “fabulous” lined up, or are having trouble making ends meet on their own.

Besides being a parent, I have worked in Career Services for fifteen years, so I have watched this process from both sides.  I sympathize with the concerned parents who call Career Services to see what they can do to help.  Some parents just want general information on the current job market.  Others ask for specific information so they can be closely involved in their son or daughter’s job search.

Wearing my parent’s hat, I can relate to your temptation to do the leg work for your busy children and give them a list of things they should do next in their job search.  Up till now you’ve always been involved with the important decisions they have had to make.  Wearing my Career Services hat, I see blossoming, independent, young adults excited about making their own way and looking for jobs of their own choosing, which aren’t necessarily what you think they want.



For instance, my older son who as a young boy only wanted to eat hot dogs and peanut butter, and who I thought would be a wonderful coach or teacher, is now a chef in a fabulous restaurant in Wyoming!  I thought my younger son had the perfect skills to be an architect. His choice was to study geology and as we were celebrating his college graduation, he announced he had lined up a job in Alaska and was leaving in two days!  After my initial surprise and uncertainty about their decisions, I’ve realized how both of them have made good choices and are happy finding their own way.

Based on the experiences I’ve accrued working in Career Services combined with those of my own family, I respectfully make this suggestion to parents: give your sons and daughters space to make some decisions on their own.  I am NOT saying to back out of your son’s or daughter’s life; I’m just saying back up a bit.  They still need you and you still need them.  But they do have some serious decisions to make about the direction in which they want their lives to go;  in giving them the freedom to make these decisions, and showing them you respect their ability to do so, you will probably find that the lines of communication between you are stronger than ever.  Let them run ideas by you and ask for guidance without the added guilt of thinking you don’t approve, or worrying that you are disappointed by their choices. They do really care what you think, and want to please you, but also want to do what is right for themselves.

Harry S. Truman said: “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”  Take note of what makes your child’s eyes light up and respect his or her need to pursue those things; they might choose a specific job that they love, or they might choose to live in a place that lets them enjoy favorite activities outside of their work.  Give them the freedom and support to try something different and come to their own conclusions about what is right for them.  Remember that “success” means different things to different people, even our own children.  They should also know that if a decision they make doesn’t work out as they had hoped, you still love them and support them.

I’m not suggesting that your sons and daughters will all head for the hills like mine did.  Your daughter might think that NYC is the ideal location with the art, culture and night life opportunities, in addition to it being a center of the financial and business world.  Your son may want to be in Miami, especially after the past two winters in the northeast.  Your children may choose to be in Texas or Iowa because that’s where a fabulous graduate school opportunity lies for them.  And don’t forget the significant other who might be a part of this decision…I remind myself that I married when I was 22, and that was a factor in some of the decisions I made gladly so that we could be together.

By all means, browse the Career Services website and learn what you can about the opportunities available to our students. Visit us during Family Weekend and learn about the programs and workshops, career fairs and advising sessions we offer them.  Offer to help create networking opportunities for them with your friends and colleagues. Talk with them about their options.  If you think your son or daughter needs a bit more guidance as they go forward, remind them that we are here to help.  Guide them gently in ways to ask for help, but let them be the ones to do the asking.  Face time is still very important, despite the prevalence of email and social media. Think back, honestly, to your own decision making when you were their age, but also remember it’s a different world out there, with different opportunities and resources than we had.

In the end, what we parents (and Career Service professionals) really want for our (your) sons and daughters is for them to find careers they enjoy and excel in, and to live happy, rewarding lives.