Explore the Your Career Possibilities with an Externship

Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director

Students at Facebook 2018 – Engineering Externship program

This week sophomores, juniors and 1st year master’s students within the School of Engineering & Applied Science have the opportunity to apply to the Engineering Externship program for a day of job shadowing to be held in January 2019. These experiences help students see first-hand how their skills and interests align with professional positions in their career fields of interest. Applications are due this Friday, November 30th at noon. Interested SEAS students can email Tiffany Franklin at ftiffany@upenn.edu for a full list of sites for 2019 and to apply.

By participating in a “day in a life” within a work environment, you can gain exposure to an industry, insightful conversation, invaluable advice, and an insider perspective. Externships are typically job shadowing opportunities that are a half or full-day in duration and may involve the following activities:

  • Participating in daily operations that provide hands-on exposure to the career field/industry
  • Completing a relevant project if the externship is long enough to accommodate it
  • Attending meetings and presentations
  • Touring the work site
  • Conducting informational interviews with professionals in a range of departments and levels
Students at the Phillies 2018 – Engineering Externship Program

Depending on your school and year, you can participate in one of the structured job shadowing programs through Career Services (for example, the Engineering Externship Program or Discovery Days) or you can create this type of opportunity on your own through networking, which is simply connecting with people. Perhaps you have a friend with a relative working in a field that interests you. You could see if that person could introduce you and begin by scheduling a brief informational interview. Once you’ve established a rapport over time, you could inquire whether any job shadowing opportunities are available. Career Services advisors are here to help you consider both the timing and content of this type of outreach.

  • Discovery Days allow students to explore jobs and industries of interest to them through first-hand exposure opportunities with employers in a range of industries. Our goal is to provide students with an opportunity to observe a “day in the life” of Penn alumni or other professionals. These events are primarily for sophomores in the College of Arts and Sciences or in Wharton. Stay tuned for future announcements for our next Discovery Days to be held in spring 2019! You can also check back for updates here: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/undergrad/discoverydays.php
  •  Career Services’ Externships in Higher Education Program allows students to obtain hands-on academic administration experience working in a campus office at Penn with mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals. More information about last year’s externships program (2017) can be found here.
  • Engineering Externship Program connects returning students with alumni and their colleagues at their workplaces in January, just before spring semester classes begin. The program is open to SEAS sophomores, juniors, and first year master’s students with first priority going to sophomores and then juniors. Externship sites include different types of companies, in locations across the U.S. and overseas. Consult your weekly Handshake career mail newsletters from Career Services for full application details.

Whether it’s through a formal program through Career Services or through your own networking, job shadowing is an excellent way to supplement your research about a career field. By meeting with professionals who do what you hope to, you will have the opportunity to ask questions, gain insights into the challenges they face, and learn from their experience.

A Season of Opportunities

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Welcome back to campus! We are excited to have you back as we start to see moving trucks lining Walnut and Spruce streets. As you savor the final days of summer before classes begin, this is a time to reflect on what you hope to accomplish this academic year. Preparing for success is more than purchasing all your supplies the bookstore, Target, Amazon, and Bed, Bath & Beyond; it’s also considering the lessons learned from last year and how you’ve grown during that time. During the summer months, many offices take the opportunity to have team retreats to review all they have accomplished in the past year, celebrate wins, evaluate areas for improvement, and formulate a strategy and concrete plan for the coming year. This is so helpful because it gives you a chance to reset, clearly understand what you hope to achieve and build upon past successes.

Such an exercise can be beneficial for you as an individual as well. Even though it’s been a while since my student days at Penn, I like to do this. For example, when I bought my 2018-2019 planner at the bookstore I considered new ways I could organize my projects this year to be as efficient as possible.

One thing I often hear students say is that they wish they had started their job or internship search a little earlier. At Penn Career Services, we are happy to meet with you whenever you are ready; of course depending upon your industry of interest, there optimal times to prepare. Connect with career advisors for your specific college and will be happy to share about timelines for the industries you are considering. In all the years I’ve been a career advisor, I’ve never heard anyone say that they wish they had waited longer to come see us. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You don’t have to know what you want career wise to come to Career Services


When meeting with students, the first question I always ask is “How can I help you today?” There’s no right or wrong answer to this and it shows that we want to meet you where you’re at – whether that’s needing help with your resume, wanting to explore various career paths, requesting mock interview help, questions about specific jobs, how to connect with alumni, or asking for more information about all the resources we offer.

2. You can’t cram a job search

While some people thrive under the threat of a deadline, the job and internship search process is more of a marathon that cannot be crammed into one weekend. Ideally, it’s something that you will weave throughout the year and Career Services is here to help you every step of the way.

3. Don’t miss opportunities to connect with employers – Checkout out Handshake today!



There are a lot of events the first few weeks of school including workshops on every career topic you can think of, career fairs starting just after Labor Day, upcoming information sessions, and a host of job listings (and even some internship postings) in Handshake. Be sure to activate your Handshake account right away and check out all the great events coming up. Even if you are interested in an industry that does not recruit until later in the year, it’s still a good idea to explore an array of options and attend workshops now that can help you prepare.

Hope this is a wonderful academic year for you! Please be sure to check out https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices//appointments for walk-in times and come see us!

3 Things to Do Now That You’ll Thank Yourself for in the Fall

Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s good to think about what can I do now that will make myself happy in a couple months, whether that’s eating a salad instead of grabbing another cookie (which I don’t always do) or as it applies to work projects and other things in my life. Now that summer is approaching, we have a few months that will be filled with internships, summer jobs, research, world travel and many different adventures, as well as hopefully some fun and vacations. With these months before us, it’s a good time to reflect on projects we’d like to accomplish before fall arrives. As this relates to the job search, there are a few things you can do now to make your life easier in the fall when you are balancing many other class and campus responsibilities. A job search is not something that you can cram into a weekend, and that’s why it’s helpful to divide job search tasks into smaller steps that you can do each week rather than try and complete everything all at once.

Here are 3 things to consider incorporating into your summer routine to make life a little easier for yourself in the fall:

1) Update your resume now. If you do that now, you’ll be well-positioned when job postings appear in Handshake in August and for career fairs the first weeks of school. For your current internship and summer experiences, you can leave space on your resume and fill the details in the month before classes start. Throughout the summer, be sure to make notes to yourself about the projects you are doing and write your accomplishments along the way.

2) Take time to Explore Career Paths. Sometimes the experience of the summer makes you question the path you were on; either you have an experience that makes you want to explore something completely new or perhaps a job you’re working on right now isn’t what you thought it would be and you may want to pursue other avenues. Our office offers a variety of career assessments, both formal and informal, that can help you think about all your skills and interests. We can discuss career possibilities that align with your interests and review the formal assessments for insights.

3) Use this time to Network with Quaker Alumni. This is a perfect time to network and connect with alumni in your fields of interest. For example, you can develop a list of people for outreach and create a spreadsheet that includes alumni from Quakernet and LinkedIn. Each week, allot some time to sending emails and talking to people about their careers – what they like, the challenges of their field, what they know now they wish they knew starting out, and any advice they may have. For more information about informational interviewing, check out the Networking section of the Penn Career Services website with tips on how to reach out to alumni and make the most of these interactions. These steps are a great way to build your network now, which takes time, rather than trying to cram this into your fall schedule.

When looking back on past summers, the productive ones started with a strategy at the beginning of June. By dividing my projects into smaller parts and working it every week, I felt less pressure. By the end of the summer, I could look back and see how much I accomplished over time. Plus, I started the fall with a to do list with things already crossed off by the beginning of the school year. Remember, Penn Career Services is here to help you throughout the year, so be sure to reach out to us anytime, even if you’re across the world. We can Skype, schedule phone meetings or email to ensure you have the support you need. If you’re in Philly, schedule an in-person meeting with us. Hope you have a wonderful, safe and productive summer!

Organizing Your Job Search

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Photo Credit: University of Pennsylvania

You’re walking along Locust Walk, your phone rings and you think it’s your best friend and answer it without thinking, but then you realize it’s a recruiter calling to schedule an interview. With all the noise, you don’t hear the company name and you’re scrambling to get to a quiet place. You find yourself saying yes to an interview, but you applied to numerous companies, so which one could it be? You try to think back to how long ago you applied. Later that afternoon, the recruiter emails you details for the phone screen, but it’s for a company you barely remember applying to and the job description link is no longer live. You try to remember the details for your upcoming interview.

If this scenario has happened to you or someone you know, you are not alone. A few years ago, I lived in Nashville and was driving down to Atlanta to see a friend. While going down Monteagle Mountain, I answered the phone (on speaker) thinking it was my mom and it was a recruiter for a job I had applied to two months before. She wanted to talk right then, so I did my best to answer questions, but it was not easy going around a mountain with a spotty signal. After a few more interview rounds, I received an offer for that job, but the thought of that conversation still stresses me out.

There are a few strategies you can incorporate into your internship/job search process to avoid this stress.

1)Your Phone – Only answer your phone when you are in a quiet place and can talk. If you receive a call from an unknown number when you’re in class or out in a crowd, let it go to voicemail, check your messages within the hour, and call back any recruiters as soon as possible that day when you can talk without interruption.

2)Excel Sheet – Create an Excel sheet or Google spreadsheet to track all your applications. Include columns for company name, job title, location, Job # (if available), date you applied, notes, and have a link to the job description and company website. Add a column for interview requests and follow-up, so you can check off that you sent thank you notes.

3)Use Data Analytics to optimize your search – If you are applying to various types of jobs and have different iterations of your resumes, indicate version A resume and version B resume and beyond. Then, you can add that column to your spreadsheet and after every 10-20 applications, see which version is generating better results. Review the versions of the resume (come see Career Services) and consider why one version is resonating with recruiters. How will that affect your strategy as you go forward?

4)Digital Job descriptions – When applying, copy and paste job descriptions to which you apply into a Word document organized by company name and in alphabetical order. That way, if the job disappears from the job site, you still have all the info and can easily find it.

5)Make the info accessible – Email yourself both the Excel and Word docs so you can easily retrieve both from your phone.

When searching for a job or internship, there are many details to track, especially when you have applied to multiple places. Given that everyone has so many things to balance in their lives between school, activities, and other responsibilities, you want to keep your search as efficient and effective as possible. Remember that Career Services is here to help you at every stage of your search whether you are still exploring careers, looking for resume and interview help, or need advice on negotiating offers.

3 Ways to Cultivate Confidence to Ace Your Interviews

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Photo Credit: krung99/iStockPhoto

As the leaves start to turn, the days get crisp, and pumpkin products are ubiquitous, that means fall is in the air and so is interview season. For Career Services, this entails a lot of mock interviews to help students prepare and it’s one of my favorite parts of my job as a career advisor. I’m always struck by how amazing Penn students are and the incredible things they are doing. I’ve also noticed a tendency for students to minimize their achievements, almost as if imposter syndrome has swept through campus like a cold or virus. While I’m not advocating for anyone to be arrogant and walk around campus randomly rattling off their resume, there is a proper time and way to discuss your accomplishments. Your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profiles, and interview are the perfect place to articulate what you have achieved so far and where you aspire to go next. In order to shine in these job/internship interviews, you must believe in yourself.

Why is confidence necessary for interview success?

To understand why confidence is a key component of success, let’s reflect on the purpose of the interview. Employers already think that you can do the job and that’s why they are inviting you to an interview; otherwise, they would not waste their time. Resumes lead to interviews and interviews lead to job offers, so by the time you land the interview, you have already crossed some substantial hurdles to get to this point. The interview is the time for you to show the employer why their first instinct about you was right. During my recruiting days, I wanted to confirm that the candidate had both the skills and the motivation to do the job. Basically, I needed the candidate to inspire confidence that they would be able to hit the ground running, make positive contributions to the team, and collaborate well with their colleagues.

How does a lack of confidence manifest itself in an interview?

When discussing upcoming interviews, some students say, “Why did this employer pick me? It must be some mistake?” Statements like this may lead the student to not prepare as thoroughly as they should because they are giving themselves as out and letting fear win. I didn’t think I would get it anyway, so why try? Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For others, it may not be as blatant. When answering interview questions, his/her voice may go up at the end of the story signaling a question rather than a statement. Or, the person may have answers that fade out at the end. Over the years, I’ve had students in mock interviews rattle off a list of reasons why they aren’t qualified for the job so they can get that out of the way and tell me why I should hire them. The reason this strategy backfires is that it leaves the hiring manager with a negative impression from the beginning that’s hard to overcome. On the nonverbal front, fidgeting, a lack of eye contact, a weak handshake, and using filler words (um, like, you know) can also signal a lack of confidence.

Let’s Pretend You are the Recruiter

Imagine a scenario where you are the founder of a club and need to recruit a handful of new members to help you build the group into something that will live on after you graduate. When speaking to potential candidates, would you want to work with the student who can barely look you in the eye and cannot provide examples of past experiences that relate to the position you are filling?

How to get confidence for your interviews

Now that we’ve talked about why you need confidence, let focus on ways to build it in yourself.

1) Take the time to prepare for your interviews.
a. This means thinking about your answers and practicing them aloud repeatedly. No, you are not memorizing answers. Instead, you are smoothing out the delivery. This will go a long way in building your confidence.
b. For tips of answering interview questions, see an older post about an Essential Interview Skill.
c. Check out all the interview prep resources on the Career Services website.
d. Schedule a mock interview with a Career Services adviser.

2) Stop comparing yourself to others.
When surrounded by overachievers, it can be a bit overwhelming and easy to feel like you are falling behind. Don’t forget all the incredible things you did to get admitted to Penn. You are one of those overachievers! No matter how together people look, everyone has their struggles and some are better at hiding in than others. Check out PennFaces, a wonderful site with stories of the ups and downs other students have navigated. You are not alone! Take some of the pressure off by focusing on your own achievements and not those of others.

3) Make a List of your 3-5 greatest achievements
When preparing for an interview or any challenge that seems intimidating, it’s helpful to think of your past wins. Do this not only to prepare answers for your interview questions, but also as a way to visualize yourself being successful. Think about the process that got you there. It’s wonderful to focus on the pride you felt high school graduation day or when you met a goal that had eluded you for a while, but also think of the process of how you got there. Remember the ups and the downs and how you demonstrated an ability to persevere. Resilience is a quality that employers value!

Building confidence for your interview may feel awkward at first and take some practice, but you can do this. If you feel you need extra help in boosting your self-esteem, you have resources on campus that will support you such as the CAPS office, which offers group workshops and individual appointments. Career Services is here to support you through every aspect of your job search whether you are just beginning to explore options or you have an idea and need career advice during the job/internship search process.