How to Navigate Professional Conferences

By: Fiona Tang, Graduate Assistant

It’s the time of the year again for professional conferences organized by different student groups. Selecting which conferences to attend and how to best maximize the value of each conference can be a challenge for students who are busy with school and recruiting.

Therefore, I will share some tips on how to successfully navigate various professional conferences organized by student groups.

Which conferences to attend?

Many conferences take an entire day, which is quite a time commitment. Therefore, carefully selecting which conferences to attend is important for your time management.

For freshmen and sophomores, conferences are some of the best boot camps to explore an industry and geographic location. If you are interested in learning about private equity and venture capital, then attending a private equity/venture capital conference is the best way to learn about the biggest funds, industry trends and network with potential future employers. If you are interested in an internship in China, then attending China Forum is the easiest way to connect with local employers and students. I would also recommend expanding your horizons by participating in conferences focused on industries you have not explored thus far – there are more job opportunities available beyond finance and consulting. Attending different conferences during freshman and sophomore years can potentially expand your career options.

For juniors and seniors, conferences can also be opportunities to learn about industries/geographic locations, but more importantly they are valuable for networking with future employers. By junior and senior year, it is helpful to have a sense of the industry/location that you would like to target. Given the busy schedules of recruiting and classes, being selective and targeted at which conferences to attend is important. Try your best to Identify you career interests first and attend relevant professional conferences is probably a better option than attending all of them.

How to maximize the value of the conference?

Being well-prepared in advance can save you time and maximize the value of the conference. Review the conference schedule prior to the event and identify specific workshops/forums that you would like to attend. Do your due diligence on the speakers/firms that you are interested in so that you can better understand the topics discussed and ask meaningful questions during the conference.

During the conference, network, network and network! Some students might believe attending conferences is just about listening to different talks. That might be true for freshmen and sophomores, it definitely should not be the case for juniors and seniors. Companies come to student organization conferences mostly for networking and recruiting purposes. It’s important to spend time networking after each talk and get contact information from the speakers, particularly for firms of great interest. Another way to get involved is participating in the conference planning team. For industries/geographic locations that you are interested in recruiting, getting involved in the conference planning team is a great opportunity for outreach and networking with different companies.

In conclusion, conferences are fun and great ways to network and learn about industries. Enjoy these experiences and make new friends while you are there!

Looking Forward: The Spring Semester Job or Internship Search

As the fall semester winds down, we’ve had questions from many students about how the spring job or internship search may differ from the fall search. These questions come from students who may have spent the last four months actively seeking full-time or internship positions, as well as those who are just starting their search now.

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The good news is…. there are still plenty of opportunities out there! In fact, employers in many industries don’t event start actively recruiting students until much closer to when they can start work – the “just in time” job search. We’ve just finished up the analysis of outcomes for the Class of 2016, and almost half (46%) indicated that they accepted their full-time postgraduate positions in or after January 2016.

We certainly welcome interested employers to conduct on-campus interviews in the spring and we will absolutely have some activity in our recruiting suite. However, the number of employers will be much smaller than in the fall. Students should be aware that employers who will be conducting interviews on campus early in the spring semester are already collecting resumes, so be sure to check PennLink now and periodically over break so that you don’t miss any opportunities that might interest you.

We will also hold three major career fairs on campus in February for all students served by Career Services. (You can find career fair details here, but in the meantime hold these dates!)

  • Creative and Common Good Fair: Wednesday, February 8
  • Start-up Fair: Thursday, February 9th
  • Spring Job and Internship Fair: Friday, February 10th

In addition to our on-campus fairs, Penn participates in a number of consortium career fairs off-campus including:

  • Philadelphia Not-For-Profit and Public Service Career Fair: Friday, February 24 @ Bryn Mawr College
  • All Ivy Environmental Career Fair: Friday, March 3 @ Columbia University
  • Philadelphia Non-Profit and Government Career Fair: Thursday, March 23 @ Villanova University

These will also be an two additional career fairs focused on graduate students: Ph.D. & Master’s Virtual Career Fair on March 2 and the PennDesign Career Connection Day on  February 17.

Between on-campus recruiting, employer information sessions, and the career fairs, we will host hundreds of employers physically on Penn’s campus this spring. However, many more employers are likely to simply post jobs or internships on PennLink (or their own website) and then follow-up directly with applicants of interest to them while never setting foot on Penn’s campus. Particularly for the “just in time” search, it is important that students be proactive by researching employers that might interest them, networking to learn more about opportunities (both advertised and unadvertised), and then monitoring the career sites of employers of interest to make sure not to miss posted opportunities, as they may be open for much shorter lengths (and on a completely unpredictable timetable) than what students experienced in the fall.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2017!

Mental Health Week

A. Mylène Kerschner, Associate Director

Career Services understands that Penn can be a stressful place, and that the job, internship, or grad school search can contribute to feelings of anxiety, insecurity, and even depression. Career Services is proud to support Counseling and Psychological Services Student Advisory Board (CAPSAB) and the 3rd Annual Mental Wellness Week this week at Penn. Activities are taking place Monday through Friday across campus.

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Events include:

  • Therapy Dogs on Tuesday at CAPS (puppies are pretty much guaranteed to reduce anxiety)
  • Guided Meditation
  • Free Classes at Pottruck Fitness Center
  • Thursday Night Quizzo – Grad Quizzo at the LGBT Center and Undergrad Quizzo at Smokes
  • Talks –  multiple opportunities to learn and discuss more
  • Free Smoothies at the School of Nursing Lobby on Friday, April 8
  • Game Night on Friday, April 8 in Claudia Cohen Hall
  • And most importantly, our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Valerie Young. (Wednesday, April 6 2016; 7-9pm; Room 350 Steinberg Hall – Dietrich Hall)

We hope to see you out at these events for Mental Wellness Week!

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Facebook: UPenn Mental Wellness Week 2015
Confronting your Inner Imposter


It’s Almost President’s Day!

By Barbara Hewitt PresidentsDayGiven that we are in the midst of primary season, it’s almost impossible not to be thinking at some point about our government.  Believe me, there have been many heated debates in my house with Republicans and Democrats living under the same roof!  At the very least it’s been a very interesting few months. I thought this would be a great time to remind everyone that there are lots career options out there for people who love politics and those who simply hope to contribute to making the government (local, state or federal) run better.  Following are just some of the many resources you can find at Career Services to help you explore these paths. Upcoming Go-Government Webinars

  • Security Clearance 101: Thursday, February 18, 2016, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Room 97, McNeil
  • How to Stand Out in the Application Process: Thursday, February 25, 2016, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Room 97 McNeil

Common Good Listserv This is an open forum where the Penn community (staff, faculty, students, etc.) can share information about events, opportunities and resources related to nonprofit, government, policy, public interest and other common good related careers. To subscribe to Common Good Careers listserv, send an email from your Penn account (NOT from a GMAIL or another account connected to your Penn account) to: with this command in the body of the e-mail:     SUBscribe CommonGoodCareers Government Related Resources on Career Services Website Videos, helpful links, and career advice on government and policy related careers Internship and Job Databases

Relevant Career Services Subscriptions Access these resources through the on-line subscriptions link on this page of Career Services website:

  • PolicyJobs.Net
  • PoliticalJobs.Net
  • Tom Manatos Job List – Jobs, internships, fellowships, and networking opportunities in government and political fields.

Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative Don’t forget to check out this amazing resource on campus including funded summer internships!

Penn in Washington   Events, alumni networking, courses, and internships for Penn students on campus and in D.C.:

It’s Family Weekend

Going to family weekend when my children were in college was something I looked forward to. It provided a chance to, above all, spend time with my son or daughter, but also to meet friends, faculty members, administrators, go out to nice dinners, even admire the fall foliage.

And so I look forward to welcoming parents and other family members this weekend here at Career Services. Some want to meet their student’s advisor, about whom they have heard. Most want information: what is in store for their child (and his or her classmates) after graduation?

That is an easy question to answer: as a group, Penn students do extremely well. Why is that? The short answer is Penn students are a gifted bunch. They are ambitious, energetic, and organized. The majority have made their post- graduation plans well before graduation. They receive job offers from leading employers across multiple industries, and gain admission to top graduate and professional schools. They serve in the military, and in other sectors where they can make a difference in the lives of others. They do fellowships here and abroad. They engage in entrepreneurial ventures. We are proud of them all.

A very high percentage of new graduates with a clear plan used Career Services. Of our class of 2015, 75% are working full-time, over 13% are in graduate or professional school full time, 5% have other plans and only 6.9% as of this week are seeking employment. (Actually, the percentage is probably lower, in that some have not updated us on their plans since early summer, and others are employed according to their LinkedIn profiles.) In any case 6.9% is a low percentage, but it does represent some new graduates who are still engaged in the job hunting process. There are many reasons why they have not yet wrapped up their searches:

  • They got a late start, not beginning to apply until after graduation or for some, after a summer of travel. 
  • They have visa issues that make it more difficult to find employment. 
  • They have been unable to search for a job due to personal or family illness.
  • They have been very selective about the sort of job they will accept.

Whatever the case, Career Services continues to work with these recent graduates to support them as they seek employment, and to support the others who are engaged in the graduate school application process. And this support does not end this year or at any particular point. We engage with young alumni for several years after they graduate as their careers unfold. And our periodic alumni surveys show that our graduates continue to do well. Only 2% of alumni five years out are seeking employment, and only 1% of those ten years out of Penn. Those are truly spectacular percentages.

These statistics provide the ballast for our confidence that a Penn degree will prepare current undergraduates with the skills they need for success at graduation, and as their careers develop. We look forward to sharing this encouraging news with current parents this weekend and in the weeks and months ahead. From all of us at Career Services, have a great Family Weekend!