No “Gobble”digook – Hidden Career Lessons in Thanksgiving Dinner

By Claire Klieger

Many people have a strategy for approaching and (in some cases) surviving the Thanksgiving Holiday. For some this involves calculating how to best consume as much food as possible without doubling over with stomach pains later; for others, it might be trying to avoid sitting next to that uncle who belches or the pesky relative who asks inappropriate questions about bodily functions or worse.  Here are some tips for successfully making it through Turkey Day that also apply to your job/internship search:

1) Be willing to try different dishes – Taste a little of everything on your plate.

Whenever we went to someone else’s house for a meal when I was little, my mom always told me and my brother to try a little of everything because it was polite. That’s still true and a good way to avoid potential family drama (I recommend tiny portions that are more easily concealed in a napkin if necessary). However, it’s also a good way to broaden your palate (Who knows? You might even like that Lime Jello cranberry soufflé ) and your job prospects.

More traditional than Lime Jello cranberry soufflé (courtesy of LarimdaME via Flickr)
More traditional than Lime Jello cranberry soufflé, but less exciting, too. (courtesy of LarimdaME via Flickr)

Cast a wide net and apply for opportunities that reflect a variety of your interests. If you’re willing to think outside of the box and be flexible in your search, you’re more likely to have more interesting options from which to choose. And just like questionable looking holiday dishes, sometimes really fantastic opportunities come about in the most unexpected ways.

2) Accept that there is more than one way to make Turkey (or stuffing or cranberry dishes, or mashed potatoes…) and everyone thinks their way is best.

You’ve probably noticed that you encounter something very similar when you ask for advice on your resume and it can be frustrating to hear often conflicting advice. Here’s how you sort it out—when someone gives you advice on your resume or cover letter, ask for the reasoning behind that suggestion. That way you can sort out the suggestions that seem logical (“deep frying a turkey sears in the juices”) from that which is merely personal preference (“I like living and cooking dangerously—what could be better than oil that’s hot enough to burn down your house?!”).

3) Pace yourself and have a game plan.

Most of us have learned the hard way that if you don’t have a strategy for eating at thanksgiving you’ll either be full before dessert or end up suffering later. You’ll be much less overwhelmed by your job or internship search if you give yourself a set of manageable goals/tasks to accomplish each week. Whether it’s updating a resume, identifying five organizations of interest, or contacting three Penn alums whom you can ask for advice (hello, PACNET!), setting and meeting these more “bite-size” (as we know, it’s all about portion size!) goals will keep you motivated.

4) Be polite to all of your relatives (even the ones you wish you saw less of).

Funny as it may seem at the time, you may live to regret that crack you made about Cousin Larry’s hair piece at the next family gathering. In your interactions with organizations about your search, it’s crucial to be polite and professional with everyone you encounter. Just because the receptionist or administrative assistant may not be sitting with you in the interview or making the final hiring decision doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the process.  If you are rude or complain (or gossip on your cell in the waiting room), you’re pretty much putting the nail in your own coffin.

Even coaches can be good references. Keep in touch!
Even coaches can be good references. Keep in touch! (courtesy of ektogamat via Flickr)

5) Give Thanks.

In addition to all of the eating and football on Thanksgiving, it’s also a great time to reflect on what you appreciate in your life.  Hopefully, for you there are people (professors, former supervisors, etc.) who taught you a lot and gave you great advice.  Maintain and build a career network by staying in touch with people and following up on advice that you’re given.  An email update on what’s new with you that also includes a heart-felt “thank you” can do wonders for your job search.

Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads – What Defines a Top Employer?

by David Ross

A recent BusinessWeek article featuring a survey conducted by Universum regarding the Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads is the latest example of another rankings list.  Today our lives are filled with lists of “Best of…” – best colleges, best graduate schools, best employers.  But this latest list of rankings focuses on another topic of great importance – what actually constitutes a top employer?

Any rankings list is based on specific criteria and methodology used to generate a numerical score or outcome that determines “the best.”  Regarding employers, how do we individually determine just who’s the best?  In some way, we all have our own criteria for deciding on where to pursue employment.  It’s not uncommon for these factors to include name recognition, prestige, and culture.  But besides these subjective elements are there other factors important to you?  What about intangible metrics such as collegiality among co-workers, geographic location, work/life flexibility and autonomy over projects?  Do you contemplate other things when deciding what organizations to consider for employment?  I encourage you to think critically about what you really look for in an employer.  There’s nothing like going to work at a place where you feel really connected and greatly enjoy the environment.  No rankings list can truly measure that.

If You’re Out of Work or Think You Might Lose Your Job

by Rosanne Lurie

It seems like there is insurance for everything people value. Rumor had it that Jennifer Lopez insured her “celebrity assets,” (i.e. derierre) and musicians Liberace, French pianist Richard Clayderman and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards all are known to have insured their hands. So when we can easily put a value on our ability to be productive in the working world,  it’s hard to understand why we can’t take out protection for ourselves if we lose our jobs, or remain job-seekers longer than we planned.  The New York Times recently posted a fascinating article with discussion about why private unemployment insurance is not more prevalent.  Additionally, the article suggests how to keep your finances afloat while not working or underemployed, with important resources on housing (both rent and mortgage relief) and student loans.

Unfortunately, unexpected job loss can precipitate the kind of financial pressure that often results in hasty job choices, and increased likelihood of future job loss because of a poor match in goals and fit (jobseekers are “desperate, but not serious”).   Considering how many companies are doing credit checks as part of the screening process, getting your finances in order is crucial to your job search, and ultimately, it lets you be free to choose the best fit for you.

Forget the Want Ads: How to Use the Newspaper to Enhance Your Job Search

by Anne Guldin Lucas and Peggy Curchack


How do you read the newspaper?  No, I don’t mean on your Kindle, computer screen, or on old-fashioned newsprint.  Rather, what are you learning from the papers you read?  Do you seek sports scores and recaps or do you anxiously study regional news for the latest Philadelphia crime reports?  The articles you choose may offer insights into your career interests, and may give you information that can get you closer to your career goal.

Business-focused Penn students have always read the papers to prepare for their interviews, noting merger and acquisition news and carefully noting the Dow and S & P numbers.

However, there are lots of other specific career-related sections or columns of newspapers that are worth reading too.  Using the New York Times as an example, the “Science Times” section in the Tuesday edition will inform you of who is doing what in a great many research areas, citing specific scientists, projects, and ongoing research both domestic and international.  The “Arts” section is a source of rich information on arts management, including names of leading galleries, managers, and fund raisers.  For those interested in the Beltway, The Washington Post is must reading, and can help identify people and organizations from whom to seek jobs and internships.

Start reading the newspaper like you’re a detective, and you’ll be amazed with what you find.  Even something like this (a postscript to an article) may offer an unexpected opportunity: “Travel expenses were paid in part by readers of Spot.Us, a nonprofit Web project that supports freelance journalists.”

5 Differences Between SEPTA and your Job Searching Experience

by Dr. Joseph Barber


1)      SEPTA strikes can sometimes start at 3:00am. You will probably never be offered a job at 3:00am (unless you are in the mob).

2)      Sometimes SEPTA trains catch on fire for no particular reason. Even the best written CVs/Resumes never spontaneously combust – although it would be impressive if they did.

3)      SEPTA trains usually end up at a fixed destination. Your career search may take you to uncharted waters within or outside of academia if you keep an open mind.

4)      Falling asleep on the SEPTA train may mean that you miss your stop. Falling asleep during an interview has more serious consequences. Try to avoid doing that.

5)      The outlook through windows on SEPTA trains is never rosy. While the job market isn’t particularly rosy, either, it is never greasy.