Practice, Practice, Practice

By: David Ross

Consider this scenario. You’ve just landed that coveted job or internship interview. The prospect of this new opportunity is exciting and you can already envision your first day at work. All that remains is a bit of interview prep, acing your interview and presto – you’re good to go.

So you figure you’ll do some homework to get ready for the interview – review a list of possible questions, research the company…you know, traditional interview prep. Often, people will ask me: how should I prepare for my upcoming interview? What specific questions will I be asked? Now, generally speaking, interviewers may ask different types of questions: fit questions, technical questions, behavioral questions, just to name a few. And certainly, the infamous “Tell me about yourself” and “Walk me through your resume” standbys never get old. But no one can ever predict exactly what questions will be asked by whom in advance. Believe me, if I could look into a crystal ball and reveal every single question you will be asked, I would. (If I could look into a crystal ball, to see the next winning lottery numbers, I’d do that too – but I digress.)

Given that interviewing is a skill that can improve with practice, definitely take advantage of opportunities to participate in a mock interview. Anyone can attempt to guess in advance how well they will interview – but at the end of the day, all that creates is pure speculation. Why not take the time to practice some questions and put yourself to the test? An added benefit of a mock interview is feedback on your performance. Are you tapping your foot inadvertently? Do you have a penchant for minimal eye contact? Inclined to use fillers (“like” and “um”) when you get nervous? All of these things can happen and have happened when candidates interview for positions. These tendencies all can be corrected – but that’s much easier when they are brought to someone’s attention.

Career Services provides a plethora of resources to help you prepare for interviewing – including mock interviews. So you have great resources already at your disposal. Just remember – practice, practice, practice…

No Man Is an Island: Overcoming Isolation during your Job Search

by Sharon Fleshman

Over the past several years, there has been quite a bit of research and discussion on what is seen as a rise of social isolation in the United States.  A job search that goes longer than expected can certainly intensify a sense of loneliness.   If you are feeling “stuck” in your job search, continue to reflect on your career goals, network with those in your field of interest, apply for job opportunities, and so on.  However, don’t forget to reach out to others in ways that can energize you as you move forward.

You may have friends who are also conducting a job search. If that’s the case, make a commitment to supporting one another.  Consider volunteering or joining a special interest club where you can connect with like-minded people who share your passions.   Most importantly, touch base with those who really know you well; they can  provide some moral support, help you brainstorm career options and remind you of what you have to offer.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from a Kindergarten Teacher

by Patrica Rose

Last week, in his New York Times Economic Scene column, David Leonhardt discussed recent research out of Harvard on the importance of a strong kindergarten teacher.

What makes this research different is that it was conducted by economists, who looked not at the short-term effects (test scores and the like) but at the earning power of subjects in their twenties.  And they found (doing follow-up on a study from the 80’s) that a 5 year old with a good kindergarten teacher then was making $1000 a year more now than a comparable student whose kindergarten teacher was not classified as “good.”  Thus the economists predict that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth $320,000 a year, if you take the increased earnings an entire class will amass over their careers.  Such economic benefits are substantial, and cannot be overstated.

Leonhardt goes on to advocate for higher pay for teachers, and while I am in favor of that, it is not my point here.  Rather it is to thank all those who choose teaching for a career: my mother and my own teachers, long since retired and many deceased, my children’s teachers at Germantown Friends School, starting with their own kindergarten teacher, a wonderful man who was indeed a standout, and all our Penn grads who are now in the classroom, including those who learned their craft at the Graduate School of Education, and the many other Penn alums who have chosen teaching as a career, or have decided to begin their professional lives in teachers’ corps programs like Teach for America.  We are proud of our 43 Class of 2010 alumni who are busy preparing to enter the classroom this fall with TFA.  All of you will have a lasting effect on your students’ lives – and maybe even their paychecks!