Identify ways to avoid job search stress

by Jamie Grant C’98 GEd’99, Associate Director

I meet with many students seeking internships and full-time positions who are at times incredibly busy with their coursework – and on top of their studies, trying to balance a comprehensive and effective job search.  This can understandably be a very stressful combination of activities, and so Career Services is always working to identify resources and tools to help our students not only strike a balance but succeed in both arenas. 

To that end, a partnership between Career Services and CAPS has generated an upcoming workshop series designed to help students excel in the career planning and application process – with sessions on different kinds of personality and strengths assessments as well as the aptly titled “Managing Anxiety Related to your Job Search,” participating students will have several opportunities throughout the upcoming year to bring their concerns and identify solutions and strategies to enhance their application process.  At the start of the semester, please be sure to check the Career Services calendar and/or the CAPS website for details on specific programs and their scheduled dates/times.

Beyond workshops, Career Services is also always working to identify and provide the latest tools to help students manage their career development.  A really neat resource, free for our current students and discounted for alumni, is Jobtreks – your Jobtreks account will allow you to: 
     – Access a proprietary database of 9,000+ companies
     – Create your target list of companies
     – Browse 30+ job boards and other job search resources
     – Manage your companies, contacts, & job applications
     – Create to-do lists, notes, & alerts, and
     – Prep for interviews and networking

so that you can keep all of your thoughts, research, contacts and networking resources and more in your own private database!
Jobtreks logins are by academic status, so please see the list below for your appropriate link to register:

So, with these upcoming workshops and tools like Jobtreks, you have a few special resources to help your job or internship search to be a manageable and interesting journey of self-discovery and possibilities.  And, if ever you feel the least bit overwhelmed or stressed about career-related issues, please reach out to one of your career advisors to discuss your individual concerns.

Mid-Summer Internship Advice

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Difficult to believe that August is almost here and the summer will be ending before you know it. For those of you working this summer, here are some things to consider before finishing your internship:

– Take some time to assess your performance thus far. Some employers have mid-summer performance reviews as a component of their internship programs while others do not. If you have a performance review soon, be prepared to share your accomplishments and contributions. If you have completed a performance review, be sure to implement the feedback and advice on improving your performance – you can also think of ways to take initiative beyond your required duties. And if you do not have a mid-summer performance review scheduled, consider asking your supervisor for a meeting – if that is not feasible, you may want to ask for feedback on your performance to date.

– Carefully continue to cultivate and expand your network at the organization. Be careful with this – do not attempt to simply meet as many people as you can at your office. Try to connect with your colleagues and show your interest in working at the organization by developing your network. Be sincere in your outreach and thankful for the time given from by co-workers. Consider meeting someone for lunch to ask questions and learn more.

– Think about what you want to accomplish during the remainder of your internship. Are you hoping to gain experience in a certain area? Do you want to work on a special project? Do you have an idea for something new and innovative? You may have a chance to accomplish more than you think before your internship ends so brainstorm some ideas now.

– Document your progress in your internship. It can be helpful to have a detailed list outlining what you worked on during your internship so that you can craft strong accomplishment statements on your resume. Be mindful of any confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements you signed with your employer not to share any sensitive information but certainly track your projects and duties carefully to help you recall important details in the future.

– Consider who you may want to ask for references for future employment opportunities. If you already have one or more individuals in mind that is helpful. If you are not sure who to ask at this point, consider the possibilities to avoid having to track down candidates at the last minute. You do not need to ask for references during the middle of your internship but it may be a good idea to start thinking about who to ask at a later date.

Three Skills to Master During Your Job and Internship Search

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

While it can be helpful to consider your job or internship search as a process and create a plan to provide some structure to an otherwise “unstructured” process, consider mastering and utilizing the following three skills as your search unfolds.

Persistence. Some opportunities in life do not come easily. You can take the necessary steps and do the right things initially but that does not guarantee a successful outcome right away. Persistence may involve more effort and require additional work on your part, but that could be what’s necessary to secure your desired job or internship. Be careful – there is certainly a fine line with this as you should avoid extremes. Keep in mind that a lack of a timely response from an employer does not mean you are removed from consideration. Take the time to follow-up on your application – that extra step may be just what you need to get you closer to your goal.

Resiliency. Maintaining a positive attitude and moving forward after rejection can be difficult – especially if you have experienced it on multiple occasions. But your ability to bounce back, move forward and continue with your search can reveal positive things about your character. Life is not easy and we all encounter setbacks on occasion (we really do whether we like to admit it or not) – the search for jobs or internships is no different. Try to take a step back and reflect on the many things you have accomplished, the challenges you have overcome in the past and do your best to move forward in search of new opportunities.

Adaptability. Having a plan can be comforting – executing your plan as intended, even better. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? In these situations, consider adjusting your tactics or trying something new. Depending on the circumstances, the willingness and ability to alter your approach to your search may improve your fortunes.

Why Participating in Case Competitions Can Be Valuable for Your Job or Internship Search

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

You may have seen or heard about case competitions sponsored by employers or universities. However, the idea of participating in these events may seem daunting and the advantages may be unclear beyond winning the competition and a receiving a prize. With this in mind, I want to highlight some additional benefits of participating in case competitions:

You can build your confidence in solving complex business problems, working in teams and public speaking. All of these skills are in demand by employers. What better way to demonstrate your mastery than to propose a solution and recommendations to a business problem faced by an employer. Depending on the structure of the competition, you also may have the opportunity to present your ideas in front of company representatives, perhaps senior-level executives.

A top finish in a case competition may lead to an interview opportunity. Case competitions can be a great way for employers to identify talent. In some instances, members of teams that perform well may be invited to interview with a firm for employment opportunities.

You can demonstrate your interest in an employer or industry. Some case competitions are sponsored directly by employers. Others are coordinated through universities focused on an industry or sector with employers in attendance. Regardless of who arranges a competition, your participation indicates your willingness to spend time on something not required of you, signaling your interest in a firm or industry.

Your participation in a case competition can serve as a great interview story. Whether you receive a question about a time when you have demonstrated teamwork or worked under a strict deadline, the case competition experience can provide an interesting anecdote that you can share during a job or internship interview.

There are certainly other benefits from participating in case competitions – the possibilities are numerous. So the next time you see case competitions advertised at Penn or through other channels, seriously consider joining a team and participating – you may benefit in more ways than you can imagine.

Did Not Receive a Full-Time Return Offer from Summer Employer – What Should I Do Now?

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

As another Fall semester is well underway, some December 2015, May 2016 and August 2016 graduating students have begun the process of planning for life after Penn. Some may have interned this past summer with hopes of securing a full-time offer by the end of the summer. If you did not receive the return offer you hoped for, do not panic – now is a great time to devise a strategy for how you will approach your job search this year.

Reflect on your summer experience. With the hustle and bustle of the start of the semester, it can be very easy to simply jump back into the recruiting process as you prepare for next year. If you have not already, take some time to think about your experience this past summer. What did you enjoy? What was unpleasant? What did you learn about yourself? The answers to these three questions may help you better target your efforts this year and focus on employment opportunities that are a good fit for you.

Schedule an appointment with a Career Services advisor. Once you have taken the time to reflect and focus on your interests and goals, schedule a meeting with an advisor in Career Services. Talking through your plan with someone may reaffirm that you are taking the necessary steps and advantage of all of the resources available to you. You may come up with some new ideas or decide to adjust your strategy a bit. For those who have not visited Career Services during your tenure, that’s fine – but please do not feel if you have not used our services in the past that you cannot use them this year. Whatever you think would be helpful for you is great – so please utilize Career Services while you are here on campus.

Actively participate in relevant recruiting events. As much as some employers have already actively begun recruiting Penn students on-campus, do not underestimate the importance of demonstrating your interest. Simply applying for positions that you believe you are qualified for may not be enough – if you discover that employers you are interested are recruiting on-campus, make every effort possible to attend recruiting events unless you have a class conflict or other obligations.

Consider all of your options. Consider how the experience you have gained this past summer has opened up new employment opportunities to explore. Try not to focus solely on position title or industry – but also identify transferable skills that you can apply in different positions and sectors. Now that you have additional experience, you may be able to more effectively pivot into new roles. If you prefer to consider opportunities with different employers within the same industry as your summer employer, that’s great – but cast a wide net and try not to narrow your options too soon.

For advice on how to answer questions about why you did not receive a return offer from your summer employer, please read this previous post: