A Summer with the League of Women Voters

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Halle Abram, COL ’17

IMG_2564When I first walked into the office of the League of Women Voters of New York City, I was surprised by how tight knit of a community the organization seemed to be. It looked less like an office, and more like a casual convention—a home in one way or another—of powerful women committed to civic engagement and citizens’ empowerment.
I was first interested in working as an intern for LVWNYC because I knew that they strive to reverse disenfranchisement and inequity through voter education on a variety of issues. I knew that I would find it rewarding to restore agency in American citizens through a commitment to the most important process in our country: voting.
I’ve always been outspoken about inequity because I—like many other Americans—have high standards for our government and our country. However, working at the LWVNYC gave me the opportunity to actualize my plans for change. Leveraging the organization’s legitimacy in political spaces, I was able to take part in and lead several voter engagement initiatives.
At first, my main responsibilities at LWVNYC were constituent facing roles like answering to citizens’ questions about voter registration, the board of elections, and candidates seeking election. In my first week, I also got to sit in on a variety of committee meetings, like the Affordable Housing Committee, the Voting Services Committee, and the Campaign Finance Reform Committee. These committees comprised of members of the organization that were especially passionate about those respective topics, which organized agendas and coordinated statements for the organization’s lobbyists.
I became very fascinated by the ideas discussed in the Campaign Finance Reform Committee in particular. I asked my supervisor and the head of the committee if I could do research on money in politics, and they were delighted with the idea. As a result, throughout my internship, I researched legislation in New York State that has allowed high-net-worth individuals, special interest groups, and big businesses to donate millions of dollars to candidates through limited liability companies as “shadow” campaigns. I was then tasked with educating the rest of the LWVNYC membership on campaign finance reform through social media management in a series of tweets, utilizing different hash tags like #ShineALightOnShadowCampaigns and #KnotTheLLCLoopHole. This project also led to my controlling of the League’s social media accounts for the remainder of my internship.
Through mid-July, I continued to research campaign finance reform, but I also started a new project that took my work in a new direction. After my co-intern and I realized the real lack of young people involved in the organization, we decided to ask our supervisor if we could take charge on a project for youth expansion. Over the course of three weeks, we designed an in-depth business plan for a campus representative program on five campuses in NYC designed to increase youth membership, generated revenue, and voter turnout in NYC’s college students.
Interning at the League of Women Voters of NYC was exciting and empowering. Not only did I gain diversified work experience, but I also developed connections with some of the most hard-working, passionate, and inspiring women. I will forever cherish my summer experience, and I will take the skills and connections I accrued with me throughout my Penn career and my career at large.

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:    listserv@lists.upenn.edu 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 http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/careerfields/#government Internship and Job Databases

Relevant Career Services Subscriptions Access these resources through the on-line subscriptions link on this page of Career Services website: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/library

  • 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!  http://publicpolicy.wharton.upenn.edu/

Penn in Washington   Events, alumni networking, courses, and internships for Penn students on campus and in D.C.: https://piw.sas.upenn.edu/.

The Stars Aligned

By Monica Gojman, ’12

“And that’s where David and I met” I distinctly remember her telling me.  She gazes through the window, a nostalgic sparkle glittering in her eyes, as she points towards the castle’s centuries-old wrought iron gate.  There’s a charge in the air at Château de Touffou that is almost contagious; an energy that pulsates with a mix of meaningful tradition and creative potential. All of us, the other WPP Fellows and I, along with a range of mentors, group executives, clients and Herta’s special guests, sit around the castle’s majestic fireplace listening to the most inspiring woman I have ever met tell her story.  I should mention that by David -she meant David Ogilvy, the man behind Ogilvy and Mather (and her late husband).  We were all completely starstruck. I remember watching the flames crackle in tandem with my excitement as I finally let it sink in: I actually get to live here for a week!

My senior year at Penn I found myself asking: what can I do with degrees in communication, public service, marketing and psychology? Perhaps it was my destiny to sell politicians. Indeed, after completing my public policy thesis, I felt like I could conquer the world. But I had no idea where to start. As a student from Mexico City, my job search was heavily constrained by limitations placed on hiring international students- something that many of my extremely talented Quaker friends faced as well. Yet I was also waiting to find a job that would inspire the same passionate zeal I felt (and still feel) for Penn when I first strolled through campus. And that’s when I found the WPP Fellowship.

As the leading and largest marketing communications company in the world, WPP presented an offer I could hardly imagine anyone refusing: the opportunity to spend three years in a global leadership rotational programme, working across three different operating companies, industries, and even continents. The best part? Fellows get to craft their own journey, choosing out of the 3000 offices and 110 countries in which WPP operates. There were no OCR interviews, cover letters, citizenship requirements or questions about how many pencils fit inside a swimming pool. The application centered around telling a story- your own personal one – in a compelling, creative and sincere way. Oh, and there was also the small detail of standing out against more than 2000 applicants worldwide for only 8 coveted spots. But somehow – after months of essays, interviews, and a final round in London- the stars aligned. I fortuitously managed to become a WPP Fellow. And the rest is history.

One year I was in New York working as a strategist for a top global tech client watching my campaign come to life –and the next I was in London advising top-level decision-makers on the political economy of Latin America and potential growth drivers of the region. Every day of the Fellowship has brought me an incredibly diverse set of challenges and opportunities, most of the time in completely foreign settings.  Penn taught me how to thrive in multidisciplinary and cross-cultural environments, and WPP has given me the chance to turn theory into practice within both.

So there I was, in the middle of my WPP Fellowship training at Ogilvy’s castle in the South of France, wondering how a job like this even exists. It wasn’t too long ago that I interned at Ogilvy and Mather as a Sophomore at Penn. Little did I know then I would have somehow landed in this grand dinning room, watching a meticulously- planned five-course meal unfold in front of me. But I didn’t even notice the food. How could I when I was sitting next to an Olympic silver-medalist on one side, and an accomplished neuroscientist on the other? And those are just two of the WPP Fellows. The privilege to be sitting among them, listening to their stories, is an opportunity I cherish every day.

Remember that electric charge we felt when walking through Locust? Or when we entered The Quad for the first time? Its exactly the same feeling on the WPP Fellowship. A perfect mixture of excitement and disbelief. Sure, the castle might make it seem like a fairy tale. But that electricity? We’ve all felt it. And it couldn’t be more real.

Monica Gojman- TouffouBorn and raised in Mexico City, Monica Gojman graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Communication and Public Service. She won the Eisenhower Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis and was elected graduation speaker for the Annenberg School for Communication. At Penn, she served as President of the Undergraduate Board of the Annenberg School, Vice-President of the Mexican Student Association, Under-Secretary General of the International Affairs Association, Marketing Committee member of Wharton Latino, and a Spanish Tutor at the Penn Language Center.  She currently works as a WPP Fellow for WPP and is spending her second rotation as an International Public Policy and Business Development Adviser in London. A lover of international affairs, languages and cultures, Monica has studied and worked across five different continents. She enjoys salsa dancing, singing, writing, and has a weakness for all-things dark chocolate.

Research employers and improve your job application ROI!

Researching potential employers is a critical element of every job or internship search.  It is extremely important when you need to identify your options, and necessary during the application and interview stage for you to successfully communicate the match between a prospective employer’s needs and your relevant skills and experience.  In fact, it may be the best investment of your time and effort that will simultaneously 1) boost your ability to stand out in a sea of other applicants and 2) give you the confidence to know that you are aiming for opportunities that will be a good fit.

Many of you may be familiar with academic institutions, but there are many other types of organizational settings and structures.  Before you are called to interview, do your best to find out the following about any prospective employer:

  • Mission; product/service: what is the purpose of this company/organization?
  • “Clients” and competitors: who receives the services of this company, and who else is targeting this group with their services?
  • Structure and management, organizational culture
  • Sector: nonprofit, for-profit (private sector), public (government agency)
  • Financial health 
  • The hiring process

Career Services offers several online resources through our library subscriptions pages to help you research potential employers.  You must log in with your PennKey and password to access the subscriptions, which are listed alphabetically.

  • For those interested in exploring industries such as consulting, healthcare, and investment banking, Wetfeet.com and Vault.com are particularly useful.  These reference resources allow you to read overviews of various major industries, discover the “major players” (i.e., biggest, influential companies), and learn more about typical position types within each industry.
  • We also subscribe to ReferenceUSA, which provides contact information as well as specific company data for United States businesses in particular (as well as some Canadian and other international businesses).  If you use the advanced search option, you can get information on credit ratings, company histories, executives’ names, and even the company’s local “competitors.”
  • Finally, for international students, GoinGlobal and H1VisaJobs offer databases which can help you identify the companies who have applied to the federal government recently for H1Visas (this gives you a head start if you know a company is willing to hire international candidates, or is familiar with H1 Visa hiring procedures.)  GoinGlobal also lists salary information for specific job titles – a very helpful tool whether or not you are an international student.

Use networking as a means to find out employer or industry information you can’t get through your online research.  If you are a current Penn student or alumnus/a, be sure to use QuakerNet (Penn Alumni Online Community) to identify alumni who can give you the “inside scoop” on a particular organization or field.  LinkedIn is also a great resource – read these Program Notes to find out how to optimize your LinkedIn experience in your career exploration and job search.

Once you use these resources to research an employer, you will be better able to: connect your accomplishments to the performance criteria that the organization is seeking; identify the most important skills, qualifications and experiences that are in demand in a given industry; assess an organization’s potential workplace needs and how you can contribute given your work style; show how your goals match those of the company (given its mission, size, structure, and market specialization).   And in communicating all the above, you will greatly increase your chances of getting job offers!

If you have any questions or would like some guidance in how to use these resources in your career exploration and job search, please connect with a career advisor.  You can find information on how to do that here:

A Summer at the U.N.

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This blog is by Benjamin Fogel, CAS ’17

fogel2I had the incredible opportunity this summer to attend the entirety of the 26th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked for United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organization with Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). My responsibilities included closely observing the progress of the Council, following debate and tracking the resolutions that the Council ultimately adopted or rejected.

Working this summer at the UN was an extraordinary adventure and an invaluable experience. It is not uncommon for students to open a textbook and read about international relations or hear a harrowing tale about the plight of others around the world but to be able to live global diplomacy and speak directly to victims of grave human rights abuses is something that I will never forget. I learned that despite living in the hyper-connected, globalized 21st century, misconceptions about the UN and the world as a whole are ubiquitous. Many common assumptions I held about the world, global politics, and what it means to uphold human rights were challenged during my work and forced me to face those realities.

The highlight of my time at the UN was on June 18th, when, in front of the main session of the UNHRC, I testified on the “Situation of Human Rights in Belarus.” Leading up to my speech, I tracked the discussion in the international community regarding human rights in Belarus by attending numerous meetings sponsored by human rights organizations, various nations and bodies (such as the EU), speaking to human rights activists and victims of human rights abuses from Belarus, and listening to experts on the matter. Hearing the President of the UNHRC give me the floor to speak, seeing delegates from countries around the world turn around to listen to what I had to say and then hearing my voice echo throughout the room was an unparalleled feeling. In that brief moment, I had the power to be heard on the international stage, the responsibility to speak out on behalf of the people of Belarus and was as important as anyone else in the room. It was a glimpse into the real working world of international affairs.

Being at the UN was an eye-opening experience that taught me about the importance of keeping an open mind and the necessity of being adaptable and responsive in order to draw intelligent, comprehensive and honest conclusions about a subject. Since the UN comprises various components of State governments, international bureaucracies and civil society, I was compelled to adjust my perspective in order to fully grasp and comprehend the many working parts of the UNHRC that incorporate its modus operandi. I observed firsthand the discrepancy between the genuine truth and the facade many believe because of coordinated deception or willful ignorance.

I am immensely grateful to the University of Pennsylvania Career Services for supporting this opportunity and me. I will be able to take this experience and the lessons I learned from it and apply it to my future academic and career endeavors. This was surely a summer I will look back on as a significant moment in my intellectual and vocational development.

Ben Fogel testifying before the UNHRC, on June 18th, 2014 on the “Situation of Human Rights in Belarus.”