Congratulations on Graduation!!! Now, About Paying Rent…

Mylène Kerschner, Associate Director

Congratulations Class of 2017!!!! You have worked so, so hard for this and there is so much to celebrate! You’ve accomplished an amazing thing, and you should be proud. I hope you’re excited about your next steps. (Side note: if you’re still uncertain about those next steps, or need any guidance, Career Services is here! We are open all summer and are happy to meet with you to discuss your path!)

Now, I know at Penn it is especially tempting to compare your post-grad plans with those of your classmates. And of course, you know that your friends who went to Wall Street or to those well-known consulting firms are going to be bringing in big paychecks. By comparison, if you’re working in an industry with a different salary structure or if you’re living in a particularly expensive part of the world, you might have some anxiety about how to make ends meet out in the real world.

First of all, a reality check for those who might be feeling “less than” for not pursuing a career in finance or consulting. Your friends may be earning big bucks, but they are also putting in big hours. Maybe you’re bringing home less week to week, but maybe you’re also paid hourly, and your organization restricts how many hours you can be on the clock so they don’t have to pay out a ton of overtime. Or maybe the actual work you’d be performing in a finance or consulting role seems incredibly tedious to you, and instead you’ve found a role at a non-profit whose mission you’re passionate about with exciting projects and interesting colleagues. But of course on average, non-profits pay a little less than big corporations. Or maybe working entertainment is your dream, and you understand that you have to put in some time performing under-paid grunt work before you can become the next Shonda Rhimes (or go to a lot of auditions before you arrive as Penn’s next Elizabeth Banks)!

For many reasons, your first job out of college might not pay exactly what you were hoping it would. But that’s okay! I’m here to tell you: there is no shame in taking on a second job, especially if you can find one you enjoy. After I graduated from the University of Richmond and started working in Career Services, I still kept working a few shifts a week as a server at a country club. I knew the members, I had a great time with my coworkers, and I liked having a physical job that got me out from behind a desk. I didn’t really have to go to the gym because running around to check on my tables and carrying a ton of plates was a full-body workout. I enjoyed the work itself, it was nice getting a little bonus around the holidays, and let’s be honest: I had student loans to pay off. They weren’t crippling, but I had a monthly bill slated forever, before I’d even purchased a single thing. Those few shifts at the country club gave me some breathing room (and kept me from spending more money because I was busy with work!).

It doesn’t have to be waiting tables. Are you a morning person who likes hanging out at a coffee shop after you purchase your daily chai? Consider working there for a short shift in the mornings and perfecting your foam art.

Find it hard to resist the latest fashion trends? Retail could be a fun option (plus, employee discounts). Prefer something quieter? There’s always freelance work. It also doesn’t need to be something with regularly-scheduled hours. You can find temporary or part-time work through a staffing firm or a temp agency (Check out GoinGlobal’s US City Guides via our online subscriptions page for lists of temp agencies in a wide range of cities) And it may sound silly, but even babysitting can be an easy gig – especially if the kids go to sleep right after their parents head out. You can make money just providing peace of mind to a couple in need of a night out! There is zero shame in getting paid to do what you’d likely be doing at home anyway: scrolling through BuzzFeed’s list of 14 Times the Container Store Went Too Far…how did you even get to this page?

And! Aside from maybe the babysitting, the experiences you will gain in these roles will be incredible fodder for interviews as you advance in your professional life. Dealing with a difficult client? Meeting someone’s high expectations? Managing fifteen different things at a time and finding a way to prioritize? Check, check and check! Boy do you have stories to tell.

Now that last one, “managing fifteen different things at a time and finding a way to prioritize?” That probably sounds familiar to you. You graduated from Penn. You’re a hard worker. You juggled academics and volunteering and clubs and social activities here on campus. Likely, you could work two jobs after graduation and still have more free time than you did when you were living in University City! Except in this scenario, you’ll actually be getting paid for all that hard work!


Permission to Take a Break

Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director

Keyboard with Coffee Break button, work concept
Keyboard with Coffee Break button, work concept

Let’s face it – it’s been a really busy fall for just about everybody, but especially those of you who have been doing what sometimes can seem like the Herculean task of being both a Penn student and also looking for a post-graduate or internship position. (And that’s not even mentioning the hours that most of you devote to clubs, activities, work study jobs, sports and many other endeavors!) We just finished a Career Services staff meeting and the career advisors uniformly felt that this has been one of the busiest semesters we can remember. With the move of on-campus internship recruiting to the fall, we not only met (and coordinated interviews for!) hundreds of seniors pursuing post graduate options, but also many juniors and sophomores seeking internships. There certainly hasn’t been much down time for either staff or students this fall.

We’ve heard from many students who have happily finalized their plans and have been able to step back from their job and internship searches to now focus on the many other things on their “to do” lists, but we’ve also been hearing from students feeling high levels of stress and fatigue at this point in the semester. It can be demoralizing to devote extensive energy and effort to attending employer events, writing cover letters, and donning suits for interviews, just to feel that it was all for naught if you haven’t yet landed an opportunity about which you are excited.

As I watched the Presidential election results come in late Tuesday night, I experienced what felt like a similar sense of stress. We’ve all been “living” the campaign on a daily basis for more than a year and many people had strong feelings about who they hoped would win. While some were elated with the outcome, many others came away with a sense of devastation. In both the election and our job searches, no matter how hard we work, we can’t guarantee the outcome, which can lead to even higher levels of stress, as “working harder” cannot always guarantee the desired outcome. A sense of uncertainty was certainly heightened for many people this week.

If you are experiencing this stress, either due to career related activities, the election, or some other circumstance, we in Career Services urge you to take the time to care for yourself. With the end of the semester almost upon us, give yourself permission to step away and take a break from job search activities for a few weeks, focus on your academics, and renew your energy and spirit. Use the Thanksgiving and semester breaks to reinvigorate yourself, and start 2017 with a new sense of optimism and energy to begin a new chapter.

And, of course, when you are ready to begin again, come see us. We are here to support you in exploring and achieving your career goals.

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.

Being Mindful at Work

by Sharon Fleshman, Senior Associate Director

Earlier this year, I posted an article called Pressing the Pause Button which offered some guidance on how to regroup and refocus during times of overwhelm.  Given the abundance of emails in my inbox and the constant allure of technology, I am challenged to follow my own advice. As I realize how overrated multitasking is, I have been drawn to the practice of mindfulness, which has emerged as a practical way to experience more fulfillment and productivity in the workplace.  In their Harvard Business Review article, How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter note that:

“Two skills define a mindful mind: focus and awareness. More explicitly, focus is the ability to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment, while awareness is the ability to recognize and release unnecessary distractions as they arise. Understand that mindfulness is not just a sedentary practice; mindfulness is about developing a sharp, clear mind.”

I see mindfulness as an intentional way to pause, pay attention, and be present in the moment, which are vital to producing high quality work, connecting well with colleagues and clients, and maintaining a healthy rhythm of work, recreation and rest.

Below you will find several articles that speak to the importance and impact of integrating mindfulness in the context of work. As you read them, consider how you can put one or two concrete practices into your everyday life this summer.

10 Ways to be More Mindful at Work

Putting Mindfulness to Work

The Essential Resource We’re All Wasting

Career Resources for Students with Disabilities

Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director 

Searching for a job or internship can be daunting for everyone – but can be even more so for individuals with disabilities.  Questions about when and if to disclose a disability or how to ask an employer for an accommodation are very personal and often have no simple answers, but happily there are many resources available to help you through the process. 

Lime Connect ( is one of the premier organizations working to assist students in this area and “rebrand disability through achievement”.  Check out their website ( to read their blog and also find specific opportunities from employers actively seeking to interview and hire students with disabilities. By the way, Lime reports that 90% of disabilities on campus are invisible – including ADD, dyslexia, depression, medical conditions and many others – and all individuals with disabilities are encouraged to take advantage of The Lime Network. 

There are also lots of resources closer to home! If you are a Penn student with a disability and have career-related questions, please schedule an appointment with a career services advisor ( serving your particular school.  We are happy to help you with all the various steps which go in to the career development process (career exploration, career decision making, preparing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, etc.). Our services are of course confidential so feel free to share any concerns you might have related to a disability.  We also offer a variety of links on our Resources for Students with Disabilities webpage ( and maintain a listserv to which we post career-related items particularly relevant to Penn students with disabilities.  If you would like to be added to this list, please send an email to Barbara Hewitt at and she will be happy to add you!