Andrew Karas has joined Career Services as an Associate Director on the advising team that works with graduate students, postdocs, and alumni of graduate programs. Before joining Penn’s Career Services, Andrew taught introductory writing courses at Yale and Harvard. He holds an AB in literature from Harvard and a PhD in English from Yale. As an introduction, we decided to ask him a few questions:
What did you enjoy most about your PhD program?
I feel very lucky to have attended the program I did. Yale’s English department, and its graduate school more generally, is a collegial, stimulating, and well-resourced place. A real standout for me, though, was my teaching experience. Working with eager, engaged students on interesting material: I’m not sure it gets much better than that. And it’s precisely that kind of personal engagement that I look forward to carrying over to my new position.
What drew you to work as a career advisor for graduate students?
I believe that the skills and experience acquired while obtaining a PhD or other advanced degree are applicable to a wide range of career options, limited only by an individual’s interests and passions. As part of my own career search, I undertook a number of informational interviews (and even some job interviews) in diverse fields. I ultimately decided that I wanted to remain a part of the academic community, and this position clicked as a way to build on my experiences and take on a new challenge.
In what ways has your background prepared you for this work?
My teaching experience is mainly in introductory-level writing courses, where I made extensive use of one-on-one conferences with my students to identify goals for their writing and concrete steps they could take to achieve those goals. Although the context and the audience are different in Career Services, the one-on-one engagement with bright, motivated people remains the same. Also, as I mentioned above, I’ve done a fair bit of both academic and non-academic career exploration myself, so I’ve “walked the walk” in that respect!
What have you enjoyed so far, as you have gotten familiar with Penn?
I’ve enjoyed getting to know my new colleagues in Career Services. They’re a really dedicated group, and together they bring a vast amount of experience, knowledge, and sensitivity to their work with students from across the university. I’ve also enjoyed learning some of the particularities of Penn’s unique culture (though I’m sure there are plenty more things I’ll pick up along the way). For example, my partner and I have tickets to a Penn football game later this fall, but I just recently learned about the tradition of throwing toast on the field after the third quarter. That sounds like something you really have to see to understand!
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
Besides throwing toast onto Franklin Field? I am looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting, passionate people, hearing about their experiences and aspirations, and assisting any way I can as they take their next steps.