Location, Location, Location

by Pat Rose, Director of Career Services

Everyone who has ever done any house or apartment hunting knows the old saw that the most important three things to consider are location, location, and location.  The same is true for job hunters.

For example, you may need to stay in a particular city or town because you want to be near family, or because you are part of a dual career couple, or because you couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.  Fair enough.

But some of you may be a little more flexible.  You may want to focus on your career, and will go where the jobs are.  If you are in this category, I urge you to read a recent Forbes article,  “The Easiest and Hardest Cities for Finding a Job.

This article presents a study that compared jobs posted in the 4th quarter of 2010 with a salary of $50,000 or more in different U.S.  metropolitan areas.  While the methodology might be a little flawed, the comparative results are telling.  The easiest place to find a job is San Jose, CA, which had a whopping 126 job postings per 1000 of  population.  Second was Washington, D.C., with 116 openings per 1000 citizens.   At the other extreme, New Orleans had just 10 postings.  Tied for second lowest were Buffalo and Rochester, with 11 per 1000.

Of course there are explanations.  Washington, D.C. has the job engine of the federal government.  San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley, where tech firms are hiring.  In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article names the top 50 start ups.   Eight of the top 10 and 35 of the 50 were based in California, most in the Bay area.

Our economic recovery is uneven geographically.  Don’t lose sight of this as you look for your first, or your next,  job.  Remember, it’s all about location, location and location.

Guest Perspective: Advice From A Recent Grad

by Sara Fleisher, W ’09

While studying marketing and management as an undergraduate at Wharton, I was never quite sure where I would end up after graduation.  I thought about going into advertising, retail, project management, marketing, management consulting – anything and everything in those related fields. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to explore each and every one of these areas through Penn Career Services’ career fairs and information sessions.

It was during Career Link in the fall of my senior year that I first discovered Rosetta. It was a smaller company that I hadn’t really heard of before, but the work they were doing really resonated with me. It was the combination of consulting, marketing, and agency work that won me over. Following Career Link, I attended the Rosetta information session in Huntsman Hall where I had the opportunity to speak more one-on-one with some consultants. Talking to current employees allowed me to get a feel for the culture at Rosetta, which I have since learned is a major reason why it is a great place to work. Before I even had the opportunity to interview, I knew Rosetta was the place for me.

After an on-campus interview and then a super day of interviews, both case and behavioral, I received my offer from Rosetta. With very little hesitation, I accepted and eagerly looked forward to starting in August 2009.

In my 16 months since starting at Rosetta, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of clients – B2B, healthcare, etc. and projects – strategy, marketing campaigns, quantitative and qualitative research, database building, and product and sales rep tracking. New opportunities and projects constantly pop up, always keeping me on my toes. I have also planned and participated in many internal projects including holiday parties, happy hours, and enhancing our staffing and career development programs. Activities like these foster a strong culture and make working at Rosetta even more enjoyable.

If I could offer any advice to those undergraduates planning their future careers, I would firstly say utilize Penn Career Services as much as you can, not only for career fairs, but for resume and career guidance as well. I would also recommend talking to current employees at whatever companies you are considering (and even some you aren’t), as they can give you the best view into the culture, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction at the firm. Lastly, choose a company like you chose Penn: a place where you can see yourself growing and succeeding in a comfortable environment.

Nonprofit Careers: Making a Living While Making a Difference

By Kelly Cleary

Sometimes students talk to career counselors as if they were making a confession.  We often hear “I don’t want to be a doctor (or lawyer)” in almost a whisper so their parents in Long Island or LA can’t hear them. But sometimes, instead of a whisper, it’s a confident voice accompanied by averted eyes, as if to say, “I know this is crazy but…,” coming from  a student who has made up his or her mind, but isn’t sure how friends and family will take the decision. She wants to join the Peace Corps, he wants to write a screenplay, she wants to go to culinary school, or he wants to do conservation work in Alaska.  In any case, I love meeting with these types of students because instead of committing to a future career they feel lukewarm about, almost guaranteeing themselves a future case of the Sunday evening blues, they’ve identified something they really care about and enjoy. The next step is simply (or not so simply) helping them find a way to make a living while pursuing their passion. Pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector can be one great way to pursue your passion while making a living.

Yes, you can support yourself and make a living while working for a nonprofit. It’s true salaries in nonprofits tend to be quite a bit lower than salaries in the for-profit and even government sectors, but once you’ve reassessed your budgetary needs (Netflix is probably cheaper than cable; cooking is healthier and cheaper than ordering out; having a roommate means more money in your pocket, etc.), you can quickly realize you can make ends meet. And often, once you’ve proved yourself as a competent professional in a nonprofit, especially if you work for an organization that offers tuition assistance for graduate school, your salary will increase. All the while you’ll be supporting a cause you really care about, working with people who care about the same issues, and usually having a pretty great work-life balance.

For more information about pursuing a nonprofit job, attend tomorrow’s workshop:

NONPROFIT CAREERS 101 workshop (Wednesday, November 17, 5:00-6:00pm, Civic House Living Room)

This event is designed to help you better understand the non-profit sector and assist you in navigating the job search in the public interest. The session will demystify some of the myths about careers in the public interest as well as help you better determine which job opportunities to pursue, and how best to go about attaining them. The session will also introduce you to resources both on campus and the web. (CO-SPONSORED BY CAREER SERVICES & CIVIC HOUSE)

For additional information about nonprofit careers read the The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-time Job Seekers or  The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers. Also, keep an eye out for several nonprofit-related career fairs co-sponsored by Career Services in Spring 2011 including the Not-For-Profit Philadelphia Fair, the Not-For-Profit & Public Service Fair at Columbia, and the Philadelphia Nonprofit Fair co-sponsored by Idealist.org.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone Can Enhance Your Career Prospects

By: David Ross

Comfort. In theory, we have the tendency to gravitate toward things we are comfortable with or perceive as known commodities. Sure, it can be easy to stick with what you know and focus on perfecting your craft until you have your routine down-pat. Given this inclination, sometimes we can forget the importance of stepping outside of our comfort zone and the possibilities that go along with that.

At some point in time, we may have contemplated our career trajectory – enamored with those visions of assuming positions with greater responsibility and oversight. Perhaps you have a schematic or plan of your career direction. But have you stopped to think about how you will move from one opportunity to the next? Are you working on expanding and enhancing your existing skill set to prepare yourself for the future and new opportunities? Avoid falling into the trap of assuming that just because you’ve “put in your time” or “paid your dues” that you will seamlessly progress or move on to a more challenging role with additional responsibility. Don’t focus solely on obtaining the years of experience for the role you seek, but carefully consider the additional skills and qualifications needed for that desired position.

Whether you work as an intern or maintain part-time or full-time employment, think about the things you are comfortable with in your job, consider the tasks you struggle with and challenge yourself. Seek opportunities to stretch or expand your skill set and knowledge. Volunteer for projects or assignments unlike everything you’ve grown accustomed to – the more you develop your skills and abilities, the more flexibility you have to assume different employment opportunities in the future. Be confident in your ability to learn something new and trust that you are prepared to grow.

Remember, “new” and “different” is not always bad. When working outside of your comfort zone, you may surprise yourself and accomplish things you never would have imagined while simultaneously enhancing your career opportunities.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Mayor McCheese

by J. Michael DeAngelis

Have you ever stopped by my desk at Career Services? If you have, I bet you’ve said to yourself: “Man, that guy has it made. He’s got a nice desk with lots of little toys on it, a zillion electronic gizmos plugged into his computer and nice comfy chair with more adjustable levers than I can identify. Yes, that Michael DeAngelis must have the greatest job in the world.” It’s true – I have a really great job, one I enjoy coming to every day. Yet, unlike many of my colleagues I consider Career Services to merely be my “day job.”

Yes, much like Bruce Wayne/Batman, I lead a double life. By day, I’m your friendly neighborhood Career Services staff member, but by night, I’m an actor and a playwright. My degree and my training is in the theater arts, and I consider that to be my true career path. As many students in the arts know, it’s not an easy field to break in to, let alone support yourself in. Like many theater grads, I knew I would do whatever it took to stay afloat, even if that meant taking a non-theater day job.

But just because you’ve decided to take a day job, it doesn’t mean you have to end up working for this guy:

"Do you want fries with that?"

Here are a few tips that might help you, if you are considering taking a part time or full time job outside of your ultimate career path that doesn’t involve anthropomorphised hamburgers:

1. Try and find a job where your skills and training can be applied in a different way. For example, though I don’t typically write plays as part of my career services job, I do get to have a lot of fun writing these blog entries! This is what we refer to as a transferable skill. Your liberal arts education has given you lots of them – think about what you can bring to the table in a unique way.

2. Look for a job that will allow you to pursue your ultimate career goals. For me, Career Services is a steady 9-5 job on weekdays, which gives me my evenings and weekends to take theater jobs. Leaving work and heading right to a rehearsal or performance can lead to very long days, but also very exciting ones.

3. Be honest and up front about your goals. I don’t mean you should walk around looking like you’re going to quit the minute Hollywood calls, but let people you work with know about your “other life.” First and foremost, it’s the polite thing to do. Second, you never know what opportunities it will open up to you. Perhaps you’re in the fine arts. When it comes time to design a new company logo, you could be the first person they call! My colleagues have become not only supporters of my goals, but also my fan base!

4. Remember that your day job is still your JOB. If you are lucky enough to work someplace where you can pursue other goals on the side, it is your responsibility to be a productive and valued employee. It can sometimes be tricky, but I never allow my theater work to interfere with my day job. If you have a job with flex time and vacation days, use them to your advantage when juggling your second career. If it becomes too difficult managing a day job and a “night” job, it might be time to reevaluate. This is something we can help you with in Career Services.

There is a vast array of opportunities out there waiting for someone like you. Don’t rule out job possibilities just because they don’t fit squarely into your planned career. Stick to your goals, but don’t be afraid to explore jobs that are outside your set career plans. One day, as you’re accepting your Oscar, Grammy or Pulitzer, your colleagues will shout “We knew you when” and your blog posts will become instant collectibles! (The Collected Career Services Blogs of J. Michael DeAngelis out this fall in bookshops!)

And you’ll never have to say “Do you want fries with that?”