Plumbing 101 – some thoughts on branching career pipelines

Dr. Joseph Barber

The following paper was recently published in the journal “CBE – Life Sciences Education”:

“Improving Graduate Education to Support a Branching Career Pipeline: Recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences” (find the article here)

The authors summarized the key results from this study:

  • Students’ career preferences change strikingly during the first 2-3 years of graduate school (when students join a lab full-time), and the primary change is a decrease in interest for becoming a PI at a research-intensive institution.
  • By the 3rd year of graduate school, 33% of UCSF graduate students would choose a non-research career path.
  • Students list a variety of reasons for deciding against becoming a PI in an academic setting.

And they list the following implications of the data:

  • We as a national scientific community need to refine our definition of a “successful” doctoral student to explicitly value those who pursue non-academic, and non-research, career paths.
  • The timing of students’ career decisions (and their low confidence in these decisions) suggests that universities should place greater emphasis on career education within the curriculum, and target students earlier in their graduate training.
  • Career education would optimally assist doctoral students in understanding their career options, identifying career paths that provide a best fit, and developing the professional skills needed to succeed in these diverse careers.

Read the full paper to get a better sense of what this research revealed. If you have questions about your own career pipeline, and whether it will branch or not, and when it might do so, then stop by Career Services to set up an appointment to meet with an advisor. You can ask us about career alternatives, and attend the Biomedical & Life Sciences Career Fair to see what opportunities exist for yourself. For more on “leaky pipes” in the sciences, see this blog post.

A Day in the Life: Environmental Engineer

We had another successful year at our annual Engineering Career Day on September 15th.  As a follow-up to the career fair, we’re excited to have our next alumni contributor on Twitter’s @PennCareerDay highlight one of many possible paths for our students and alumni with engineering backgrounds.  Rakesh Shah will post on Wednesday, September 21st on his career as an environmental engineer in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, which began in 1978. Read about Rakesh’s background below, and remember to follow him on @PennCareerDay on the 21st!  *Please note, he will be posting from India, so please consider the time difference.

Rakesh started in the field of environmental engineering in 1975 while he was  earning  his Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  His interest  in this area began thanks to a research study trying to establish a method for removal of Sulphur Di Oxide from flue gases.   Fortunately, after completing his degree, he had an opportunity to work with a US based company dealing with removal of “Hexavalent Chromium” from their wastewater stream.

Rakesh’s experiences helped him recognize the importance of environment related issues and happenings that were likely to surface in the future.   Subsequently, when he returned to India  he decided to gain and develop expertise in the field.   This in turn led to establishing a company to provide environmental engineering and related services to organizations, industries and institutes in India.  Developing the company in a new field of activity (which was not generally even heard of then) required a lot of convincing and presentation to industry as well as regulatory authorities.  At the same time, developing staff / personnel to an adequate level of expertise and delegation of work required immense managerial input.  His training and experiences in the USA and specifically at the University of Pennsylvania allowed him to have a successful career.

Capitalizing on the Career Fair “Love” Connection

By Claire Klieger

So you meet a great employer at a career fair (perhaps the spring career fair this past Friday) and it’s love at first handshake—sparks fly, resumes and business cards are exchanged and you feel like you’ve really made a connection. But just like coming down from the high of a great first date you ask yourself, now what? How do I follow up? Do I wait for him to call?  Do I email? Who initiates the next move? Just like a budding romance, it’s about finding that balance between demonstrating interest and not coming off as desperate. Here are some tips and things to remember when following up with employers after a career fair:

Email a thank you note

Even though hand-written notes are wonderful (and all too rare these days), recruiters who attend career fairs are likely to be on the road a lot so sending them an email is much more efficient and guaranteed to get to them promptly. So, email a note (ideally within 24 hours of the fair).

Err on the side of being more formal

After a first date you probably aren’t ready for someone to start addressing you as “Babe” and many employers won’t feel that you know them well enough to refer to them by their first name. Unless during your initial conversation a recruiter specifically asked you to call him or her by their first name, still use a formal greeting (“Dear Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.”). Also, use formal language. Avoid slang, acronyms (TTYL!), or emoticons 🙂 because they just aren’t professional.

What to say…

An email to an employer should be relatively brief but detailed. Reiterate your interest in the organization and remind the recruiter of details you discussed at the fair. “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me at the Penn Career Fair on Friday. As I mentioned when we met, I’m really excited about this internship because as a health and societies major, it blends my interest in healthcare and communications. In particular, I enjoyed hearing about the kinds of projects that past interns have had a chance to work on and believe my leadership role as publicity chair for my sorority will enable me to…(reference what you will be doing in the position)”

Show that you really listened

You know how impressed you are if someone you’re interested in remembers something you mentioned (like a book you read that you enjoyed), unless, of course you have a stalker and then it’s just creepy. The same holds true for recruiters. If there was advice or information that a recruiter gave you at the fair (a professional association or recruiting website to check out), thank them for making that suggestion and show that you followed up on their advice. “Thanks so much for recommending ______. I spent some time looking at it this weekend and it’s a wonderful resource which I think will really help me….”

How long is too long?

It’s important to provide some details about your conversation so the recruiter has a way to remember you specifically but you don’t want your email to be too long. Remember that recruiters are really busy and don’t have much time so they want to be able to get through your message quickly. Ideally, it should be a couple of (2) SHORT paragraphs. I think a good rule of thumb is whether or not the entire text of your message can be seen when the message is opened on a regular computer screen. If the recruiter has to do scrolling, it’s probably too long.

Not getting a response doesn’t necessarily mean they “just aren’t that into you”

While some recruiters will respond to individual emails not everyone is good about replying. Don’t assume that if you don’t get a response that the recruiter isn’t interested in you as a candidate. They may just be too busy. That said, if it’s been more than a week since you initially emailed, it’s fine to follow-up with a second (even shorter) email saying that you’re really interested. If you’ve applied for an opening in the interim, you can say that you’ve done that and look forward to the possibility of discussing the position further during an interview. After that second follow-up if you still don’t receive a response, it’s time to back off a little (remember, being labeled a stalker on the job market is no better than in the dating world). The “ball” is in their court and they will get back to you if (and sometimes only if) they are interested. Remember that all employers are on different timelines so it may take some time to get a response.

The Spring Career Fair is Today!

Don’t forget: The Spring Career Fair is today from 11:00am – 3:00pm!  The fair will be in Bodek Lounge and Hall of Flags (both levels!) in Houston Hall.   Remember to swing by with lots of copies of your resume and your PennCard!

Please note that this event is open only to current Penn students and alumni.  For information about who we serve, please click here.

Take a look at the amazing list of employers who will be on hand!

EMPLOYERS BY INDUSTRY & POSITION TYPE (FT: fulltime, I: Internship, PT: Part-time)
The following employers are registered to attend Friday’s career fair.A career fair

CBS Interactive (FT, I)
Insight Global, Inc. (FT)
Initiative (FT, I)
J&L Marketing (FT, PT, I)
Madison Square Garden (I)
MediaCom (FT, I)
Razorfish (FT, PT, I)
Time Inc. (I)
University Directories (I)
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (I)
Zipcar (PT, I)

Aon Hewitt (FT, I)
Argus Information & Advisory Services (I)
Corporate Executive Board (I)
Maximus (FT, I)
Navigant Consulting (I)
Opera Solutions (FT)
PriceSpective LLC (FT, I)
Princeton Consultants (FT)
Prudent Infotech (FT)
ZS Associates (FT, I)

Diversity Internship Recruiting

Breakthrough Collaborative (I)
Center for Talented Youth – Johns Hopkins University (PT, I)
China Education Initiative (FT)
EducationWorks (FT, PT)
ESF Summer Camps (FT, I)
ISN International Student Network(FT,I)
MATCH Charter Public School (FT)
Revolution Prep (FT)

Bentley Systems, Incorporated (FT, I)
First Quality Enterprises, Inc. (FT, I)
InterDigital (I)
Schlumberger (FT, I)
Tyco Electronics (FT, I)
Freudenberg North America (FT, I, Fellowship)
Illinois Tool Works (FT)


Environment America (FT)
Green Corps (FT)

Aflac (FT)
Bloomberg (FT, I)
Canon Financial Services (FT, I)
Capital One (FT, I)
Eze Castle Software (FT)
Fredericks Michael & Co. (FT, I)
Harding Loevner LP (FT)
Hudson Housing Capital (FT, I)
Independence Financial Associates (FT)
Jane Street (FT, I)
M&T Bank (FT, I)
Morgan Stanley (FT, I)
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (FT, I)
Revolution Prep (FT)
SMB Capital (I)
Spot Trading LLC (FT)
Street Solutions Inc. (FT, I)
Two Sigma Investments (FT, I)
Travelers (I)

Government/ Public Administration
Air Force Officer Programs (FT)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I)
Concepts & Strategies (Defense) (FT)
Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support (FT,I)
Grassroots Campaigns (FT, I)
Maximus (FT, I)
Peace Corps (FT)
U.S. Department of Labor (FT, PT, I)
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (FT, I)
U.S. Navy Officer Programs (FT)
U.S. Marine Corps Officer Selection Station

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (FT, Fellowship)
InstaMed Communications (FT, I)
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (FT)

Aflac (FT)
New York Life Insurance Company (FT)
Travelers (I)

China Education Initiative (FT)
Contact Singapore (FT, I)
International SOS (FT, I)
ISN International Student Network(FT,I)

Nonprofit/Public Service
AmeriCorps VISTA (FT)
City Year Greater Philadelphia (FT, I)
Congreso de Latinos Unidos (FT, PT)
Environment America (FT)

Nonprofit/Public Service (continued)
Grassroots Campaigns (FT, I)
Green Corps (FT)
Peace Corps (FT)

Retail/Consumer Products/Hospitality
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (FT, I)
Apple Inc.  (Apple Store Leader Program) (FT)
Campbell Soup (FT)
General Mills (FT, I)
Hillstone Restaurant Group (FT, I)
Lord & Taylor (FT)
Mars Inc. (FT, I)
The TJX Companies, Inc. (FT, I)

Alcatel-Lucent (FT, I)
Bloomberg (FT, I)
CA Technologies (FT)
CBS Interactive (FT, I)
Comcast Converged Products (FT, I)
comScore Inc. (FT, I)
Eze Castle Software (FT)
First Quality Enterprises, Inc. (FT, I)
Harding Loevner LP (FT)
InterDigital (I)
Microsoft Corporation (FT, I)
Prudent Infotech (FT)
Razorfish (FT, PT, I)
Stone Ridge Technology (FT, I)
Street Solutions Inc. (FT, I)
Tyco Electronics (FT, I)
WANDL, Inc. – Wide Area Network Design Laboratory (FT)
ZL Technologies, Inc. (FT)

P.J. Fitzpatrick, Inc. (PT)
Zipcar (PT, I)

Love Is In The Air….or maybe not quite yet!

By Barbara Hewitt

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many of you are probably thinking about roses and chocolates from your significant other, but those of us who are career counselors have been having lots of conversations with students wondering “Why haven’t I received that perfect internship offer yet? Where’s the love from all those prospective internship employers?”

On-campus recruiting can give a distorted perspective of the typical timing for internship offers. The myriad of financial services, consulting, and other (mostly for-profit) firms that visit campus each spring often  are pretty far ahead of the general population in terms of conducting interviews early in the spring and getting internship offers out quickly – often by mid February. These offers generally focus on students in their penultimate year at Penn (a.k.a. juniors) so that they can extend full-time employment offers to interns after the summer if it truly is a love match. However, what about employers in all those industries which don’t actively participate in on-campus recruiting like nonprofits, government entities, smaller firms, communication agencies…the list goes on. What about sophomores? When do they typically receive offers?

The answer is – often later in the spring. It is important that students interested in interning this summer start the process soon (or continue looking if you haven’t received an offer yet)…but it is just as important to realize that it’s not too late to find some amazing opportunities. When we look at data on when sophomores at Penn (all schools) received internship offers for Summer 2009, the most common month was April (coming in at 30.6%). Another 20.6% received offers in May, 7.1% in June, and 1.3% in July. In fact, only 23% of the sophomores received an internship offer by the end of February in 2009 (and today we are only midway through the month!).

It’s also helpful to know that sophomores found their internships in a wide variety of ways. Networking was very helpful as 30.2% found their internships through a contact. Other methods for landing internships included applying directly (26%), non-OCR Career Services resources such as career fairs, iNet and PennLink (18%), OCR (5.1%), websites (4.8%), returning to a previous employer (4.8%), participating in a special program such as SEO or Inroads (3.5%), and the catch-all “other” (7.4%).

If you’ve already started the internship search, keep moving forward with it and perhaps add some new search methods suggested above. If you haven’t started the search, jump in now if you want to intern this summer – it’s not too late! Be sure to check out all of the resources we have available on the Internships part of our website.  Also, don’t forget that nearly 100 employers will be at Penn this Friday for our Spring Career Fair. Many of them have internship opportunities available.