Spring 2019 in Career Services Starts With YOU!

We hope that you had a wonderful, relaxing, and restorative winter break. There is nothing like a new semester and a new year to get one thinking of all the possibilities that lie ahead. We also hope that you will include Career Services in your plans as you think about your future. We have lots in store for the Spring 2019 semester including a variety of career fairs which start next week! Check out our Creative Career Fair, Common Good Fair, a new Research Fair, the Spring Career + Internship Fair which spans a variety of industries, our Startup, VC and Data Analytics Fair, or the Penn Design Career Connection Day. Penn students are also invited to participate in several off-campus collaborative career fairs including the All Ivy Environmental & Sustainable Development Career Fair at Columbia and the Greater Philadelphia Teacher Job Fair held in Oaks, PA. Of course, while the volume tends to be lighter in the spring than in the fall, we still welcome employers to schedule on campus interviews in the spring as well as hold employer information sessions, all of which are listed on Handshake.

Do you have questions about how to prepare for career fairs? Create a resume? Wondering how to find a job in the entertainment industry or apply for a faculty position at a university? Apply to medical school? These are just some of the many topics covered in the workshops Career Services advisors will offer over the course of the semester. Explore the events calendar on our website to learn about all of our workshops or RSVP for them by logging into Handshake and clicking on the Events tab at the top.  While you are in Handshake don’t forget to sign up for our specialized industry-based CareerMail e-newsletters so that you will be sure to stay updated about information and events throughout the semester. (To sign up for CareerMail, click on your name in the top right corner of your Handshake homepage and fill out the career interests section.)  With the thousands of job and internship listings in Handshake, you are sure to find something of interest to apply to if you are seeking opportunities!

Finally, if you are just not quite sure where to start, that’s okay! Start by making an appointment to meet with a Career Services advisor. You can request appointments in Handshake by clicking on the Career Center tab at the top of the page. Appointments tend to fill up quickly at the beginning of the semester, but appointment times are added weekly so if you don’t see anything available when you first log in check back in a few days or stop by during our walk-in hours.

Here’s to a great spring semester!

Your Career Fair Checklist

Dr. Joseph Barber, Senior Associate Director

If you want to make the most of your career fair experience, then try to achieve as many of the following steps as possible:

1. Find the dates for our upcoming fairs on Handshake – they are all listed right here: https://app.joinhandshake.com/career_fairs

2. Click on each of the fairs and gently browse the various employers who have registered, or do a more targeted search using filters such as job types, school year, major, and industry.

3. Take some time to think about some of your career fair goals. Are you exploring, networking, looking for information, checking in with employers you have already interacted with, or applying? And yes, you might well have different goals in mind for different employers.

4. Create a list of employers at each fair that you want to connect with. It doesn’t have to be a long list. You may only want to speak to a few, and that is perfectly fine, as it can still be an incredibly valuable use of your time.

5. Now that you have a preliminary list, you will want to prioritize it. You can sort the employers into different industries if you are exploring multiple career paths, and you can identify the employers that you are most interested in, those you are a little less interested in based on what you know, those you want to learn more about, and maybe have a few that you are just somewhat curious about.

6. Here is a really important step – do research on all of the employers you have listed. Look at their website to know what they do and how they do it. Look at the jobs that they have posted on Handshake. Look at the jobs they have posted beyond Handshake (LinkedIn the “careers” page on their website are good places to start). Create a list of smart questions you hope to ask (smart means not questions that can be answered through easy online research).

7. Since you cannot just walk up to a table at a career fair, ask a bunch of questions, and then run off without saying anything, you need to work on the narrative you are going to use when introducing yourself to employers. Make a list of information you want the employer to know about you. Again, this might be different for different employers. Put it all together into a well-structured narrative. Practice your introduction aloud, and do it several times until it sounds and feels natural.

8. Think about what you want to wear. You don’t have to be in a suit, but you still should look professional. Think about which companies are at the top of your prioritized list, and try to dress in a way that their representatives will be dressed at the career fair. For example, representatives from law firms that come to campus looking for PhDs to be patent law specialists typically dress in suits. If you turn up in jeans and a t-shirt, you will create an obvious, visual disconnect.

9. Have a good resume to share. This will usually be a document used as a shared reference for your discussion, rather than the document that is used for an actual application, but it should be good enough to do both. Get your materials reviewed before you go to the fair.

10. When you arrive at the fair, choose one of the employers that is lower down your list of priority organizations to ease yourself into the process – this will help you to practice your introduction one last time, and to get a sense of the timing of the interactions that you will be having with employers at the event. Since some fairs can be busy, the next employer you meet with should be one of your priority organizations.

11. Don’t start by handing someone your resume – start with a strong handshake and good eye contact. All employers have name tags on, and you can even start with a strong “Hello Julie, thanks for being here today…”. Did I mention that your handshake should be strong and confident…, and dry! Find out more here: https://ulife.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/blog/2018/04/04/handshaking-a-guide-to-making-the-right-impression/

12. Introduce yourself, ask some smart questions, share your resume, ask for a business card, and offer to follow-up with an electronic version of your materials. Thank them again, shake their hands, and move on with a smile!

13. Within 24 hours, and if you have their email address from their business cards, send a thank you email thanking them again, telling them why you found your conversation together helpful, and sharing anything that you said you would share. You might learn something about an internship or a job from your discussion at the career fair that makes you want to change something in the general resume you took with you to the event in order to better highlight your fit for a particular position.

14. Make sure you apply for specific jobs you talked about at the fair through Handshake, and some companies will need you to apply through their websites too.

15. Celebrate your successes. Think about what went well from the fair, and plan to improve on what didn’t go so well when it comes to the next career fair you go to. There are quite a few of them each semester. An appointment with a career advisor can help with this.

Good luck with your networking and information gathering, if these are your primary goals for your career fair experience, and make the most of your conversations to update your application materials if you are actively applying for positions.

Managing Career Fair Jitters: First-Gen Stories

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Assistant for the College Team

Career Fair and recruiting season here at Penn is fast approaching! I remember quite vividly my own experience first attending a Career Fair as a student. I was a first-generation college student and throughout my time at school, I was lucky enough to have supportive mentors that I could turn to for guidance when needed. However, this did not ease my anxiety any less when it came to the idea of walking around a crowded gymnasium, in an uncomfortable suit jacket (which I did not own), talking to strangers about why they should hire me.

The night before the fair I remember pacing around my room practicing my 30 second pitch and also stressing about what to wear. After pulling everything out of my drawers, I decided that I had nothing that would work and that is when panic wave #2 set in. I thought to myself, “Well, Alyssa, this is a sign, looks like you aren’t going to the career fair tomorrow.” Luckily, I worked my way through that ball of stress, and my roommate graciously offered me options from her own closet to choose from.

By the time the fair rolled around I felt as though I had been through every emotion, but I also felt confident going into the day. I had prepped my resume and I felt as though I had a firm grasp on what I was going to say to employers that I met. Let’s be real though, career fairs are intimidating. You are surrounded by your peers in a packed room, all trying to impress recruiters who you hope will offer you a job. I am happy to report that I made it through the event and even left feeling good about the connections that I made throughout the day!

This time of year can be stressful, which is why Career Services tries its hardest to offer as many opportunities as possible to prepare for fairs and upcoming recruiting events. In addition, we are so excited to be offering the Quaker Career Wardrobe again this year! Come see us on Thursday, September 7th from 10:00-3:00pm down in the On-Campus Recruiting Suite to pick out a free professional outfit that you can keep! We are also offering many Career Fair Prep workshops leading up to the events this semester to don’t miss out on those!

Career Fair Prep Workshop, Friday, September 8th 3:00-3:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 11th, 12:00-12:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 25th, 1:30-2:00PM | McNeil Room 97

And, if you can’t make any of those, check out our podcast on Mastering Career Fairs. It is okay to feel overwhelmed during this time of year, but know that Career Services is here to support you throughout!

CS Radio: “Episode 34 – Career Fairs x3”

Our hosts a reunited and it feels so good! It’s week of career fair madness at the University of Pennsylvania!  Michael and Mylène cover what to expect at the Creative & Common Good Career Fair, the Start-Up Fair and the Spring Career & Internship Fair!  Learn what to bring, how to dress and how to interact with employers in the moment and after.  Plus, the usual rundown of what else is happening this week!

Enjoy!