End of a Semester, and an End of a Career

Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

For most of you, your semester is ending soon, with final classes, papers or exams. Then it’s off for a summer of more study or an internship or a research opportunity or perhaps travel. But for some of you, this is it. You are graduating. Even if you have made your plans, you may face the future with some trepidation. Major life transitions can be scary, despite how excited you are about your first full-time job, your fellowship or your graduate program.

I too am facing a major life transition. After almost forty years of working at Penn, most of it in Career Services, I am retiring later this summer. I first came to Penn as a graduate student 45 years ago. It has been a joy and a privilege to study here, to work with such great colleagues, and to get to know generations of Penn students. I have reached a point that the sons and daughters of students I knew years ago are now themselves Penn students. (Too soon for grandchildren to arrive!)

Donna Shalala, former cabinet secretary and university president, once said that women stay in jobs until they no longer like them. Men are more willing to move on, even when their jobs are going well and still enjoyable. Maybe this is why I never left. I have enjoyed my job almost every day for all these years. My wish for you all is that you find a job and a career that are fulfilling and meaningful. Sigmund Freud notably said, “Love and work… work and love, that’s all there is.” May you find work with a purpose as well as love. To all the students and alumni I have gotten to know, thank you, for giving meaning to my work. Best wishes for continued success to you all!

Seasons and Career Transitions

By Sharon Fleshman

Leaves in Fall Color on GroundMy favorite seasons tend to be spring and summer. There is something gratifying about the warmer weather as well as seeing the sprouting of new life and the manifestation of trees and flowers in full bloom.   However, I am particularly drawn to autumn this year.  As I walked behind Steinberg-Dietrich Hall last week, I noticed the beauty of a stream of leaves floating to the ground, almost like raindrops in slow motion.  In the past, I have focused on the falling leaves as a loss of sorts, and it is.  Yet there is also the sense that seemingly barren branches have made room for something new.  And so it goes with seasons.

As seasons and transitions go hand in hand, careers can experience a similar dynamic as well.  If you are conducting a job search with a particular goal in mind, you may need to make room for a different result than anticipated.  You could be exploring the possibility of a new role, industry or context, whether by choice or necessity.  Perhaps you are simply seeking a new paradigm with which to do your current work in a fresh way. Whatever transition you are contemplating, you can facilitate the process in a number of ways — reflecting on past experience, casting vision for the future, conducting informational interviews, speaking with mentors, or meeting with an advisor at Career Services.