How Penn Prepared Me for Life at IBM

by Miriam, CAS ’11

Graduating from Penn, I was sure that postgraduate life at IBM would greatly differ than my college life. While I was not flying on planes twice a week and accumulating hotel points at Penn, many aspects of my daily life at Penn helped to prepare me for IBM.

Work Hard, Play Hard
First, the “work hard play hard” Penn motto is definitely applicable to IBM. Consultants’ lives are often dependent on client demands which can mean long hours of hard work.  As Penn students, we are required to develop time management and multitasking skills. These abilities will help you manage the sometimes hectic consulting environment. While the work is demanding, the IBM culture also encourages a positive lifestyle. My team achieves this through arranging team outings ranging from dinners, to baseball games, to excursions to Cirque Du Soleil. I found Penn prepared me to be concentrated and serious when the situation called for it, and to be appropriately relaxed during social events which allows for team bonding and relationship building. This is an important aspect in building your network, and finding mentors throughout your time at IBM.

Prepared for the Unpredictable
Additionally, Penn helps to prepare you for the Consulting by Degrees (CBD) program by placing you in an atmosphere that is not always predictable. Going into a new course, you have to be willing to adapt to the teacher’s methodology, and you will similarly work to complement your project manager and team’s working style. Each professor expects you to quickly adapt to the working environment, and pick up on new skills at a rapid pace. Additionally, within every course, you are required to utilize several skills such as researching and synthesizing information and producing a work product from your analysis. These capabilities are critical in consulting. Most importantly, Penn provides you with the confidence that you have the intelligence and ability to gain skills that will allow you to develop a structured solution for a complex business problem.

How to Stand Out
While Penn provides you with an excellent background for the CBD program, there are several things you can do to stand out as a candidate. First, speak to as many IBM consultants as possible. The more you learn, the better you will know if IBM is a good fit for you. Second, practice case studies with your friends and Career Services. Excelling in the case is a great way to show that you can approach complex problems in a structured, logical manner. Third, IBM is a company that thrives on strong leadership and collaboration, so it is very important that you can demonstrate your leadership abilities. Finally, in the interview relax and be yourself, you want the interviewer to want you on their next project!

Day in the Life: Pounding the Pavement – Real Estate in NYC

What do I need to know if I’m moving to New York City?  What is it like to work in Real Estate in one of the largest cities in the world?  Alum John Contrubis posted to @PennCareerDay on Twitter, Tuesday April 10th to answer these questions.  During the week of April 9th we focused on resources to help you prepare for moving to a new city, whether it’s just for a summer internship or relocating for your career.   John has experience in the law and real estate industry, so brings a unique perspective to this subject.  To learn more about John, read his bio below and read his posts from April 10th on our Storify account!

John graduated from Penn in 1988 with a BA in International Relations then, like so many others, attended law school.  His career began as an attorney for Congress, but later took several turns as he pursued other interests.  John’s work went from representing Members of Congress to negotiating contracts on behalf of TV, film and news writers to creating an online market place for filmmakers.  He continued in the entertainment business by producing an educational TV series for NYC.  Later, he became involved in business development in the legal services industry and a start up business.  His lifelong interest in real estate took him on a different path where he is now pursuing a passion in an industry that flows through his blood going as far back as his great grandfather in Sparta, Greece.

As an Associate Real Estate Broker, John works on both commercial and residential real estate transactions.  He primarily works on the sales side, but continues to handle rentals through personal referrals.  His work day varies, but often includes networking, searching for property, finding leads, learning current inventory and incorporating real estate into all aspects of his life.



Day in the Life: Global Client Group at BlackRock

What can you expect as an analyst with a leading investment management firm?  Alissa Eisenberg posted to @PennCareerDay on April 4th, to shed light on this popular question among Penn students and alumni.  Read Alissa’s posts about what goes into her day at BlackRock and the diverse responsibilities that come with her position. Read more about Alissa below, and check out her feed here on our Storify page.

Alissa Eisenberg is an analyst in the Global Client Group at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager by assets under management which were $3.X trillion as of 12/31/2011. She is responsible for supporting BlackRock’s relationships with key retail distributors including wirehouses, regionals, independents and RIA service agents. Alissa’s daily activities span a diverse set of projects, from attending client conferences to compiling strategy presentations on the firm’s partnerships.

Alissa graduated in 2010 magna cum laude from the School of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in Health and Societies. While at Penn, she was President of the Panhellenic Council, Assignments Editor at the Daily Pennsylvanian, Captain of Quaker Girls Dance Team and Co-Producer of CityStep.

Day in the Life: Non-Profit dedicated to Scientific Research

November 7th through 11th focused on Careers in Science.  To aid and wrap up those resources, we are excited to have alum Kelsey Dashiell talk about her career at DebRa of America on Wednesday, November 16th on @PennCareerDay.  She’ll share what it’s like to work in an area that you may not have considered before in the world of science – non-profits work.  There’s more to research in this industry, there are also relationships!  Read more about Kelsey below and remember to follow her on the 16th!

Kelsey Dashiell is a Program Manager at DebRA of America (, the only national non-profit dedicated to funding research into a cure while providing programs and services to people suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).  EB is a rare genetic disease characterized by chronic, painful blistering inside and outside the body.

As Program Manager, Kelsey is responsible for maintaining and evaluating DebRA’s existing programs while developing new ones.  She ensures that services meet patient needs, communicates with families and health providers, and looks for gaps in existing EB care where DebRA could be of aid.

Prior to working for DebRA, Kelsey was an intern at GBCHealth and volunteered in Peru designing health programs.  She graduated from the School of Arts and Sciences in 2009 with a BA in Health and Societies, concentrating in Health Care Markets and Finance.

A Day in the Life: Business Development at a Tech Startup

Technology and entrepreneurship goes hand in hand these days.  What better way to learn about the variety of opportunities available with startups than through a Penn alum? On Thursday, November 3rd we welcome Adam Levin to @PennCareerDay on Twitter to talk about his day in business development at a cutting-edge technology company, Meebo.   Adam’s contributions to @PennCareerDay is one of highlighted resources featured October 31st through November 5th on Startups.  To learn more about Adam, read his bio below and follow him on November 3rd.

As senior manager of Business Development at Meebo, Adam leads a team focusing on audience growth and large scale revenue opportunities for Meebo’s partners. Since joining Meebo, Adam has worked with premium partners and large media networks to help build out key content verticals. Before joining Meebo, Adam spent his summer internship in business school at Silver Lake Partners’ credit hedge where he invested in tech securities. Prior to business school, Adam spent two years working in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs; he specialized in leveraged buyouts and capital markets transactions in the industrials and business services sectors. Adam earned a BA in 2005 from the College of Arts and Sciences where he majored in English and an MBA from Wharton in 2009 with a concentration in management.