Career Exploration Parallels to Downton Abbey


Like millions of Americans, I’ve been completely seduced by the intrigue, romance, verbal sparring and fashion of Downton Abbey and am so excited that season three is finally here. And when you work in career services, you can’t help but see parallels between just about any show you watch and the job hunt. And apparently, this time I’m not alone since PBS has just launched a “Which Downton  Abbey Job is Right for You?” quiz, which is actually quite well done.  This quiz obviously plays off of one of show’s strongest themes: Finding one’s appropriate role in an ever changing society. downton3Since I lack Lady Grantham’s gift for barbed wit, I’ll refrain from attempting any cute one-liners in this post but this is a struggle that most of us share with the characters of Downtown Abbey.

Most Penn students and alumni I see want to find careers that are rewarding but many don’t know where to start. A great first step is thinking about your values–what’s important to you in a workplace or job as well as your own personality traits and strengths. Do you favor an environment which depends upon you to be entrepreneurial and have creative spirit or are you happier in a more structured and traditional environment? Today we are very fortunate to live in a world where you have many more options and choices than the characters of Downton but that can also be overwhelming. Here are some other lessons learned from Downton Abbey that also will help you find a career path that is right for you.

Continue reading “Career Exploration Parallels to Downton Abbey”

A Day in the Life: Advertising

On September 22nd, we welcomed Suresh Nair from Grey Group to discuss careers in advertising.  To continue to learn about this path and the range of opportunities available, we will feature Justin Ching, SAS ’11, to @PennCareerDay on Twitter on Wednesday, September 28th. Justin has been with Google since July 2011 and  will discuss what his day is like working in advertising with this leader in technology. Read more about Justin below, and remember to follow him on the 28th!

Justin Ching graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2011 as an Urban Studies Major.  During his time on campus, he was Director of The Excelano Project, Penn’s premier spoken word poetry collective. In between school years, he interned in Integrating Marketing and TV Research for Disney|ABC Television Group. Justin now works for Google Inc. as an Agency Strategist for their Global Advertising division.  Most recently, Justin has also taken a role as a Project Lead for Google TV Marketing.

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.

Exploring Careers? Check the Obituaries…

One exercise I have seen suggested in career counseling books and workshops is that to learn what really matters to you, you should try writing your own epitaph.  The idea is that you can see what you want to be remembered for, and as a result become more focused in your career exploration and job search.

I know it sounds creepy, perhaps this blog might have been better timed in a month for Halloween, when talk of the dead and the undead is more socially acceptable. But I will venture forth in sharing a Sunday ritual I have had for years (not eating eye-of-newt, I promise):  I sit down in the morning and pore through the Sunday New York Times Obituaries.   As a career counselor, I have always found the profiles of people in their long career spans to be very compelling.  I can’t think of a better place to learn about the variety of careers available, nor to really illustrate the varying roles of fate, of ambition, of goals achieved and how unanticipated experiences have changed the course of people’s lives. When you read obituaries you also see how a personality, for example a style of leadership or capacity for empathy, can play a huge role in the nature of someone’s achievements.

While reading the obit articles can be sad because the lives described are at their ends, it is also thrilling to be reminded how much people can accomplish for society in how many ways.  If you are currently exploring your options, this is an unconventional, but inspiring approach to learn about the world of work.  These are some of the people profiled this week:

Entertainment/Communications Careers

Founding Force of the Big East Conference

Gavitt harnessed the burgeoning power of televised sports coverage with his nascent league to produce a powerful conference.

Man Who Shaped Miniature Golf

Mr. Lomma and his brother Alphonse are widely credited with having shaped the game’s familiar postwar incarnation

Painter and a Creator of Pop Art

Mr. Hamilton, whose sly, trenchant take on consumer culture and advertising made him a pioneering figure in Pop Art, was known for his cover design of the Beatles’ “White Album.”

Political Careers

Leader in Gay Rights Fight

Mr. Evans helped form and lead the movement that coalesced after gay people and their supporters protested a 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar.

Antiwar Leader in 1960s

Mr. Oglesby led Students for a Democratic Society as it publicly opposed the Vietnam War, and his speech “Let Us Shape the Future” is considered a landmark of American political rhetoric.

Charles Percy, Former Ill. Senator

Mr. Percy was a moderate Republican who clashed with President Richard M. Nixon over the Watergate scandal.

Education Careers

Man Who Fought Standardized Tests

Dr. Perrone’s ideas on flexible teaching methods led to a loose network of public alternative schools in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Cultural Musicologist

Christopher Small, a New Zealand-born writer and musicologist who argued that music is above all an active ritual involving those who play and listen to it

Judge and a Scholar

Mr. Asch, a judge with a Ph.D. in sociology, wrote scholarly works about civil liberties and made notable decisions about landlord-tenant law and gay employment.

Hi Tech Careers

Early Chronicler of Video Games

Mr. Kunkel helped start the first published gaming column in 1978, and later the first video game magazine.

Pioneer of E-Books

Mr. Hart began the digital library Project Gutenberg after a July 4 fireworks display, when he typed up the Declaration of Independence and made it available for download.

Builder of Cargo Container

Mr. Tantlinger is credited with creating, in the 1950s, the first commercially viable modern shipping container, which changed the way nations do business.

And, for the thrillseekers…

Daring Italian Mountaineer

Mr. Bonatti was a member of the Italian team that conquered K2 in northern Pakistan

Air and Land Daredevil

Ms. Skelton was a three-time national aerobatic women’s flight champion when she turned to race-car driving, then went on to exceed 300 m.p.h. in a jet-powered car.

What do you want to be remembered for?  I’ll close with a quote from my colleague John Tuton: “…our society focuses so much on the outward trappings of success like salary and possessions when folks are alive, but I’ve never seen a dollar sign on a tombstone.”

A Day in the Life: Technology Analyst/Software Engineer

@PennCareerDay on Twitter, our day in the life feed, is back!   As we kick off OCR and Career Fair season, we hope that you’ll tune into @PennCareerDay to learn about the potential paths available to you – and keep coming back as we’ll feature a variety of careers all semester long.  On Thursday, September 15th we welcome Luke Kopakowksi (C ’09).  Luke will highlight one of the many paths  available in investment banking – technology. To learn more about Luke, please read below and don’t forget to follow on Twitter!

Luke Kopakowski is a technology analyst at Barclays Capital in New York City.  He started at Barclays with a summer internship in 2008 and then joined fulltime after graduating from Penn in 2009 with a B.A. in Physics.   He went through the year and a half grad program at Barclays Capital, rotating through 3 divisions for 6 months each.  Now, after 2 years at Barclays, he is a software engineer for the cash equities division and works mostly with java, web development, unix/linux, excel and databases/SQL.   His team manages, develops and improves a complex software system that calculates fees associated with Barclays Capital’s equities trades.