The Stars Aligned

By Monica Gojman, ’12

“And that’s where David and I met” I distinctly remember her telling me.  She gazes through the window, a nostalgic sparkle glittering in her eyes, as she points towards the castle’s centuries-old wrought iron gate.  There’s a charge in the air at Château de Touffou that is almost contagious; an energy that pulsates with a mix of meaningful tradition and creative potential. All of us, the other WPP Fellows and I, along with a range of mentors, group executives, clients and Herta’s special guests, sit around the castle’s majestic fireplace listening to the most inspiring woman I have ever met tell her story.  I should mention that by David -she meant David Ogilvy, the man behind Ogilvy and Mather (and her late husband).  We were all completely starstruck. I remember watching the flames crackle in tandem with my excitement as I finally let it sink in: I actually get to live here for a week!

My senior year at Penn I found myself asking: what can I do with degrees in communication, public service, marketing and psychology? Perhaps it was my destiny to sell politicians. Indeed, after completing my public policy thesis, I felt like I could conquer the world. But I had no idea where to start. As a student from Mexico City, my job search was heavily constrained by limitations placed on hiring international students- something that many of my extremely talented Quaker friends faced as well. Yet I was also waiting to find a job that would inspire the same passionate zeal I felt (and still feel) for Penn when I first strolled through campus. And that’s when I found the WPP Fellowship.

As the leading and largest marketing communications company in the world, WPP presented an offer I could hardly imagine anyone refusing: the opportunity to spend three years in a global leadership rotational programme, working across three different operating companies, industries, and even continents. The best part? Fellows get to craft their own journey, choosing out of the 3000 offices and 110 countries in which WPP operates. There were no OCR interviews, cover letters, citizenship requirements or questions about how many pencils fit inside a swimming pool. The application centered around telling a story- your own personal one – in a compelling, creative and sincere way. Oh, and there was also the small detail of standing out against more than 2000 applicants worldwide for only 8 coveted spots. But somehow – after months of essays, interviews, and a final round in London- the stars aligned. I fortuitously managed to become a WPP Fellow. And the rest is history.

One year I was in New York working as a strategist for a top global tech client watching my campaign come to life –and the next I was in London advising top-level decision-makers on the political economy of Latin America and potential growth drivers of the region. Every day of the Fellowship has brought me an incredibly diverse set of challenges and opportunities, most of the time in completely foreign settings.  Penn taught me how to thrive in multidisciplinary and cross-cultural environments, and WPP has given me the chance to turn theory into practice within both.

So there I was, in the middle of my WPP Fellowship training at Ogilvy’s castle in the South of France, wondering how a job like this even exists. It wasn’t too long ago that I interned at Ogilvy and Mather as a Sophomore at Penn. Little did I know then I would have somehow landed in this grand dinning room, watching a meticulously- planned five-course meal unfold in front of me. But I didn’t even notice the food. How could I when I was sitting next to an Olympic silver-medalist on one side, and an accomplished neuroscientist on the other? And those are just two of the WPP Fellows. The privilege to be sitting among them, listening to their stories, is an opportunity I cherish every day.

Remember that electric charge we felt when walking through Locust? Or when we entered The Quad for the first time? Its exactly the same feeling on the WPP Fellowship. A perfect mixture of excitement and disbelief. Sure, the castle might make it seem like a fairy tale. But that electricity? We’ve all felt it. And it couldn’t be more real.

Monica Gojman- TouffouBorn and raised in Mexico City, Monica Gojman graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Communication and Public Service. She won the Eisenhower Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis and was elected graduation speaker for the Annenberg School for Communication. At Penn, she served as President of the Undergraduate Board of the Annenberg School, Vice-President of the Mexican Student Association, Under-Secretary General of the International Affairs Association, Marketing Committee member of Wharton Latino, and a Spanish Tutor at the Penn Language Center.  She currently works as a WPP Fellow for WPP and is spending her second rotation as an International Public Policy and Business Development Adviser in London. A lover of international affairs, languages and cultures, Monica has studied and worked across five different continents. She enjoys salsa dancing, singing, writing, and has a weakness for all-things dark chocolate.

Money, Money, errr…, Money?

Dr. Joseph Barber

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a funding version of LinkedIn, where you could provide details of what you wanted to be funded (e.g., you, your travel, your research), and then connect directly in a personal, one-one-one kind of way with relevant groups, organizations, or even individuals who had money they wanted to provide. Let’s call this wonder-website that doesn’t yet exist “FundIn”. Using this made-up FundIn website, and once you had created your personal and professional narrative on the site, you might even be approached by people who stumbled upon your profile, who see the great potential in your work, and who reach out to you to see if you would like to be funded. FundIn would be a melting pot of grant and fellowship seekers, professional associations, non-profits, foundations, private institutions, businesses, crowd-sourcing ventures, and philanthropists.

Talking of funding, surely venture capitalists would want to provide funding to this FundIn site because it would offer something that doesn’t currently exist, a one-stop shop for people seeking funding, and for entities trying to fund the best and most worthy individuals and groups. It would save everyone significant amounts of time. Since we all know that time = money, then FundIn would be an enterprise that is itself worth funding. Join me for a second in picturing this rosy future where FundIn is up and running, where researchers, scholars, and non-profits are easily finding the funding opportunities they seek, where there are thriving networks of people seeking funding connecting with those who have successfully received funding so that they can learn from any best practices, and where I have an enormous house somewhere in the vineyards of California funded by creating and bringing into existence FundIn

OK…, well that’s enough daydreaming. Let’s get back to the real world and figure out what you can do in this reality to navigate the rather more complicated and time-consuming process of seeking funding – a process that unfortunately doesn’t result in me having a large house in California…

A good starting point for your funding search are the funding pages on the Career Services website. You can link to the main funding page directly here. There is lots to see and do on this page, and we encourage you to explore these resources in more detail. You will find a couple of databases of funding sources – these are a good starting point for your exploration. Since the world of funding is a changeable one (money comes and goes, deadlines change, and so on), make sure you confirm any details you find in these databases by double-checking the details on the website of the founding source itself. We wouldn’t want you to miss any deadlines! Additionally, you will want to check out the online subscription we have to The Grant Advisor by visiting the online subscriptions page of the Career Services website. And don’t forget we also have some real, touchable, reference books in our Career Services library relevant to funding opportunities for you to look at. Stop by one day and browse some of these resources – while you are at Career Services you can drop in for walk-ins or make future appointments to speak with an advisor about seeking funding (or any other career-related topic) – and that’s not a bad way to make good use of your limited time!

Career Services works in partnership with the Graduate Student Center on many different types of programs – including one on “Navigating the Grant”. You can find previous funding presentations given at the GSC-organized Navigating the Grant conference here.

It is helpful to know what the different sources of funding are

• University (Department, School, student associations; student government)
• Professional associations
• Private foundations/individuals
• Advocacy organizations

…and what is typically funded:

• Types of research: humanities, social sciences, interdisciplinary research…
• Types of people: minorities, women, researchers from certain countries or backgrounds…
• Types of activity: travel, dissertation completion, fieldwork…

…because you don’t want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to finding the right source of funding for you. Look to your networks to find out what funding sources your peers and other Penn alumni have found. Connect with people who have already been awarded the fellowships and grants you are seeking, because they can offer you great insights into the process, and can talk about how they made a convincing argument to be funded. And above all…, always take the time to talk with grant coordinators and administrators. They are knowledgeable about every aspect of the process, and can tell you what types of proposals usually get funded, and even offer advice about how you might put forward the most compelling submission.

Remember…, the reason FundIn will be such a successful social networking platform (when someone decides to develop it) is that it connects individuals like you not only with information about funding opportunities, but also with the people connected to the funding sources (administrators, previous awardees, grant coordinators). It is the combination of knowledge about the different sources of funding that you can research, and the specific advice you can get from actual people (who can answer your specific questions) that will increase your chances of securing additional funding.