Congratulations on Graduation!!! Now, About Paying Rent…

Mylène Kerschner, Associate Director

Congratulations Class of 2017!!!! You have worked so, so hard for this and there is so much to celebrate! You’ve accomplished an amazing thing, and you should be proud. I hope you’re excited about your next steps. (Side note: if you’re still uncertain about those next steps, or need any guidance, Career Services is here! We are open all summer and are happy to meet with you to discuss your path!)

Now, I know at Penn it is especially tempting to compare your post-grad plans with those of your classmates. And of course, you know that your friends who went to Wall Street or to those well-known consulting firms are going to be bringing in big paychecks. By comparison, if you’re working in an industry with a different salary structure or if you’re living in a particularly expensive part of the world, you might have some anxiety about how to make ends meet out in the real world.

First of all, a reality check for those who might be feeling “less than” for not pursuing a career in finance or consulting. Your friends may be earning big bucks, but they are also putting in big hours. Maybe you’re bringing home less week to week, but maybe you’re also paid hourly, and your organization restricts how many hours you can be on the clock so they don’t have to pay out a ton of overtime. Or maybe the actual work you’d be performing in a finance or consulting role seems incredibly tedious to you, and instead you’ve found a role at a non-profit whose mission you’re passionate about with exciting projects and interesting colleagues. But of course on average, non-profits pay a little less than big corporations. Or maybe working entertainment is your dream, and you understand that you have to put in some time performing under-paid grunt work before you can become the next Shonda Rhimes (or go to a lot of auditions before you arrive as Penn’s next Elizabeth Banks)!

For many reasons, your first job out of college might not pay exactly what you were hoping it would. But that’s okay! I’m here to tell you: there is no shame in taking on a second job, especially if you can find one you enjoy. After I graduated from the University of Richmond and started working in Career Services, I still kept working a few shifts a week as a server at a country club. I knew the members, I had a great time with my coworkers, and I liked having a physical job that got me out from behind a desk. I didn’t really have to go to the gym because running around to check on my tables and carrying a ton of plates was a full-body workout. I enjoyed the work itself, it was nice getting a little bonus around the holidays, and let’s be honest: I had student loans to pay off. They weren’t crippling, but I had a monthly bill slated forever, before I’d even purchased a single thing. Those few shifts at the country club gave me some breathing room (and kept me from spending more money because I was busy with work!).

It doesn’t have to be waiting tables. Are you a morning person who likes hanging out at a coffee shop after you purchase your daily chai? Consider working there for a short shift in the mornings and perfecting your foam art.

Find it hard to resist the latest fashion trends? Retail could be a fun option (plus, employee discounts). Prefer something quieter? There’s always freelance work. It also doesn’t need to be something with regularly-scheduled hours. You can find temporary or part-time work through a staffing firm or a temp agency (Check out GoinGlobal’s US City Guides via our online subscriptions page for lists of temp agencies in a wide range of cities) And it may sound silly, but even babysitting can be an easy gig – especially if the kids go to sleep right after their parents head out. You can make money just providing peace of mind to a couple in need of a night out! There is zero shame in getting paid to do what you’d likely be doing at home anyway: scrolling through BuzzFeed’s list of 14 Times the Container Store Went Too Far…how did you even get to this page?

And! Aside from maybe the babysitting, the experiences you will gain in these roles will be incredible fodder for interviews as you advance in your professional life. Dealing with a difficult client? Meeting someone’s high expectations? Managing fifteen different things at a time and finding a way to prioritize? Check, check and check! Boy do you have stories to tell.

Now that last one, “managing fifteen different things at a time and finding a way to prioritize?” That probably sounds familiar to you. You graduated from Penn. You’re a hard worker. You juggled academics and volunteering and clubs and social activities here on campus. Likely, you could work two jobs after graduation and still have more free time than you did when you were living in University City! Except in this scenario, you’ll actually be getting paid for all that hard work!


Endings and Beginnings

Patricia Rose, Director

Cartoon courtesy Jon Youshaei, COL/WH ’13

Another academic year over: how did the time go so fast? For those of you who are not receiving your degrees on Monday, have a great summer. For those of you who are graduating, good luck on your next steps, whatever they may be. For some of you, next year may be an interlude, a chance to catch your intellectual breath, or to undertake a research project, or to do work where you can give back and make a difference. For others, the next step is not short term; it is a first “real” job or another degree program. You may be following your passion, or hoping to find your passion. Others may just be hoping this new job or new course of study won’t be too difficult; they are apprehensive.

In our experience, the shape of one’s career becomes clear only in retrospect. Something that you view as a fill-in-the-gap experience leads to a lifetime of involvement and passion. Something you are convinced will be your life’s work turns out to be not so very satisfying after all. Whatever the case will be for you, know that your Penn education has prepared you well for a world of challenges and change. Careers are iterative and develop not vertically like the proverbial ladder, but in a zig zag fashion. Please know that those of us in Career Services are here to help you, now and in the coming years as you strive to figure out the next step, and the one after that. We believe in you and what you are poised to accomplish. On behalf of everyone in the office, congratulations on your graduation!

The Post-college Juggling Act

Sarah Hastings, Career Adviser

During a recent move, I was reminded of the stressors and challenges associated with the process. It’s true multi-tasking – planning ahead while tying up loose ends. This move got me thinking of my first summer out of college. I was not only moving, but starting a new job, managing significant expenses, and taking on many new responsibilities. Talk about juggling multiple life events at once! For new graduates, the post college adventure is likely both exciting and stressful. There are many life changes occurring in a very short period of time.

It’s important to continue the self-care you practiced during your college years and find balance as you navigate this transition. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

1 – Take advantage of the support and advice from friends and family. Sure, thanks to social media it’s never been easier to stay in touch. However, when you are managing multiple stressors it can feel overwhelming to stop and connect with others. Consider asking a close friend or relative to check in with you periodically. Knowing someone is there as a constant presence can make a big difference as you find your ground and troubleshoot new situations.

2 – Be aware of resources available to you as you make your next move. Knowing where to look for helpful information can save you time and take some pressure offer during stressful transitions. You’ll be able to anticipate next steps and feel more confident that you are making well-informed decisions. The Career Services website is a great place to start. Whether it’s a salary or cost of living calculator or our list of relocation tips, you are sure to find valuable advice and resources.

3 – Stay connected to Penn. There are Penn Alumni Regional Clubs all over the world. While living and working in London after graduation, I connected with my own university’s alumni chapter there and built a network of great people while settling in far from home. In addition to building friendships, I learned great tips on living like a local, the healthcare system, you name it!

Best of luck as you begin this next stage. Wherever your journey takes you, there’s nothing more important than taking care of yourself and having someone, even just one person, be your “go to” as you make your way.

Lessons learned from Penn Relays and the Broad Street Run

Lauren Kemp, Administrative Assistant for the Graduate Students team

This weekend marks the annual return of two of Philadelphia’s most celebrated athletic spectacles, the Penn Relays and the Broad Street Run.  Running makes a great metaphor for life, and with so many of you starting new jobs and careers after graduation, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from these races.  Here are just a few to push you through those first few miles.

Prepare for foul weather

Unfortunately, the forecast for this weekend calls for rain.  This could be a bummer for the unprepared runner, but seasoned veterans are always on the lookout for race day surprises.  Take a page out of their book: know that there will be times when you’ll be faced with stormy skies, and there will be bumps in the road ahead.  Not every day will be rainbows and sunshine, but that’s okay: plan for the obstacles, move on from them, and be grateful for the beautiful moments.

Establish your cheer squad

Many of you will be relocating across the country and possibly around the world.  Even if you’re going to a familiar city, you may be exposed to a new schedule, a new social circle and new responsibilities: it’s important to have your own cheer squad to turn to during these unfamiliar stretches.  Life can get busy, but make sure you maintain those connections to family and friends back home: there’s nothing better than knowing there’s somebody in your corner rooting for your success.

Enjoy the sights along the way

Although there will be many times when you have to sprint (hello, 100m dash and project deadlines), life itself is much closer to a marathon.  And let’s face it: 26.2 miles can get overwhelming if you’re only focused on the asphalt beneath you.  With all that distance to cover, make sure you take some time for you.  Stop and smell the roses (literally).  Visit a new restaurant with friends.  Read a book.  Work-life balance is a great thing to have: give yourself the chance to enjoy special moments outside the office or school.









Sleep is Golden

As a Penn student, you’re probably asking, “what is sleep?”  Sleep may be low on your to-do list, but it really deserves more consideration.  The world’s best athletes, including former Penn Relays participant and Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, make sleep a priority (Bolt himself aims for 8-10 hours of shuteye each night).  “Sleep is extremely important to me—I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body,” Bolt says.  Studies prove that sleep makes us healthier and happier: carve quality time out with your pillow each night.  Your body and mind will thank you.

Find your rabbit…

In running, a rabbit is the athlete who establishes a quick, speedy (yet smart) pace.  Identify your rabbit– a mentor or role model, somebody who inspires you– and turn to her for advice.

…But Set Your Own Pace

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen newbie runners sprint over the starting line at road races, trying to keep even with the pack leaders, until they crash and burn.  It’s great to find inspiration in your peers, and it’s fabulous to chase goals, but don’t feel like you have to match your friends and colleagues step for step.  Constantly comparing yourself to others does you no favors.  Recognize your own values and limits, and stay true to you.


You Won’t Always Meet Your Goal

True story: I once ran Broad Street with full-fledged bronchitis (PLEASE do not follow my example).  I was so focused on beating a time goal that I didn’t take my health into consideration.  Spoiler: I finished the race, but I did so several minutes slower than I had hoped.  One year later, I tried again, and guess what?  I still came up short.  Yes, I was bummed, but I knew that there were other things to celebrate that day (No bronchitis?  Yay!  Free pretzels at the finish line?  Could my stomach be any more thrilled?).  So try not to stress too much if you don’t make that promotion or sign that new client: you will always have a chance to try again.  And maybe your goal will change: that’s okay too.  Your worth is not measured in trophies or medals.


Help Us Tell Your Story

by Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director

gradhatDid you know that over 75% of the Class of 2014 entered the workforce immediately after graduation and that nearly 16% entered graduate or professional school? That financial services, consulting, technology, healthcare, and education were the most popular industries Penn graduates worked in and that medical school and engineering were the most common graduate programs? How about the fact that Goldman Sachs, Teach for America, the University of Pennsylvania and the Boston Consulting Group were all in the top 10 employers of Penn graduates?

We are able to share this data (and lots more!) because of the Career Plans Survey we conduct every year. The data collected allows us to determine many things including average salaries of undergraduates, offer dates, signing bonus amounts, and major employers and graduate schools attended and it is incredibly important. You can check out past surveys on our Career Survey Reports page. (

If you are a senior you should have receive a personalized email with a link to report your career plans. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to complete it. We are very grateful. For those of you who have not yet completed it, please take a few minutes to click on the e-mailed link and fill it out before graduation. (If you need a new link emailed to you simply email Barbara Hewitt ( and we will be happy to resend it.) The survey is only accurate and useful if a high percentage of seniors fill it out, so we encourage all students to complete it. If you are still seeking opportunities, feel free to fill it out now indicating you are “still seeking” and then you can update it in the future once you finalize your plans. Please be aware that individual responses to the survey will be held in strict confidence within Career Services. Data may be shared with the Office of Institutional Research, who will assist in data analysis, but only aggregate data will be reported.