Career Lessons from Buddy the Elf

By Dr. Claire Klieger

‘Tis the season for holiday movies on tv, pretty much 24-7. One of my favorites is Elf. So, in the spirit of the season, here are some career takeaways from Buddy himself:

“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.” Remembering to smile, especially in interviews, can shift the whole tone of the exchange. Similarly, smiling when you first meet someone in a business meeting helps to put them at ease. Smiling in a professional setting really should be your favorite!


“I’m a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.”Admitting when you’ve made a mistake and taking ownership of it in the workplace goes a long way, especially when you can identify an issue when there is still time to correct it.

“So, good news—I saw a dog today.” Try to focus on the positive, both in your work place and in your job search. Taking stock of those “small wins” even in the everyday will power you through the more difficult days.


“I’m in a store and I’m singing!” Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and stretch yourself from time to time. Take on a new project, learn a different skill, be willing to explore a career path outside of Penn norms.

“You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody!” Ok, so what makes this hilarious in the movie is that he’s celebrating mediocrity and every coffee shop in New York’s claim to have the greatest cup of coffee. That said, taking time to acknowledge others’ genuine successes is really good way to build rapport in the work place.

“I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.” Persistence, whether it’s traveling to find your human dad who lives in the Big Apple when you’ve been raised by elves at the North Pole, or on the job search, on that big project at work, is a great quality sure to serve you well.

Happy Holidays from all of us in Penn Career Services!

Plenty to be Thankful For

In one of my favorite movies, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby sings  “I’ve got plenty to be thankful for…..”  (This movie is an oldie but a goodie with a happy ending….rent it one night, relax and enjoy!)

With the words of his song going round in my head, I thought it was appropriate to stop a moment and think of my own blessings.

I am especially thankful for a wonderful husband and our two sons and daughter-in-law-to-be who are healthy and happy young people, energetic about their lives, work and studies, with great futures before them all.

I am thankful for a roof over my head and food on our table, even more this year after watching the damage dealt by Hurricane Sandy.  There are many who are not able to enjoy their traditional turkey dinner at their own table because of the damage done to their homes, or even worse, injury to their loved ones.  I wish them good speed in their recovery and return to the daily routine of their lives. (If you can, send a little something to your favorite charity to help our neighbors get back on their feet.)

I am thankful for the comfort of a recovering economy where more and more people are having success in finding jobs, keeping jobs, and acquiring better jobs.  (Visit us in Career Services next week for assistance with your own career goals.)

Continue reading “Plenty to be Thankful For”

Leap Day

Sue Russoniello

Today, February 29, is Leap Day.  It’s an extra day added every fourth year to allow for the earth spinning on its axis to catch up with the calendar hanging on our wall.

I’m sure most of you have seen the movie Leap Year.  It’s a modern day comedy based on the old myth that said on Leap Day a woman can propose marriage to the man of her dreams, and the man must accept it.   Some of you may have friends or relatives born on the 29th of February, who joke about celebrating their birthday only once every 4th year…..a disaster in a child’s life (Mom, no birthday party this year?!?) but a great thing once you arrive at the age when you would be just as happy to stop counting birthdays.

Since you’re reading this on the Career Services blog, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I suggest we consider Leap Day from the Career Services perspective.  It’s mid semester –papers, mid-term exams, job searches and recruiting are in full swing.  Seniors and grad students soon to finish your schooling are chugging away on your thesis or final papers.  You’re also sending out resumes or CV’s, looking for a post-graduation job.  Some of you are waiting to hear if you are accepted to graduate or professional schools.  Underclassmen, you may be looking for a summer job or internship that will enhance your resume.

How does this relate to Leap Day you wonder?  Well, why don’t you think about this day set aside for the world to catch up as an extra day in your life, as well – a 29th day which you didn’t have last February and you won’t have the next few winters.  Aren’t we always saying “There’s never enough time in a week…..” or “Where did the day go?” Consider today to be found time.  Take advantage of this extra 24 hours and do something special with it.  Go back to that to-do list and do something on it.  Spend time researching industries and organizations that might be a good match for your skills and interests.  Schedule some informational interviews with Penn alumni who might give you some good advice related to your search. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor to review your progress or schedule a mock interview to improve your interviewing skills.  Seize the moment, pick up that phone and do something special related to getting ahead!

Whatever you end up doing, feel good that you accomplished something extra today and get a jump (or a leap) on the rest of your life.

Happy Leap Day!

Winter Break is Here!

Career Services will be closed from 2pm on Friday, December 23rd until 9am on Tuesday, January 3rd.  We wish all of our students, postdocs and alumni the best of the season and a very happy new year.

Remember that you can find lots of information on the Career Services website and on this blog to help you make the most of your winter break, including information about our new mobile version of PennLink.  We’ll see you in 2012!