Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search) – REVISITED

By Claire Klieger

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how my experience visiting the newly opened Harry Potter World at Universal Studios over spring break (yes, I fully embrace my inner dork) resembled the frenzy of the spring internship search.  Since we’ve been seeing lots of students worried that they are “late” in the internship search game recently, it seemed appropriate to revisit this blog with some updated stats on when students actually get offers (spoiler alert: it’s not when you may think). Enjoy!

Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, "Mecca."
Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, “Mecca.”

…Since that section of the park was so new, our strategy was to get to the park as soon as it opened, hoping to miss some of the crowds. However, when we arrived we realized everyone else had a similar idea because the place was packed. Luckily, as the day wore on, the crowds really thinned out and we ended up having almost no wait for the HP Experience (fantastic!) or other rides. And, despite being warned to expect a two hour wait at The Three Broomsticks for lunch, we just waltzed right in and were able to be seated immediately (for the record, butter beer isn’t as tasty as one would hope).

Why regale you with old stories from my geeky spring break? It turns out that the internship search season can feel much the same way. Everyone thinks gee, I have to get started really early or all of the “good” opportunities will be taken. And there is the similar early semester frenzy of OCR. But the truth is that lots of really fantastic opportunities don’t become available until later in the semester. Most students don’t find out about their summer plans that early. In fact, hot off the presses, the summer 2012 survey data shows that for freshman and sophomores across all schools, 52% received their offers in April or later. Or, in other words, only 22% of freshman and sophomores receive their offers before March. While it is true that some industries tend to make offers earlier (financial services peaks with internship offers in February), many do not typically make offers until later. For example, for internships in both communications and with non-profits, the peak time period for offers was April. For more details on timelines for offers, summer salary trends by industry and more, check out our newly posted summer survey reports for additional details.

Continue reading “Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search) – REVISITED”

Finding an internship in a nonprofit organization

If you’re considering a career in the nonprofit sector, you are not alone. There are over 1 million nonprofits in the U.S., employing about 10% of the work force. Nonprofit organizations are driven by a cause rather than by making a profit. People often think of nonprofits as youth centers and soup kitchens, but they also include religious institutions, universities, hospitals, trade associations and unions, and museums. A great way to learn if a nonprofit career is for you is to try it out for yourself by interning or volunteering in one. Last summer, 13% of The College students interned in a public interest, social service, or cultural organization and an additional 37% worked for an education, healthcare, or government employer. (Career Services Summer 2011 Survey)

There are many ways to find a nonprofit internship and you should use multiple methods to increase your chances.  The pie chart below shows how students found out about their nonprofit internship last summer.

If you’re looking for an internship in a nonprofit this summer, you may start with some of these resources below. As you go through the internship search process, also feel free to consult with a Career Services counselor who can help you tailor your search to your goals.


  • Penn Internship Networka listing of Penn students who have volunteered to speak with others about their summer internships:  
  • Penn Alumni Career Network (PACNet) – a database of Penn Alumni who have volunteered to be contacted with career-related questions. Although it is not appropriate to ask PACNet advisors for jobs, they can provide a wealth of information on career fields and employment outlooks.

 Online Job Sites

  • – Listings of domestic and international opportunities (full time, internships & fellowships) with non-profits.
  • Opportunityknocks.orgOpportunity Knocks is the national online job site focused exclusively on the nonprofit community.
  • Career Resources by Field on the CS website – With information on, links to, and speaker/panel notes on careers including: nonprofit, philanthropy, policy, think tanks, social services, government, politics, environment, advocacy, education, and international development
  • CS Online SubscriptionsPassword sites like:,,,,,
  • Riley – On Nonprofits, Foundations & ThinkTanks

Other Career Services Leads

  • PennLink -Penn’s Online Job Search System and On Campus Recruiting.
  • iNet – Online Internship Search System with consortium of universities across the country.

Special Programs at Penn

The Just in Time Hiring Season is Here

Are you just starting to think about what to do next summer, or after graduation? Perhaps you have been too busy with your academic work, your activities, your part-time job to do very much of a search. Or perhaps you‘ve done all the prep work and have just been waiting for the hiring cycle to begin for the industry you want to join. Well wait no more. If you do nothing else this month, attend our Spring Fair, which will be held this Friday, February 17 in Houston Hall. Over 100 employers will be attending, and the fair will run between 11:00 and 3:00. Every year numerous students find positions at this event: bring copies of your resume.

This fair has a broad range of employers. Whether your interest is in media/entertainment, consulting, public service, health care or technology, this is the fair for you. And for the first time, we have a “fair within a fair” for start-ups. Over 20 will be here, all rapidly growing, filling full-time and internship positions. There are opportunities for technical and non-technical candidates, in (among other cities) New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago. Find out what all the excitement is about in the start-up ecosystem. Don’t miss Career Services’ Spring Fair.

“I’ll never get a job!” – Cognitive Distortions, A Career Short List

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a theory and practice of psychology that focuses on how we think and perceive our world, and how these perceptions can change our experiences.  This field has identified common mistakes people make (more information from Wikipedia here.) These types of thinking errors are called cognitive distortions.

I want to write about cognitive distortions as they relate to your career.  You would not guess how many times I have heard a student say “there are no jobs in my field” or “it is impossible to find an internship now” – something along those lines. Of course, the student and I both know that the statement is generalizing, may even be hyperbolic.  Yes it is hard to find work, but are there NO job openings whatsoever, even since the economic downturn in 2008?  I haven’t met a single person who would take their own emphatic statement as the full truth.

So what’s wrong about making an exaggerated exclamation?  Well… the problem is that we often start to believe our own distortions, or use the feeling associated with them to guide our behavior.  Even if you know there are SOME jobs out there for you, if you go with the feeling such a statement might generate or enforce (frustration, helplessness) you are bound to stop trying when in fact, persevering in your networking or other job search efforts might be the name of the game.   My suggestion is to be aware of the messages you convey to yourself – think about if they are helping you, or may be making things worse.

Below are a few statements that may seem familiar, the cognitive distortion involved (From: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.), and an alternative that might be more helpful:

“I am so frustrated – there are no jobs in my field.” Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.” Possible alternative: “I feel frustrated right now.  I am going to focus on sticking to my strategy and getting some support from Career Services.”

I can’t believe I messed up that one question at the interview, I am sure that ruined my chances of getting to the second round.Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.  Possible alternative: “My answer to that one question kind of stank, but the rest of the interview went pretty well.  I need to practice in case I get that question again.”

“If I can’t become a professor I am going to have to wait tables – what else is there for PhDs?” All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Possible alternative: “I don’t know what I am qualified for besides being an academic; maybe I should explore my options.”

“Nothing came of my contacts at that career fair, I don’t know how I am ever going to get a job.” Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. Possible alternative: “That career fair was a disappointment, so I am going to look into other strategies for my job search.”

“I still haven’t heard back regarding the job application. I must have done something wrong.”  Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible. Possible alternative:  “There are many factors that affect a hiring decision, I wonder if they need more time to decide or more information from me.”

When you are job searching, as in other parts of your life, your attitude can affect your outcomes.  Make sure you are serving yourself well when you reflect on your own thoughts and behaviors.  If you are interested in learning more about cognitive therapy and working on cognitive distortions, I suggest you read books by Dr. David Burns, Dr. Aaron Beck, and learn about the work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy .