Ready or Not, Internship Season is Here

Welcome back. If you are hoping to find a career-related internship this summer, it’s time to get started. Here a couple of thoughts to keep in mind:

  • If you are particularly interested in exploring a field, this summer is the perfect time to do so. If it turns out to be a good fit, you can explore for permanent employment next year. If you don’t love it, better to find out after a brief summer experience, so you can re-focus your energies for full-time positions.
  • Be aware that whatever you do this summer could lead to a permanent job offer for 2013. In some fields, the majority of full-time positions go to interns from the previous summer. If you are interested in such a field (investment banking is one example, but there are others), be sure you take advantage of the internship process, both OCR and other offerings (Spring Fair on February 17, internship listings in PennLink and iNet).
  • Remember that for employers in many fields, there is no OCR, and there may not even be a formal internship program. You will need to network to learn about opportunities. The first place to start is your personal network, but for most of us, that is limited. Be sure to use PACNet (the Penn Alumni Career Network) and the Penn Alumni LinkedIn site to connect with a broad range of alums who are working in a huge range of fields and professions. Ask them to share their expertise, and benefit from their advice.

Are you ready for the internship search process? If not, get started now. Those of us in Career Services are here to help you take advantage of all the career-related resources Penn has to offer. We will work with you as you sort out your options, now and in the months ahead. Good luck!

How to spend all day looking for a job

I recently took a ten-week break from work to take care of our newborn baby.  During this time, I was mostly at home with no schedule but with a lot to accomplish and work to do around the clock. Day ran into nights. Weekdays ran into weekends. I missed work because those days lacked structure.  I felt like I was getting nothing done.

If you’re like me, and you’re looking for a job having just graduated or left another job, your days might feel like this. On the one hand, you know that it’s common for students to land their internships and jobs in the summer. On the other hand, you find it hard to honestly devote huge chunks of time to the job search without a schedule of classes to go to and an imminent deadline to make.  So, rather than making a phone call to a contact first thing in the morning, you push it off until later. When you get all week to send out a cover letter, you might take a whole week to write it. And maybe you spend too much time perusing online job boards because it’s easier than writing that cover letter or making that cold call.  If this sounds familiar, I sympathize with you.

So, how can a job seeker actually spend a full day job searching when you’re home and can be watering plants, doing laundry, and surfing the web? How can you follow that often-heard advice to treat the job search like it is a job? I don’t have all of the answers, but let me offer two suggestions based on what I’ve learned in the last three months.

Schedule. For many people seeking discipline, it is important to establish a regular schedule. For a job seeker, your day might involve getting up at 7 am, going for a run, sitting down at 8:30 am to read up on industry news and post one relevant thing to LinkedIn or Twitter. Since you feel most social in the morning, you then make some phone calls to companies or contacts, maybe do an informational interview. Afternoon might be quiet time. Perhaps you write your cover letters then. In the evening, you go out and meet a contact for coffee or volunteer at a gathering of your professional association.

Of course, above is just an example, and you have to figure out what kind of schedule fits you. You can multi-task if that’s your style or consciously vary your routine. Or you might join a job club, volunteer a few hours each day, etc. The point is that having a schedule will save you time and prevent you from surfing the web for job listings all day.

Space. During my maternity leave, I talked with many telecommuters and self-employed people in the neighborhood and their strategies for getting work done from home are applicable to the job search. One thing they stressed was the importance of having a separate space for working. You need a place to go to everyday to carry out your routine. This can be a desk, the basement home office, the dining room, a coffee shop (though not recommended for making phone calls to contacts). Having a dedicated work space will help you concentrate, discourage disruptions from others, and keep your home and work life separate.


Not everyone needs a schedule and space to do their job search productively, but if you are having trouble focusing during the day, I would take a look at these two things first. And don’t forget to give yourself a break, too. Spending a few hours in fresh air might be just what you need to reenergize your job search.

It’s Not Too Late

Classes end tomorrow, and exams loom next week.  If you are one of the students who has decided to put off the internship search until after the semester ends, the time for you to get busy draws near.  With luck, you have already given thought to what you might like to do, and where you would prefer to do it.  If not, schedule an appointment with one of our counselors, who can help you get started.  He or she can review your resume, if you haven’t yet prepared one, and can make sure you are taking full advantage of PennLink and iNet, our online internship platforms.

Internships continue to be posted into June.  And surveys from last summer show that, for example, a quarter of College students found their summer position in May or after, while another 28% accepted their position during this month of April.   So if you haven’t already done so, get started.  Believe me when I say, it’s not too late.

Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search)!

By Claire Klieger

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

I just got back from a trip to Orlando for, among other things, the express purpose of visiting the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter (yes, I embrace my inner dork). We got to Universal early thinking we might miss some of the crowds just to find them all packed into Potter portion of the park because it turns out we had all had the same not-so-bright idea. However, 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 actually that tasty even if it was fun to drink it. Why regale you with stories of 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 2010 survey data shows that for sophomores, over 70% did not receive an internship offer until March or later. 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 the College and Wharton.

So don’t feel like just because spring break has come and gone and it feels like the semester’s end is approaching faster than you could eat a chocolate cauldron cake from HoneyDukes (which, as I deliciously discovered, is pretty fast) that you don’t have options. Now is the time when new internships in a variety of fields are being posted daily. It’s time to get back on PennLink, iNet and other internship search tools because great things are still out there. If you want help getting your internship search back on track, touch base with us in Career Services.

Just for fun, here are other ways your internship search may resemble the theme park experience:

Warning! Those with heart conditions should not ride – the search process itself can be very stressful so it’s important to remember to pace yourself and break the search into more manageable smaller tasks.

Beware unexpected bumps in your internship search!

Approximate wait time: variable – Sometimes you may hear back about an application with surprising speed and at other times the wait can be a long time and often there is no way to predict how long it will take. Makes you wish there was a “fast pass” for internship offer news, doesn’t it?

Attraction Description: This is a high-speed ride that includes sudden and dramatic acceleration, climbing, tilting, and dropping. You will be turned completely upside-down several times. Your search will often feel like an emotional roller coaster, filled with unexpected turns, some good, some bad, some (possibly) terrifying but if you’re buckled in correctly, even if you are compelled to scream at times, the search will hopefully come to fruitful and joyous conclusion.

What should freshmen be doing with their summer?

Most Penn freshmen have just settled in on campus before their in-boxes get flooded with emails about different opportunities. So, I am not surprised that freshmen are often concerned about what they should be doing over the summer.

For some students, the summer is a great time to kick back and hang out with their friends and family. Others might wish to use their three months to try out a career idea, to gain new skills and experiences, or make money. Penn freshmen have spent their summers writing plays, competing in sports, babysitting their siblings, doing community service, traveling abroad, taking classes, and working full- or part-time jobs.

The options are unlimited and there is no right or wrong answer. My bias is that students should do something, ideally something that they don’t get to do during the other nine months of the year. I also think that they should be careful not to spend so much of their time during the Spring semester searching for that perfect internship.

So, for instance, I spent the summer after my freshmen year in Hong Kong working at a university because I wanted to travel and speak Chinese. The job itself was boring, but everyday I got to interact with Chinese people and eat good cafeteria food. The summer after my sophomore year, I got an internship in advertising. I share this because what students do each summer don’t have to be a spectacular career move.  Just be productive and deliberate with your time.

So, what should freshmen be doing over the summer? To answer this question, weigh your priorities and also consider whether these priorities are best met during the summer after freshmen year. So, what is most important to you?

– To save money
– “Build resume” or meet people in a particular industry
– Try out a potential career or major
– Help people/community
– Learn something
– Check out a new city/country
– Spend quality time with family and friends
– Catch up on sleep
– _______________

If you want to see examples of other things Penn students have done in their summers, check out the Summer Survey Reports posted on the Career Services website.