Using your liberal arts education for the common good – Q & A with Wyn Furman, CAS 2009

Wyn Furman graduated from Penn in 2009 with double majors in History and French. She is currently the Manager of Community Research for The San Diego Foundation, a community foundation that stewards philanthropic funds on behalf of the San Diego region. She recently shared her thoughts on her nonprofit career with Career Services.


1.       What got you interested in working for a nonprofit, and in the philanthropy field, specifically?

My interest in working in the nonprofit sector developed when I realized how much I had benefited from the generosity of others—particularly in receiving my education—which made me want to “give back” through my work. Arriving at Philanthropy was a happy accident. In our field, we feel that people don’t graduate from college hoping to enter our line of work, probably due to a lack of familiarity with this part of the nonprofit sector. As a result, some of us are hoping to introduce more intentionality to this career path by encouraging young talent to pursue philanthropy sooner.

2.       Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and why it’s important?

Primarily, I serve our donors by helping them learn more about the issues and organizations to which they would like to dedicate funds. This includes providing background on challenges our region faces and even evaluating organizations’ financial position via tax records (which I enjoy, even though I was a history major!).  In addition to the research component, I also solicit reports from organizations that describe the work they do with grants from our donors.

The aim of my work is to help donors feel more informed when deciding which organizations to support. This is great for the community because we help donors act on their passions. For instance, we’ve had donors who read about an organization in the paper call us to vet the organization before making a grant. In those cases, we’ve helped turn news coverage into dollars that support the community!

Our capacity for research is also among the services that help distinguish The Foundation from other institutions that manage charitable funds, like banks. Although my role is “behind the scenes,” I think it is important because I provide tools that help my colleagues strengthen their relationships with donors, and that help donors feel more connected to the community. It’s a win-win that ultimately benefits our region.

3.       What are the different hats you’ve worn since joining the San Diego Foundation?

I started by helping to coordinate Our Greater San Diego Vision (, a campaign that engaged 30,000 people across the greater San Diego region in planning for its long-term future. After more than a year and a half in that position, the bulk of the project was complete, so I chose to apply for the newly created position of Manager, Community Research.

This work draws on the regional knowledge I gained by working on Our Greater San Diego Vision. The nice thing about moving from a programmatic role (working on the Vision) to donor stewardship is that I have a solid understanding of the responsibilities and priorities of our two major areas of operation, and relationships throughout our organization. This has led to being engaged in some exciting projects and discussions in which I might not otherwise have been involved.

Continue reading “Using your liberal arts education for the common good – Q & A with Wyn Furman, CAS 2009”

The (Adaptable, Resourceful, Multitalented) Versatile PhD

Graduate students and postdocs may be aware of Career Services’ many resources on academic careers and the academic job search.  But are you also familiar with the resources we have for PhDs/ABDs who are considering a career beyond academia? The Versatile PhD is one of the valuable tools Career Services provides to help you in your decision making and your job hunting.

The Versatile PhD is a web-based resource that you can use anytime, from any computer.  It includes:

  • A thriving, supportive web-based community where you can participate in discussions, network with real “Versatile PhDs” (humanists, social scientists and STEM trained individuals working outside the academy) or, if you prefer, just read and learn.
  • An online collection of compelling first-person narratives written by Versatile PhDs who describe how they established their post-academic careers and give their best advice for you.
  • An associated LinkedIn group where you can begin to build an online presence and network with Versatile PhDs in a wide variety of fields.
  • Free online “Career Panel” discussions where Versatile PhDs working in a given field share their specific professional experiences in that field and answer questions from members. Online panels in 2012 included Careers in Market Research, Careers in Corporate and Institutional Research and Careers in Program Evaluation.  Panels from prior years are archived on the site.

Coming up on November 12-16, 2012:  Entrepreneurship for STEM PhDs featuring STEM PhDs currently running businesses they started from the ground up, or working in small start-ups.  The panel is presented in an asynchronous format; participate anytime during the week.

University of Pennsylvania graduate students and postdocs have access to all the content areas on the website, including the upcoming panel  – go to the Career Services Reference Library (on the left side of Career Services homepage) and click on Online Subscriptions.  You will be asked to provide your PennKey and password to access The Versatile PhD.

A Penn Road Less Travelled By: A Career in International Development

By Hannah Peterson (C ’12)

“Wow, that’s so amazing. I wish I could do something like that!”

“I’m so jealous of you. You’re actually going to be helping people, while I’m sitting stuck at my desk all day”.

“That’s such a great decision, I wish I had decided to travel while I was young.”

These were the responses I heard over and over again by my friends, classmates and family when telling them my decision to move to Nicaragua to work for a community development non-profit after graduation.  There were feelings of jealousy, regret and paralysis, and I couldn’t understand it, because there was absolutely nothing stopping them from making my same decision.

As I was starting my final year at Penn I was stuck in the age-old dilemma of coming to terms with my future. I put on that pants suit I had spent treacherous hours searching for in the mall the summer before.  I bought myself one of those fancy leather Penn folders and I pasted a smile on my face.  I walked around the OCR career fairs pretending like I was enjoying what I was seeing.  I went through all the motions as I thought I needed to, yet I kept having the feeling that I was choosing the best of the worst option.  Their pen design is better, so I must fit in there.  That recruiter gave me a ping pong ball with the company’s logo on it, they must have a fun work environment.  When trying to write my cover letters it was painful to find reasons I wanted to work at each firm.  In fact, what I found myself searching for on each of their websites was their charity work they in order to convey any genuine interest in my statement.

Continue reading “A Penn Road Less Travelled By: A Career in International Development”

Innovation is our bottom-line

By Christine Nieves @nieveschristine

Hey guys!  Just a quick shout-out to the Penn Career Services. They rock! And in case you are wondering why, you should go to as many panel discussions as you can, get help with your resume and interview skills, and walk into their library. I did that since I was a freshman at Penn, and it has paid off exponentially.

I wanted to share a post I recently wrote for our blog: Pioneering Ideas.  But let me take a step back: before you check it out, you should know that at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation we work to improve the health and health care of all Americans. And yes, there are such organizations out there where the bottom line is having a social impact (i.e. Philanthropy).

Within RWJF I have the fortune of working for the Pioneer Team. At Pioneer we support projects that use original, unconventional and/or cross-sectoral approaches to create transformative change on large and pressing challenges that will be critical to the future of health and health care.  Our vision is getting young people (like you!) to come up with new, resourceful ways to solve big, messy problems. And well, to facilitate that, we have a process whereby you can apply for funding!

So now, back to the post. You can find it here:  Innovation and Youth: Tapping our Young Resources    Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @NievesChristine where I am constantly talking about what I do/read/think for a living.

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