Summer: It’s a Wrap!

by Anne Marie Gercke

As the summer winds down, many of you are probably wrapping up summer internships or jobs to come back to Penn. You may also be feeling that familiar ache deep in your stomach that always seems to come around this time of year – this season, so often packed with fun and sun, is coming to a close. Hopefully you’ve had great experiences at your respective jobs and now have helpful skills to add to your professional history. However, as you are getting ready to say farewell to the old 9 to 5 to head back to school, maximize the benefits of your experience by using these simple tips:

1. Send a thank-you note. Take some time to write a note to your boss/mentor thanking him or her for all the help provided throughout the internship. Make sure to also point out some of the projects you enjoyed working on at the company. Was there anything you did that you thought was really cool? Include it! This is a great way to express your ambitions and interests, as well as add some closure to your job while keeping a window open for any future opportunities. Plus, you are more likely to get a good recommendation if you make a good impression.
2. Update your resume. While it’s still fresh on your mind, add your recent experience to your resume making sure to highlight your accomplishments. If your title was “intern” while working at the company, talk to your supervisor about possibly using a more descriptive title when detailing your internship. For instance, if your job duties involved managing the social networking sites and helping plan company meetings (in addition to grabbing coffee and a muffin for your boss each morning) something like “Social Media and Events Coordinator” may have a nicer ring to it. Don’t embellish, obviously, but it’s okay to be a little creative if it brings useful information to the table.
3. Network, network, network. LinkedIn is the perfect, professional online networking tool to connect with colleagues from your internship. Knowing and staying connected with people in the industry is key to breaking into the business, whatever it may be. A broad network of professional contacts makes any job search easier. Check out our LinkedIn alumni group here!
4. Plan your next steps. Did you like working at your internship? Can you see yourself working in that field in five, or even ten, years from now? What didn’t you like? What types of internships would you like in the future? Does Penn offer any classes that may help you expand on these interests? Are there any professional organizations you can join to stay connected? Determining your future goals now while you are still in “work mode” is a good way to get on the straightest path to achieving them.
5. Recharge and replenish! You’ve been working hard. With the school year quickly approaching, you need to take some time to get yourself ready and together. Catch up on sleep. Read a book…for fun. Exercise to clear your head. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Take a daily vitamin. Spend time with family and friends. These are all ways to ensure that you will come back to Penn with the energy you’ll need to have a stellar year, perhaps your best yet.

While the first day of classes isn’t too far off, you still have plenty of time to check off all these items from your list. As always, we are here in Career Services to help with any of your career needs, so remember to stop in to see us once you get settled back at Penn… and most important, enjoy the rest of your summer!

Connecting the Dots: The Impact of a Resume Profile

By Sharon Fleshman

Have you ever applied for a position and wondered how to help the employer see the relevance of your experiences?  Perhaps you are seeking a career change and your recent experience seems unrelated.  Maybe you have an eclectic background with no obvious career focus.    A resume profile, sometimes called a summary of qualifications or highlights section, can allow you to note themes in your career path or key skills that a recruiter might not otherwise notice.   An effective profile is one that is not generic but tailored to a given career or position.  Consider the following examples:

“Over 10 years of progressive and diversified analytical and education-related experience in the public and private sector. Strong background in law, government and policy, including quantitative data management skills and advocacy experience. Skilled in SAS and SPSS.”

With this profile, a student sought to make a switch from law to education policy.  Note how the student emphasized a track record in analytical work (law and policy research) and experience relevant to the field of education (education law and volunteer work with high school students). The student also made note of skills in statistical software, which are vital in the field of policy research.

 “International experience with students from diverse cultures, through teaching, living, and traveling abroad.  Familiar with college admissions practices through work as an undergraduate liaison. Strong counseling skills with adolescents.”

This profile was for a student who wanted to move into an advising position in international programs and services at a university.  In addition to performing administrative tasks at an international programs office and interning as a counselor while in graduate school, the student had a variety of previous work experiences including teaching overseas, working in an admissions office and helping with education research.

To see how profiles typically look on resumes, take a look at the following samples:


Don’t take career advice from Michael Bay

Dr. Joseph Barber

It has been a busy spring semester so far, but I have had a few evenings to relax of late now that I have completed some of my little side projects. It is also spring break at Hunter College (CUNY), where I teach a course as an adjunct assistant professor, and this has provided me with some additional free time. As I was finishing up the last of the egg-shaped chocolate around my house, I decided to catch up on one of the many films I have failed to see over the last few years. Unfortunately, I chose to watch “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. This is not a good film. I don’t think it even comes close to being a good film. Let me give you a brief synopsis in case you haven’t watched it, or have tried to forget watching it:

  • Boom
  • Unintelligible robots talking – not quite sure if they are good or bad
  • BOOM
  • People talking about the last big BOOM
  • Tiny piece of dialogue that might help convey meaning about what is going on – immediately interrupted by over-the-top comedic sketch (think inappropriate dog behaviour, mother getting high surrounded by students, more inappropriate robot behaviour)
  • Romantic interlude swiftly followed by – yes you guessed it
  • Clip I watched several times to glean any meaning because it seemed to be important, without understanding any of it
  • Random robots fighting – could be good or bad, I don’t think it actually matters

Don’t let Michael Bay, the director of this film, give you career advice. If he did, he might suggest filling your resume with everything you have ever done (boom, boom, boom), and would probably suggest removing some of the bullet points illustrating your skills in action because they were actually too meaningful, and would get in the way of more random information shoved it to make the resume look impressive.

If Michael Bay gave you career advice, he might suggest sending out 100 resumes in quick succession instead of really spending the time on a fewer number of resumes that are specifically tailored to the jobs you are interested in. Wait, I change my mind. Sending 100 resumes doesn’t seem extreme enough – Michael Bay would want you to send out 5000 resumes (Boooooooom!).

If Michael Bay gave you career advice, he might also advise you to answer the “tell me about yourself question” often asked in interviews in a somewhat random, unstructured, non-narrative fashion. He might add that this would keep the interviewers on their toes, preventing them from becoming bored or from focusing too much on what you were actually trying to say – you know, the plot.

Don’t listen to Michael Bay. Instead, set up an appointment at Career Services with an advisor who can give you proper advice. Yes, there are fewer booms, but that is not really a bad thing at all.

Apparently, there was also a third Transformers film (Booooooooooooooooom!). I must have missed that one. And Michael Bay has also announced that he will be directing the fourth film. I have managed to find a teaser for this new film. Are you ready for it? Here it is:


5 things you can learn from Thanksgiving to help you in your job search

Dr. Joseph Barber

1)      Don’t use pepper spray…, ever. No matter how much you want a job – pepper spraying the other candidates will not help you get it. You might have heard about the Wal-Mart incident. There will always be highly qualified candidates applying for the job you want, but it is not worth thinking about these people too much. You can’t do anything to about their qualifications and experiences; you can only maximize the effectiveness of your own. Make sure the way you describe your experiences speaks to the requirements of the position. If you want more information on this, then read some of these posts.

2)      Keep your focus. Who knows why this newscaster did what she did – but she assumed that the camera was not watching and that her gesture would go unnoticed. Whether you are attending a social function during an on-campus interview, or chatting with friends in a café after meeting with recruiters as part of OCR, don’t let your professional guard down. Read this post for more on this.

3)      Ignore silly names and labels. After Thanksgiving we have “Black Friday”, and then “Small Business Saturday”, and then “Sunday”, and then “Cyber Monday”. It is all a little silly, if you ask me. However, it does give me the opportunity to talk about the benefits of thinking about your career in terms of what you are doing rather than at what company or institution you might be doing it. Job titles and company names are just labels – what you do on a day-to-day basis may be much more relevant. There are some of you who think you might like to work for a big company, be it a consulting firm or investment bank, but who might enjoy using your skills in a similar way for a smaller-scale organization. This could mean working in a start-up rather than for a more established company. This could mean working for a non-profit instead of a corporate giant. This could mean working for yourself rather than for someone else. Your career path is yours to choose, to a certain extent, and if you can gain satisfaction from the application of your skills and knowledge in a variety of different settings, then you might find many more opportunities out there.

4)      There’s always a sale at Macy’s. Has anyone else noticed this? I’m not complaining, mind you, but the constant sale does seem to play a significant role in Macy’s business model. Perhaps they had an even bigger sale over the Thanksgiving period, but chances are that anything you missed out on during this time (if you are afeard of shopping during this heinously busy time like me) you’ll be able to find on sale at some other random point in time when it is much less busy. Depending on the careers you are interested in, you might find that there can be seasonal fluctuations in the number of job opportunities available. Let’s say you want to apply for academic jobs as an assistant professor, then applications are often due starting from September – depending on your discipline. By January and February, the number of open positions may be significantly less. Does this mean that you should stop looking? No. Set up email alerts on some of the job aggregator sites (e.g., for academic jobs take a look at;;, and you’ll always be informed of openings as they arise. More importantly, keep a dialogue going with people in your network who might hear of opportunities as they arise. It is possible that a search committee will not be able to agree on a person to hire for a full-time position, and will find themselves scrambling to fill a more temporary position for the year before they conduct the search again. This could be a great opportunity to get a foot in the door, and search committees may often look more favorably on people they know (i.e., internal candidates, even in visiting professor positions) than on unknown entities when it comes to filling the full-time position. So, keep your eyes out for sales outside of the traditional sale periods – you never know what you might find.

5)      Be thankful whether or not it is Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to thank those people who have helped you in your academic and professional careers – this can be a great way to get back in touch, and people always like to hear how their actions may have contributed in some small way to any successes you have had. Also, keep the people you have in mind as potential reference letter writers updated on your professional comings and goings. It is hard to write a good letter of reference for someone you have not thought about for five years. It is almost impossible to write one for a student who took your course in the past, but didn’t say or contribute much, and who expressed no obvious enthusiasm or passion for the subject being taught either during or after the course. Maintaining your network of contacts is very important throughout the year (especially during the summer!), as these posts affirm.

Moving Through the Job Search—and the Alphabet

by Anne Lucas

Last month I blogged about the letter “O,” suggesting that instead of being Overwhelmed by the job search, one could be Optimistic about Opportunities.

A lot can happen in a month.  We in Career Services are hearing happy news from some seniors with job offers.  For them, I think it’s safe to say, they have arrived at the letter “R,” which stands for RELIEF.  And they are also looking forward to some R & R, REST and RELAXATION of course.

Those “R” words may not be the first to come to mind for others of you who have not REALIZED the success you hoped for or haven’t even begun your job or internship search.  RIGHT off, let me say, it’s not a RACE!  Please RECOGNIZE that it’s okay to set your own pace with your job or internship search.

RELAX!  (Everyone can make that “R” word your own!)  Let’s REVIEW some of the other “R” words that might be appropriate for the REMAINDER of you RIGHT now.

Perhaps you are READY to get started.  If so, let Career Services help you.  If you’re READING this blog, you have found our web site.  You can REVIEW and REGISTER for our programs and take advantage of our counseling services. Please REQUEST an appointment to meet with a counselor to REFLECT on your skills and interests.

If you slugged your way through OCR, only to find REJECTION, there’s no need to RETREAT into your ROOM.  While I REALIZE REJECTION is ROUGH, there are other ways to REACT.  RELEASE your REGRETS. You will RECOVER and REGAIN your footing—experience a RENAISSANCE!  Penn students always RISE to the occasion and ROLL with the punches.  REALLY, you’re REMARKABLE and will REBOUND and RECOVER as you RESOLVE to RECOMMIT to your search.

Maybe it’s time to RECONSIDER your goals.  Admit it—some of you only pursued consulting because it’s REGARDED as a REWARD for Penn achievement.  REMEMBER that you had other interests before you joined the consulting pack.  Some self-assessment might REMIND you of your childhood dreams or REVEAL new ROADS to explore.  Again, please REACH out to us in Career Services.  We can help you REGROUP and REORGANIZE, perhaps REVIEW your RESUME so that you can REVISE it.  How about REHEARSING an interview through ROLE play? We might encourage you to do some RESEARCH into other career fields you haven’t considered, and we can certainly introduce you to some career-RELATED RESOURCES, which are RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE for many good RESULTS.

Are you RARING to go with your job or internship search now?  We’re ROOTING for your success.  If you’d RATHER RUMINATE, you’ve got some time REMAINING.  After all, the RETIREMENT age is RISING.  RELAX.