Dianne Hull, Associate Director

The conclusion of an academic year is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and to make plans and goals for the future. Students at Penn have so many successes to celebrate, but sometimes students focus more on what didn’t work out for them than what DID.  The reality is that even the most successful people have failures and setbacks – countless of successful people weren’t admitted into their top choice graduate program, lost out on a summer internship that they really wanted, or were told their work just wasn’t good enough to be in a show.

There has been much talk on college campuses about what employers are looking for in job candidates. One of the top “competencies” employers are focused on is professionalism, of which a big part “is able to learn from his/her mistakes.”  And the key to this?  Resilience!  Resilience can take shape in so many forms, but primarily in the ability to build skills to endure challenges and hardships.  Challenge is inevitable in everyone’s personal and professional life, but truly successful people take these setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow.

This spring, Penn’s Weigle Information Commons allowed students to highlight these challenges through their “Wall of Rejection,” where students were able to share the challenges they have experienced during this past academic year.

Something that may resonate with many students – a Princeton psychology professor who posted his “CV of failure” online.  He outlines degree programs which rejected him, grants and fellowships he did not receive, as well as his “meta-failure” – that his list of failures has received more attention than any of his academic work!

Since the challenges that students face at Penn may not disappear but simply shift as time goes on, take the time as a student to work on your skills of resiliency which will serve you well as a student and beyond.

Mental Health Week

A. Mylène Kerschner, Associate Director

Career Services understands that Penn can be a stressful place, and that the job, internship, or grad school search can contribute to feelings of anxiety, insecurity, and even depression. Career Services is proud to support Counseling and Psychological Services Student Advisory Board (CAPSAB) and the 3rd Annual Mental Wellness Week this week at Penn. Activities are taking place Monday through Friday across campus.

caps chart

Events include:

  • Therapy Dogs on Tuesday at CAPS (puppies are pretty much guaranteed to reduce anxiety)
  • Guided Meditation
  • Free Classes at Pottruck Fitness Center
  • Thursday Night Quizzo – Grad Quizzo at the LGBT Center and Undergrad Quizzo at Smokes
  • Talks –  multiple opportunities to learn and discuss more
  • Free Smoothies at the School of Nursing Lobby on Friday, April 8
  • Game Night on Friday, April 8 in Claudia Cohen Hall
  • And most importantly, our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Valerie Young. (Wednesday, April 6 2016; 7-9pm; Room 350 Steinberg Hall – Dietrich Hall)

We hope to see you out at these events for Mental Wellness Week!

caps flyer

Facebook: UPenn Mental Wellness Week 2015
Confronting your Inner Imposter


Feeling Stressed?

Stressed_3_tnsYesterday I attended a program for the various student affairs professionals on campus which focused on the recent University Mental Health Task Force report. Although I’ve worked at Penn for quite a few years, it reminded of the many, many resources available to Penn students. I think most people tend to think of CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) as the “Go To” place for students who might be experiencing stressors in their lives and they are certainly a wonderful resource to have on campus. That said, there are lots of other places students can find support as well, whether it be the various cultural centers, the Penn Women’s Center, or Campus Health.

Students often come to the Career Services office with very specific questions such as “Can you review my resume?”, “Which job offer should I take?”, or “How can I find an internship?”. These are all fine questions and we are happy to discuss them with students. That said, we also realize that career planning in and of itself can be stressful. Not knowing exactly what career path to pursue, being rejected for a position you really wanted, or being unsure of whether to pursue a graduate degree can (and does!) cause some very normal anxiety in everyone. I wanted to take the opportunity in this blog to let you know that the Career Services advisors understand such feelings and are absolutely happy to discuss them with you. Occasionally we hear from students that they feel like they have to “have it all figured out” before they visit our office and absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you are in the beginning stages of thinking about your career path; in the midst of applying for jobs, internships, or graduate school; or trying to finalize an offer, come in and talk to us. We may not have all the answers, but we certainly want to serve as a resource for you as you walk along your individual career path.

The O Words

by Anne Lucas

Lately, whether greeting a student for an appointment in Career Services or watching the news, I’m reminded of the same “O” word–Overwhelmed.  Seniors especially are overwhelmed by classes, assignments, leadership roles on campus and now—oh no!—a job search too.  It’s understandable.

Our economy is overwhelmed by unemployment, a housing crisis, a frenetic and frightening stock market—and oh so much more.  Truly, it can feel overwhelming to confront these challenges and to develop and execute a winning strategy to become employed or remain employed.

So what’s a person to do in these overwhelming, uncertain times?  Okay, I can’t help myself.  I feel my Pollyanna Anne surfacing as I choose a different “O” word for our times—Optimism!  It seems to me that the time has come for us to remember and practice the old adage of looking on the bright side.  If you can just ignore recent political debates, I promise you that there is a bright side to 2011!

First, you are a student, perhaps an alumnus/a, of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best schools in the country and in the world.  Your Penn education can open doors for you.  Because you are affiliated with Penn, you must be smart and capable, with a pretty good work ethic too.  Throughout the decades I have been affiliated with Penn as a career counselor, I have witnessed so many students and alumni accomplishing amazing things—on campus and beyond.  You are next.

Every once in a while, the media even brings us a happy, positive story.  On September 23 Morning Joe interviewed Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, the entrepreneurial founders of Method.  They started Method in 2001, in the midst of a recession and, despite entering the extremely competitive field of laundry detergent and cleaning products, they have achieved wonderful success.  These two young, upbeat young men actually explained that they took “advantage of the recession to do things differently…focus and innovate.”  Clearly there still are plenty of success stories, even in difficult economic times, and you can be one of them.

So how do you begin to change “overwhelmed” to “optimistic?”  Rather than getting bogged down by—and perhaps even feeding—those nasty negatives, it’s important to seek and proclaim the positives in every day.  In fact, I currently have a contract with someone who has promised to text me every day citing two positive aspects of his day—one work-related and the other personal.  Sometimes he has to dig deep to find something.  It might be a compliment from a customer when he’s worked hard to solve a problem.  On a personal level it could be an exhilarating run in the park. It’s all about attitude, and I vote for Optimistic over Overwhelmed every time!

Once we get into the habit of deliberately identifying the positive situations in our lives, we’ll increase our levels of optimism.  As you probably know, Penn is home to a very famous professor associated with optimism—Dr. Martin Seligman.  Check out his homepage, “Authentic Happiness” at:

Let’s unite to make Optimism the Penn way.  Finally,  in case you need further inspiration, enjoy Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Accentuate the Positive:”

A Study Break

by Anne Guldin Lucas

It’s that marvelous time of the year—Final Exams—when I will confess that I’m relieved that I’m not a student anymore.  Thinking back to my first semester of college (well over 30 years ago!), I remember the stress of my first final exam period.  Living in a freshman women’s dorm (and oh yes, it was single sex back then), the panic was palpable.  So how did I handle it?  My best friend suggested that we stop studying and bake cookies!

Holly and I took a long study break to buy ingredients and headed for the dorm kitchen.  We crafted cookie “ornaments,” personalized with the names of the women on our floor and other selected campus friends.  We threaded ribbons through the holes we poked through each cookie.  Then we raced around the dorm and the campus, delivering our edible ornaments.

Thankfully I managed to do well that term, and Holly has enjoyed a successful legal career.  Apparently there were no ill effects from our study break.  The fresh air and cookies renewed our energy.   What’s the point of my silly story and how in the world does it relate to you?  Hopefully you’ll agree that a “life well lived” includes more than a fabulous career.  Friendships, family, and the pursuit of other interests are vital ingredients in true success.

So while I applaud and admire the devotion to everything Penn students do so well—academics, extracurriculars, service, and job search—I urge you to seek balance in your life.  Recognize when it’s time to catch your breath, hang out with friends or family, and bake!  In this spirit, my holiday gift to you is a study break, courtesy of Jimmy Buffett and the Zac Brown Band.  Take it away, boys!