In the spirit of the holiday that has just passed, I’d like to spend a few more moments thinking about giving thanks, especially in the context of the job or internship search. We know that we need to send a routine note of thanks following an interview, and an email is absolutely the best way to ensure that your message is received promptly. But what about thanking other people who have helped you along in your path to – and through – Penn? As a longer winter break approaches, think about taking a few moments to reach out to a high school teacher, a coach, or even a family friend to express appreciation. A handwritten note will likely surprise them, and will be sure to leave a fond impression.
Ilan tackles some of the annoying obstacles that can impede the process of writing a handwritten note (the pressure to find the perfect card!), but also encourages you to be specific when composing a note of thanks, and to consider thanking someone with whom you haven’t spoken to or seen in some time.
Naturally, this could lead to grabbing coffee or lunch while you have some down time over break, and during that meeting you could continue a professional conversation about your path and your goals. We all know the value of a good informational interview, even with a close acquaintance.
Or, it could just make that person’s day during the hectic holiday season! And isn’t that a great reason to write, too?
Last week, my colleague Michael highlighted the importance of linking in here on Penn & Beyond. I’m here to support his post, but stress how critical it is to connect in the coming weeks when you’re home for Thanksgiving. High school reunions, spending time with cousins/aunts/uncles and visiting with old friends is the PERFECT opportunity to build your network. Utilizing LinkedIn is a very handy tool to keep track of these connections and stay in touch. So, what’s the deal with all this LinkedIn attention lately?
Well, I’m excited to announce that LinkedIn is coming to Penn after the Thanksgiving break. John Hill is LinkedIn’s Higher Education Evangelist (yes, that’s his real title), and he’ll be here to speak to you – undergraduate and graduate students – on Tuesday, November 29th at 12noon in the Ben Franklin Room at Houston Hall. Why should you come? Here are two really important reasons:
First and foremost, college students and recent graduates in the job market are joining LinkedIn at twice the rate of its overall membership, according to a recent interview with LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner on ABC (Weiner is a Penn alum). This means a lot of your peers are on the network, and you should be too. This will help you compete in today’s job market, but also stay in touch with them.
Secondly, what better way to understand how to maximize this tool than from someone who works at LinkedIn? This is a rare and unique opportunity to get your questions answered straight from the source. Hill has been traveling all over the country and world to listen to feedback and share best practices when it comes to using LinkedIn. There is only one of him at LinkedIn and hundreds of universities out there – we are very lucky to have him!
Hill’s talk on November 29th is about helping you understand this tool because it is powerful. I hope that you join us and John Hill. If you would like to come, just give us some notice and RSVP here.
Many people have a strategy for approaching and (in some cases) surviving the Thanksgiving Holiday. For some this involves calculating how to best consume as much food as possible without doubling over with stomach pains later; for others, it might be trying to avoid sitting next to that uncle who belches or the pesky relative who asks inappropriate questions about bodily functions or worse. Here are some tips for successfully making it through Turkey Day that also apply to your job/internship search:
1) Be willing to try different dishes – Taste a little of everything on your plate.
Whenever we went to someone else’s house for a meal when I was little, my mom always told me and my brother to try a little of everything because it was polite. That’s still true and a good way to avoid potential family drama (I recommend tiny portions that are more easily concealed in a napkin if necessary). However, it’s also a good way to broaden your palate (Who knows? You might even like that Lime Jello cranberry soufflé ) and your job prospects.
Cast a wide net and apply for opportunities that reflect a variety of your interests. If you’re willing to think outside of the box and be flexible in your search, you’re more likely to have more interesting options from which to choose. And just like questionable looking holiday dishes, sometimes really fantastic opportunities come about in the most unexpected ways.
2) Accept that there is more than one way to make Turkey (or stuffing or cranberry dishes, or mashed potatoes…) and everyone thinks their way is best.
You’ve probably noticed that you encounter something very similar when you ask for advice on your resume and it can be frustrating to hear often conflicting advice. Here’s how you sort it out—when someone gives you advice on your resume or cover letter, ask for the reasoning behind that suggestion. That way you can sort out the suggestions that seem logical (“deep frying a turkey sears in the juices”) from that which is merely personal preference (“I like living and cooking dangerously—what could be better than oil that’s hot enough to burn down your house?!”).
3) Pace yourself and have a game plan.
Most of us have learned the hard way that if you don’t have a strategy for eating at thanksgiving you’ll either be full before dessert or end up suffering later. You’ll be much less overwhelmed by your job or internship search if you give yourself a set of manageable goals/tasks to accomplish each week. Whether it’s updating a resume, identifying five organizations of interest, or contacting three Penn alums whom you can ask for advice (hello, PACNET!), setting and meeting these more “bite-size” (as we know, it’s all about portion size!) goals will keep you motivated.
4) Be polite to all of your relatives (even the ones you wish you saw less of).
Funny as it may seem at the time, you may live to regret that crack you made about Cousin Larry’s hair piece at the next family gathering. In your interactions with organizations about your search, it’s crucial to be polite and professional with everyone you encounter. Just because the receptionist or administrative assistant may not be sitting with you in the interview or making the final hiring decision doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the process. If you are rude or complain (or gossip on your cell in the waiting room), you’re pretty much putting the nail in your own coffin.
5) Give Thanks.
In addition to all of the eating and football on Thanksgiving, it’s also a great time to reflect on what you appreciate in your life. Hopefully, for you there are people (professors, former supervisors, etc.) who taught you a lot and gave you great advice. Maintain and build a career network by staying in touch with people and following up on advice that you’re given. An email update on what’s new with you that also includes a heart-felt “thank you” can do wonders for your job search.