In the shadow of On-Campus Recruiting interviews, many Penn students are choosing to search for summer internships on their own initiative.
Many of these students are freshmen and sophomores who would only consider using OCR to find a job in their junior or senior years or for whom OCR doesn’t provide the opportunities they are seeking.
This academic year, Career Services has worked with 3,550 undergraduate students to find internships and answered 18,347 e-mails, including those from graduate students and alumni.
According to Associate Director for Career Services Claire Klieger, there are plenty of resources available at Career Services for those who choose not to go through OCR.
These resources include PennLink, which lists available internships through a subscription-based service, and PACNet, a network through which Penn alumni can offer career advice and guidance to students.
Some students who do not go through OCR, however, do not even visit the Career Services Office.
Engineering sophomore Sudeep De has applied for several internships, including ones to the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Department of State. He found these internships by searching online himself.
Another tactic he used was a Google Maps search for engineering companies near his hometown of Freehold, N.J.
“I’m pretty desperate at this stage,” De said. “Even if the companies aren’t listing jobs, I’m contacting them anyway to see if they have anything available.”
College sophomore and international student Marwa Ibrahim has to search for internships on her own, too. She is planning to return home to Egypt for the summer, and while OCR has many opportunities for jobs in the United States, there are not many available to work outside the country, especially in the Middle East.
“With this application process, it’s more about who you know than sitting down and filling out an application online,” Ibrahim said. “And in the Middle East, it’s a completely different culture and system for applying for jobs, which is what makes it so difficult.”
However, even in less than ideal circumstances other students have managed to find internships.
College sophomore Michele Kim found a lab internship by e-mailing several research departments at Penn.
At the beginning of this semester, she had a research position lined up at a lab, which contacted her a week ago to say they could no longer hire her. That evening, she e-mailed four other faculty members, and the next day had secured another research position.
“Within 24 hours I had lost one job and picked up another,” Kim said.
Kim initially began her internship hunt by searching for various research projects going on, and then e-mailing faculty conducting those that interested her.
“There are jobs available out there, but a lot of the time, people don’t even apply for them,” she said. “While not all labs want to offer undergraduates jobs, there are a few that do, and you just have to find them.”
Kim did not have plans to use OCR this semester, especially as there are not that many science-related jobs available through the process.
“Having connections definitely helps,” Kim added.
Klieger agrees, stressing the value of making connections.
“Alumni who work through PACNet have volunteered to be questioned and provide a source of approachable advice,” she said. “Another option is to talk to students who have had the position you’re applying for and see if they’re willing to put you in contact with their previous supervisor.”
De, on the other hand, feels that using OCR would be a lot easier.
“Searching for jobs on my own is a lot harder,” he said. “With OCR, the pool is limited to Penn students, versus other employers who receive applications from everyone.”
But Klieger said concluding that one process is more difficult than the other is “apples and oranges.”
“OCR is convenient, but can be competitive and stressful,” she said. “Looking for an internship on your own may be less stressful, but involves a lot more work.”
And while students like College sophomore Karishma Shah may have managed to find a job on their own, as she has at Ivy Insiders, she also plans to eventually use OCR to find an internship.
“It would be silly not to,” Shah said. “At the end of the day, you need to have as many options as you possibly can.”
Despite the various ways in which students go about searching for jobs and internships, Klieger said there’s no hard and fast way to find the perfect fit.
“Each search is individual, and getting a job really depends on how good a match a person is for a particular job,” she said.
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