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Penn's pre-professional environment can be extremely competitive, but when students return to campus in September, summer internships become a memory.

According to an annual Career Services survey of the senior class' summers, over two-thirds of students entering their final year at Penn had internships.

In the past, not every student has spent the proverbial summer doing investment banking in New York City - and this year was no different.

Penn was the largest summer employer of College and Engineering students, while financial institutions like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs were the largest employers of Wharton students in summer 2007.

This is because many students choose to stay at Penn and do research with professors over the summer, according to survey findings.

With the changing economy, some students expected problems with getting jobs in the financial industry this past summer. But according to Career Services, this wasn't the case.

"We've heard of no decline in students obtaining summer internships compared to previous years," said Kelly Cleary, an associate director at Career Services.

Career Services intends to release data from this past summer in January to assist the classes of 2010 and 2011 in finding jobs for next summer.

And as important as OCR is for getting those coveted internships, it wasn't the only way in, students say.

Wharton senior Angela Hu, who interned at Philadelphia-based business consulting firm Ernst and Young this summer, applied directly to the organization because they don't make an appearance at Penn during OCR.

College sophomore Hannah Connor, who interned at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in Washington, D.C., learned about the job through family friends - a popular method of job searching according to Career Services.

Getting the job is only half the battle. For many, learning and enjoying the internship counted for a lot more.

"We've heard from many students who have had very good summer internship experiences in a variety of industries and geographic locations," Cleary said.

"It was really great exposure to public accounting for me, since I had only done corporate [and] private stuff before," Hu said of her internship in their business tax service line.

And then there are those select few who choose to do something unconventional and just as fulfilling during the summer.

College senior Emma Thadani, for example, travelled to the Dominican Republic where she volunteered with an organization that helps disadvantaged children.

Connor, whose job was also unconventional, said the position opened her eyes to all the information out there and piqued her interest in the field.

This, Career Services counselors say, is what you want a summer internship to do - help you find the right fit for you.

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