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At an Ivy League institution such as Penn, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that students ambitiously spend their undergraduate years trying to craft a perfect resume that will land them their dream jobs after graduation.

But at a highly ranked school, many students are successful in landing those jobs in some of the most desirable industries in the job market.

According to data published by Career Services for the Class of 2009, the most popular industries in which Penn students found jobs after graduating were financial services, consulting and education. The data was based on four separate surveys distributed to students at the four undergraduate schools.

Thirty-four percent of employed survey respondents went into the financial services industry, while 14 percent went into consulting.

Within the financial service industry, the top employers among Penn students included Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital and JP Morgan Chase.

Within the consulting industry, the top employers among Penn students included Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co., Mckinsey & Co. and Deloitte Consulting.

Director of Career Services Patricia Rose said these companies are popular among Penn students because they do a good job of marketing their opportunities.

“They have good reputations … and they’re known for being highly selective,” she said.

Rose said there are many reasons students pursue jobs at these companies, but prestige does compel many students to apply.

“I think up-front, students may apply because of prestige, but later if they get an offer, or several offers, they take the other factors into consideration,” she said.

But she added that prominence and selectivity are “key ingredients” in companies’ popularity because Penn students want to work for companies that will be recognized among other employers.

“Most of these positions are in metropolitan areas that are very attractive to Penn students,” Rose said. “Penn students typically want to be in large U.S. cities, and it just so happens that’s where these jobs are.”

Marc Cosentino, former associate director of career services at Harvard University and president of, said these companies also appeal to students because they are “stepping-stones into some of the top business schools.”

But many students might also be after more than prestige.

Wharton sophomore Suruchi Srikanth, who was hired to work in the real estate department at Goldman Sachs this summer, said she wanted to work at the company because of the people and the team-oriented approach it endorses.

“The people in the division that I wanted to work for were really approachable, and they’re a group of people that I would really want to work with,” Srikanth said.

Rose said many banks and consulting firms actively seek out Penn students for job opportunities.

“[Penn] students are the most sought after by many employers because they have good experiences with our undergrads, and they come back and hire them,” Rose said.

Cosentino said these companies market to students from all the top schools, but Penn students are specifically targeted because of the many undergraduate business classes that the school offers to students through Wharton.

But while many students believe financial services and consulting are only popular among Wharton students, the survey data shows these industries are also popular among students from the College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The top five employers among Engineering students for the Class of 2009 include Citigroup, Penn, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft.

Besides the financial services and consulting industries, education is another very popular industry among graduating Penn students.

More than 36 students from the Class of 2009 accepted offers to work at Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits college graduates to teach in schools in low-income communities.

Penn, including the School of Medicine and the Health System, was the top employer among the Class of 2009. More than 70 students accepted offers to work for the University after graduation.

But whether it’s financial services, consulting or education, landing an offer from one of these firms is about more than getting good grades and SAT scores.

“The student with the 3.8 who has done nothing but work — that’s not the recipe,” Rose said. “You need to be able to balance school and some other activities.”

She added that many recruiters for these companies are looking for students with communication skills, leadership positions and exceptional quantitative ability.

“Once you get an interview or a second interview, these employers are going to be looking very closely at your resume and it’s important that you challenged yourself and haven’t just skated through,” Rose added.

The declining economy also appears to be impacting the difficulty of landing an offer from one of these elite firms.

“When the economy is tight and there are fewer positions available then the bar is raised,” Rose said. “We’re talking about students with GPAs well above a 3.0.”

“They have less work and have fewer people they hire,” Cosentino said. “But even in a good year, it’s extremely competitive.”

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