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Penn’s second-in-command first came to campus as a prospective student on a college tour in the ‘80s. Having grown up in a small town in Connecticut, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said he “just fell in love with all the buildings” on 34th Street.

“An urban environment had a big appeal to me,” he added.

Carnaroli ultimately matriculated at Penn, graduating from Wharton in 1985 with concentrations in Economics and Finance.

Upon graduating, he joined an investment bank’s public finance group, taking on consulting work at Penn.

It was a “bit of a right-place-at-the-right time” situation in the late ‘90s — when several administrators’ positions were shuffling — and “the next thing you know I was here,” Carnaroli said regarding the start of his professional career at Penn in 2000.

According to Career Services director Kelly Cleary, the familiarity and networking advantages that Penn graduates have while applying for jobs at the University is helpful.

“Employers are more likely to bring in known entities,” she said, especially if a candidate has been recommended by a Penn professor or colleague.

The benefit of taking a job at one’s alma mater can be mutual. Carnaroli, for example, felt “a little bit of an advantage understanding the physical layout.”

He also enjoyed returning to some of his favorite campus spots, though his “taste buds had evolved,” he said. “My favorite food truck didn’t taste nearly as good as it did when I was a student.”

In the past three years, about 18 percent of new hires were Penn alumni, with about five percent earning degrees while employed by the University, according to Division of Human Resources spokeswoman Terri Ryan.

Tuition benefits can encourage alumni to return to Penn, Cleary explained.

Many choose to take more entry-level jobs — such as administrative positions — while enrolled in masters or doctoral programs, she added.

Like Carnaroli, Political Science professor John DiIulio began his Penn career as a student.

DiIulio graduated in 1980 with a double major in Economics and Political Science, and later a masters degree in Political Science.

Having grown up in Philadelphia, DiIulio lived at home and commuted to and from Penn on subway car No. 36 every day, he recalled. While at Penn, he also worked nearly full-time in construction.

“I can’t comment on the social scene back then,” DiIulio wrote in an e-mail, “because, alas, I had no part whatsoever in it.”

Yet as the first member of his extended family to go to college, DiIulio wrote, “the best part of my Penn experience was every single day … besides, studying and being in class beat the hell out of working outdoors, and I loved my professors.”

After graduating, DiIulio and his wife, also a Penn alumna, moved to Boston to do graduate work at Harvard. He then took a job at Princeton, where he remained until returning to Penn in 1999. Now a member of the faculty and a program director at the University, DiIulio said he has allowed his Penn experience to inform his classroom style.

“I was the kid in recitation who never talked much because I was reluctant to sound stupid or worse,” he wrote. But guided by professors like Jack Nagel — who still teaches at Penn — DiIulio “got an appreciation for how to do that [him]self with less talkative or self-confident students.”

Looking back on his career, DiIulio wrote, although he was “very happy” at Princeton, “I am a Philly guy and a Penn guy.”

Other members of the Penn community, like College senior Brittany Bell, began their lifelong relationships with the University even earlier than freshman year of college.

As a New Jersey resident whose parents met at Penn, Bell has been “to every alumni weekend and Homecoming I can remember,” she said. “I used to have a little Penn cheerleading outfit and always get a ‘P’ painted on my face.”

Bell’s parents have both been involved in Penn alumni activities since they graduated. Her mother is the President of the Class of 1981 and her father is an active member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity’s alumni network. He is also “obsessed with Penn basketball,” attending every game, Bell said.

When she began her official career at Penn as a freshman, Bell got involved with several alumni-focused activities herself, such as Penn Alumni Student Society, Linking Legacies and Seniors for the Penn Fund.

Bell said she has seen many benefits of immersing herself in Penn’s alumni community.

“There are Penn people everywhere,” she said, adding that she may even consider a career at the University.

Many recent graduates have had this same idea. In 2010, 43 graduates were hired at Penn, and 16 at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, according to Cleary. They took jobs in research, Admissions, Student Affairs and Alumni Relations, she added.

Cleary stressed that students might choose to stay because Penn is simply “the largest and one of the best employers” in the Delaware valley. According to Ryan, Penn is the largest private employer in the greater Philadelphia region and was named a Top Workplace by The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News in 2010.

“The culture [of universities] is professional growth and development, and that makes it an exciting setting,” Cleary said.

And though the economy might impact graduates’ desire to remain at Penn, Cleary thinks “more and more students just really like being in Philly and want to be here as working professionals.”

Bell said her relationship with Penn — and her desire to stay involved — is “an intangible feeling.”

“I’m so connected to this place,” she said. “It’s because of the people, because of everything I’ve learned here. And knowing that has made me never want to leave.”

Note: This article was updated from its original version to reflect that 16 graduates were hired at HUP in 2010, not six.

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