Penn Career Services provides a range of resources to students looking for jobs. However, some students have been surprised to find out that those who violate recruiting policies can have their access to these resources revoked.
When students cancel mock or on-campus interviews without two business days notice, Career Services requests that they send an apology email to their interviewer. If they fail to do so — even if the circumstances for which they had to miss the interview were extenuating — Career Services sends them a warning that their access to Handshake may be suspended if they do not apologize. This semester, approximately 70 students were sent this warning email, Senior Associate Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt said.
On the day of their mock interview, Engineering senior Dylan, who uses they/them pronouns and who requested that their last name be omitted to prevent discrimination based on their transgender identity, learned that their grandfather was severely ill with a high risk of death.
“[My father] wanted me to go home to be with my sister who presumably would be quite upset about the whole ordeal,” they said.
Dylan called the office to explain their situation, but was redirected multiple times. They hung up after a Career Services representative told them that they were not sure of how to record the reason for the cancellation.
“I’d given up. I was emotionally exhausted. Having to stay calm and collected while dealing with this news was terribly difficult,” they said.
Almost two months later, Career Services sent Dylan an email requesting that they send an apology letter to the interviewer or risk losing access to Handshake and future OCR opportunities. Dylan called Career Services again to re-explain their reason for missing the interview, and was told that they would still have to send the email.
“How do you respond to such insensitive handling of your experience?” Dylan asked.
College junior Fjora Arapi had a similar experience after missing an OCR mock interview because of a medical issue. She had gone to Counseling and Psychological Services for a walk-in session about an hour before her interview, and arrived about fifteen minutes after the start of her mock session to explain her tardiness.
She sent an apology email the same day.
After learning from the form that she could be banned from Handshake and future recruitment opportunities for not showing up or cancelling a second interview late, she forced herself to attend an interview that she was not interested in the following week.
“The whole ordeal was just really stressful,” she said.
Hewitt said this policy at Career Services is designed to be respectful of both students’ and interviewers’ times.
“This is not meant to be particularly punitive or stressful for students because we certainly realize that on-campus recruitment in and of itself can be stressful,” she said. “We really want our employers who come out to interview to have a full slate of students whenever possible.”
Hewitt added that students who cancel late can inconvenience recruiters as well as deny other students a chance at interviewing with the employer.
However, most students guilty of a late cancellation or failure to attend their interviews without prior notice are not barred from Handshake or recruiting events, Hewitt said. The majority of these students send apologies to the recruiter after just one reminder.
“The policy is really for people who either can’t get their schedules straight and continue to have problems scheduling things or who really just don’t see it as important to show up for things they committed to,” she said.
“Students should not be afraid to reach out if they have a legitimate reason,” she said.