Life After Penn

Thinking about Life After Penn

Pre-majors often want to know, "What job can I get with an HSOC or STSC major?"  

Our answer is "What can't you do with an HSOC or STSC major?"

 Our interdisciplinary programs provide the knowledge and skills needed for a rapidly changing and interconnected world.  With a strong understanding of the relationship between different sectors and disciplines, backed up by critical thinking, strong writing, research and speaking skills, our students have a wide variety of options after graduation with an STSC or and HSOC major, including health- and science-based positions, consulting, finance, public policy, and non-profit work.   Many of our students go on to graduate school within a few years of graduation, in medicine, law, public health, and business.  Our undergraduates also benefit from a wide network of alumni.

Ask yourself, "What am I interested in?" not what job you can get.
(see the article "5 Career Questions to Ask Yourself" attached below)

A liberal arts major is an asset on the job market.  Liberal arts majors may not graduate into the immediate "impressive" job but tend to do better in the long run when it comes to finding a career fit and navigating the job market. Follow these links:

What you can do with a liberal arts major (Penn Career Services site)

"Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major"  (Upstart Business Journal)
(also attached below)

Liberal-Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects, If They Have Some Specific Skills, Too (Chronicle of Higher Education)
(also attached below)

Why I was Wrong about Liberal Arts Majors - WSJ

Getting Started

1) Don't think in terms of finding a "career" -- think in terms of an internship (a few months) or a first job (a year or two).  What do you need to know or learn, and what internship, job or worksite will help you get that? A career is what you find and develop by having jobs and internships; you don't have to (and shouldn't) know what it is right now.  You can use a resources like Jobtreks (a digital tool for career exploration, networking and job searching).

2) Job and internship searching consists of doing lots of little jobs, its not one big thing.  Don't expect yourself to know how do to this (you learn by doing it) and also get lots of help along the way. 

Components of Job Hunting

1) Explore the Career Services website and make an appointment

2) Cover letters

 The cover letter is the bridge to the organization between your resume and the organization.  Think of the cover letter as a flashlight that you use to highlight the parts of your resume that you really want the organization to pay attention to.

 When you write a cover letter

  • Use job description as a guide
  • Look for buzzwords in the description to help you write your letter
  • Show, don’t tell.  If you are the Queen of England, show how you are the Queen of England, don’t just say you are.  If you have had experiences that demonstrate your skill or perseverance or growth, don’t say that you had the experience, state specifically what that experience is and how you demonstrated it. 
  • Talk about you, and connect you to the job you want
  • Talk about the job, and connect the job to you

3) Resumes (have Career Services review it)

4) Set up informational interviews

  • Make it easy for the person you are approaching
  • Be prepared with specific questions
  • Specify that you only want 15 minutes of their time
  • Ask, “Can I call you or would you prefer email?”  Give them the opportunity to respond
  • Ask, “Who else would be good for me to talk to?”

5) Researching jobs

  • Learn what kinds of jobs there are
  • Learn how to find different kinds of jobs and how to apply for them
  • Select a few target organizations
  • Set a Google alert to whenever that organization is mentioned you hear about it and get more information to talk about in cover letters and informational interview

6) Use existing networks, such as

  • Linked in
  • Quakernet

Take a look at

Read the "Alumni News" for STSC and HSOC to see what people do after Penn and to find people to contact in our alumni network.

7)  Elevator speeches

These short speeches are used to network, and to set up informational interviews with people who are doing things that you think are interesting and cool.
Practice these speeches in which you tell

  • Who you are
  • What you are doing now
  • What you want to do

Asking for Recommendations

1) Make your request as promptly as possible--at least 3 weeks before the recommendation is due to a program, school or employer.

2) If the recommendation is to be submitted by mail, provide the person who is writing the recommendation with an addressed, stamped envelope for each recommendation they have to send.

3) Send a friendly reminder two weeks and one week before the recommendation is due.

4) Thank the person writing you a recommendation for agreeing to do it, and thank them again when the recommendation has been submitted.

Overall Advice

Every move you make in the job market should be a step towards the goal you want.

Do not be afraid to take a risk or change direction.

Pick an industry you care about and become an expert in that industry.

Always be networking – both up and down.

Help more than you are helped.

Always have an updated resume.

Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major.pdf92.42 KB
Liberal Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects.pdf128.49 KB
5 Career Questions to Ask Yourself.pdf321.72 KB