Thinking about Life After Penn

"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.

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. 

Liberal Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects.pdf
Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major.pdf
Historians Make the Best Healthcare Workers

Getting Started

1) Don't ask, "What job can I get with this degree?"  Do ask, "What am I interested in?"
5 Career Questions to Ask Yourself.pdf

2) Don't think in terms of finding a "career"--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.  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? 

2) Remember that searching for internships and jobs 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.
Treasures from the Career Services Website.pdf

2) Write your resume, using the advice on the Career Services website.  Drop off your resume at Career Services for feedback.

3) Draft 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.  Get help from Career Services in editing your basic cover letter

 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
  • Don't write a "one-size fits all" cover letter--be prepared to tailor your basic cover letter to the job for which you are applying.

4) Set up informational interviews.  If you don't know what this is, read the Career Services website for help in how to do this.  When you are setting up an informational interview:

  • 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.
  • Don't ask for a job or give them your resume (unless they request that you send one).
  • Ask, “Who else would be good for me to talk to?”
  • Write a thank-you email or note.

5) Research job fields and titles, using Career Services resources.

  • 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

7) Look at jobs taken by STSC and HSOC graduates (found on the Career Services website) and also read the "Alumni News" for STSC and HSOC to see what people did after Penn and who to contact in the alumni network.

8) Develop an "elevator speech"--a short (1 minute or less) speech about your interests and what you do that you use to network with people and to set up informational interviews with people who are doing things that you think are interesting and cool. 

Practice, practice, practice this speech (and practice with friends) in which you tell

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

How to Ask for Recommendations

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

2) If writing an email, keep it fairly brief and to the point.  Introduce yourself again, ask them if they would write you a recommendation for ____, supply a couple sentences about yourself and then attach your resume to the email so that they can see who you are and what you've done, instead of writing long detailed paragraphs.  Offer to supply any other material they need, and/or to come in to talk about it.  It is often a good idea to tell the person what kind of perspective you want them to supply to the organization for which you need the recommendation--for example, to speak to your research skills, or your management skills, or your social skills--so that you don't have all your recommenders saying the same thing.

3) Make sure your recommender has all the information they need to submit the recommendation (email addresses, websites, etc.) 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.  

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

5) Thank the person who is writing you a recommendation for agreeing to do it, and thank them again when the recommendation has been submitted.  Send a thank-you email or thank-you note.

6) Remember to make it easy for the person to write and deliver the recommendation and to feel good about you in the process!

General 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 or sector you care about and become an expert in it
  • Always be networking – both up and down and laterally
  • Help more than you are helped
  • Always have an updated resume

Graduate Programs

For advice on graduate programs (the purpose of going to graduate school, and different kinds of graduate programs) speak with department faculty, with faculty in the area in which you are thinking of attending graduate school, and with Career Services counselors.