5 easy, career-relevant tasks you can complete at your computer right now

OK, since you are all at your computers all of the time now, let’s give you 5 easy tasks that you can check off your career-related projects list so that you can feel that you have made some progress today. All of these steps are great things to do as part of your broader career development, so take the next few minutes to get these done.

1. Customize your LinkedIn URL
If you look at your profile on LinkedIn right now and see that your profile page URL looks something like this: www.linkedin.com/in/Joseph-Barber-52a72996/, then all of these random letters and numbers mean that you haven’t customized this part of your profile yet. Unless your last name really is 52a72996, you will want a more professional version. Click on the “Edit Public Profile and URL” link in the top right of your profile page and then look for the “Edit your Custom URL” option also in the top right corner. Depending on how many other people share your name, you might be able to a much nicer version that you will be happy to include in your email signature or even on your resume. You might want to, or have to, add some additional information to get a version you like. Here is mine: www.linkedin.com/in/josephbarberphd/ that successfully adds my PhD into the mix.

2. Follow 5 employers you are interested in on LinkedIn
While you are on LinkedIn, let’s make sure you are following employers that interest you. Search any employer in the LinkedIn search bar, and when you arrive at their LinkedIn page, you will see a “Follow” button. By following an employer, all of the posts they share get prioritized in your LinkedIn feed, which means that you will learn more about the organization, and have more to say, or ask about, during your networking outreach, your resumes and cover letters, and during your interviews – if you eventually apply for positions at this organization. Once you are on one employer page, take a look at the “Similar Pages” section on the right-hand side (you may have to scroll down a bit), and LinkedIn suggest other employers you can explore and potentially follow that are similar. See if you can find 5 employers to follow today.

3. Connecting with other students/postdocs through Handshake
Let’s swap platforms now. Head over to your Handshake account (https://upenn.joinhandshake.com/) and you will see a horizontal list of the different ways you can use Handshake as part of your career development. Click on the “Community” option. This will show you students from across the Handshake community that features hundreds of other Schools and Universities. That is far too much to deal with right now, so go ahead and click on the “University of Pennsylvania only” filter on the left-hand side of the screen. OK, that’s better. Now, you might want to start off by choosing filters that represent you in terms of your school year or major. This is going to show you other students/postdocs who are like you. This is helpful because you can also filter on “Previous Employers” and “Student Organizations”. The previous employers that are listed are likely to include organizations where students like you have interned before. Reaching out to these students might give you insight into these internships, or help you find contacts at these organizations that might be helpful to your internship or job search. Looking for students by student organizations can help you find like-minded people who can share their thoughts about the different organizations, and how helpful these can be to your professional and career development. This is a great way to build community at Penn even from afar.

4. Update your Handshake preferences
Sticking with Handshake, go ahead and click on your picture in the top right-hand corner, and then select “Career Interests”. Make sure you have updated the “Which industries interest you?” and “Which kinds of job, or job functions, interest you?” sections, because we use these at Career Services to send some of our targeted emails to the most relevant student populations. The more you tell us about your preferences, the more information we can share with you that will be relevant to your career goals.

5. Updating your preferences on the Career Services website
And then finally for today (you are doing great so far!), let’s head over to the Career Services website: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/. Click on the “log-in” link in the top right-hand corner, and then use your PennKey and Password to sign-in. If this is your first time logging in, you may be asked a series of questions about your career preferences straightaway. If this is not the first time, then you can get back to these questions by clicking on your name in the top right hand-hand corner and selecting “Preferences”. Just like with Handshake, you can select topics, industries, and populations that are relevant to you and your career aspirations. The options you select here are used to provide you with a customized weekly newsletter (you can edit the frequency by clicking on “Alerts & Emails”). Once again, the more information you provide, the easier it becomes for you to receive relevant information to you.

Fantastic, you have done a great job crossing off these 5 easy tasks that are all going to be helpful as part of your broader career development strategy. Now you can goof off for a few minutes before getting back to work – you’ve earned it!

By Joseph Barber
Joseph Barber Senior Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs Joseph Barber