An Unpredictable Semester

As classes end for the Spring 2020 semester, it is hard to believe how much things have changed since the semester began just a few short months ago.  No one predicted that we would all be learning and working remotely, that rites of passage like Hey Day and Commencement would not take place in the ways we had hoped and expected, and that the economy would be upended by widespread shutdowns brought upon by COVID-19.  It has been an unpredictable and disappointing spring for many of us, but it has also demonstrated the resiliency of the Penn community. Classes were brought online quickly, students continued to connect with each other virtually, and we’ve learned that we can indeed accomplish things in new and creative ways.

It is clear that the pandemic has significantly impacted internship and postgraduate plans for many individuals.  Professional development is incredibly important to Penn students and these uncertainties have created additional stress for some. We know, however, that Penn students are talented, creative, and have lots to offer the world and we want to reassure you that employers know this as well!  We speak with employers on a daily basis and they have assured us that they understand the difficulties that the pandemic has brought on and that they will be very understanding if a student is not able to participate in a traditional internship this summer.  Students can use any unexpected free time to pursue a variety of other career building activities like taking classes, learning a new skill, volunteering, studying for graduate school entrance exams, even developing a burgeoning hobby. Being able to discuss how you structured and made good use of your time during Summer 2020 in a positive way will go a long way in impressing employers in the future.

We are also encouraged to see the many new daily internship and job postings in Handshake, many of them remote in nature. In addition, we hope that students will take advantage of access to resources such as CareerShift, which provides lists of employers who are still hiring, and our Guide to Remote Work, to better navigate job or internship searching during the pandemic.

Please know that Career Services advisors remain available to you as questions arise, whether it be next week, next month, or next year.  (Did you know that we serve Penn alumni for life?)  You can schedule an appointment on Handshake to meet virtually with a career or graduate / professional school advisor or “drop in” for a same day phone appointment.  Students can find a wealth of additional resources on our website.  Best wishes to all of you on finals and congratulations to our graduating students! You did it!  We sincerely hope to see returning students on campus next fall.

By Barbara Hewitt
Barbara Hewitt Executive Director