An Update on Career Services for Fall 2020

It has been a challenging few months for all of us given the COVID 19 pandemic and the social distancing measures we have taken. We hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy as we move into the heart of summer.  Since beginning remote operations in March, the Career Services staff has held over 2000 virtual advising meetings with students, postdocs, and alumni, offered a wide variety of online workshops, and approved thousands of job and internship listings on our Handshake job board.  We’ve implemented several new approaches to meet your needs, such as our “Quick Questions from Quarantine” Instagram series and our virtual “Same Day Advisor Drop Ins”.  In short, we’ve worked hard to ensure that all of the career services that Penn students are accustomed to and expect have been delivered in seamless ways.

In addition to this day-to-day work, just like the University as a whole, the Career Services staff has been planning for the Fall 2020 semester.  Because we expect that some students will opt to continue to study remotely this fall, and because many of our employer partners still have staff travel restrictions in place, we have decided that all of our employer engagement activities including our fall career fairs, employer information sessions, and “on- campus” interviews will be conducted virtually.  We are excited that our Career Services platform provider, Handshake, will be rolling out a virtual career fair platform which will allow for video, audio and text communications with individual students as well as groups of students at career fairs, and we have been working hard to register employers for these events. You can see the current employers who have already registered for these events on Handshake. We expect many additions in the coming weeks. We will roll out additional information to students about how to participate in both the virtual career fairs and “on-campus” interviewing in August.

In the meantime, we urge students over the summer to continue to take advantage of our virtual career advising appointments which can be scheduled through Handshake, as well as to review the virtual summer employer information sessions and workshops on our Events page.   In addition, if you haven’t updated your newsletter content preferences on our website, please take a few minutes to do so now so that the Friday newsletters you receive from us are tailored to your specific career interests.

The fall semester will certainly look different than it has in the past, but rest assured that the Career Services staff members are looking forward to continuing to work with all of you as you explore and move forward in your career goals.  If you have any concerns, questions, or feedback about how Career Services will be working with students, postdocs, and alumni over the next semester, please feel free to reach out to us at

Update:Career Services for Students Taking a Leave of Absence in Fall 2020 (July 15, 2020)

Given the extenuating circumstances brought upon by COVID 19, students opting to take a leave of absence from Penn for Fall 2020 who have previously completed at least one semester at Penn will be allowed to participate in all career services typically provided to them while enrolled including:

  • Handshake access
  • Online resources available on the Career Services website
  • Individual career and graduate school advising
  • Virtual Career Services workshops
  • Virtual employer events including career fairs, employer information sessions, and “on campus” interviews

Students MUST, however, ensure that their graduation date is accurately reflected on Penn-in-Touch, on all employment documents (resumes, cover letters and employer applications), and on their Handshake profile. Employers, particularly those with regular, cyclical hiring patterns, often select students for interviews based on their expected graduation date. Internships are often reserved for students who will graduate in December or May after the internship is completed and who would therefore be in a position to accept a full-time offer. Students who have individual questions about how changes to their expected graduation date may affect their recruiting cycle should schedule an appointment with a Career Services advisor through Handshake. Students should speak with an academic advisor from their school to change their official graduation date if necessary. Failure to accurately report expected graduation date can result in a loss of the privileges outlined above.

By Barbara Hewitt
Barbara Hewitt Executive Director