PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Matthew Sharp (Hosted by Penn Libraries — Area Studies)

In the spring of 2020, 36 PhD students from a range of academic disciplines at Penn participated in Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF) program, where they were matched with a host organization in Philadelphia to learn about different careers beyond academia. Matthew Sharp, PhD graduate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), was placed as a Fellow with the Penn Libraries — Area Studies. Read about his experience in the CEF below!

What was your fellowship experience like working with your host? What activities did you engage in?

My experience was a mixture of meeting some Area studies librarians, attending remote meetings, and the opportunity to take on a task related to my field. It was the task that was the most fulfilling because it provided to real-world experience and a chance to learn a new technical skills that will be useful beyond positions I might look for in a library.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

I learned a lot about navigating the job market and how to access and use tools and resources that I’ll need for future job searches.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

The discussions with Career Exploration fellows and the Career Services advisors forced me to think about where I want to go career wise. It was a type of accountability for me to be active in this pursuit instead of just letting it pass by me.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF?

Gets you to stop and think about your skills and passions so you’re ready for a non-academic world.

For more information about Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship, please visit our program webpage here.

By Helen Pho
Helen Pho Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs