Transitioning to Penn for Transfer Students: Tips to Kickstarting Your Career Journey

Welcome to Penn! As you get ready to start your fall semester at a new university, there will be many resources to discover and new ways in which to adapt. We in Career Services would like to take a moment to introduce ourselves, explain how we can support you, and offer some tips for your first semester from a career perspective.

Career Services – Who We Are

Career Services is centralized office serving all undergraduate students and alumni, as well as many of the graduate students at Penn.  Because there are so many different academic programs at Penn, the career advisors work with students from specific schools to allow us to better understand the majors and get to know our students better, although the services are pretty much the same across all four schools.  Dual degree students can meet with advising teams from either school in which they are enrolled.  We also have an advising team that helps students who are applying to graduate or professional schools, including medical and law schools.  We have a team of 11 peer career advisors who you can meet with to review your resume, to become more familiar with the resources available to you, practice interview questions, etc.  We also have a two individuals who work mainly with our employers and schedule things like on-campus interviews and information sessions.

How Career Services Can Help

Career Services is your one-stop shop for all things related to your career.  We are happy to meet with students wherever they are on the planning spectrum, whether they have no idea what paths to consider or if they have already received several jobs offers and are deciding which one to accept. We can help you think about the kinds of careers that might be a good fit for you, advise you on application materials such as resumes and cover letters, conduct a mock interview so you can practice before the real thing, and help you negotiate an internship or job offer after receiving it.  We also can help you with the graduate and professional school application process.  Through our Handshake platform, students can schedule appointments and find the many workshops that we hold each semester. The Career Services office also helps Penn students engage with employers for both internship and post-graduate job opportunities.

Advice for Getting Started at Penn

1. Complete your  Handshake profile,  including career interests. This will be really important for the virtual career fairs coming soon, as employers can set requirements for students to sign up for the 1:1 ten-minute slots. As a transfer student, you won’t yet have a Penn GPA, so we suggest putting in your GPA from your previous school so that you won’t be prohibited from signing up for a 1:1 meeting with an employer based on a blank GPA field. Also, feel free to add a major if you know what you want to major in but haven’t yet declared it as employers can set requirements for specific major groupings.

2. Join Career Communities on the CS website & Log in to receive personally tailored newsletters! Our website has a wealth of information, including over 25 industry communities, which provide information specifically focused on specific sectors including blog posts, resources, and job and internship listings imported from Handshake.  We also have ten affinity communities such as those for students of color, first-generation students, students with disabilities, and transfer students.  We urge you to log into the Career Services website (in the top right corner) and take a few minutes to set your preferences and indicate what types of information you are interested in receiving.  You will get a newsletter each Friday that is particularly tailored to the industry and affinity preferences you select.  There is a lot of additional information on the website including a section to help you learn how to do things like write a resume or network.  You can also find information on what Penn students did over the summer or post graduation by clicking on the Outcomes tab

3. Update your resume (and let us review it!) If you plan to participate in one of the career fairs or apply for On-campus Interviewing (OCI) positions, take a look at our resume guide and either schedule an appointment with an advisor through Handshake or submit an electronic version to have it reviewed by a Career Advisor or a Peer Career Advisor to make sure you are presenting yourself as professionally as possible.

4. Get involved – Join student groups (even virtually!) We encourage you to try to get involved with at least one or two student groups, even though it might be challenging this year with everything being remote.While there are many professional clubs you can join such as the consulting club, the real estate club, or the Society of Women Engineers, you should also feel free to follow your interests by joining clubs in the arts, Greek life, or cultural groups.  Employers want to see students who have displayed teamwork and leadership skills through their clubs, and they will likely care less about which specific clubs you are joining – but rather will be interested in learning how you have gotten involved and taken an active interest in the Penn community.

5. Get to know your professors.  Especially if you are considering graduate or professional school, or perhaps a post-graduate fellowship, it will be important to form strong relationships with professors. These applications will ask for letters of recommendation, the strongest of which are highly personalized. Take time even in your first semester to introduce yourself to professors during their office hours (even virtually). This can be a great first step in getting to know your professors better. You can also look for opportunities to conduct research with professors through the CURF research directory.


By Claire Klieger
Claire Klieger Assistant Vice President & Executive Director