Looking Back…. And Forward

Whew… we’ve almost made it through this incredibly strange 2020-2021 academic year.  Congrats to all of you, especially graduating students. We’ve muddled through zoom fatigue, social distancing, and have been faced with significant challenges throughout the pandemic.  For many, there has also been concerns about job and internship prospects as employers were unsure of their hiring needs.  It’s been a stressful time unlike anything we’ve experienced before.  However, even with the challenges, there have been positive things that will come out of this time period, and as a natural optimist I want to be sure not to overlook them.

The economy is rebounding and employers are looking to bring new employees on board.  At its peak during the pandemic, unemployment hit 14.7% in April 2020. Last month that number was down to 6%.  Both employers and employees have become much more effective at working remotely and taking advantage of the many tools available to them like Zoom, Slack, and other technology.  While we’ve heard from many employers that they intend to have their interns work remotely again this summer, they are confident that they can provide a meaningful and impactful experience for interns even from a distance.  The landscape of “how we work” has changed and there will be increased opportunity for flexible work options moving forward for many more people than in the past which will benefit all of us.

The Career Services team is eager to learn more about how Penn students have fared this year in the job market, and to fully assess this we need your help!  If you are graduating this year, please take a moment to complete our Career Plans Survey through Handshake.  It will only take a few minutes and the data is incredibly valuable to us and the Penn community.  If you’ve accepted a job, plan to matriculate into a graduate program, or are still seeking opportunities, we need your response to fully learn about how the pandemic has affected Penn students in terms of career outcomes.  If you are still seeking opportunities, know that the Career Services team is available now and all summer (and beyond – as we serve alumni for life!), so please schedule an appointment through Handshake to meet with a Career Advisor if we can be helpful as you move forward.

For those who are not graduating, we look forward to welcoming you back to campus and are thrilled that Penn plans to return to in-person teaching and research in the fall.  However, because we expect that there will still be limitations on large gatherings and because many employers have told us that they will still likely have travel restrictions in place, we plan for most, if not all, of our employer interactions (career fairs, information sessions, and “on campus” interviews) to remain virtual in the fall.  We have all the tools in place to facilitate these interactions and anticipate that everything will run seamlessly as they did this year.

We are also seeing a continuation of early recruiting processes by employers in several industries.  Many financial employers have already begun recruiting for Summer 2022 internships and that process will continue over the summer. We’ve heard from some consulting firms that they expect to open applications up over the summer for Summer 2022 internship and full-time hiring.  We strongly encourage students (especially rising juniors and seniors) to periodically check Handshake and be sure to read the weekly, personalized Career Services newsletter (Penn Career Services Weekly Digest – Jobs, Events, News and More!) to stay updated on opportunities.  To ensure your newsletter is customized to your interests, log in to the top right on the Career Services website with your PennKey and update your content “preferences.”  You can choose to receive information for specific affinity groups (such as students of color, international students, women, and more), job and internship listings for specific industries (such as engineering, nursing, non-profits, and many others), or information on applying to graduate or professional school, among other options.

Best wishes on finals and please feel free to schedule an appointment with a Career Services advisor over the summer if you have any career-related questions.

By Barbara Hewitt
Barbara Hewitt Executive Director