PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Patrick Carland-Echavarria (Hosted by Penn Libraries – Area Studies)

In the spring of 2021, 44 PhD students from a range of academic disciplines at Penn participated virtually in Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF) program, where they were matched with a host organization to learn about different careers beyond academia. Patrick Carland-Echavarria, a PhD student in East Asian Languages & Civilizations, was placed as a Fellow with the Penn Libraries – Area Studies. Read about Patrick’s experience in the CEF below!

Describe your experience working with your host:

I had a great time working with Rebecca Mendelson and others in the area studies section of Van Pelt libraries. During the fellowship, I had numerous informational interviews with them, other area studies libraries at Penn and other schools, and specialists in fields including special collections and archiving.

What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?

I learned a lot about the ins and outs of being an area studies librarian and the expectations for the jobs. I also found I really enjoyed the work, particularly how it allowed me to keep using my language skills creatively. I think I would be very happy to find a position as an area studies librarian.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

It has given me the assurance that area studies librarianship is a field I am interested in and would be interested in pursuing in the future. It is important for me that I can use my language training in my future job, and being an area studies librarian would be a great way to do that. It also would let me connect students with other cultures andlanguages and to stay connected myself.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

Learning how different area studies librarians came to hold their current positions and their experiences getting there. There were a lot of varying experiences, but seeing what worked for people and why they came to become librarians was very useful.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

It’s a good way to think about how to use your PhD creatively.

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