Making the most of Thanksgiving break: Four reminders to feed your (career) soul

By Dr. Claire Klieger

You’ve made it! That much needed Thanksgiving break is just around the corner; it’s so close you can almost taste that homemade stuffing (or whichever seasonal dish is your favorite).  What you may be less excited about is the prospect of fielding career-related questions from inquisitive family members. In addition to preparing yourself for surviving those holiday conversations about your future plans, you made need some reassurance of your own that things will work out. At what can sometimes be a stressful time, please remember:

1.You still have plenty of time to search and apply for opportunities.

Many of my one-on-one advising sessions with students these days begin with some sort of statement like, “I know I’m really behind but…” Much like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, at Penn there seems to be this perpetual feeling of being late or that all of the “good” opportunities are gone as the fall “on-campus” interviewing season winds down.

The reason it often feels this way is because certain industries and types of employers, such as those in finance, consulting and big tech, hire really early. Despite what feels “normal” at Penn, this kind of accelerated hiring is actually atypical because since most employers don’t think about posting an opportunity until they have a need to fill it.  This phenomena creates two waves of hiring…one in the late summer and early fall with these large employers that can predict their hiring needs well in advance…and another in the spring closer to when students would actually be starting in those roles in the summer.

2. Many students don’t land their summer internships or post-grad offers until the spring – really!

Don’t feel like just because it seems as though the semester’s end is approaching faster than you could eat a slice of pumpkin pie that you don’t (or won’t) have options. Some of the most interesting opportunities won’t become available until the spring.  In fact, if you look at outcomes data for both post-grad and summer internships, you’ll see that many students (60% for summer internships and 25% for post-grad, for the class of 2021) did not receive their offers until March or later.  In certain industries, such as entertainment, non-profits, and healthcare, the majority of students don’t receive their offers until late in the spring semester or even into early summer. For more details on timelines for offers, salary trends by industry and more, check out our Class of 2020 industry report and Summer 2019 industry report. And, if you haven’t already done so, pretty please…fill out your 2021 summer survey here!

3. It’s okay to take a breath and recharge your batteries during the holiday season!

These two hiring waves (in the early fall and again in the spring) mean we are about to enter into a posting lull, which typically lasts from Thanksgiving to New Years. Think of it like the tryptophan-induced food coma you experience after that Thanksgiving meal…except this one lasts until the new year. So…if you aren’t seeing many listings right now, don’t worry–that’s normal! There will be an uptick again in the spring. The upshot? You have time. You can take a deep breath and really enjoy your Thanksgiving break. There will certainly be time to apply for more opportunities later.

4. Break things into smaller “bite-size” tasks that feel more manageable

That said, if you want to get a head start on spring applications, here are several things that you can be doing over the holiday breaks:

  • Update your resume
  • Have conversations alumni to help you learn about different industries/roles/employers
  • Create a list of target employers
  • Rest, recharge & restore – taking time to recenter helps you present as a fresh (and more confident) candidate




By Claire Klieger
Claire Klieger Assistant Vice President & Executive Director