Faculty Guide to Career Services

Faculty Guide to Career Services Resources for Doctoral Students

For an overview of what Career Services can offer you and your students, check out our Faculty Podcast!

Below, you will find information on the following topics, including how Career Services can work with you to address the needs of your graduate student and postdoc population.

Navigating the PhD
Individual Career Advising
Critiques of Job Search Materials
Programs and Workshops
Practice Interviews
Web Resources
Academic Job Search Handbook
Library Resources & Materials on Funding
Credentials Service
Electronic Distribution Lists
Job Listings
Additional Services

Navigating the Course of Your PhD

We have synthesized advice from faculty, recent graduates, and alumni to create a resource for students in the early, middle, and late stages of their PhD programs.  These pages provide suggestions about what students can do in each phase of their graduate study to stay on the right track in their professional development so that they are best prepared for life after Penn.

How We Can Work with You: As you discuss issues of professional development with your students, our "Navigating the Course of Your PhD" pages may be a helpful resource to which you can refer. Please feel free to send us any suggestions regarding the content of these pages. Additionally, each fall Career Services and the Vice Provost for Education sponsor "The Insider's Guide to Graduate Education," a panel in which advanced graduate students give advice to those in their first year of study. Please encourage your students to attend. Our calendar lists all our current programming relevant to doctoral students.

Individual Career Advising

We offer confidential appointments to discuss job market preparation and individual career goals.  Students frequently come with questions about c.v. preparation, dual career issues, conference and campus interview preparation, salary negotiation, and the logistics of conducting an academic search while developing a viable contingency plan. 

Students also make appointments to discuss concerns about pursuing an academic career or to explore alternative careers.  We help them clarify their priorities and find enough information to make realistic decisions; we offer advice and resources but not opinions. Sometimes students have not taken advantage of opportunities to develop a network of support within their own departments and have become isolated.  We then encourage them to reestablish stronger connections with their advisors, other faculty members, and other graduate students. 

How We Can Work with You: We cannot tell you if a student has visited our office, without his or her permission.  However, feel free to refer students to us for any reason and, with the students' permission, to speak with us in advance about the reason for the referral.

Critiques of Job Search Materials

We critique c.v.'s, cover letters, and other job-hunting documents, such as statements of teaching philosophy.  Guides to preparing these are presented in the Academic Job Search Handbook, and on our website which also includes samples donated by recent Penn graduates.

Programs and Workshops

Each year faculty and academic administrators participate in panel discussions on issues relating to careers in higher education as part of the "Academic Career Conference" and "Faculty Conversations on the Academic Job Search and Academic Life," two series that are co-sponsored with the Vice Provost for Education.  Both faculty panelists and students who participate are very enthusiastic about this series.

So that students can be informed about alternatives to faculty careers, we regularly coordinate "Leveraging your PhD" programs which feature professionals who hold PhD's (or are ABD) and work in a variety of career fields.

We offer workshops on nuts and bolts issues such as c.v. preparation, interviewing skills, working a conference, negotiating a job offer, summer preparation for going on the market in the fall, and job hunting in a difficult economy. 

Our calendar lists all our current programming relevant to doctoral students.

How We Can Work with You: We would like to visit your department to discuss Career Services resources particularly relevant to your students.  We'd also be happy to include other topics you think would be useful to students.  Past departmental visits have included talks about networking, identifying funding opportunities, and getting ready to go on the job market.

It is always great when you can say yes to our invitations to participate in panel discussions focusing on faculty careers and more. Feel free to suggest people you know whose job hunting story would be a good one for students to hear.  We'll organize the event.

Practice Interviews

Students may schedule individual video-recorded mock interviews.  Usually students use these as an opportunity to improve presentation skills, particularly in response to questions they know they will find difficult.  Some departments offer practice interview sessions.  In this case, students may use the individual video recording to get themselves up to speed for the public presentation in their departments, or to deal with weaknesses they discovered during the departmental practice session.  The private sessions are more coaching than critiquing and we make every effort to have students leave the session feeling more comfortable and confident than when they began.

How We Can Work with You: If you are concerned that a student is not presenting him or herself as effectively as possible, we welcome your referrals and description of the problem.   We are also happy to come to departmental interviewing sessions.

Web Resources

We have a comprehensive collection of web-based resources for students/postdocs to access at their convenience.  Our resources address academic job searching as well as non-academic careers.  We assist students in using the Internet as a job hunting tool and resource, and let them know of key resources on our web site, as well as other university offices that provide decision making and job hunting resources.  There are links to several major resources throughout our homepage for doctoral students and postdocs. This entry point also leads to very detailed resources in a range of disciplines for doctoral students at various stages.

How We Can Work with You: We recommend you link your departmental website to our website, which is an easy way to let your students know how we are able to assist them.

Academic Job Search Handbook

The original edition (1992) of this paperback guide to the academic job search was written with extensive feedback from a faculty advisory committee.  Authored by Career Services advisors who work with doctoral students and used by faculty job candidates across the country, it is currently in its fourth edition (2008) and is one of the best-selling publications of the University of Pennsylvania Press.  It is an extensive step-by-step discussion of what students can do to prepare for and to participate in the academic job market.  Career Services subsidizes copies of the book for current and recent Penn doctoral students and advanced postdoctoral fellows for $10. 

How We Can Work with You: We hope you'll encourage your students to obtain a copy of the book, preferably about two years before they're ready to go on the market.  Several departments purchase copies of the book for their advanced doctoral students.

Library Resources & Materials on Funding

Career Services library resources include books on academic careers and materials for those reconsidering their career direction. These include books on career change, volumes describing career fields, and directories of major employers. The titles in our collection are available in our online database.

Career Services has an extensive collection of resources on funding.  In the current job market, students will often apply for postdoctoral funding and for academic positions simultaneously.  We subscribe to the online version of The Grant Advisor and maintain a collection of funding directories. Students are welcome to search our database of funding information as well as links to other sources of funding information on and off campus.

How We Can Work with You: We would like your feedback on our collection of career resources.  We are particularly interested in learning of good funding sources we do not yet have on file, so that we can add ourselves to the mailing lists of these organizations.  With advance notice and on request, we can provide lists of opportunities for a particular field of study, as we have done in the past for funding opportunities for "Women in Cognitive Science."   

Credentials Service

Career Services partners with Interfolio, Inc. as provider of web-based credentials file management for the Penn community.  For a small fee users can store their letters of recommendation with Interfolio, and have them mailed out whenever they apply for graduate school admission, employment or funding.  Interfolio also provides free accounts for letter writers who may send letters of recommendation to Interfolio electronically, or via the US postal service.  We believe that Interfolio offers the greatest convenience and accessibility to our students and alumni for managing letters of recommendation and other important documents.

In some fields, such as the humanities, most students use their credentials files as their main way of providing references.  In different disciplinary "cultures," students may have letters on file merely for backup use in emergency situations.  They also often add letters from teaching experiences at other institutions. 

How We Can Work with You: If you have questions about Interfolio, please feel free to contact Career Services, or review the Instructions for letter writers.

Electronic Distribution Lists

Career Services maintains 20+ targeted distribution lists for graduate student and postdocs.  (Currently more than 5,000 email addresses of graduate students, postdocs and recent graduate alumni are subscribed to our lists).  We use these listservs to announce programs and workshops and to forward job postings as well as useful resources and job hunting tips.  Students seem particularly appreciative of this service and often will respond to an announcement with an individual question, related or incidental.  A complete listing of the listservs we maintain and instructions on how to sign up for them are on the web site.

How We Can Work with You: When we are aware of them, we also send a few messages to your departmental listservs.  If you (or someone else such as your graduate coordinator) would like to be added to one of our distribution lists, we will be happy to add you.  We'll also pass on to our distribution lists any career-related information you forward to us, including conferences and other events, fellowship opportunities, and the like.  

Job Listings

Because every discipline has its own venues for announcing doctoral level academic positions, Career Services concentrates on trying to ensure that students are aware of all the sources of listings in their fields and makes no effort to develop independent academic job listings.  We also assume that each department subscribes to the relevant listings in its own field and so we do not duplicate these resources in our web site.  However, many job listings do come our way, primarily from teaching, rather than research-oriented, institutions.  Many announcements are forwarded to students on our distribution lists. 

Most of the non-faculty jobs now posted directly with Career Services are on PennLink, our online searchable database on our web site.  As employers become familiar with this service, we expect the number of listings, including those requiring advanced degrees, or several years of experience, to grow.  For students interested in corporate employment, data generated by our on-campus recruiting system is a rich lode. 

How We Can Work with You: Feel free to share all listings with us, particularly announcements that apply to students outside your department.   Many faculty members forward position openings to us, which we distribute to interested candidates.  We are happy to receive position announcements for nonprofit, public and private sector opportunities that might be a good match for Penn graduate students and postdocs.  We prefer to receive listings which come in via email because these are so easy to forward to distribution lists.

Additional Services

For students who do not complete their doctoral programs, as well as for those enrolled in professional master's programs, Career Services has additional extensive resources and services.  These include on-campus recruiting, career fairs, alumni contacts, employer presentations, internship opportunities, job listings, and, in the cases of some professional programs, formal "resume book" collections (print or electronic).

Postdocs are eligible for all services and for access to most resources.