Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why I love Penn Engineering

It is well known that at Penn we have 4 undergraduate schools (and if you didn't, here they are: College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, Nursing School, and Wharton School of Business). "Which school is the best?" you might ask. Well, it depends on who you ask, but I think the school of Engineering is the clear winner, and here are some reasons why:

·         Tight community: Engineers make up 16-20% of Penn undergrad. This strikes a perfect balance between being big enough to have a lot of fellow engineering friends, and not being so large that classes are annoyingly large. The size also lends itself to creating such a tight knit community among engineers 

·         Free shirt every year: Every year during Engineering Day (E-Day), on top of the endless activities that different clubs hold (fondue night, E-ssassins, professor luncheons, scavenger hunts, food, and more food), engineers receive a free engineering tshirt. There are four different colors to choose from each year, with chances of winning additional shirts after the fact. By your senior year, you could literally have a engineering shirt for each color of the rainbow

·         (Dress) shirt and (dress) shoes optional: While some engineers decide to pursue more business and consulting jobs, most engineers get to intern and work for cool companies that have awesome engineering cultures, competitive pay, and lax dress codes. If you should so choose, engineering allows you to let that suit collect dust in the closet

·         Coolest toys: If you take a stroll in any of the engineering buildings, you'll encounter labs around every corner -- whether it be computer science labs with the most high tech computers and latest software, mechanical engineering labs with robots constantly being built and tested, or electrical engineering labs filled with electrical circuits and other fun gizmos

·         Avoid the cold: Philly gets its fair share of cold winters and snow storms. The interconnected engineering buildings allow you to avoid the at times bone chilling cold, while your Wharton/ College/ Nursing counterparts meticulously layer up.

These are just a few of the things that make Penn Engineering such a great community to be a part of. For me personally, it's been a home away from home.

Sandy is a senior in Computer Science @ Penn.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Being an Athlete and an Engineer…YES YOU CAN

Being an engineer at the University of Pennsylvania is hard.  No one, inside or outside of the school will deny that.  People spend countless hours in the lab, in the library, an at home doing problem sets, finishing projects, and running experiments.  It is a very difficult yet rewarding major.  Seems like a lot on your plate right?  It is, but as students at Penn, being involved in extracurricular activities is a must.  Clubs, societies, and groups are full of engineering students who want to get more out of their college experience than a degree and a bunch of graded tests, but few take on the giant commitment of being a varsity athlete.
            I am currently a junior in CBE and a member of the varsity gymnastics team at Penn.  I practice 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, 3:00-7:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  As many varsity athletes will tell you, being involved with Penn athletics is a commitment like no other.  For one, practice is not optional.  You cannot skip it for class, you cannot get someone to go for you, and you cannot put it off until later.  That chunk of time in my schedule would be labeled on my Google calendar as “I’m busy, no exceptions.”  During the season, my weekends are filled with gymnastics as well.  Traveling to Ithaca New York to compete against Cornell, or busing to Yale to take on the Bulldogs.  School work still must remain a priority, but the time you have is much more precious.
            Right now everyone reading this is probably thinking “Wow, this girl is nuts! Who would do this to themselves?”  I cannot lie, I have asked myself the same question multiple times before.  Yet through the stress, I am here to tell you it is possible!  And here is how :

  1.  Set your priorities.  With your time spread so thin, you have to decide what is important to you.  Whether it be friends, grades, athletics, sleep, or fun, you must decide what is most important to you.  I promise that there are not enough hours in the day to have it all, but you can have a little bit of everything.
  2. Do not compare yourself to others.  You are unique.  Being a varsity athlete and engineer is tough, so if you start comparing your grades or number of hours spent studying to others in your classes, you won’t feel great.  You must learn to have pride in all you have accomplished and all you can successfully balance.  Take pride in your work!
  3. Use athletics to your advantage.  I cannot say that professors will let you miss a test or turn in a homework late if you are traveling to a match or game, but I can say that the amount of teamwork, self-discipline, and leadership skills you learn through athletics in college will help you in the future.  It is impressive to employers to see that you are a student at an Ivy League school and are involved in athletics.  Yes maybe you don’t have that 3.95 GPA, but you are able to learn more valuable lessons than you can in the classroom. 
  4. Talk to your professors.  Are all their office hours during practice?  Are you behind and do not have the time to catch up?  Does it look like you aren’t trying when really you are working your tail off?  Go and talk to them.  I find that at the beginning of each semester I make an appointment with all of my professors just to introduce myself and throw in the fact that I’m an athlete and willing to work hard in the class, then slip in that I may need some extra help and ask when they are available.  Most professors are impressed that you are able to handle everything at once and they will help you out. 
  5. Embrace the community.  There is an instant bond you create when you meet someone who is a varsity athlete, especially if they are an engineer.  This connection makes you instant friends, because only you understand what it is like.  Form study groups with these people, because most often you are available at the same hours.  Athletics also provides a lot of resources.  Don’t be afraid to ask for things such as study hours, free tutoring, and help.  It is helpful, I promise. 
So to all of the varsity athletes and engineers, you can do it.  Being involved in athletics at Penn is a very valuable experience.  And with the support of your family, teachers, friends and teammates, it can be done!

Questions for Diana about being an athlete?  Contact her at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why you should go to the Penn Society of Women Engineers 16th Annual Corporate Dinner

The SWE Corporate Dinner is a professional networking dinner and reception held at the Inn at Penn on February 21, 2013 from 6-9 PM. This annual event has given hundreds of Penn undergraduates and graduates, male and female, a chance to personally interact with top company recruiters. Here is why this event should be of interest to you.

Underclassmen: You will get great exposure seeing a professional event and you will be able to learn how to network. I remember when I was a sophomore going to the SWE corporate dinner for the first time. It was quite frightening being put in that environment and mustering up enough courage to talk to company representatives. This event is a great introduction to professional networking events and is a fantastic way for you to learn these skills that you will need throughout your career. Company reps will also be looking for summer internship candidates as well so you’ll get to talk to them about the details.  

Upperclassmen: You will get a chance to talk to company representatives about their recruiting needs. Representatives will be keeping an eye out for both full-time and summer internship candidates. Also, make connections that you may need in the future.

Sponsors include:
·  Accenture
·  Capital One
·  Inductotherm
·  Bloomberg
·  RPA Engineering
·  Merck
·  ExxonMobil
·  Alcoa
·  Electronic Arts
·  MIT Lincoln Laboratory
·  Schlumberger
·  GlaxoSmithKline
·  ... and more

Event Format:

- 6pm-7pm: Appetizer Reception for Networking (Antipasto and Garden Crudites)
- 7pm-8pm: Dinner with Keynote Speaker (choice of Parmesan & Herb Crusted Boneless Chicken, Pan Seared Branzino, Cavatelli Pasta - vegetarian, Kosher Chicken - with starch and vegetables); Students will sit at a table with their preferred company
- 8pm-9pm: Dessert Reception for Networking (Assortment of pastries with coffee and tea)

Speaker: Ms. Suzanne B. Rowland | Vice-President & General Manager Americas | Tyco Fire Protection Products, member of the Penn Engineering Board of Overseers.

What to Wear: Business formal - many attendees wear suits.

Resume Book: Attending students will have the opportunity to submit their resume to the SWE Resume Book for the sponsoring companies to view. Details will be given in early February.

Each student is given a choice of their top three companies and seating priority is given to when the ticket was purchased. Students will be informed of which table they will be sitting at beforehand and are highly recommended to research the company.

Buy your ticket at the earliest possible for a better chance of sitting with your top choice company during dinner!! Regular price tickets are for $25. Buy tickets on Ticket Leap:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

4 things I wish I had known when job hunting

One AWE senior gives you the 4 things she wished she had known when job hunting !

Career Fairs Matter
I feel like everyone knows this already – go to career fairs, they’re important. But people are often at a loss as to how exactly career fairs help you. Company reps stand in front of a table and talk to person after person and end up with a giant pile of resumes. And I don’t know how many representatives I’ve talked to who have said “I’m not actually in charge of recruiting” or “I don’t actually have any input on those decisions.” When that happens, there really isn’t much to be done but to get contact information (yay networking?) and some information to put in a cover letter. But maybe forty percent of the time the person I talk to is actually someone with some influence. And talking to a person trumps submitting an application any day.

Career fairs cut out the electronic middle man – the keyword screenings and the task of making yourself look impressive on a piece of paper. And maybe, while you are standing in line for a company you’ve always thought you wanted to work for, you’ll pass by a table of another company you’ve never heard of and discover your dream job there.

Don’t Try to Look for the Perfect Job
 Job descriptions are three to four paragraphs at most – that doesn’t really tell you anything. When I started out on PennLink and other job boards, I would use the advanced search function to the maximum – chemical engineering, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, environmental science. And there would be maybe 20 or so results. And I would read through all the job descriptions and think “Is this something I would want to do?” But some companies don’t have job descriptions or don’t put keywords so I would hear of friends going for interviews for companies or jobs that sound amazing and wonder “why didn’t that job come up on my search?” 

And really, I’m just an undergrad – what do I really know about what I want to do? I mean, I have a vague idea, but I haven’t have actual experience so who am I to know that I’d like a process engineering position over a production engineering position? Sure I can do research online and talk to people, but at the end of the day, just putting a resume up for a job that sounds like it could be interesting might make all the difference.

Sometimes  Quantity Trumps Quality
It’s the unfortunate truth. Sometimes sending out a slightly-tailored resumes and cover letters to 100 companies can nab you more interviews than 10 meticulously crafted cover letters. The percentage might not be higher, but in the end that isn’t the number that matters. I don’t pretend to be an expert at how companies recruit – there probably isn’t a standard method anyway. Recruiters have said that they spend less than a minute looking at resumes and there is the saying that cover letters don’t matter – none of this I know for sure. But getting an interview is kind of like getting your foot in the door, sometimes it’s about timing and chance just as much as it is about how well you aim.
4    No One Ever Ends up where They Thought They Would
So cliché, but so true.
It’s funny how much I doubted that truth when I first started thinking about a career. My dad is a planner (he teaches Urban Planning, our vacations are very organized) so maybe I inherited that type of structural thinking from him. I figured that I would study hard and find a job that I would look at and know somehow that it was what I wanted to do. Like destiny.

I’m a senior now, so I’ve had four years of listening to other people talk about how they found their internship or their job. I know that’s not technically all that much experience, but if I had to give a rough unscientific estimate of how many people found the job they thought they would find, I would probably say it’s around 20%. Or some other surprisingly low number. Usually it’s the job that you didn’t even know about, or the company that you’ve never heard of that calls back for an interview.  It’s the job that you Google because your friend mentioned it that ends up being just the right fit. It might even be the company that you thought you were interviewing with just for practice that ends up being the one.

Job searching is unpredictable – there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through, events you have to show up for, emails you have to open. But from my experience, everything usually works out all right in the end.