Let’s Talk About Declaring a Major!

Posted on: January 15, 2016

Dear Members of the Class of 2018:

Happy New Year!  We are looking forward to having you back on campus and hope your Winter Break was all you hoped it would be and more.

Second semester of the sophomore year–in April, to be precise–is when you will be expected to declare a major.  Students often have many questions about this issue, and for some the prospect of declaring a major is the source of considerable (yet often unnecessary) anxiety.  Myths about the majoring process abound, as well.

To answer those many questions, allay that anxiety, and explode some of those myths, we thought it might be valuable to convene a meeting at which the general subject of the major at Haverford can be discussed.  Having worked with Haverford students for many years, we have a good idea of what the issues tend to be and, over time, have developed ways of thinking about the major and the declaration process that we believe could be helpful to you as you look ahead.

To that end, we would like to invite you to a meeting of the sophomore class this Monday evening, January 18 at 7:00 pmin the INSC’s Zubrow Commons.

We hope you will join us and your classmates at this time. There may even be a treat or two to enjoy.

See you there!

All the best,

Martha Denney

Phil Bean
Kelly Cleary
Donna Mancini
Michael Martinez
Theresa Tensuan
Kelly Wilcox
Steve Watter

Finding Direction During Sophomore Year

Posted on: December 7, 2015

Post by: Michael Jordan ’17

I’m sure that by this point in your lives many of you are well acquainted with the term “sophomore slump”, referring to a general lack of direction that is so common during many of our college sophomore years. The purpose of this post is to urge you to view sophomore year not as a time of idleness, but rather a unique opportunity to position yourself well for the years ahead. Developing a sense of urgency and direction at this time in your life is not easy, but will yield significant benefits in the future, both in your academic and professional paths.

Sophomore year is a strange time for many reasons. While freshman year is generally viewed as a trial period, a time to explore new classes and activities, and junior year is commonly the point at which you begin to act on them, your second year in college sits awkwardly in the middle. You won’t be deciding on your major until the end of the spring semester, and internship opportunities can sometimes be limited without much experience under your belt. The important thing to realize is that sophomore year provides not a barrier, but rather a springboard to future achievement.

If you talk to many students in their junior or senior years, you will often find that they have no choice but to adopt that sense of urgency. Time as an undergraduate is now more than halved, and things start moving very quickly. If you utilize sophomore year as a time to find direction and take the proper steps towards your future goals, you will find not only more doors open to you in your later years, but also more freedom and less stress in achieving those goals.

If you’re reading these posts, keeping up with news from the OAR, CCPA, CPGC, and other academic and professional resources, and reaching out to people at Haverford who can help you find this direction, you are already ahead. Now is a great time to begin using these resources to better prepare yourself for the future. If you’re unsure about what major you may want to declare, start speaking with professors in departments that interest you. We have the unique opportunity of being at an institution the supports and encourages this type of outreach.

On the professional level, it may be a good time to start thinking about your plans for the following summer. The CCPA and CPGC are both great resources for developing a plan going forward. Internships provide two invaluable qualities to students. One being an experience that helps you develop specific skills, making you a better candidate for future positions. The other being an opportunity to decide what you do or don’t like doing as a career. For me, I realized after a freshman summer of research at a pharmaceutical start-up that lab work wasn’t for me, and decided to pursue a finance-oriented internship the following year. Seek out an opportunity that interests you and use the resources available to you to make it happen. Come next year, you will be in a great position to make informed decisions and be competitive for other internships or even job opportunities in the future.

If you plan to pursue academic research, be it scientific or otherwise, sophomore year is a great time to get started. It’s a good idea to begin reaching out to professors with research projects that interest you and figuring out how to get involved. A summer of research can provide an incredible jumpstart on a project and can help you develop very quickly as a student and as a researcher. It has the added benefit of helping you explore a major in depth, and even start thinking about what path you may want to take after graduation.

Above all, it is important to remember how helpful many of the resources and people at Haverford can be. We have the ability as students to develop strong relationships with faculty, professional resources, and even alumni. When you feel like you’re struggling for a sense of direction, the best thing you can do is use these relationships to find clarity and even mentorship. It will be immensely helpful in whatever academic or professional direction you may choose to pursue.

Stepping into a Leadership Position

Posted on: December 2, 2015

Hey sophomores! Right now you probably can’t think past the next two weeks let alone about next semester, or even next school year…but if getting more involved in co-curricular activities has been on your mind, read on! As a sophomore, you have most likely been able to check out the different clubs and organizations Haverford has to offer and have maybe even gotten involved in a few things. Perhaps you are on a club sport, in an A Capella group, or involved with an affinity group. As you begin to mature as a Haverford student, I encourage you to look into taking on a leadership position.

Check out this data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 77.8% of employers responded that both leadership and the ability to work in a team are attributes that they look for on a candidate’s resume, more than any of the other attributes listed. Holding a leadership position even ranks above both major and GPA. You are in the prime position to not only get more engaged and have a more enjoyable experience on campus, but to be more successful in the future as well!

One key piece of advice that I would like to give is to not take on everything. Think about the various things you are involved in and what you are most passionate about. Are there any clubs/orgs that relate to your major? What are some of the transferable skills you are gaining from them? What do you personally enjoy the most? Pick the thing you care most about and pursue further involvement in that. You can still remain involved in your other activities, but as a member and supporter. As important as it is to have leadership experience, a good leader also recognizes the need for balance and self-care!

If you have not been able to get involved outside of class yet and feel as though you have missed the boat, don’t fret! Clubs and orgs are always looking for new members, so be sure to explore the Student Activities page on Haverford’s website to see what you might want to get involved in, and then reach out! It is never too late to start getting involved.

Stepping into a leadership position may seem daunting. You may not identify with the other people you view as “good leaders.” However, though some people may have inherent leadership traits, most of what makes a “good leader” are leadership skills. Skills can be learned, practiced, and built upon. In addition, there is no one type of effective leader. There are many different leadership styles, all of which can be successful and can be a good fit for your personality. If you are interested in building up your leadership skills and discovering your leadership style, I encourage you to check out the Rufus M. Jones Leadership Institute and take the 6-week leadership development course in the spring (keep an eye out for an e-mail early next semester!). Also, feel free to reach out to me or stop by Chase 205 to chat sometime! I am here to support you and guide you in your leadership journey!

Good luck with the last couple weeks of classes and finals!

Sophomore Success Series: Session 4

Posted on: November 9, 2015

Posted by Karina Wiener, CCPA

Last week we had our last session of the Sophomore Success Series. This blog post is packed full of information so I apologize in advance for the length, but feel free to scroll through to find the information you’re interested in. We discussed the interview process, following up after an interview and your online LinkedIn persona. The session was therefore focused on the “Interviewing & Follow Up” step of the job search process.

3S summary diagram

We first gave students a re-cap of different ways to find job and internship opportunities, including (but not limited to):

  • HC Recruiting Events (On-Campus Recruiting in the TriCo, Philadelphia Career Connections Event, SLAC Recruiting Days, STEM Recruiting Event)
  • College Sponsored Internships
  • Haverford-Specific General Internship Listings (CareerConnect, LACN, Nationwide Internships Consortium)
  • General Internship Listings (internships.com, indeed.com)
  • Industry or Region Specific Listings (GoingGlobal, Policy Jobs, Idealist, etc.)
  • Organization websites
  • Reaching out directly and asking if they have opportunities
  • Contacts (Family, Friends, Alumni, etc.)

Then, we jumped right into a discussion about interview skills. In an interview, your job is to demonstrate to the employer why you’re the candidate they should hire. Employers want to know about your aptitude (do you have the skills and knowledge to succeed in this position? what distinguishes you from other applicants?), interests (why do you want to work for the organization? why are you interested in the position?), and fit (will you fit in with the office’s culture? what kind of colleague will you be?) for the position.

We broke the interview process down into three parts: Before, During, and Closing/After the interview.

Continue reading

What’s Happening In Res. Life

Posted on: November 5, 2015

If many of you are like me, you woke up this morning wondering when November happened. The countdown to the end of the fall semester has begun. I’m not talking months, but weeks! As the semester winds down, I want to remind you of one of the many resources that you have at your fingertips: The Office of Residential Life.

Let’s face it, you have enough on your plate, especially towards the end of the semester. The last thing you want to worry about is your housing and living space. The Office of Residential Life is your one stop shop for everything housing-related. We tackle everything from Lunt Lounge to laundry. If you have a question, we most certainly have an answer. Our door is always open so come visit us sometime. We are located in Chase Hall 213.

As the fall semester comes to a close, I think it is important to highlight two upcoming events related to Res. Life. I hope this information serves you well as you wind down the semester.

  • Mid-Year Room Draw – Are you returning from Study Abroad? Are you leaving for Study Abroad? Do you have an open space in your group housing to fill? Are you just tossing around the idea of changing your housing? Mid-year room draw will take place on Thursday, December 3rd. *NEW THIS YEAR – THE DRAW WILL BE CONDUCTED ONLINE.* For more information visit our website.
  • Winter Break Housing – During Winter Break, a limited amount of housing is provided to students on approved athletic teams, international students, and students taking classes at Penn. For more information visit our website. Completed applications must be submitted to the Office of Residential Life (Chase 213) no later than 5:00pm on Friday, December 4th.

Best of luck as you close out these last remaining weeks!

The Graduate School Decision Making Process…

Posted on: November 2, 2015

It is graduate school application season again. For undergraduate seniors planning to attend graduate school right after graduation, that means you are probably already working on your admission letters, asking faculty for letters of recommendation and organizing spread sheets with program deadlines, application costs and so forth. Sophomores and juniors are likely still mulling over the decision-making process. Asking the question many who came before them did, including myself, is graduate school right for me? It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Continue reading

Tomorrow: College Funded Summer Internship Fair

Posted on: October 29, 2015

By Karina Wiener, CCPA

Hey sophomores, how will you be spending your summer? Summer is a great time to catch up on sleep and hang out with friends and family, but there’s also time to start exploring industries that interest you and building up that resume!

Haverford provides funding for many different types of summer opportunities. Whether you want to be abroad, at home, or at Haverford; whether you are interested in social justice, science, business, or something else; whether you want to design your own program or join a pre-existing one, there are opportunities for you!

Talk to students about their college funded summer experiences to help you decide which one would be best for you, TOMORROW, from 11:30am-1:30pm in the DC Sunken Lounge. See you there!

(Click here for details and deadlines for each individual funding opportunity.)




Sophomore Success Series: Session 3

Posted on: October 26, 2015

Posted by Karina Wiener, CCPA

Congratulations on surviving the week AFTER fall break! I don’t know why, maybe it’s because you’re coming off a week of relaxation, but that seems to be one of the hardest weeks for students. Hopefully many of you drafted a resume and maybe even a cover letter over break–last week’s 3S session will help you make those the best they can be, and remind you of the resources available to you!

We began the session by discussing our “alumni conversation” homework. Students attended various events on campus with alumni present, shadowed professionals in their workplace, or had a casual conversation with a family friend in an industry of interest. There are endless opportunities to ask professionals about their work–everybody loves to talk about themselves, right? If you’re thinking about a certain field and don’t know anyone in it, sign up for the externship program offered by the CCPA, in which you can sign up to shadow professionals in their workplace over winter break! There are over 170 professionals in various fields, go to CareerConnect to learn more and apply by Thursday, October 29!

The rest of this session was focused on the “Applying” step of the job search process.

3S summary diagram

Barbara Hall from the Writing Center talked to the class about the ways in which the writing center can help in the job and internship application process.

barbra hall

Barbara suggested that writing a cover letter, personal statement, or statement of interest should be a process, similar to that of any other academic paper. There should be drafts and feedback, ideally from the writing center and the CCPA. She also reminded students that if there is a prompt, be sure to answer the questions that were asked. And lastly, make sure what you write can withstand both the “quick read” and the “slow read.” It needs to stand out upon first glance so it gets put in the “maybe” pile, and then there has to be some interesting meat to it so that it moves from “maybe” to “yes”!

After Barbara left, we touched on the importance of professionalism in terms of corresponding with employers. We did this by watching a video on Career Spots. Career Spots is one of the CCPA online subscription sites; it has hundreds of short videos about internships, the job search, and careers. Career Spots can answer questions anywhere from “what does a dental hygenist actually DO?” to “what should I wear to my interview?” to “how do I negotiate a salary with my new employer?” These videos are just four minutes, perfect to watch when you’re on-time to class and have to wait for haver-time to kick in, or you’re waiting for your quesadilla at the coop.

We returned the students’ resumes and went over some tips based on common mistakes we saw students make:
- Under experiences, list bullets in order of relevance/importance
- Quantify results whenever possible
- Under bullets, try to answer “how” and “how much”
- Only list high school if relevant
- Use minimal accents (ideally just use bold and italic)
- Be consistent in terms of layout, font size, wording, style, etc.
- Be aware of tenses
- Don’t use “I”
- Right-align the date

Additionally, we provided a sample education section for students to model theirs after.Screenshot 2015-10-26 08.37.34

Next, we asked the students to begin thinking about career values using this image:


A career is not just about one of these four things, but it’s about the intersection of the values that matter the most to you. If you’re really lucky, you can find something that intersects with all four categories and reach a sort of “career bliss.”

Students were asked to stand in a single file line and step to the right if I read off a value they held strongly, step left if they did not hold it at all, or stay where they were if they were neutral. I read off of a values checklist that Kelly created while she was at Penn. The goal of this exercise was to get students to start thinking about what really matters so that they know what they’re looking for. Maybe you think you want to be a consultant but you don’t want long hours and hate traveling—those would be good things to realize and odds are you’ll be able to find a job with the things you need. Additionally, values change and that’s okay! Maybe now you want to travel to the end of the world and work all day, but one day you may care more about settling down with a family. It’s important to continue to re-evaluate which values are most important to you.

Lastly, we discussed cover letters. Cover letters should address four basic questions:
- Why are you writing?
- Why me?
- Why you?
- What’s next?

Here’s a breakdown of what each paragraph of a cover letter should contain:
Paragraph 1:
• Introduce yourself (without saying your name)
• Tell the employer why you are writing (and briefly why you are interested)
• Say how you heard about the job
• If you have a connection to the company, make sure to mention it!
• Include job title (if applicable)
• Be concise
Paragraph 2:
• Answer the question of why you would be good for the job
• Do not restate your resume
• Don’t get bogged down in details (avoid the “kitchen sink” syndrome)
• Address the concerns in the job description
• Be enthusiastic
• Be positive (don’t dwell on negatives-”although I don’t have experience…”)
Paragraph 3:
• Why you are excited about this company/position
• Show that you know something about the organization and position
• Don’t be vague (“I’d like to work in a challenging environment.”)
• Can be omitted if first paragraph covers this information
Paragraph 4:
• State what you would like to see happen next (interview, provide additional materials, you will be in town, follow-up with a phone call, etc.)
• Follow up if you say you’re going to follow up

Basically, a cover letter should be why you are a good fit for the company or organization, not why the company is a good fit for you. If the job description suggests specific traits or qualifications they’re looking for, restate those in your cover letter and have strong examples to prove that you embody them.

Some common mistakes students can make when writing resumes include:
- Writing your whole life story
- Only talking about yourself and why the job is good for you
- Spelling mistakes (such as Deer Jane)
- Repeating your resume without offering any more information

*Remember, if you’re emailing your cover letter as an attachment to save it as a pdf and to include something like the first paragraph of your cover letter in the body of the email.

The homework for next week is to draft a cover letter for the internship posting they found the previous week, and to update their resume based on the feedback we gave them. I’ll be back in a few weeks with some advice on interviews and online persona.

Stay warm everyone!

The Art of Reflection

Posted on: October 13, 2015

I hope you’re enjoying the break Fords! It’s the calm before the storm for myself. Why? My wife and I are expecting our first child. And he could be coming any day now. Our lives are about to change. Forever. This is a decision we made and we welcome. A decision that was followed by a million other decisions, large and small: type of stroller, theme of the nursery (surf themed, we’re beach bums), how to prepare a will, should we purchase life insurance, and the list goes on. Why do I mention this on a blog targeted for Sophomores? To humble brag? No. (ok may be just a little). There are multiple times in our are lives where we find ourselves weighing options that have some bearing on our future, and I’ve come to learn what’s most important is not what I’ve decided but how I’ve made the decision.

Anyone who has worked with me knows how much I value the practice and art of reflection. Reflection is the act of hitting the pause button on our lives. It’s starts by breaking away from the drama and noise surrounding our everyday lives, and in a quiet space asking questions that we are often too busy to attend to.

I’ve always identified as being an ‘introvert’, and for me that means I gain energy and insight from alone time. I recharge by allowing myself to be alone with my thoughts, or doing solitary activities, such as reading, writing, surfing, and hiking. I need to step back to process, understand and often think critically about my current situation. I try to do this daily. Needless to say in the last nine months, I have taken a lot of walks, trips to the beach, journal entries, and sat hours in meditation which have helped me process becoming a dad. I’ve found if I intentionally carve out the time, and purposefully think about these questions in the right environment I am able to be confident in the decision I’ve made regardless of outcome.

I am aware that many reading this may be of the opposite nature, and likewise their energy and insight is gained from being social and interacting with others. But the practice and act of reflection is still equally important and can be done just as easily alone as it can through guided reflection with another person. What is imperative is to allow yourself the time and right space to process.

As a Haverford student you live a busy life. I’m incredibly impressed by the roles and responsibilities Fords voluntarily take on and how you give back to your campus and fellow students. But time is scarce. I encourage you to carve out time to reflect, ask yourself:

How am I doing?

What’s working?

Am I doing things that make me happy?

What do I need to improve?

What challenges or decisions lie ahead?

Give equal thought of where you will ask these questions. Recent research has proven that that our environment, especially nature, plays a huge role in how we make positive decisions and forming a healthy mindset. Take a walk on the nature trail, visit Fairmount Park or road trip to the Poconos, or the shore. Also think about who you may talk with to help you process. Don’t allow breaks to be the only time you assess your state of mind. I encourage you to take at least 5 minutes of your day to hit the pause button, reflect and think about your thinking. It’s a simple practice, but easily neglected in the midst of a busy, demanding semester.