Help yourself to a better career

So you’re thinking you’d like to move up in the world, but have no idea how to advance up the career ladder and still remain at Penn.

Here are some strategies suggested by your fellow employees.

Take advantage of professional development opportunities.

Robin Hartley, associate director of the Wharton e-Business Initiative, credits the Professional Development Program offered by Human Resources’ Learning and Education division with getting her focused on what her interests were and how she could pursue them.

“In taking the program, I made it clear that I wanted to stay at Penn,” she said. “I liked the work environment.” At the time, she was an executive assistant to the dean of the Wharton School and had concluded that she’d been in that job too long.

“Once I went through the [program], I was startled at how much I had grown and how this job could not grow with me.” See “Professional development” below.

Identify someone who can serve as a mentor in your climb.

That’s how Jim Bean (C’83) made his way to the position of director of operations for Facilities Services from a job in Telecommunications.

“I had a very good mentor, Steve Murray [the late vice president for Business Services], who challenged people,” he said. “There was a bulk mail supervisor opening in the Mail Service, and he challenged me to go for the position.

“I did well in that job, became a manager, and held that position for 11 years.”

Make friends on campus and get involved in staff organizations.

Both Bean and Khawar Ali Khan, program coordinator in the Aresty Institute of Executive Education, say they made valuable contacts and gained visibility through their work with campus staff groups — the Penn Professional Staff Assembly in Bean’s case and the A-3 Assembly in Khan’s.

“I urge people looking to move up within Penn to join Penn organizations,” said Khan.

Be a frequent Web surfer — then go directly to the source.

The Human Resources job database on the Web contains hundreds of listings that change constantly. It’s the best place to start your search for a more fulfilling position.

But it’s only a start.

“One piece of advice I would give is that once you see the job [you want] on line, contact Human Resources and get information about the hiring officer,” said Kahn, who did just that when he heard about an opening in the Wharton executive education division. Khan got the job.

See related story, “Human resources.”

Professional development

Open to all staff, the $50, two-day Professional Development Program was created specifically for Penn to help employees take their careers where they want them to go.

Register now for the next session, which runs Dec. 4 and 5. For information and registration, go to, and navigate to the Professional Development Program.

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Originally published on September 13, 2001