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English Alumni Mentors

With the help of the Penn Alumni Office, we maintain an up-to-date database of interested alumni who majored in English while at Penn. These alums have volunteered as career advisors for our current majors. You can search by profession, geographical region or state, or year of graduation. All our alumni mentors have volunteered because they want to meet you and to help you by answering your questions about their current jobs and their career paths. All you have to do is find the ones who work in fields that interest you, and contact them.

Visit the English Alumni Mentor Database

Please follow these rules of courtesy:

  • Please don't ask an alum for a job; that's not why they're here. They are here to talk with you about their professional fields, and to answer your questions.
  • If you contact alumni by phone, ask whether now is a convenient time to speak, or whether you could set up a better time?
  • Be polite. Be Personable. Have a real conversation. Do not grill the alum.
  • Remember that you are speaking to a real person who is volunteering valuable time and expertise for free.
  • Say thank you -- every time.

Not sure what to ask? Here are some sample questions you may wish to ask a mentor. 

Please remember: this is not an interrogation. You are speaking to someone who majored in the same subject as you are right now, and who will be interested in you -- and you should be in him or her.

So, don't just run through this list of questions. Use them as a basis for a real conversation, and tailor them accordingly.

About their field:

  • How do people find out about jobs in your field? How are they advertised? Is word of mouth more important?
  • What would help me to learn more about this field?
  • What entry-level opportunities are there in this field?
  • How well suited is English for this type of work?
  • What else should I be doing? What other courses or experience do I need?

About their career path:

  • Five or ten years ago, did you expect to be where you are now?
  • How did you prepare for this kind of work? How do most people prepare for it?
  • If you were in college now, what would you differently?

About their current job:

  • How did you choose this career field?
  • What do you find most rewarding about the work?
  • How long do most people stay in your job?
  • Do you see your current job as a step to another one?
  • What are the most difficult aspects of your job?
  • If you were ever to leave this kind of work, what would drive you away from it?
  • When you hire people, what matters to you most in terms of qualifications and personal attributes?