Professional Development and Career Resources

Posted February 13, 2018

Forging Your Own Path: Alternative Careers in Design Panel Discussion

On February 7, 2018 PennDesign students gathered in the Upper Gallery to hear a panel discussion on alternative career paths in design. This event was part of a new series of programs sponsored by the Office of Professional Development & Leadership to help with the transition from graduate school into practice, or an academic career.

The eight distinguished panelists are practitioners at various stages in their careers from firms of different sizes who have carved out alternative and interdisciplinary paths. The panelists included: Lois Brink (MLA’78, Chief Strategist, The Big Sandbox), Dorothy Daly (MLA’98, Senior Environmental Planner/Registered Landscape Architect, STV), Eric De Feo (March’13, CEO/Co-Founder, ROOT), Catherine Nagel (MLA’03, Executive Director, City Parks Alliance), Richard Roark (Partner, Olin), Anthony P. Sorrentino (MCP’05, Assistant Vice President, Office of the Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania), John Szot (Architect, John Szot Studio) and Thor Thors (March’92, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Compass).

Each of the guests spoke about the diversity of career paths available to design graduates and shared personal examples of their own diverse and non-linear career choices. Here are five highlights from the excellent advice given by panelists: (1) be willing to have professional agility, (2) take advantage of all Penn resources beyond Meyerson Hall, (3) use the public speaking and pitch skills you learn in studio critiques for other opportunities like entrepreneurship, (4) go to professional conferences and meet people in the industry, and (5) professional relationships matter so be nice to people.