Welcome to college – where the ride may not always be smooth sailing but the adventure is one you will remember for the rest of your life. As a Career Counselor, I believe in promoting the importance of career planning and how this impacts the transition from student to  professional. You, as a student, play an important role in this journey as you are ultimately in control of your own academic path. There will be obstacles along the way but if you prepare early on as a Freshman you will reap the benefits entering into your Senior year. In fact, our center provides you the resources and offer services that will guide you throughout your time with us.

FIRST YEAR
Your first year is a perfect time for discovery, both professional and personal. Join clubs and organizations that suit your interests. Connecting with your peers enhances your communication skills and helps build your network. Make your education and grades a top priority. Pursue your strengths. Improve on your weaknesses.  Be thinking of your current major and see to it that it matches the career path you want to follow – if it does not, you can always change it by speaking with a faculty or success advisor as well as your Career Development Center. If you find a part-time, volunteer, or seasonal position that is related to your career interests — go for it! The sooner you are able to establish your role as a student and a professional, the easier the transition will be.

SECOND YEAR
The second year is when you dedicate time for decisions. Figure out what you liked last year and what you didn’t. Map out what your short-term and long-term goals are. It can be as simple as setting up an informational interview with a local organization or locking-in that dream Summer internship with a multi-national company. Take advantage of workshop opportunities offered. Our center is developing more workshops geared towards all of our students. From creating a personal brand, building your resume, to improving your network and interview skills.   Start developing a list of people or companies to contact. It is never too early to connect with professionals in your area of interest. Look for internships specific to your major and find out the steps needed to apply for them. Attend site visits or schedule it at your own time. Create a LinkedIn account to boost your professional and online presence. If you have an account created, learn to utilize it well and build your online visibility.

THIRD YEAR
This is the year to focus on your personal development and to start thinking about what you can do to have a competitive advantage when job searching. Stock up on a few essential interview-appropriate clothes. If you do not own a power suit, we have a career closet to help you get started and can show you what to invest in. You should have a resume created by now and this is the time to post it in our resume book within Hire-A-Pirate. If you are involved in clubs or organizations, we encourage you to take on leadership roles as this allows you to learn multiple management styles. Plan to attend at least one of our Career and Internship Expos. Bring copies of your resume and be prepared to network with the companies and organizations attending. If all goes well, this may lead you to an internship offer and will open up a lot of doors for future career paths.

FOURTH YEAR
Your fourth year may be your busiest year yet. With trying to make sure you are passing your senior-level courses and juggling extracurricular activities, it is no surprise if you start to feel intimidated and stressed out. By now, you should be participating in as many workshops and events that the Career Development Center sponsors as possible. Develop a job search plan and familiarize yourself with the job search sites that are out there, and don’t forget to stay organized! Keep track of where you’re applying and keep the contact information of any hiring managers you know. Make sure your application materials are reviewed by professionals. Get comfortable reaching out to your network and let them know you’re available for hire. Practice your pitch and be more comfortable with responding to questions such as “Tell me about yourself.” And remember, be patient as the career search process takes time.

Our office is here to help and we provide you the career planning support you need, regardless of where you’re at in the process, all you have to do is ask. We help you understand when and where we can lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Remember, take charge of your own academic and career goals. Career planning shouldn’t just happen in the final year of college. If you plan well, it can make all the difference in your success.