Mistakes I Made as an Undergraduate: Part 2

In my last blog post I wrote about how one of the major mistakes I made in my after graduation job search was that I didn’t network.  Today I wanted to write about another big mistake I made as an undergraduate, one that as a career consultant I see a lot of CLAS students making in college.  My second mistake was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I “just wanted a job” and was “open to anything.”

While flexibility and adaptability are great characteristics to possess when you’re job searching, not having any idea of what you’re looking for can be quite problematic.  Employers are looking for candidates who are the perfect fit for their company and their position.  By trying to keep your options open and your résumé general you won’t stand out to anyone.  The key to all successful job search materials is to be specific.  If you are applying to multiple industries or types of positions you should have multiple versions of your résumé, and any time you include a cover letter it should be tailored to that specific job description.

The reason why I didn’t have a clear direction wasn’t because I didn’t have any interests. It was because I didn’t know how my personal values, interests, and skills could translate from college to career.  Quite simply, I didn’t know what my options were.  Now that I work in career counseling, I know how important it is for students to take advantage of their time in college to explore potential careers and learn about their options.  There are so many great resources at the Center for Career Development that can help you explore what options are available.  It is much harder to go through this exploration once you’re out of college, back at your parent’s house, and waiting tables to pay off your piles of student loans that just kicked in.  (And yes, I know this from personal experience).

So please learn from my mistakes! Seek career guidance early and often.  What you choose for your first job after college doesn’t need to be your career for the rest of your life, but if you don’t narrow down your direction while in school, you will have a much harder time conducting a successful post-grad job search. Come stop by Wilbur Cross 202 for a walk in with a career consultant (M-F; 12-4PM) and we can help you figure out where you want to go!

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt