For many in the freshman class, it’s hard to think about the transition from college to career when you are still trying to figure out how to even be a college student. More than likely, a college freshman such as you and I get asked about what they want to do after college and just answer with “I don’t really know” or “I can’t even figure out where to begin.”
For that reason, freshman year comes to be a very critical time in the search for a career after graduation. This is the time to set your baseline; to figure out what kind of goals you want to set for yourself in the long term. If you do not know where to go with your life after college, this is your best opportunity to organize yourself.
During my time here in the Center for Career Development, I’ve heard a common theme on where to begin your search, which typically boils down to these four basic questions:
- What Career(s) Do I Find Interesting? — You want to enjoy the work that you do in the future in some sort of way. If you are undecided about your major, find something that will not only pay well, but will get you excited about going to work every day. If you are already set on a major, see if there is a certain specialty in that industry that you might want to focus on.
- What Type of Experience Do I Already Have in that Career Track? – Put yourself in the shoes of an employer in the field you have chosen. Evaluate the different jobs, volunteer work, and extra-curricular activities you already have in your résumé that may entice an employer.
- Where Do I Lack Experience in that Field? – Again look at your experiences and skills as an employer, this time from the opposite front. Where on your résumé could you make some improvements? Strategically plan how to develop the necessary skills.
- How Can I Fill Those Gaps in College? – Here is where you delve into action. Look into the clubs and organizations on campus that offer different things that can help you make the improvements you need in your résumé. Take advantage of our free résumé critiques and other help that will make any first impression with an employer a good one. Seek opportunities to make those all-important connections with people in the workforce through career fairs, alumni panels, and recruitment visits by employers. You’ve identified your areas for improvement, now set those goals and work toward them.
Never before in your life, and rarely after college is over, will you get the opportunity to have so many career and résumé building entities at your disposal. Be sure to take advantage of them. After all, when you are on the podium in Spring 2018, you won’t want to have the same answer about your career as you have now.