A Year-by-Year Approach for Developing a Personal Career Plan during your College Years

First-year students are usually surprised to learn that career planning is a process that begins as early as your first year and is continuously developed through all your college years. Career development is a lifelong process, and today is the day to begin!

Below you will find a checklist of potential action steps you may consider. Every student’s career journey is unique and you can adapt this timeline to your personal needs. You can accomplish many of the action items listed at any time during your college years.

First Year

  • At orientation or early in your first year attend sessions at ISSS to learn about CPT, OPT, and H1B.
  • Participate in UConn’s First-Year Experience (FYE) program. Within that program, create a master résumé and update your résumé over the years. Additionally, meet with a Career Coach to discuss your résumé.
  • Visit the Center for Career Development’s Website to attend events, read blogs, and join career coaching sessions.
  • Explore majors; consider participating in a career assessment to align your interests and values to majors at UConn. Utilize Focus 2 and The Major Experience (TME).
  • Create a Handshake profile. Handshake is the Center for Career Development’s recruiting system for managing many of the recruiting-related activities offered to students.

 Second Year

  • Consider potential career paths related to your major. Explore Job Market Insights to learn more about potential industries and positions.
  • Join organizations in your field of interest. Explore UConntact to discover clubs and activities on campus.
  • Develop skills needed to be competitive in your job market. Learn about the competencies employers seek out most. NACE Competencies.
  • Consider applying for an unpaid internship. Become familiar with the U.S. work culture.
  • Update and revise your résumé.

 Third Year

  • Complete summer jobs or internships in your area(s) of interest. Use CPT to gain authorization to intern and ultimately make connections.
  • Attend Career Fairs. Connect with employers; develop your elevator pitch (year, major, accomplishments, and aspirations). Learn about companies that are willing to sponsor international students.
  • Update and revise your résumé.

 Fourth Year and Beyond

  • Consider saving OPT for after graduation.
  • Apply to jobs on Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, and industry-specific job boards.
  • Participate in a Practice Interview.
  • December/January fill out H1B application. The due date for 2022 is March 1-20 but can change yearly. Refer to ISSS for advice on filling out government work authorization forms.
  • Join the Husky Mentor Network to connect with international students who have been down the same path.
  • OPT- You can file 90 days before graduation, up to 60 days after – which is too late. Fill it out in advance. Some must wait up to 5 months.  Follow instructions on OPT forms. Many students make mistakes, which cost them.
  •  Purchase professional attire to look sharp during your interviews.
  •  October 1 is the start date if an employer sponsors international candidates.

 Ongoing Yearly

  • Visit the Center for Career Development Affinity Page regularly International Student Affinity Page.
  • Create and update a LinkedIn profile.
  • Schedule an appointment with Career Services to meet with a career coach. Students often meet with a career coach for assistance with internship/job search, LinkedIn, practice interviews, resume critiques and so much more.
  • Update your application documents – résumé, CV, cover letter, etc.
  • Network, search for alumni, employers, current students via Husky Mentor Network and LinkedIn. Make connections frequently. Discuss career aspirations, with teachers, advisors, career coaches, and other students.
  • Join a practice interview. Practice how to explain your authorization status and immigration laws with employers.
  • Search for future jobs and internships.
  • Attend career events and watch career preparation videos/webinars.
  • Identify the Career Competencies that you have and consider skills that you may need to learn. Discover how to learn those skills at UConn and in your extracurricular activities.                             

In the U.S. in addition to strong academics, career readiness is essential to securing a position. Employers value when candidates participate in internships, possess career competencies, and participate in co-curricular activities that will help them in their work environment.

 One piece of career advice that we hear often from past alumni is to START EARLY! Schedule a Career Coaching Session today with a consultant who can help you make informed career decisions.

By Desiree Martino
Desiree Martino Career Coach