Whether you are just beginning your college experience or closer to graduating, here are a few helpful places you can go to choose your career path.
Use Your College Career Center
Learn what services your college offers and how to access those resources. In addition to finding out how to schedule an appointment in the career counseling office or register for a workshop, you’ll probably want to know:
- Are skills assessments, interest and personality inventories available?
- When are resume writing workshops offered?
- Where can you find sample interview questions or practice interviewing?
- Can someone help you create your LinkedIn or Handshake profile?
- How can you connect with alums who are in your field of interest?
- How do students learn about job fair events and internships?
Many colleges offer workshops and individual appointments as early as freshman year to help you decide on a career path.
Create Your Own List of Resources
Develop and organize an ongoing directory of your personal resources. This is a good time to sit down with your contacts. Even if you are determined to do this “on your own,” it never hurts to engage with family and friends for suggestions and feedback. Make it a habit to learn about the world of work from other people. Ask people about their jobs, what they like about what they do, and how they developed their career paths.
Sources of contacts for career paths include:
- Relatives, parents, and their friends and connections
- Your friends and their parents
- Dorm or Greek life acquaintances
- Teachers and professors who have interests similar to yours or favorite professors who may have ideas for you
- Online resources (Save details of particularly helpful websites; as you dig deeper, make notes about follow-up and save helpful links.)
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
People you contact are often eager to help you decide your career path. Help them help you! If someone you contact asks you what kind of internship or position you are looking for, go back to your skills assessments and have your “elevator pitch” ready.
- Demonstrate self-awareness without boasting; know what skills you bring to the table, mention your areas of academic interest, and openness to learning more about what their company does.
- Give them enough information about yourself for them to make suggestions.
- Ask them if there’s an opportunity to job shadow.
- Have examples of ways you’ve explored your interests, learned new things, or helped others.
Be Accountable to Yourself With Action Items
Set some reasonably detailed occupational (and personal?) goals with a list of tasks and dates. Put “action items” on your appointment calendar.
Action item examples:
- I will spend 30-40 minutes researching my college career center
- I will learn what a [fill in the blank: food scientist] or [fill in the blank: sound engineer] does
- I will generate a list of 3 people to interview by “x” date
- The next day I will contact those 3 people and arrange dates to chat
- I’ve always wanted to be a better cook. I will learn to cook 3 or 4 meals. Or I will perfect one easy dessert
- I will watch a video about [fill in the blank: making/drawing/crafting]
Still Uncertain About Your Career Path?
Armed with information and input from all your resources may leave you still feeling uncertain about your career path.
Private educational or career consultants are often certified to offer online services and assessments to guide you as you explore what matters to you, help you articulate your strengths, and aid your focus on improving your skills.
Working with someone trained to guide you through these resources offers an outside perspective and personalized direction.
Regular meetings with a qualified guide can help you clarify your interests and learn about specific careers (job descriptions, salaries, employment outlook) that match your skills and personality.
Professionals use all sorts of assessments and inventories to help you write your elevator speech, identify your strengths, and develop a plan for exploring your interests.
Our Career Guidance service helps you through all of the above – and so much more.