A Career Planning Checklist for College Students


Freshman Year * If you have declared a major, get a part-time job on or off campus that relates to your career field or that will help you to develop essential skills. * If you have not yet declared a major, visit your campus Career Services Center. Seek career counseling and testing to begin the process of exploring career paths and selecting a major. * Visit faculty during office hours. Get to know as many faculty as possible. This will come in very handy when you need letters of recommendation later. * Make a commitment to spend time on career development. * Do research in bookstores and career centers. Knowing more about different industries, companies, and jobs will help you make a better career choice! * Join at least one club or participate in a career-related activity. * Volunteer at an organization related to your interests. * Connect assignments, papers, speeches and projects to your career interests. * Visit Career Services for assistance in developing a resumé. Begin building your resume now. Update it at the end of every semester; and by the time you graduate, you will have an impressive portfolio. * Get a summer job or internship in your field. * Attend Career Services Workshops. Gather insight and advice on topics such as researching a career, resumé writing, interviews, salary negotiations, and applying for grad school, law school or med school. * Meet with a Career Services career counselor so they can keep an eye out for opportunities that suit your interests. Sophomore Year * Visit your faculty advisor and/or a career counselor for help with choosing a major, minor, concentration or emphasis that will complement your career goals. * Join another club or organization related to your major or career field. Being involved demonstrates to employers that you have well-developed social skills and can work collaboratively and cooperatively. * Continue demonstrating your commitment to your community by participating in another volunteer activity or service-learning experience. * Contact three people from your field of interest. Junior Year * Research companies, nonprofits, government agencies, schools and colleges to see where your passion lies. * Develop new or advanced skills through job and volunteer experience. * Look at job listings to know the skills and background needed to eventually reach your goals. * Get involved in an Alumni Mentor Program. Seek out people in your field of interest who are willing to act as mentors and advisors. Step up your involvement in the organizations you are a part of by running for office or get involved in the national organization. Experiment with different roles, develop strong relationships. * Continue to meet faculty on campus. They have so much to offer. * Narrow down career options to reach a job target and industry to pursue. * Prepare for your job search. * If you are considering graduate school, start applying now. Find out what admissions tests are necessary and start studying well in advance.  Be aware of application deadlines and start collecting application materials such as letters of recommendation and transcripts. * Talk to more people in careers you are considering and pick up the Field Research booklet from Career Services. * Treat the job search like a class. It takes study, know-how and preparation! Senior Year * Do another internship. Building your resumé while you are in school will give you experience to go along with your degree making you more marketable upon graduation. * Attend a workshop or schedule an appointment with a career counselor for assistance with salary negotiations. * Ask professors, employers, advisors and counselors to write letters of recommendation, and request permission to include them as references on job applications. * Write papers with an extra purpose in mind — try to publish in campus publications, in a professional journal, or in a popular publication. Ask your professors for suggestions. Include these writings in your portfolio. * Seek out people in your field of interest who are willing to act as mentors or advisors. Network with alumni in your field and people your professors have recommended. * Make time to do a real job search. It is a good idea to think of getting a job as a “job.” It takes time and effort to find a position that pays well. * Develop and customize a job search strategy. * Participate in on-campus interviewing workshops. * Gather application materials for graduate schools, such as letters of recommendation.

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