Guide to Career Success
While every student has his or her own career story, the steps below are common among students who are both effective and happy with their career development as an undergraduate. A common theme is using campus Career Services and implementing career planning throughout one's collegiate career, rather than stopping by the office during one's last semester to plan job search.
- Determine interests, values, and talents.
- If uncertain about an academic major, take a career assessment inventory such as Type Focus or the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Meet with a counselor to discuss the results.
- If you are undecided, enroll in the Career Planning course, UNST 110.
- Upgrade your study skills and use the Academic Resource Center to maintain a respectable GPA and keep your options open.
- Gain experience through part-time jobs, volunteering, and student organizations.
- Activate your account on VHawk Job Talk so you can check out job market and internship information and find out what employers are looking for in prospective candidates.
- Research careers which capture your interests; explore the job market for different career fields.
- Conduct informational interviews with professionals who are currently in a field of interest; consider job shadowing.
- Develop skills necessary to meet job requirements, such leadership, computer, and communication skills.
- Make an appointment with the career counselor if you are having difficulty narrowing your career path choices.
- Consider a minor that complements your major and makes you more marketable.
- Narrow and refine your career path and goals.
- Develop initial job search correspondence (i.e., resume and cover letter ) and identify experiences you will want to add to position yourself effectively for job search and to increase your marketabilty.
- Complete an internship.
- Identify industries which hire students with your education and experience.
- Create and take advantage of opportunities to network with professionals in your field.
- Seek volunteer opportunities, part-time jobs, co-curricular activities, research projects, study abroad experiences, and professional groups related to your field.
- Create a quality LinkedIn account. Use it for online professional networking. Prepare other social media accounts for job search.
- Consider enrolling in Career Planning II (UNST 310), a one-credit course to help you fine tune your career plans and prepare for a targeted job search.
- Attend programs and fairs sponsored by Career Services.
- Complete an internship or two.
- Network with professionals in your field, with people who hire people like yourself.
- Explore graduate programs and complete graduate school applications if you plan to attend following graduation.
- Consider enrolling in the one-credit course, Job Search Strategies, UNST 410.
- Update resume and have it ready to tailor for specific opportunities you wish to pursue.
- Gather professional references.
- Attend a workshop on interviewing tips and schedule a mock interview. Use Optimal Interview software to practice interview skills.
- Locate job openings through utilizing V-Hawk Job Talk, other Internet sites, professional associations, networking, career fairs and other resources.
- Attend career fairs and other campus career events.
- Network, network, network.
- Start your job search at least six months prior to graduation.
The previous steps are recommended for students seeking career success. You, too, can help your student launch a successful career. As a parent, you play an important role in the career development of your student. Students often look to their parents for advice and direction. Here are some tips for parents regarding career development:
Let your student make his/her own choices: You may be tempted to have your student major in a particular area because it's a "hot" field. Reality is that there is no such thing as a major that guarantees a job. Your student must develop his/her own directions based on his or her individual interests, skills, and values. Encourage your student to pursue something that reflects who he/she is, then the success will likely come.
Encourage exploration: Encourage your student to try different courses that may be of interest. Through this exploration, he/she may discover areas previously unknown.
Support involvement in co-curricular activities: Opportunities to demonstrate leadership ability, teamwork, time management and other career-related skills will help your student prepare for the world of work. These "soft" skills are highly sought after by employers.
Be patient and encouraging: Don't ask the dreaded question, "What are you going to do when you graduate?" This question is a "biggie" and often causes panic if it cannot be answered. Instead, encourage your student to begin to research his/her options in their academic program. Offer to help research different areas and be encouraging.
Recommend visits to Career Services: You probably won't know all the answers to questions your student may have, but we can help. We also help students make decisions about majors. Students are not required to use our services but we are here to serve them all. It's best if contacts with Career Services happen early in the college years so students have support and information to build a resume, not just write a resume.