How to Plan for a Career That’s Right for You

Career Guidance

Although this may not be the semester you were hoping for, now is a great time to explore careers. COVID has interrupted us all, but you can use this “down time” to better understand your own aptitudes and interests to set the stage for your career planning.

 Whether you are just beginning your college experience or closer to graduating, here are some tips on how to gather the information needed to make informed decisions about your future career.

College Career Center

Learn what is offered in your college career center that you can use in your career planning. 

  • What help or support or connections do they offer?
  • Are they available online?
  • How do you schedule an appointment?
  • Are interest and personality inventories available?
  • Workshops on writing your resume?
  • Webinars on interviewing?
  • Many offer workshops and individual guidance for drafting resumes, creating LinkedIn or Handshake profiles, or connecting you with alums. 
  • Ask about upcoming job fairs and available internships.

Career Consultants

Private educational or career consultants are often certified to offer online services, 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.

Your Own List of Resources

Develop and organize your directory of personal resources. This is a good time to sit down with your own contacts and start your list of who they think you should connect with. Even if you are determined to do this “on your own” it never hurts to engage with family and friends for outside feedback

Organize the information:

  • Write down the names of anyone your contacts suggest along with notes about what the person does and why they think that the referral might be of help. 
  • Remember to make notes about best methods for contacting the suggested person.  
  • Keep track of the name and contact information, who referred you, how and when you did or did not follow up, and additional notes or advice that person offered. Sources of contacts 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. In order to offer the best help possible they may ask you questions to direct their answers. Help them help you!

Elevator Pitch

What if someone you contact asks you what kind of internships/job you are looking for?

Have your “elevator” speech ready. 

Be prepared to state clearly and definitively: 

  • what kinds of things you are good at
  • mention areas of academic interest
  • what you hope to learn
  • find out what their particular company does and think about how you might be able to contribute

Ask them if there’s an opportunity to job shadow.

Demonstrate Your Interests

What if someone asks you what you did during quarantine time? Or the popular “what do you do for fun?” interview question?

Have a prepared answer for all the ways you’ve explored your interests, learned new things, or helped others. If you haven’t pursued anything during quarantine that would set you up for career planning, here are a few suggested goals to get you started.

  • Today I will learn what a food scientist or sound engineer does
  • Tomorrow I will generate a list of 3 people to interview in the coming month
  • Find new blogs to read
  • Make a video
  • Learn to prepare an online presentation – what makes a good one, what makes a crummy one
  • Learn to cook 3 or 4 meals (from mom/dad/Food Network, YouTube, ATK, etc.)
  • Perfect 3 desserts or 3 knock-offs (premade pie crust, pizza dough from Trader Joe’s)

Still Uncertain About Your Career Planning?

Armed with information and input from all your resources may leave you still feeling uncertain about what career path to take. Our Career Guidance service helps you through all of the above – and so much more. 

Regular meetings with a qualified guide can help you clarify your interests and you can learn about specific careers (job descriptions, salaries, employment outlook) that are good matches for 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. A career consultant can help you develop a personalized plan for reaching your goals. Contact us to see how we can help you.

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