College 101: What Do I Want to Do With My Life?!

Ah, September. The season of career fairs, sharpening of resumes, job applications, and caffeine ;). September is the invitation to crisp air and crisp energy with back to school tasks and professional development. This can be a very exciting, and stressful, time for many.

I certainly won’t call myself a professional development/career expert, as I am just one of many early twenty-somethings navigating the start of my career. However, for my peers out there deep in the throes of the internship/job search, here are some tips I have learned in my experience:

  • If you ever think to yourself, “I have no idea what I’m doing”, you are NOT alone. The whole point of work experience is simply that — to gain experience. If you are looking for your first internship, let your area of study, work styles, and values guide your search. That being said…
  • Use your resources. I will reluctantly give a shoutout to my mother here for continuously nagging me to first visit the career center on campus at the start of my sophomore year. As always, she was right that I should meet with advisors early and establish a relationship with an advisor. One treasure of a college experience is that there are resources available on campus for career advising and for FREE! It might seem scary at first, but schedule an appointment, take a deep breath, and be honest about your job search with an advisor/professor/mentor. There plenty of online resources, such as LinkedIn tutorials, Google, and even university-specific webpages that can help too!
  • Plan your work and work your plan. If you attend an advising appointment, career fair, or interview disorganized and not prepared, chances are things aren’t going to go smoothly. Putting in the extra effort to research companies, practicing interviews, and networking with recruiters will pay off in the long run.
  • Employers and recruiters are people, too. Remember that when you walk up to a company booth or into an interview room, the people on the other side of the table are not there to bite your head off, they are there because they want to bring a new person to the team! So take a deep breath, smile, and be yourself. They want to get to know you!
  • Don’t underestimate your worth. There can be so much intimidation created by other peers and social media in the high job search period. It is so important not to undermine yourself and your capabilities when applying to a company/position. Each industry hires in different time periods throughout the year and each candidate brings different strengths/weaknesses to the table. Don’t disqualify yourself from the race by not applying!

What are your keys to success for the job search?

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