By David Tsui
As an underclassman, determining what you want to major in is difficult enough, let alone choosing your desired career after you graduate. In addition, there are other distractions that pry freshmen away from focusing on their futures, such as getting used to the new environment in college, adjusting to the college workload, making new friends, and participating in social activities. It is great to enjoy the social aspects of college, but students should keep in mind what they might want to do after they graduate. After all, the job market is getting more and more competitive every year, and as a result many students start their career planning as soon as their freshmen year.
In their freshmen year, students should try to obtain any type of work experience, strive for a strong G.P.A., and attend on campus recruiting events hosted by corporations to explore the possible careers they might be interested in. Obtaining a decent G.P.A. and getting work experience should be the student’s primary goal. Without strong grades, opportunities will be limited for the student. Work experience is a great way for young adults to enter the “real world” and apply the skills they learned in school to their jobs. In today’s world, it is crucial to obtain work experience before graduation because of fierce competition.
After their freshmen year, sophomores and juniors should further their career development by joining professional organizations related to their career interests, look for internships relevant to their majors, and attend networking events. The benefits of joining a professional organization are to help students take on leadership positions that will enhance their communication and teamwork skills and to build a network within and outside of the organization. With an internship, students will get the opportunity to see if their major is the right fit for them and if they are willing to continue pursuing that career path. Lastly, attending recruiting events will let peers see the corporate culture and job opportunities a company has to offer. In addition, these events allow students to network and keep in contact with the company’s representatives such as recruiters and other employees; these connections could be crucial leverage for senior year.
When senior year arrives, it’s time to put all that hard work to the test! Even though it seems that all the necessary pieces are in place, there are other equally qualified candidates gunning for the same position as you. This is where one develops a unique and interesting yet genuine story for their interviews to differentiate themselves from the other candidates. The story can be derived from one’s internship experiences, networking events, student life participation, or other relevant experiences. Sometimes people prefer to continue their education, so they might opt for graduate school. Mid-junior year to senior year would be a great time to start prepping for standardized exams or attending target schools’ information sessions.
In the end, it is better to start your career development early than to procrastinate until the last minute. Some students fall into this trap and many end up regretting not being proactive in their professional development earlier. The consequences can range from delaying their graduation date, to changing their majors, to being confused about career interests and goals after college. So don’t delay. Start working on your career development today!