by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
When you first come to college, one of the furthest things from your mind is graduation and what you’ll do after your time at Champlain is done. You have four years, right? In your first year, you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do post-graduation or what you want to be when you grow up, but there are a few things you can start doing now that will make your life much easier later. And none of these suggestions will keep you from having an amazing time your first year; if anything, they will enrich your experience.
- Visit Career Collaborative. You can meet your career coach and have a talk with them about what kinds of services they can offer you, plus you can start talking strategy for the next three years of college. Getting together a strategy plan, even if it changes over time as you shift directions, means you’re being proactive about your future. Having a plan doesn’t mean it can’t change, but it does mean you’re making the most out of your time in college.
- Meet your Peer Advisors. You’ll have between one and three peer advisors assigned to your residence hall you can meet with, but there are also peer advisors who work at Career Collaborative. They can help you find on-campus or off-campus jobs, create a resume or cover letter, and give you general advice about Champlain College and next steps in your career planning.
- Explore. Talk to upperclassmen in your major; what projects are they doing, what advice did they wish they’d had? They’ll be happy to talk to you. Another great resource is your professors. Talk to them about your industry and what their career paths looked like so you can start forming an idea of what yours might look like. And if you decide you want to switch majors, that’s okay. Career Collaborative can help you come up with a strategy for transitioning.
- Use our website. Career Collaborative has a website full of resume examples, job searching tools, and other resources that you should take advantage of. Plus, we have a Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, and this nifty little blog you’re reading. There’s great information on all of them. Check back often.
- Start thinking about your image. Who do you want to be professionally? How do you want people to see you as a young professional? Once you know how you want to be viewed by your peers and employers, clean up your social media pages to reflect a more professional you. (Check out our article on professional social media usage for more tips.)
- Make a LinkedIn account. Start connecting with your peers, professors, and college alum, making sure to personalize each request you send. Join professional groups that interest you and start following companies that you may want to work for some day. The sooner you start learning how to network, the better. You will need it later in your college career when you begin looking for your first big job (and for your entire career after that).
- Bonus points if you make a resume. You won’t need to make a resume until your sophomore year, at which point you’ll have a LEAD requirement to make one. But if you’re thinking about getting an on-campus or off-campus job or just want to be one step ahead of your peers, make a draft of your resume. If you need help, a peer advisor or career coach will be glad to help you out.
- Think about your passions. If you’re undecided about your major, consider what classes you enjoy and what passions you have that could one day be a good career for you. Don’t be worried about making money at this stage in the game. Shoot for a path that will lead you to self-fulfillment and satisfaction and the money will follow.
- Attend the Fall and Spring Career Fairs. Here, you can start learning about opportunities that you might be interested in later in your college career. Don’t count yourself out, though, if you see an on-campus job or internship you want. Even as a first year, you may be eligible for some of these positions, and if you’re not, you have something to work towards.
College is about having fun and making new friends and being on your own for the first time, yes. But don’t forget the main reason you’re here: to get your education so that you can have a successful and fulfilling career. Take some chances, grow as a person, and remember that graduation will someday be here (sooner than you realize, too) and you have two options: be ready, or not.
It’s never too early to start getting ready.
Source: Princeton University