sunset over lake champlain

New Year, New Opportunities, New Goals

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

We’ve been in 2017 for almost a month already, and hopefully it’s off to a great start for you. A new year means a new semester, which means new opportunities and experiences to be had. With your career in mind, here are a few goals you might want to set for yourself this semester to make sure you’re on track.

First Years:

Your second semester of college is a great time to start exploring your interests. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Get a work study or part-time job, particularly one that may align with what you think you want to do after you graduate. Now is the perfect time to start figuring out what you like and don’t like to do.
  • Expand your horizons on campus by joining a club or two. There are clubs for just about any interest, including business/entrepreneurial, social justice, student government, sports and social gathering, etc. Meet some new people and start figuring out what you love to do. Remember: be open to new experiences! You never know what you might end up enjoying.
  •  It’s not too early to job shadow or set up an informational interview so you can hear about a job or occupation from someone who has it. This is a great way to start figuring out what internships you may be interested in, and may help you realize that what you thought you wanted to do isn’t what you want to do at all.

Second Years:

You’re halfway through your second year, which means it’s a great time to start thinking about goals for your future–or at least the next two years of it. Here are a few specific questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Are you ready to take on a leadership position, and if so, which one? This is a great time to start thinking about becoming an Orientation Leader, Peer Advisor, or Resident Assistant, all three of which can give you valuable experiences and skills that you can put on your resume and talk about in an interview.
  • Do you hope to study abroad, and if so, what do you need to do to make that happen? Start thinking about where you want to go, what paperwork and applications you need to do, and how you’re going to finance the trip. If study abroad isn’t in your plans, do you want to take a COR class that travels or go on a spring break service trip? These are smaller commitments that would still allow you to travel and see new parts of the world or country, which are great experiences to have for your resume and future interviews.
  • What will you be doing over the summer? Based on your hometown or your ability to go elsewhere, you may be able to find an internship or job that is somehow relevant to your major or to what you think you want to do after graduation. If not, could you volunteer or take on an independent project that might build your resume or portfolio?

Third Years:

Whoa, you’re more than halfway through your undergraduate career! How did that happen? (And how did it happen so quickly??) By now, you have a working resume, cover letter, and at least a small inkling of where you might be heading–and if not, that’s okay too. Make an appointment with your Career Coach and let’s get to work. If you are feeling pretty confident that you have the basic tools like resume and cover letter down, here are some other things you can do:

  • Consider signing up for a mock interview opportunity on campus. Your resume and cover letter are certainly part of the package that will land you that internship, summer job, or first post-grad job, but interviewing is another critical part of that package. A mock interview is a great time to practice, especially since there’s nothing riding on it.
  • Sing up for LinkedIn if you haven’t already. It may seem a little silly, but trust me: LinkedIn can be a great way to get a job or internship. I’ve been recruited on LinkedIn for a PAID internship in Burlington. Hello! Investing a little time in building a solid profile is totally worth the possibility that something like that could happen to you too.
  • Develop an informal Board of Advisors to help you make important decisions in your life and provide advice when you’re feeling stuck. Your BoA could be made up of close friends, family members, professors, co-workers, supervisors, or other people who know you well. A BoA is an excellent tool to have in your kit so that you’ll never have to make a tough choice alone.

Fourth Years:

Your senior year of college is such an amazing time–at least I think so as someone who is currently experiencing it. You (hopefully) feel like you know what you’re doing by now, and have developed good friendships as well as relationships with professors. You’ve come a long way and can bask in the progress you’ve made over the past three and a half years. There’s still some work to do and goals to make, though, if you’re anything like me. Here are some things you can do to be proactive:

  • Start finding job search websites that you really like and see what’s out there in the cities you are willing to move to. CareerShift is one great option and you’re already subscribed through the college. While searching, see if there’s anything you could see yourself doing. Are there any jobs you think are perfect for you? Apply! Maybe you only find jobs you could do but aren’t passionate about. That’s okay. Keep looking, and if nothing amazing turns up, apply for those you are most interested in and keep hoping an opportunity you’re really excited about comes along.
  • If you really have no idea what you want to do after graduation, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone. Voicing your thoughts and worries is therapeutic, but it can also reveal insights about yourself that you didn’t even know you had. A great person to meet with is your Career Coach (who can also help ensure your resume and cover letter are ready to go).
  • Enjoy your last semester of undergrad! Ask yourself what you really have wanted to do around Burlington or Vermont and make the time to go do it. Finding a job is important, but so is your mental well-being. Take care of yourself always.

We at Career Collaborative hope this list of goals helps you stay on track this semester. Good luck and we hope to see you around campus!