The time you spend in college is a valuable time to begin exploring the future of your career. You may or may not have come to college with some idea of what you want to do when you grow up, but it is always important to go through the process of exploration. This will help you determine whether or not you have made the correct career choice. Additionally, this process may also open up future avenues you may not have previously considered. You may be asking yourself, when should I do this, how do I do this? Well here is a road map to your exploration process:
- Reflect on your interests, values and skills. What do you like doing? What about previous jobs, internships, class assignments did you enjoy?
- For more help deciphering your interests, values and skills and how they might align with a career, consider taking career assessments at the UD Center for Counseling and Student Development. The assessments are free and can help provide you with direction!
2. Talk to family, friends, mentors career counselors
- Talking about your major, your classes, or jobs you are currently considering will help you to get new ideas about areas to explore. Something someone mentions may lead you down a new path.
- Read publications from your industry to keep up to date and know what’s going on.
- Attend conferences so that you can go to presentations by experts in the field. This is also a great opportunity to network!
- The more interested you are in what you are reading or learning about the more likely you’re on the right career track!
4. Get jobs or internships in a related field
- If there is a job or industry you are considering, college is a great time to try it out. Get an internship that will allow you to get a taste of what your eventual occupation will resemble. Internships are sort of like a job test drive – sit down and see how it feels for a little while with no long-term commitment. Try out different internships and see what works best for your interests, values and skills. Start this process as early as possible so that you maximize your opportunities.
5. Network, network, network
- Outside of jobs and interviews, network with alumni and members of your field. Utilize networking sites such as LinkedIn to establish professional relationships and expand your network. Contact leaders in your field to discuss their career track and similar interests you may have.
For me, this process has helped me determine my future career path. I was an Interior Design student in college. My internship in college helped me to realize that I was not happy in that career path. I wanted to spend more time helping people. So, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do upon graduation. It was through conversations with mentors that I realized what I wanted to do next. I had been an RA in undergrad and loved it. They helped me discover that I could go to graduate school to get a degree in Higher Education. So I started investigating that possibility. I went to a few professional conferences and really loved it – I knew this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!
My advice for you is: begin your exploration process early and continue it throughout your time at UD! College is a unique time when you have the opportunity to get involved in clubs, organizations, internships, and other activities. Make the most of it through the adventure of career exploration!
Kate Conway is an intern at the University of Delaware Career Services Center. She is currently obtaining her Master of Arts in Counseling in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs Practice. Kate is particularly interested in Lifetime Career Development and achieving personal success in the workplace.