Career offices aren't always the most utilised resource for the average college student. Therefore, the question arose, are there a set of guidelines to use when dealing with your career department?
1. Give the process time:
Finding a career path, beginning the job search and successfully finding an internship or your first job is not transactional process, so don't expect immediate results. Don't get demoralised, the process get's exponentially better over time!
2. Find a coach whose expertise aligns with your interests:
A key first step is finding a coach you hit it off with. Keep trying different ones, until you find your best fit. It may be a professor who's taught you or someone you heard speak at a conference. Approach them, network with them, and move forward in the best way you see fit.
Hint: The best first step would be to go out for a coffee together, and use that as your ice-breaker.
3. Set annual and semesterly goals:
Set an annual goal, which could be getting an interesting internship or find a research project on campus with a professor you like and could learn a lot from! A goal for the semester might be to put together a great résumé and LinkedIn profile, to meet 25 networking contacts, or apply to 50 jobs. Don't forget to write them down and keep them visible across the semester and year. Journaling your progress is another good motivator to keep you going.
4. Meet with your college advisor once a month:
Meet with your advisor at least once a month to touch base, stay on track, get feedback and new ideas, as well as make connections & learn how to use them to your advantage for the future. Let this be your check-in time, for the goals listed above. If you share them with your advisor, they could help you in monitor them. Countless students underestimate the power of your college advisor. They've been through the process countless of times prior to you and are generally a fountain of knowledge, so use them!
5. Find out how to secure the internships or job you’re interested in:
Career departments need to be seen as a resource centre, similar to a library or technology lab. Are you interested in a particular internship or company? Find out how to secure the job at the start of the semester. Helpful hints on whether on-campus activities such as career fairs should be attended, or if you should be networking through alumni and other valuable contacts. It's also helpful to understand the recruitment cycle of companies and projects you are interested in, so you don't miss valuable deadlines. Schedule a meeting at the start of the semester, and let them guide you through the semester!