A rewarding career is the long-range goal of most college students. But career planning can be a daunting process—one that often gets sidelined by classes, papers, and exams.
There’s no need to avoid career planning when the staff at the Career Development Center is ready to help, from choosing the right major to developing a job search strategy. Career counselors work with students one-on-one to develop a plan for success.
Gone are the days of "do this in your sophomore year, and this in your senior year," said Linda Kent Davis, the center's director.
"The process is much more dynamic now, as students explore, make decisions, and adjust their plans. We recommend a series of activities to help students prepare for the launch of a career or further education."
The Career Development Center’s top 10 tips for career success:
1. Get to know your Career Development Center, online & in person
- Visit the Career Development Center's website to get an overview of services, contacts, and upcoming events
- Then drill deeper by using online career tools in the myUMassD portal
- Make an appointment to visit the office, located on the lower level of the Campus Center
2. Explore your goals & aspirations
The center's online tools can help you consider your goals and explore your options.
"TypeFocus is our online tool for self-assessment; it can help clarify your plans," said Kent Davis. "Your TypeFocus results are the starting point for a conversation with your career counselor. We can also help you explore the majors and the careers that interest you most."
The Vault is an online career library that provides information across the spectrum, from current job openings and career advice to the inside scoop on jobs, schools, companies, and industries.
3. Evaluate your options for majors & careers
Evaluating your options for a major begins with a series of questions:
- What classes do you enjoy most?
- What classes do you do well in?
- Which faculty members inspire you?
For career choices, identify which careers would allow you to use the skills that you enjoy most. Meet with your career counselor to discuss what you know about yourself, your academics, and how these connect to careers.
Your chosen profession may require an advanced degree. Explore opportunities for graduate education by speaking with your academic advisor and attending graduate school fairs.
4. Understand that your choice of major may—or may not—equal your career
Some majors, such as nursing, clearly lead to careers. But not every career path has a neatly corresponding major. A philosophy major, for example, may become a professor of philosophy or may decide to attend law school.
Understanding your career goals can help you find a major that satisfies both your intellectual interests and your professional aspirations.
If you’re passionate about a particular subject but aren't sure how it will lead to a career, you can still major in it—while seeking out opportunities to explore a range of career fields and skills.
No matter where you are in the process of exploring majors and careers, the staff at the Career Development Center can help.
5. Find your experts at the Career Development Center & beyond
The center operates on the "expert model," with career counselors specializing in particular colleges and disciplines.
Set up a time to meet the counselor for your college—she or he can advise you on careers, internships, and how to connect with alumni and other professionals in your fields of interest.
6. Attend career events & workshops
The Career Development Center hosts dozens of events and workshops to help you:
- Develop your professional skills, including interviewing
- Network with employers and alumni in your major or career interest
- Create a resume and cover letter that are appropriate for your field
- Learn how to develop a job search strategy for internships or jobs
- Explore options for graduate education
7. Develop your skills
In general: Work on your written and verbal communications—both for your job search (cover letters, online submissions) and for future on-the-job success. You’ll gain confidence in your ability to:
- Make a professional presentation
- Advocate for your candidacy at an interview
Specific to your job search: Attend workshops and get online tips about resume writing and interviewing.
8. Secure an internship
An internship is a great opportunity for you to:
- Apply classroom theory to real-world situations
- Gain experience by working on projects and completing job-related assignments
- Develop self-confidence and self-direction
- Establish your professional network
- Explore a tentative career choice
Make an appointment with your career counselor for tips on searching for internships and preparing for interviews.
"Doing an internship before you graduate will help you build your resume and make you a more marketable candidate for future employers," said Amelia Scott, director of experiential learning and internship development.
Experiences such as study abroad, research, and service learning also offer opportunities to learn more about careers.
9. Prepare to position yourself competitively
As you progress toward launching your career, prepare yourself to be competitive in your chosen profession:
- Meet alumni at networking events
- Conduct a skills inventory with your career counselor
- Join a professional association
- Use TypeFocus to set goals
- Attend job and internship fairs to learn about companies and who they hire
If advanced education is part of your plan:
- Discuss your transcript with your advisor
- Attend graduate school fairs and panel discussions
10. Get ready to launch
"Whether for your first job or for grad school, when you’re ready to launch, it’s all about applying and then following up," said Kent Davis.
Make it happen: job search
- Develop your strategy
- Finalize your resume and cover letters
- Schedule a mock interview
- Network with professionals
- Create business cards and a LinkedIn profile
Make it happen: graduate school
- Finalize list of programs
- Obtain transcripts
- Draft personal statement
- Apply for financial aid
- Ask for recommendations