Leverage Your Career Center Effectively When Choosing A Career - Part 3.

golden-spiral-staircaseWeeks away from graduation, many college seniors are confused about how to leverage their career center while choosing a career that successfully blends financial return with social impact and environmental responsibility.

If it is your case, this series will help you leverage your career center to self-assess, and explore career options.

Once you have identified your top two careers of interest, it is time to set goals and launch your campaign to emerge as a dream candidate for these careers.

  • Goal Setting: Your career exploration phase helped you conceptually evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of a specific career based on on the knowledge you gathered about your preferences based on your self-assessment.  Building upon your career exploration, you can now set goals to gain practical experience in your top 2 careers of interest.  This step is key to help you emerge as a credible candidate in your field of interest. Your career center staff will make suggestions about resources that will help you identify opportunities to do so. These will include networking techniques to learn from professionals who currently have the careers you aspire to. The career center staff will also point you to resources and contacts to enable you to accelerate your learning through experiences in and beyond the classroom. For future Socio-Eco Innovators (SEIs) these experiences might include volunteering online through handsonnetwork.com, the Taproot Foundation, or through volunteermatch.org. It is your responsibility to follow through on these suggestions, to secure these opportunities to gain practical experience, and to reflect after these experiences and re-assess your fit with these possible careers.
  • Strategies to best compete for opportunities: This step is the one that you already know your career center can help you get better at. Indeed, your career center staff will help you develop your search toolbox, including your tailored resumes (different tailored resumes are to be sent to increase your chances to convert an application into an interview). In addition, your career center staff will provide you with guidance on your professional communication skills (e.g. informational interview requests, cover letter, thank you notes), your interviewing skills, and your negotiation skills once you have an offer in hand.

Choosing a career is not an easy process. It requires self-awareness, commitment, persistence, and the willingness to learn from our mistakes. Understand that your career center is a connector. It will connect you with resources, contacts, and will teach you the skills you need to better understand your VIPS, research careers, and compete for opportunities.  Gaining experience will in turn inform your next career move.

By partnering with your career center staff as a student, you can make the process of choosing a career much easier. Throughout this process, you will learn career development skills that you can re-apply each time you will enter a career transition. The more you leverage your career center as a college student, the more you will be ready and able to re-apply these steps when you won’t have the luxury of having a career center at your disposal anymore. So go ahead, visit your career center, and partner with its staff as you get started choosing a career that is the best fit for you, for now.

Image Credit: Christine Laureano.

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