The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
My name is Fiona and I let everyone know that I work at my university’s career center. Not only is it a job that I’m proud of, it’s one that I’m grateful to have. Being surrounded by career coaches who not only work to help students but enjoy seeing students succeed has been such a wonderful experience for me. The atmosphere I have worked in for the past two and a half years has pushed me to work hard, gain meaningful experience, and strive to excel.
Employment has been a big part of my life, if that makes any sense. I have held a job every year since I was fourteen. I was taught by my parents about the value of independence and how that relates to being employed and making my own money. Upon entry to college, I immediately started searching for a student job on campus. It was my Dad that encouraged me to look for jobs at the Knowlton Center, Denison’s career center. He knew that it would be a good atmosphere for me to work in and it would foster my ambitious spirit; he was right.
I have found value in every job I have worked so far, but my time at the Knowlton Center has been priceless. Here are five things that I’ve learned about career exploration in my time as a student assistant.
- Your major doesn’t determine your future career – Bio majors can go to law school, English majors can go into business, Sociology majors can become publishers. My point here: nothing is clearcut. Declaring a major has been deemed a scary thing because it seems like you’re selling your soul to an academic field. But the reality is that plans change. I chose to become a History major not because I want to be a history teacher or museum curator but because I am interested in the subject. And I know that the academic skills that this major provides me will serve me well in my job search.
- Networking is a must – And by that I, of course, mean LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn, I would suggest making one immediately. LinkedIn allows you to “connect” with people in a professional manner. I made my profile in high school and started off by connecting with my friends’ parents. Now I am connected to friends, classmates, family friends, past employers, and alumni. LinkedIn also allows you to connect with potential employers and those who have jobs in fields you are interested in. Connecting with these individuals gives you a leg up in the game. Pro tip: alumni are more willing to talk than you would assume, especially the younger ones. Find alumni in fields that interest you and connect with them.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a good, clean resume – Believe it or not, a resume’s format can make or break your potential for a job. A concise, one page, to-the-point resume is what you should strive for. Find a general template that allows you to copy and paste your information into.
- Internships matter, but so do the “lesser jobs” – Are you embarrassed by your lack of work experience? Don’t be. Sure past internships look great on applications, but don’t discredit your old ice cream scooper job. Any experience is a good experience. Even though you think your menial high school job isn’t impressive, you more likely than not gained professional skills that will serve you well in the workplace. It’s all about the wording of past employment on your resume. “Answered phone and emails” doesn’t sound as impressive as “Communicated with customers in person and via phone and email.” See? Magic.
- Seek out help – We as a society need to get it out of our heads that asking for help shows signs of weakness. Asking for help shows initiative and it presents a chance to gain a new mentor. Don’t know what you want to do out of college? Go to your career center. Most colleges have career centers with coaches or counselors whose sole purpose is to advise students. It’s never too early to start career exploration, the earlier the better in fact!