How To Explore Careers During Your College Years

Taking time to explore potential careers is a crucial step towards finding a career that’s right for you. You’ll get valuable insight into the pros and cons of various job options allowing you to make a more informed decision. Here is how to explore careers during your college years!

A college student surrounded by books and looking through binoculars for careers

Attend On-Campus Career Fairs

Attending career fairs can be an eye-opening experience that is especially useful early in your career exploration journey. You’ll get to learn more about potential future employers and what they are looking for when hiring new employees. This will give you a better idea of what areas you need to focus on to meet those requirements.

You’ll also get to know about unusual careers that you may have never heard about before. You never know what exciting opportunity you may stumble upon at these fairs.

At career fairs, you’ll also get the opportunity to network with professionals across many different industries. These representatives are always happy to answer any career-related questions and are a fantastic resource to tap into. You’ll get first-hand information about any career you may be interested in. You can also approach them for job shadowing or internship opportunities.

 Spend Time Shadowing a Professional in Your Field of Interest

Job shadowing is a way of following a professional as they go about their work day. When you job shadow, you’ll literally be your mentor’s shadow – following them everywhere quietly, observing them closely, and making notes. During this time, you yourself will remain in the background at all times. You won’t actually be doing any work or interacting with them or their customers. If you have questions, you can ask at the end of the day or the end of your shadowing period. There is no fixed shadowing duration. Every company sets their own time and other limitations.

Job shadowing is particularly useful in certain fields where non-qualified individuals are not allowed to interact with customers. One of the most common examples is healthcare. You are not allowed to interact with patients directly unless you have a license to practice medicine. The only way you can get a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of a medical practitioner is through job shadowing.

Take it One Step Further with Internships

An internship allows you to get first-hand look and feel and what is really is like to work in a particular role. You won’t simply be observing another professional do their job. You’ll be doing the job yourself.  Nothing beats this practical exposure and experience when it makes to making a decision regarding your career.

Internships are typically short-term training programs. Some professional courses even include an internship provision within the course curriculum. The aim is to help students grasp the practical aspects of the course they’re studying. This offers so much more value than focusing only on the academic aspects.

During your internship period, most companies will assign you a mentor. As an intern, you will work under the guidance and supervision of your mentor. A mentor will set tasks for you, answer your questions, and give you feedback about your performance. You can learn a lot about the job from your internship mentor.

Go The Whole Way With Work Experience

Work experience is different from internship in that you do not have a mentor. It’s a more immersive, hands-on experience.

To get work experience, you will have to apply for an opening along with hundreds of other candidates. If you are hired, you will be treated like any other employee. No working under or getting help and guidance from a mentor. You will be expected to work hard and shoulder your own responsibilities. And it will be hard work with a lot of responsibilities, but the value and experience you’ll get is unparalleled. After a short work experience stint, you’ll have a much clearer idea of whether or not it is the right career path for you.

Interview an Alum

Alumni take great pride in helping out students from their alma mater. They often visit their school campus and talk to new students. Interviewing an alum gives you the opportunity to get practical advice from someone who’s travelled the path you’re just getting started on. You can get advice on how to connect your degree program to a particular job. You can also get tips on the job skills you need to cultivate to succeed in a particular role. Need guidance on interview prep or any other aspects of any particular career? An alum is the best person to ask. What’s more, they’ll be more than happy to offer ongoing advice and guidance any time you need it. They may even help you with referrals after you graduate.

Visit Your College Career Center

Visiting your college career center should in fact be your first step towards exploring careers. These centers are staffed by experienced career advisors with access to a variety of resources that can help you. At a career office, you can use aptitude tests to identify suitable careers and narrow down the best majors to help you get there. Career counselors at these offices can also help you find appropriate internships or job shadowing opportunities. These professionals have a vast network that they can tap into for any type of help and information. They can offer you useful information that you may not have access to through an online search. If they’ve heard a lot of negative feedback about a company, they will pass that on to you, protecting you from a bad experience.

Now That You Know How to Explore Careers…

Not every college student is 100% sure about what career they want to pursue after they graduate. And that’s okay. College is the time for you to explore. Make use of the resources available to you to set yourself up for success after you graduate.

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