Getting Your Dream Career In Four Years

If you’ve just started your journey as a college student, graduation day and the start of your professional career probably feels like a long way away. But even if you’re only a freshman, there are some great things you can do to start planning for your future right away.

Here are some suggestions about how to best utilize your time as a college student during each of your four years to set yourself up for success down the line.

Freshman Year—explore your interests and get involved

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As you adapt to college life and have fun getting to know your new surroundings, freshman year should be the time to explore your interests, decide your major, and start thinking about what career you want to pursue after you graduate.

The sooner you choose your desired major, the sooner you can make plans for your future career and set goals to help get there.

Begin by getting involved in some clubs and organizations around campus. Joining different organizations will help you find what you really want to do while making friends with people who share the same interests as you.

Your time in these groups can also help improve your English as you develop different kinds of skills to use in your personal, social, and professional life. Check out your college’s activities fair or look out for information on clubs and activities during your orientation to find an organization that suits your interests!

Sophomore Year— Continue Developing and Build Leadership Skills

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After setting general goals during freshman year, sophomore year is your time to find out what unique skills set you apart from the crowd.

If you joined several organizations during freshman year, sophomore year might be your opportunity to downsize your involvement so that you can focus on making more substantial contributions to fewer groups. This will also give you the chance to advance into leadership positions within these organizations down the line.

Additionally, you should create a resume during your sophomore year so that you can update it whenever you have new experiences worth including. Create a LinkedIn profile and begin laying a foundation for networking and your job search, and be on the lookout for career fairs hosted by your university to get a general idea about the recruiting process.

Junior Year—Advance and Stand Out

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By the time you become a junior, you should have a clear idea about what job you want after graduation and what skills you have to offer. If you want to pursue a career in the United States, you should go to career fairs and campus recruiting events at the beginning of junior year to network with potential employers.

In addition to campus recruiting, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed are all great sites that might help you find open positions or get more information about companies you’re interested in working for. Consider getting an internship in your field of interest during the summer of your junior year to further enrich your work experience, and help you get ready for a full-time job.

Many undergraduate students choose to continue their education after undergrad to achieve a higher degree. If this is something you’re interested in, then junior year is definitely the time to think about graduate school applications and prepare for GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, or other graduate exams.

Senior Year—Prepare to Step Into the Real World

This is the time to wrap up your time in college. If by your senior year you’ve successfully executed your career plan, landed a full-time job, or have gotten admitted to a graduate program, then this is your time to build a long-term plan.

Photo by Juan Ramos courtesy of Unsplash

If you haven’t gotten your desired job by senior year, don’t be frustrated! Utilize your college’s career development office, as well as online job search websites. Also, make sure to seek out and build connections with alumni working in the company or field you’re interested in.

Take Action Now

To sum up, if you want to achieve your career goals, each year of your college life presents its own challenges and tasks you’ll need to accomplish. Don’t wait to the last minute—every small step will help you get closer to your dream job!


Featured image by Baim Hanif courtesy of Unsplash.

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Shirley Du

Shirley is a graduate student at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She has been in the United States for three years, and comes from a city near Beijing. Her interests include traveling and doing volunteer works.

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