Planning a career is an iterative and cyclical process. Early preparation is key.
Learn About Yourself
Use the TypeFocus Careers self assessment tool to learn how your personality, values, skills, and interests affect major and career choice. For more information, click here.
Explore Your Academic Interests
Learn about majors at SU (see Southwestern’s list of majors). Read the SU catalog descriptions of courses for each major. Talk to professors, your advisor and other students about majors that interest you. Take a variety of courses. Research careers using links on this site.
Network with SU alumni and parents for job leads and advice about their career fields. Attend career fairs to talk to employers about position requirements and opportunities. Attend programs offered by the Center for Career & Professional Development to help you explore careers (e.g. Careers in… series, Career Connections BBQ, etc.).
Research Graduate/Professional Schools
Junior year is the time to decide if you want to attend grad school immediately after you leave SU. Research schools, application deadlines and programs that interest you. Get help writing your personal statement from faculty, the Writing Center and the Center for Career & Professional Development.
Intentional engagement in campus and community organizations helps you develop as a whole person. Southwestern Student Life’s Mosaic approach identifies five key areas of growth, including 21st century workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, planning projects, delegating, promoting special events and meeting deadlines. Student Activities and the Office of Community-Engaged Learning are two great resources. Build relationships with faculty, staff and supervisors to cultivate references. Also, don’t forget to attend class and participate!
“Try On” Careers through Internships
Internships provide marketable experience and help you investigate careers. Research organizations and companies that offer internships. Talk to the Center’s Internship & Employer Development team for ideas and search strategies. Apply early — application deadlines one semester prior to internship start dates are common. Paid or unpaid positions both teach you valuable skills. Summer jobs, volunteer work and career fairs also help you explore career options. Request a reference letter from supervisors before you leave. Internship openings are posted on PirateLink.
Acquire Marketable Skills
Learn time management and balance. Develop good study skills. Develop technical skills and learn another language. Read to acquire vocabulary skills. Need some help in this area? Consult the Center for Academic Success.
Learn Career Management Skills
Have your resume critiqued by the Center for Career & Professional Development and attend workshops about interviewing, etiquette and networking.
Broaden Your Cultural Perspective
In today’s global economy, respect for diversity and understanding of multiculturalism are highly valued by employers. Participate in study abroad. Attend art exhibits and theater, music, dance and multicultural events.
Secure a Summer Job or Internship
Start looking as early as the fall. Develop a resume to update as you go. Attend career fairs, network with professionals in fields that interest you and explore opportunities in your home town.
Commit to an Academic Plan
Choose your major. Build a respectable GPA. (Need help with studying? How about time management? The Center for Academic Success can help!). Begin learning about valuable national scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate work.
Develop Job- Or Graduate/Professional School-Search Strategies
Conduct Your Job Search
Research employers and job postings through sites like Indeed.com, attend career fairs and network extensively, including through LinkedIn. Record all your actions to circle back as needed. Send targeted cover letters and resumes, including through PirateLink.
Apply For Graduate/Professional School
Take entrance exams and send scores to programs that interest you. Complete and submit all application material as early in the cycle as possible (usually December/January) for the most consideration for admission and funding by schools.
Share Your Success Story!
Let us know when you secure your job or admission to graduate/professional school.