Planning a career is an important four-year process. Like a difficult exam, career development requires early preparation, so start with year one.
Learn About Yourself
Take inventories that assess your personality, values, skills, and interests, including TypeFocus Careers and Strong Interest Inventory. 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 in the Career Services’ Resource Center and using links on this site.
Acquire Marketable Skills
Learn time management and balance. Develop good study skills. Continue to develop technical skills and learn another language. Read to acquire vocabulary skills. Need some help in this area? Consult the Center for Academic Success.
Through involvement in campus organizations and volunteerism, you can develop your leadership and communication skills and learn about working as a team, planning projects, delegating, promoting special events and meeting deadlines. Student Activities and the Office of Civic Engagement are two great resources. Also, don’t forget to attend class and participate!
Secure A Summer Job Or Internship
Start looking as early as the fall. Develop a resume to update each year. Attend career fairs, network with professionals in fields that interest you and explore opportunities in your home town.
Solidify Your 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.
Broaden Your Cultural Perspective
In today’s global economy, respect for diversity and understanding of multiculturalism are highly valued by employers. Continue to develop foreign language skills. Participate in study abroad. Attend art exhibits and theater, music, dance and multicultural events.
Continue Skill Development
Take on leadership roles in campus activities or group projects. Develop oral and written communication skills. Have your resume critiqued by Career Services and attend workshops about interviewing, etiquette and networking.
Explore Career Goals Through Internships
Talk to Career Services’ Internship Coordinator and research organizations and companies that offer internships. Apply early — application deadlines one semester prior to internship start dates are common. Summer jobs, volunteer work and career fairs also help you explore career options. Internship openings are posted on PirateLink.
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 Career Services to help you explore careers (e.g. Careers in… series, Experience Externships, Career Connections).
Develop Potential References
Build relationships with faculty, staff and supervisors. Use leadership positions to cultivate references.
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 Career Services.
Complete Career-Related Internships
Internships provide marketable experience and help you investigate careers. Request a reference letter from supervisors before you leave. Paid or unpaid positions both teach you valuable skills.
Develop Job- Or Graduate/Professional School-Search Strategies
Conduct Your Job Search
Develop list of possible employers using the Internet, career fairs, Career Services’ Resource Center and networking. Set up your “command center” - files, calendars, maps, letterhead, etc. - and record all correspondence. Send targeted cover letters and resumes, including through PirateLink.
Apply For Graduate/Professional School
Finish researching programs. 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.