Millions of high-school graduates are heading off to college for the first time, signing up for classes, making new friends and settling into dorm life, among all the other experiences and opportunities college brings.
One more thing they shouldn’t miss during their first year: a visit to their college’s career center.
It’s more beneficial for new students to visit their career centers in their first year as freshmen, rather than waiting until they’re ready to graduate four years later.
Here are 5 things college students should do when they visit:
- Come with all your questions. You’re just starting college, this is the time to find out how things work.
- Share your true interests and what is important to you (not just your parents). Don’t just think in terms of resume building activities.
- Find out what other students did this summer thanks to your college. September is often a time for student conferences to present their research or summer experiential learning to the campus community.
- Learn about resources. Many career centers have extensive online libraries to access information on internships, career tracks, etc.
- It doesn’t hurt to get started on your resume now, even if you’ll be making many changes down the road.
It’s not about building the perfect resume or deciding on a career path when they’re just getting started in college. This is really the time for students to explore their interests, start a career conversation and consider how their experiences – even if they seem random at the moment – may be related to their aspirations for the future.
The sooner students start the conversation, the greater the possibilities and the more they can get out of their college experiences. As they begin to understand what they want out of life, students can identify potential internships, fellowships, alumni connections and other opportunities.
A few years back, our career center at Pomona College began reaching out to students shortly after they arrived at the college, and every day during the fall semester, the office hosts freshmen groups during lunch to learn what students are interested in, and in turn, share about the wealth of opportunities and experiences available to students.
We think that career advising is like academic advising, it’s not a one-off conversation, but a conversation that’s going to take place over four years. The most rewarding part of our work is when we meet with students early on, and they continue with us through their college years.
About Mary Raymond
Mary Raymond joined Pomona College in 2011 after six years as director of career services at Vassar College. She also has served as director of career counseling at Sarah Lawrence College and is a former member of the executive board of the Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN), a consortium of 30 selective liberal arts colleges.