Once considered a place where college seniors approaching graduation could meet with career counselors, campus career services centers are being visited by more college freshmen than ever before.
Traditionally, college freshmen spent their free time exploring campus and making new friends. These days, they’re already concerned about finding a job after graduation. College career centers can provide information about jobs associated with particular college degrees, offer career counseling appointments, and even help students weigh their own strengths and weaknesses.
Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson recently reported that college career offices across the nation are reporting dramatic hikes in use by first-year students: freshmen are looking for the earliest possible jump on the employment market.
“This generation of college students is used to being busy and having it all,” said Nancy Dudak, director of the career center at Villanova University near Philadelphia. “They had really packed careers in high school. They just look to continue that intensity when they come to college.”
If you’re interested in learning as much as possible about potential careers during your time in college, you may want to consider some of the following options:
A great way to gain first-hand knowledge about a career you think you’re interested in is to speak with someone who works in the field. See if your campus career center can introduce you to alumni who work in the area, or call local companies and ask if informational interviews are available.
A face-to-face meeting can help you find out what typical working hours are like in that career, what the job actually involves, and more. If possible, get together with professionals in several different fields and see if anything interests you as much as you thought it did before speaking with them.
If you’ve narrowed your options after speaking with a few people, apply for part-time internships or volunteer your time working in fields that caught your interest. You won’t get to run the company, but you’ll get to be in the actual work environment. Sometimes being in the middle of things is a lot different than hearing about it.
I always thought I wanted to be a teacher—until I was alone in front of a classroom full of students. I wish I had put in more volunteer hours than were required for my graduation; I may have realized that teaching wasn’t for me sooner rather than later.
A double major or a minor can help expand your career options after graduation. Either will give you versatility when job hunting and it never hurts to show potential employers that you were willing to go above and beyond during college.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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