By Sarah Wright
Start Early to Reduce Stress
As soon as you know what you want to major in, you should start going to your college career center. It may seem early, but we recommend that you get on this track starting with your freshman year. Why? It's a good idea to have your bearings and know where you're going to go well before it's time to start sending out job applications. You're going to have enough to worry about during your senior year. You'll thank yourself later for the foundational work you do now.
Make Your Own Path
Starting career planning early can be particularly useful for students in disciplines without a fixed professional outcome, like liberal arts fields that don't feed directly into a specific non-academic sector. But even if your major is one that leads to a set career path, like engineering or nursing, it can't hurt to get an early start. Regardless of which category you fall into, going to the career center as a freshman can help you become familiar with the types of jobs that are available in your field. Doing this can also help you get connected to professionals in your field who can offer you career mentorship that your professors might not be able to provide.
Find Better Summer Jobs
Going to your campus career center can also put you on better footing to find more relevant work, whether you're looking for part-time jobs during the school year or more full-time work during breaks. The staff at the career center can help you look for jobs in your area of interest, and might have access to special job listings that are specifically targeted to students in your field. They also might be able to help you find internships that can give you valuable work experience in addition to class credit.
It Never Hurts to Plan
We're not suggesting that you should devote hours a week to obsessing about your career. It's entirely possible that your plans, hopes and even your major can change during the course of your college education. But being familiar with the career center's resources, with who works there and with what they can do to help you will end up being valuable no matter what you end up deciding to do. Knowing this ahead of time, and having a rough draft of a plan to follow, will help save you headaches in the long run. Job searches are stressful enough without the added strain of not knowing where to start looking and how to ask for help. Getting to know your career center before the stress sets in will take a load off of your shoulders.
We've extolled the benefits of your campus career center before.