Career Development Timeline for College Students

Following is a recommended timeline for students to follow. Following a timeline such as this usually helps students make sure they are job ready and prevents the panic attack of being unprepared or not knowing what to do after graduation.

Step One (usually during the freshman year)

  • If you have not declared a major or are unsure of a selected major, make an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist in the Career Center to clarify your career goals. This may include doing some career assessments and follow-up appointments to review the assessments and discuss next steps.
  • Join a campus organization (preferably related to your major or career interest).
  • Begin and/or continue developing skills that employers seek in job candidates.
  • Research occupations and industries by reading books, periodical articles, and websites on careers. Learn realistic statistics on salary, locations for jobs, and entrance requirements.
  • Participate in a job-shadow experience; conduct information interviews; talk to people working in jobs that interest you. Learn about their education, experience, and skills.

Step Two (usually during the sophomore year)

  • Locate an internship, volunteer experience, or part-time job that is related to your career field and will help you develop important communication and work-related skills.
  • Access internship postings on Handshake.
  • Enroll in IDS 120 for an in-depth course in career exploration and preparation.
  • Make an appointment with the Career Center to learn how to write résumés and job-search letters as well as interview for jobs.
  • Continue researching career choices, learning about the skills you need to be competitive in the job market; work on developing those skills.
  • Build your network of contacts, including those made through job shadowing and information interviewing.
  • Continue participating in campus organizations; find opportunities to develop strong leadership and communication skills.
  • Develop a portfolio to showcase your accomplishments and skills.
  • Develop a LinkedIn profile and have it reviewed at the Career Center.
  • Attend activities and events sponsored by the Career Center.

Step Three (usually during the junior year)

  • Continue participating in Campus and professional organizations.
  • Continue gaining experience in your field through internships, part-time, summer jobs, and volunteer experiences.
  • Research employers who hire in your major. Learn what they seek and where the jobs are located.
  • Conduct information meetings with individuals working in careers that interest you. Use those contacts to build your network.
  • Continue developing your network by contacting potential mentors or references.
  • Attend career fairs and other career events.
  • Continue building your résumé; learn how to tailor your résumé to specific positions; have your résumé reviewed at the Career Center.

Step Four (usually during the senior year)

  • Update your résumé.
  • Access job listings using Handshake.
  • Participate in mock interviews through the Career Center.
  • Use Handshake to access job postings and participate in on-campus interviews.
  • Attend Career Center workshops, activities, and events.
  • Keep records of all employers you contact, including date, method, and result of contact.
  • Don't wait until after you graduate to begin looking for a job. Many job seekers are surprised to learn the average job search takes approximately six months.
  • Continue building your network of contacts. Use your participation in professional organizations and clubs to make connections with people who may provide you with job leads.
  • Continue researching potential employers. Learn as much as possible about them and determine how you would answer questions such as "Why are you interested in this company?" and "How would you fit into our organization?"