Junior Year: Gaining Experience

If you have ranged widely in your sophomore year exploration, by junior year you will have a firmer idea of the particular skills you want to cultivate, the possible career paths you want to explore further.  You may have ruled out some things by now and discovered whole new realms of possibility.  Junior year is a good time to deliberately pursue experiences and opportunities with a view to life after graduation.

SUCCEED

  • Draft a five-year post-graduation plan.  What do you want to be doing three years after you graduate?  Be honest with yourself.  Don’t invent a goal just to have one, but do think in some detail about the specifics that matter to you.  Is paying down loans a priority?  Living in a big city?  Having personally meaningful work? Not having to move back in with your parents?  Knowing what matters most to you will help you craft a strategy to obtain it. 
  • Continue to update your resume master file and your basic draft resume. 
  • Apply to minors/second majors/certificate programs relevant to your plans and interests.
  • Prepare for and attend a Career Fair to apply for paid internships in the summer before your senior year and to learn more about companies you might want to work for after graduation.  Even if you’re not sure you want to work for any of the recruiting companies, Career Fairs are an excellent, low-stakes way to hone your elevator pitch and interviewing skills.  
  • Cull your social media accounts to reflect your professional side
    • update your LinkedIn profile.  
    • use your professionally appropriate LinkedIn profile picture on all social media platforms.
    • go through your social media accounts and delete content that reflects poorly on your judgment, taste, ethics, or sense of responsibility.
    • keep content that shows your hobbies, travel experiences, pets, volunteer commitments.  Employers and contacts with stalk your social media to find out what you’re like as a person, so don’t be afraid to show it.
    • untag yourself from photos that you would not want professional acquaintances to see.
    • google yourself and reflect on what the results would tell a potential mentor and employer.
    • make it easy for potential members of your network to learn more about you: include social media links in your email signature line.

EXPLORE

  • If job ads that request writing samples fill you with dread, then start writing for a publication OR think hard about why you haven’t done so already.  There’s nothing wrong with being an English major who doesn’t like to write!  But you need to own it and think about what you do like to do.
  • If your part-time job does not give you opportunities to build new skills, demonstrate your initiative, or take on new responsibilities, find one that will.
  • If you are not involved in an extracurricular or volunteer activity with potential to develop your leadership/managerial/organizational skills, then find one.
  • Not feeling professionally inspired by anything you’re doing?  Try doing something completely different.  
  • If you’re not currently doing an internship, think about how to fit one in during the summer or your senior year.  

CONNECT

  • Stay in touch with networking contacts you’ve made.  
    • Don’t be afraid to use social media to connect with acquaintances or potential networking contacts.
    • Get in the habit of reconnecting via email with former work supervisors, family friends, RSO leaders, volunteer coordinator.  People who have have taken an interest in you and helped you will want to know how things are going.
  • Draw on your network for feedback on your resume, suggestions of companies or organizations you might work for, advice about entry-level jobs in fields that interest you.
  • Don’t know people who can answer the questions you have or give you the advice you need?  The alumni mentoring network and Linked In are excellent resources for making new connections.  Join the Department of English alumni mentoring network (if you haven’t already) and reach out to potentially helpful people you find there.
  • Develop an “elevator pitch”: a 20-second self-introduction that you can use when talking to potential mentors, contacts, or employers.  If you’re thinking about several different career paths, you may need several different elevator pitches.  Moreover, the elevator pitch that’s relevant for a career fair may be more narrow and directive than the self-introduction you would use when you meet a potential contact socially, but developing and practicing one will make it easier to think on your feet when you need to produce the other.

Freshman: Establishing a Foundation

Sophomore: Exploring Options

Senior: Getting Real