Ah, senior year–it is the best of times, it is the most confusing of times.
If you’re one of many college seniors who at one point has thrown up their hands and thought, “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life” or “why did I major in gender studies?”–you’re not alone. But lucky for you, there’s still hope. Lots of it.
The first step is to think of senior year as a time to find and focus on your passion. This means reflecting on your likes and dislikes and, equally important, cancelling noise from parents, teachers, or friends about what you should do (even though we love them).
It’s about crafting a future that’s right for you.
This means you’ll have to think about where you want to be in a few years, and focus your efforts to excel, and become an expert, where it counts.
Sure, you may need drop out of a club, get a B in a class (instead of your usual A, overachievers) or do the bare minimum as an RA, but if it affords you time and energy to focus on the internship, club, or side hustle that will help you reach newly developed or developing career goals, it’s worth it.
Once you’ve zeroed in a few skills, industries or causes that appeal to you, use the fall to network–like crazy–and conduct as many informational interviews as possible.
Next, take on early professional experiences that are relevant to the jobs you want to apply to–this might mean joining the board of a club, doing volunteer work, landing (and hustling hard) an internship, honing a side hustle, or getting an on-campus job.
How do you know what experience fits your career goals?
Research industries, companies, openings, and career paths that peak your interest. You have loads of information at your fingertips, in blogs, on company pages, and through social media, so use it!
To start, use an app, like Pocket, where you can find news articles, blogs and other content that’s filled with professional opportunities, tips on how to land them and reviews to help you determine whether they might be the right fit for you.
Finally, take time to reflect. Of the folks and organizations that you’ve worked with, what has made you the happiest? Which are your favorite skills to use? This reflection can help you discover where you’d be happiest and what your next step should be.
And above all, remember: your career is a marathon, not a sprint.