Have you ever felt not so certain about your current career path? I think we have all felt it at some point along the track at UMD or elsewhere. The reality of a college degree is that you can teach all the book smarts in college but it can be daunting to try and figure out how to apply those strategies and concepts to the real world. In order to best prepare yourself for what the world beyond UMD will be like, there are 4 things that you can do.
1. Join a club:
There are many pre-professional or major-related clubs at UMD (to see all the different opportunities, visit https://umd.collegiatelink.net/organizations) for students to get involved in. Many times clubs will have events to get to know others in your major, speakers that are professionals within the field, or other activities. By joining a club of other students in your major, you can connect with older students who can give you advice on what classes to take and what opportunities they are finding with their major.
2. Job shadow:
Job shadowing, whether it’s for credit or not, is a great way to understand the inner-workings of your respective career field. For me, job shadowing came in the form of many hours observing and assisting physical therapists and their patients. Since none of my exercise science courses specifically covered aspects of Physical Therapy, I was able to fill in the gaps with hands-on experience in order to actually be able to picture myself in that career some day. Perhaps it’s because I’m a more visual and tactile learner, but I definitely broadened my grasp on the field when I was the one actually learning as I was doing. Job shadowing is a great way to work side by side with professionals.
I cannot emphasize enough how important networking can be when you find yourself knee deep in your job search. If you have ever heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know but who you know,” then this is a perfect place to apply those words. Networking opens a whole other world of opportunities that you might not even have known existed before. Word of mouth is fast and not taking advantage of it would be a shame. To start networking, consider striking up a conversation with someone that you have already job shadowed or think about creating or improving your LinkedIn account to connect online with other professionals (hint: Career & Internship Services has workshops specifically for that!). Professionals in the field can give you first hand advice or stories of how to become successful and how they have gotten to where they are at today. Not only that, but networking can also open doors that lead to jobs that you might not have found during your latest online job search.
4. Stay Up to Date:
Keep up with current trends by researching current events and findings in your field of interest. Being knowledgeable about the world around you is a great way to impress a future employer and gives you something to talk about when networking with other professionals. Additionally, consider researching companies using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Following them is a great way to learn more about a company and gain insight to their inner-workings.
To really decide if you’re on the right career path follow these 4 guidelines to really entrench yourself into that field. If you like what you’ve learned after searching through these tips, you’re well on your way to success!