Completing my Career Planning Process, For Now!

By: Paying

If you all have been up to date with my blog posts, you would already know how I’ve applied the “Five-Step” Career Planning Process circle to my situation. If not, here’s a short summary!

  • Assess Yourself: Taking assessments to see where my strengths, interests, and personality fit best while also reflecting with Pro Staff in the Career office.
  • Explore Options: Mid-college crisis of double majoring and/or minoring while also seeking publishing opportunities and creating my network.
  • Develop Skills: Gaining and improving my professional and editing skills through my position as a Hmong Outreach Intern.
  • Market Yourself: I formatted and wrote both my resume and cover letter to not only benefit me, but also the company I’m interested in.
Career plan graphic - assess yourself, explore options, develop skills, market yourself, manage career

Now that I’ve made my way through four steps, that just leaves one more: managing my career. The last update I had was my experience with internships and how it benefited me in ways I didn’t think of; it helped me realize what my true passion is and what I do and do not prefer in a work environment. 

My past internship did not directly relate to my career plans however, it was still a field I was previously interested in. Going into my fourth and final year of college, I realized that before I could move forward, I had to step back a bit and focus more on developing the skills I need after college which is anything and everything related to the publishing field.

I had mentioned that I applied to become an editor for The Bark, UMD’s student run news organization, but didn’t receive the position. However, when fall semester started, I was recruited by the current student staff to not only be an editor but also to become a writer along with recruiting creative writing. In just a few months, I got my first experience as an editor and ended up writing five articles for the organization! Although that’s not much, it’s still a step forward in the right direction of managing my career.

Another way I have been managing my career was by frequently checking my GoldPASS powered by Handshake account and staying active. It paid off, because in November I received an email about a paid internship opportunity right for after graduation as an Editorial Assistant in downtown Minneapolis! Although it was half a year away, I wanted to get ahead of other applicants by applying right away. Luckily with the internship I had last summer, along with The Bark, I switched around experiences on my resume and cover letter to better reflect my qualifications for this new internship position.

Image: marker caps arranged in rainbow order
Text: I realized that marketing myself through my resume and cover letter wouldn’t get me this position but rather who I was as a person and my passion in the field.

Two weeks later, I was offered a phone interview and within another two weeks, I was offered an in-person interview. Here, I realized that marketing myself through my resume and cover letter wouldn’t get me this position but rather who I was as a person and my passion in the field. I went into the interview relaxed and friendly, sharing experiences I had already listed while also sharing experiences I had as a child which was able to answer the question. Two days after my 2nd interview, I had received an offer as the Editorial Assistant!

After so many years of confusion, doubt, and not knowing what my fate was, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. From finding my strengths, to almost switching my whole academic plan, to dipping my toes in a different field, to finally managing my career as an editor. 

Stepping back and reflecting has been a huge part in my journey and I’m grateful that those who are reading have come along for the ride! This is the end of my Career Planning Process but I can already sense that it won’t stop there. As long as you put your mind to it and are willing to take time the time to get to where you want, you’ll make it!

Of Possible Interest:
Planning Your Career
Love Your Major
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Sources: graphic (UMD C&IS); photo (Unsplash|Greg Rosenke)

Today is a Good Day To…

By: Gao

Talk about careers. It’s getting to that point in the semester where life is hurling self-discovery and crises (peep my last blog post) right at you. You are into your first, second, third, fourth, or maybe even fifth year of college and you don’t know if what you are doing is really leading you down the path you initially hoped for. Maybe you’re not doing so well in a class, contemplating your life choices, feeling the heat of the real world getting hotter and hotter, or worrying about your orange cat, Garfield, who is in the hospital. It seems that life is just crumbling at your fingertips and you don’t know what to do. That happens to most of us, especially when we least expect it. But it’s okay because we pick ourselves up and move along one step at a time. Right? 

Well for some of us, it’s not that easy. You might be wondering, in the midst of all this mess, “Where do I even start to pick up?”. Well, Career & Internship Services is right here waiting for you! You are NOT ALONE. 

Where to begin… 
Despite everything that is going on, you have to start somewhere! Even when it feels like you are losing control of your life right now, don’t let that consume you. Here are a few things I think you should try. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order; just do what works for you. As much work or stressful as it might seem, it will all pay off in the end. 

TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Take an interest, personality, and/or strengths assessment to see where and how well your intended career fits you.
  2. Do you know what you’re doing with your life? If no, COME SEE US and we can help you confirm a major, plan a career path, and search for jobs/internships/grad schools.
  3. Create and review an elevator speech! If you had 1 minute to describe yourself, what would you say?
  4. Career Handbook has all sorts of examples and tips on how to perfect your resume/cover letter/personal statement, find it on the Career & Internship Services webpage.
  5. View the Graduate Follow-Up Report Archives on the C&IS website for career ideas. See what recent grads are doing with your major!

I have to admit, these few suggestions have definitely helped me. I, myself, am going through this crisis of whether or not my decided major is fit for me. There are so many things I want to dip my feet into, but I only have so many limbs! I can’t swim if every piece of me is in a different body of water. And I think we can all definitely relate to this. 

If you want more suggestions/tips, look for our interactive bulletin board in the hallway of the Solon Campus Center! 

Bulletin board with career tips

Reflect
Once you have taken the time to follow through some of these suggestions, REFLECT. Ask yourself: 

  • How do these results resonate with me? What do they make me feel? Is it true to me?
  • What are my options?
  • Where do I see myself in the next 2, 4, or 6 years given these results?
  • How am I going to apply these results to my current understanding of my situation?
  • What is my end goal?

Take a moment to lay out all your options, considerations, and interpretations on the table. Talk it out with a career counselor, advisor, friends, or even family if need be. Weigh your options and even make a pros and cons list. Your questions, concerns, and understanding of everything may not be solved, and that’s okay. Taking these small steps will lead you to the answers you seek. It all begins with you, and the initiative you take to control what you can, instead of worrying about what you can’t. 

Of Possible Interest:
• Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Tools for Choosing Your Major & Career

By: Rachel

The path to choosing a major is one that looks different for everyone. It seems we’re asked countless times over the years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us are sticking with the same answer we gave in 1st grade, while others have new ideas every day. Before we get to that career, many of us have to decide which major to pursue first.

To share a brief summary of my own experience, I decided what fields I wanted to study in college the summer before my senior year of high school. I had a few different ideas over the years, but they were slowly weeded out as I came to know more about myself. I always had a love for the written word, but I didn’t really want to go into creative writing, and I wasn’t sure what options that left for me. Out of nowhere, grant writing started to come up in conversations with my aunts and uncles, teachers, and other professionals. While I didn’t know a whole lot about it, it sounded like the type of writing I was interested in.

I had a friend who majored in Professional Writing, and one day the idea came to me to pursue a similar major along with a general background in business. I thought this would lend me a wide scope of occupational opportunities while still being areas I was excited to learn about and work in. My pairing was both strategic and driven by my passions; you can read more about that here.

After this idea came to me, I did more research into job outlook and what I could expect. I took a career class spring of my senior year of high school that forced me to conduct informational interviews and research through sources like O*NET OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I remained open to the fact that I might decide to change my majors once I got into college, but the things I learned through my research affirmed my decision. I want to take a moment to highlight the sources I found particularly helpful as well as a few others offered through our office.

Image: open notebook on wood desktop with pens
Text: Tools for choosing your major and career
  • Your network: I never would have even known grant writing existed if it weren’t for the people in my life. Reach out to those around you, especially professionals. It’s important to keep in mind that one person’s opinion/view is just that: one person’s view, but those working in the field have a unique perspective on opportunities that exist and may be able to offer ideas of where your talents and abilities could be used best.
  • Informational interviews & Job shadowing: Informational interviews and job shadowing are additional ways to connect with professionals in a field of interest.  They can provide tips on steps you should take at this point in your life to set yourself up for success in the future, and doing an interview/job shadow can be a great way to add valuable contacts to your network.
  • What Can I Do With a Major In (all majors): There are so many different online resources out there, and I’d recommend not just relying on one. It’s a good idea to cross-reference your data, and different sites provide slightly different types of data. This resource through the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a great one for college students, because it links a major with a bunch of connected job titles as well as related major skills. This provides you with occupation titles you might not have ever heard of that you can plug into other career outlook sites for more information. The related major skills can be super helpful in determining what minor or additional major would be particularly beneficial to you in that field.
  • What Can I Do With This Major? (via University of Tennessee’s Center for Career Development): Somewhat similarly, this site takes majors and breaks them down into more specific areas. Within each area, there are bullet points of typical job duties. Reading through these might pique your interest or turn you away, thus narrowing your search. Each area also includes examples of specific employers and strategies for success in the field. These are helpful tips of steps to pursue in your education, activities, job experiences, etc. in order to build a solid foundation for that specific area.
  • BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Once you have pinpointed a specific job title you’d like to look into, you can use BLS to find a quick summary of median pay, typical education level expected, and job outlook, among other statistics. Across the top, you’ll find additional tabs with information on job responsibilities, how to become one, and similar job titles. One of the tabs I use most is the one that provides state/regionally specific data.
  • O*NET OnLine: One last website I’d like to highlight is O*NET, which is like the BLS Handbook in that it is organized by occupation. It is easy to use, and a quick search will provide you with a summary of tasks, skills, and knowledge commonly used on the job, as well as personality characteristics and values that lend themselves well to the field.
  • Graduate Follow-up Report: This report provides much of same information provided through these sites, such as job titles within each major, specific employers, and median salary, but it is specific to students who have graduated from UMD! We put this together every year with information from students who have graduated in the last 6 months to 1 year.
  • Assessments: Another potential source of information that will help you determine your major/career are career assessments. There are 3 major ones offered through our office as well as a few you can take for free online. These will provide information on your personality, interests, and skills which you can then match up with compatible fields. Setting up an appointment to discuss your results with a career counselor can provide further clarification.

This might seem like a lot of information to navigate, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different routes determining your career might take. If you find yourself trying to answer the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, my core advice would be to stay open. The inspiration for what direction to head could come from just about anywhere: your hobbies, your dreams as a child, your skillset, your heritage, a class you took, or information you found from a website. I’d encourage you to make this decision based on what you learn from a variety of sources: testimonies from professionals, statistics, and your personal attributes. More than anything, recognize that the answer to the question will never totally be finalized, and that’s part of the beauty of career development.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Mike Tinnion

New Major – What do I do Now?

By: Kendra

I was one of those freshmen who came to UMD thinking I had everything figured out. I was going to come to UMD for Integrated Elementary and Special Education, complete my student teaching as required, and find a job as a special education teacher. I had a plan and I thought for sure that I would stick to that plan. Well, I was wrong. Within the first couple months of school, I knew that special education was not my calling and that I wanted to do something else. After meeting with the career counselors, taking each of the assessments provided by our office, and some soul searching, I decided to switch my major to Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Studies. Now I have my major and minor figured out, but need to figure out what I am going to do with them. Here is how I am going to do that:

Take Classes in Various Fields
While many majors have set courses that one needs to take to earn a degree, there are plenty of majors that have many different classes that one can choose to take to fulfill graduation requirements. Your academic advisor can be helpful in that realm of knowing which classes you absolutely have to take and which areas are more flexible in the courses you choose. If you do have the option to pick and choose which ones you would like to take, do it. Take classes in areas you think you do not like, maybe it will surprise you! Taking a variety of classes also helps you figure out which areas of a certain major interest you so you can tailor your education to what you really want to learn about.

Get Involved
This is something everyone will tell you, but don’t overlook it because it really is huge when it comes to making opportunities for yourself. Being active and involved on campus can be extremely beneficial to getting internships, jobs, scholarships, and it is typically pretty fun! UMD has a club for almost anything, so getting involved in one should not be a hassle. It is also a great idea to get involved in your classes. Ask questions, contribute in class, go see your professor during office hours — only good will come from it! Forming relationships with professors is great because they might need a teaching assistant or research assistant in the future and you will lose out on that opportunity if the instructor doesn’t even know you.

Job Research
Learning about jobs is another great way to explore a new major. Researching is important to learn about what people in different careers do, what they earn, and what sorts of steps they took to get where they currently are. A great way to do this is to do a simple Google search and just see what comes up. This is a good way to find out what sorts of jobs are out there and what those jobs look like. Job postings will show what skills and education are required for the job as well as what the job duties are. Another great resource is the Graduate Follow-up Report. This allows you to see what previous UMD graduates have done with their degrees right after college in specific majors, which can be really helpful when it comes to choosing a career path. Learning more about different careers will help you find ones that you might be interested in. When you have done this, set up job shadows with people in those careers. Job shadowing gives you first hand experience as to what a career is like and will be the best determinant of whether or not you will fit within that career.

If you are like me and don’t really know what you want to do, try these three things. If you need any further help, stop by Career & Internship Services at 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all your blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Joao Silveira

Find Your Fit

By: Kirsi

If you ask a career counselor how to pick the right major, internship, or career path you will likely be directed to assessments. These are quizzes that help you determine your strengths, values, and interests. Career & Internship Services offers online reading about how to seek your fit. But what does it look like once you have found your fit?

Image: Birds sitting on powerlines, one bird flying around
Text: Find your fit

Looks Like
Signs that you have found your fit include that you…

  • lose track of time being absorbed in a project for the class in your major or task at work.
  • experience positive or productive dreams about working on that project or related to your classes or work.
  • follow news and social media about the field you study or work in.
  • feel engaged in your classes or work.
  • imagine yourself in possible roles in your future career.

Doesn’t Look Like
Signs that you have not found your fit include that you…

  • are challenged with starting homework or tasks in your field.
  • dread going to work or classes.
  • wouldn’t consider working on a project or participate in an activity in your field during your free time.
  • find tasks you complete for class or work to be unfulfilling. 
  • avoid thinking about the field you study or work in.

Misconceptions  

  • Finding your fit doesn’t mean you love everything about your classes, work, and field all the time.
  • The potential of the fulfillment your field offers may not be apparent until taking higher level courses, after settling into work, or following further research.
  • Changing your trajectory does not make you a failure! It highlights flexibility and honesty with yourself.

If you ever need help finding your fit, stop by 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

Good Luck! 

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major, Career Planning – all our blog posts on these topics
Boost Your Career in College, Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Danielle MacInnes

What to do with a Writing Studies Degree?

By: Rachel (a Writing Studies major!)

What does the Writing Studies program entail? 
Within CLA, UMD offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies. There is also an option to minor in this program, which is called Professional Writing. While these titles are pretty self-explanatory, you might be wondering what the program actually entails.

To start, every Writing Studies student is required to take four core classes. Aside from this, you must take an Advanced Writing class and capstone course to be completed during your last semester. Other than that, you take 15 credits of writing electives and 6 credits in communication, English, management information systems, journalism, linguistics, or theater. This allows you to customize your education to your interests and career goals. Some of the electives I’ve taken so far incorporate aspects of graphic design as well as web design and software skills which are highly attractive in today’s job market. I’ve also taken more traditional literature classes that prioritize reading and analyzing writers’ works.

Looking down on a pencils in a pencil cup on desk. Text: What to do with a writing studies degree?

How can I use a Writing Studies degree?
You might be surprised by how many careers involve a level of writing. Reports, formal memos, or casual emails all require some writing ability. To even land a job, it is likely you will have to compose a resume and cover letter. While all jobs incorporate some writing, there are certainly some that center around it more than others. Here are some writing-related jobs in different categories (in no particular order):

Creative Writing
You can certainly head a creative route and work as a novelist, video game writer, or screenwriter.

Journalism
Journalism is another field within writing, with subcategories such as photojournalism and sports journalism. TV stations also hire writers for producing and writing content.  

Law
At the entry level, you can work as an administrative assistant in a law firm. Since the field involves such a high level of writing, a background of study in business and writing is a smart way to set yourself up for law school.

Freelance
Working as a freelance writer can be a great option! There are several websites to advertise your skills and help you connect with clients. A similar but somewhat controversial field is ghostwriting. As a ghostwriter, you would develop content for a client, but you don’t get any of the credit for your work. The pay can vary widely, and ghostwriters have been used by songwriters, politicians, celebrities, and novelists.

Colored pens on open notebook. Text - Career Ideas for Writing Studies: creative writing, journalism, law, freelance, business, editing, publishing, copy editing, technical writing, and more.

Business
Within a wide scope of businesses, there are a variety of roles that would be strengthened by a background in writing. Some examples include communications specialist, marketing associate, public relations specialist, content strategist, or social media manager. Some organizations also hire proposal or grant writers.

Common Roles Across Industries
Other typical jobs for writers include editors, publishers, and copy editors or proofreaders. You can find these positions in a variety of organizations. If you can speak and write in more than one language, there are countless fields that utilize translators.

Unique Roles
While we’ve addressed some common areas writers work in, there are countless obscure roles you probably don’t know exist. Think of everything you read; someone is responsible for writing that! The backs of cereal boxes, birthday cards, the fine print at the bottom of those ads for medicine on tv. . .it’s all written by someone. Technical writers are often tasked with writing documents like manuals. In certain fields, such as engineering, demand for these positions can be quite high, but they typically require knowledge in your field as well as writing expertise. Another interesting position is speechwriting. Some celebrities, politicians, and executives actually hire writers to come up with their speeches.

Hopefully this opens your eyes to the many directions Writing Studies can take you! If you enjoy writing to any degree, I would encourage you to think outside of the box and combine that with your other interests to see how you can find success in your career.

Of Possible Interest: 
• What recent UMD grads are doing: Writing Studies, English, Journalism
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Best, Rachel

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash | rawpixel & Jessica Lewis

Career Planning Process: Explore Options

By: Paying

There are so many paths you could take during your career planning process: assessing yourself, exploring options, developing skills, marketing yourself, and managing your career. Not one person is the same and it doesn’t matter which order you choose to do these in. In this blog post, I’ll be writing about and giving advice based on my experience and the path I’ve been going about!

Career Planning model in a circle the text reads (starting on top and moving to the right): Assess Self, Explore Options, Develop Skills, Market Yourself, Manage Career

In one of my previous post, I shared my experience with an assessment offered by the Career and Internship Services office, this is where I first started my career planning process: assessing myself. After that experience, I started to question if my major and minor were ‘good enough’ to get me to my career goal: an editor. From this point on, I went to the next step in my career planning process: exploring my options. There are so many places one can choose to explore that it might seem overwhelming, and even scary, but it can be as easy as asking a friend for advice.

Since registration for Spring Semester was approaching, I first looked into the possibility of double majoring and/or minoring. I asked for advice from co-workers, both students and full-time staff, as well as family and friends. From there, some of my friends had recommended I speak with their friends who then advised me to speak with some professors at UMD who are knowledgeable in my field of interest. Turns out I was already taking a course taught by one of the recommended professors! She assured me that the path I’m going down is fine and was actually similar to hers. With assurance from my professor, I went on to speak with a friend who was majoring in Journalism, a field I thought about double majoring in. After our conversation, I crossed that option off my list because it wasn’t the right path for me to go into for editing however, she recommended I speak with both her significant other who was a Professional Writing minor and her close friend who actually works as a managing editor for the student-run news organization on campus, The Bark.

Lighthouse with light beam at night. Text: Career planning process: explore options.

Weeks of talking with many different people with different backgrounds led me to finally choose to add on another minor: professional writing! Now that I settled confidently with my educational path, it was time to explore more options to give me experience related to editing. I got in contact with two student employees from The Bark and was given a publishing opportunity! About a week after speaking of the opportunity, I was going to get one of my written pieced published on their website but first I went in to discuss the edits I would have to make. When I went into their office, I found out one of their workers was actually a person I sat next to in class. After the meeting, I was referred to a job posting by The Bark to apply as an editor!

Within 2-3 weeks of exploring my options while going through my career planning process, I added on a new minor, I have a piece published, and I am connected to new people who are experienced in a field I want to have a career in! Exploring options may be something as small as reaching out to a friend and it could lead you to something as big as a job offering or an internship! No matter what you choose to do, all it takes is one step and from there, you’re already closer to your career goal.

Of Possible Interest: 
Double Majoring: Pros and Cons
Career Planning for Humanities Majors
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Sources: UMD Careers; Unsplash|Evgeni Tcherkasski