As you enter college and go through your freshman year, it always feels like there are so many paths, clubs, and opportunities. It’s overwhelming!
Now that you’ve used your freshman year to get comfortable with living away from home, understand the workload, and settle in with new friends and lifestyle, as a sophomore it’s time to prioritize yourself and build new skills by utilizing the connections your school provides you. As you look for growth opportunities, think to yourself “Where do I want to be in 5 years and how can I utilize my resources to help me gain the experience needed to get there?”
Jobs & Internships
The majority of campuses have a career center that can help you find a job or internship, which will allow you to learn about and gain experience in an industry related to your major.
Getting experience in what interests you can help you expand your options. It has been shown that students who hold jobs during college make more money once they graduate because it proves to future employers that they have the skills and ability to balance priorities as well as a stronger, more developed resume.
Often professors have research projects or lab work that they need help with. Talk to the professor that inspired you the most over the past year and see if they have any need for an assistant. Utilizing your professor's connections, your school’s career center, and website will allow you to explore niche interests and job types.
Not only do schools offer help finding career-related jobs, but they also have lots of other leadership opportunities that will show future employers you have traits that will make you valuable to growing and supporting their business.
Some good opportunities to look into are becoming a TA or a grader for a class you enjoyed last year, becoming a peer advisor for your school or major, applying to be an RA for the next school year, or taking on a leadership role in a campus club or organization.
Look to the local community pages or school bulletin boards for volunteer opportunities to show that you are passionate and proactive. Finding an organization to support the environment, animals, homeless, or veterans, getting involved at local primary and secondary schools to inspire the next generation, volunteering with a local politician that is campaigning, or working in a community garden are all great ways to become involved and generate more connections outside of the campus community.
Even if you do not know where you want to be or what you want to do after college, it is important to try new things and test the waters - maybe it will narrow down the overwhelming options you're presented with. No matter the industry, future employers want to see that you not only have the knowledge to accomplish tasks but also the personality that will push you to grow. By getting involved, whether through a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity, you will find yourself becoming more self-confident in your abilities as well as learning what truly excites you about yourself and your future.