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For Career Readiness, Follow the Three I’s

March 4, 2019

Wondering how to help your student with their career development readiness? For sophomores, juniors, and seniors, Dr. Julia Overton-Healy, director of career services, says it’s as simple as following the three I’s of career exploration: investigate, interact, implement.

A student talks with a recruiter at the annual Career Fair.

Sophomores: Investigate Your Future

For sophomores, we encourage the theme of “investigate.” Sophomores need to explore various career pathways that align with their attitudes, skills, values, and career aspirations. Assuming your sophomore student has committed to a major, this is the year for seeking information about industries and job sectors that appeal to them.

It’s important to realize that most people don’t “become” their academic major for a career path (with obvious exceptions in professional fields like accounting, teaching, nursing, etc.). So, for sophomores, the question becomes, “where can I use my education to pursue a career that interests me?” 

The Center for Career and Academic Planning (CCAP) encourages using career exploration tools such as Vault, Candid Careers, and What Can I Do with My Major, all of which can be accessed through Handshake, our career management system. We also strongly recommend conducting informational interviews with professionals (and Fisher alumni) who work in a student’s career target. Joining up with Cardinal Connections is another great way for sophomores to find alumni who work in their target occupations and find a career mentor.

We also want sophomores to start learning how to develop a résumé—and that doesn’t mean using a template! Finally, as sophomores look forward to planning their courses and see room for electives, we recommend they work with CCAP staff to make strategic decisions to take courses that will give them skills and information for work-readiness.

Juniors: Jump from Investigate to Interact

For juniors, the heat is turning up to start moving away from “investigate” to “interact.” The third year is the perfect time for study abroad (always a great advantage in a job search), internships (full-semester and micro-experiences), attending CCAP networking events including site visits, mock interview days, Mentor in Residence days, and the Annual Career Fair.

The junior year is when professionalism skills really need to be built and refined, so holding a meaningful job (and being mentored by someone who will focus on professionalism and work-readiness) is essential. Juniors also need to be thinking about who they are as emerging professionals and their core workplace values. This becomes really important as they interact with internships at various places so they can explore the type of work they really want to do, and get insider knowledge about a variety of employer and industry types. One great resource for locating micro-internships is Parker-Dewey, which is found on the Career Services pages of Fisher’s website.

When we think about the theme of interact for juniors, we highlight networking skills and building professional associations. For students who want to go to graduate school, the junior year is critical for doing a grad school search, preparing for and taking entrance exams, and pulling together application materials, like an academic résumé and personal statement. CCAP’s advisors are well prepared to help juniors with all of this.

Seniors: Implement Your Job Search

Seniors...well, it’s all about the job search, isn’t it? CCAP recommends beginning a strategic job search at the start of the senior year because, for most people, the average time to landing a full-time entry-level career job is seven months. Waiting until April is too late to create a successful strategy, which involves the refinement of résumé, identifying target companies, building contacts, leveraging networks, submitting applications, preparing for interviews, and much more.

The senior year theme is “implement”—using their entire Fisher experience, in and out of the classroom, to move forward into their futures. CCAP offers several resources and services for use by seniors, including Handshake and CareerShift (both have very robust job boards), along with company research guides and salary negotiation coaching. Our advisors are ready to help seniors navigate the launch into “adulating” and implementing their Fisher degrees successfully.