Students - Career Services

There will never be a better time than now to prepare for life after Western. Keep yourself on track by following some simple steps throughout your college years.

Career Exploration Timeline

First Year: Clarify

Your goals in Year 1: Clarify your interests, sharpen your skills, get involved and begin to develop a network of faculty, staff and community members who will support and mentor throughout your time at Western.

Set Yourself Up for Success

  • Attend class and schedule your study time (aim for two hours of studying for every hour of in-class time). It is easier to maintain a strong GPA than to raise a low GPA. Strong grades will provide more financial and academic opportunities down the road.
  • Get to know each of your professors individually. Seriously, introduce yourself on the first day of class and ask your professor, "What do I need to do to be successful in this course?"
  • Speak with faculty, staff, Career Services and others who are familiar with your field of study (or your potential field of study).

Explore Majors and Careers

  • Create your Focus2 account, complete the inventories and self-assessments, and explore major and career options that may interest you based on your skills, personality, lifestyle preferences, and more. (Note: Focus2 requires your 'western.edu' email address for account creation.)
  • Activate your Handshake account and begin to explore jobs and internships that interest you. If you have trouble accessing Handshake, contact Career Services. 
  • Take general education courses that interest you. Exploring a range of courses early will help you get a sense of what you do and do not want to study, in addition to completing general education requirements.
  • Read the university course catalog to understand major and minor requirements and academic options.

Get Involved

Second Year: Commit

Your goals in Year 2: Solidify your commitment to your major(s), continue exploring your career options and begin identifying experiential learning opportunities (internships, student teaching, research and study abroad.)

Deepen Your Involvement

  • Continue involvement in on-campus and community organizations.
  • Consider taking on more active leadership roles within organizations or through campus employment.

Declare a Major

  • Identify a major that fits both your personal and career interests. 
  • Consult with your academic advisor, family, Career Services or others to discuss major requirements and career prospects.

Prepare for Internship and Job Applications

  • Write your first resume and cover letter based on a position description to which you could see yourself applying in the future.
  • Participate in Career Services events like workshops and career fairs (even if you're not ready to apply quite yet!)

Third Year: Experience

Your goals in Year 3: Gain relevant experience, build your resume and grow your professional network.

Start Building Your Reference List

  • Keep in touch with former employers, teachers and supervisors from past jobs and volunteer experiences.
  • Begin networking with professionals in your career field via conferences, presentations and LinkedIn.

Get Serious About Work Experience

  • Explore internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities that demonstrate your commitment to your field.
  • Talk to faculty about opportunities to assist with research.

Develop Your Employment Portfolio

  • Ask your advisor, supervisor, parents and Career Services to provide feedback on your resume and cover letter.
  • Give your social media profiles a tune up. Employers will search for you online via platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and others!

Fourth Year: Activate

Your goals in Year 4: Put your experience, knowledge and skills to work and activate your plan for life after Western. 

Put It All Together

  • Using your resume, cover letter and social media presence, package your education, experience, community engagement and skills in a way that accelerates your personal brand.
  • Participate in Career Services events to polish your materials and get interviewing experience.

Initiate Your Career Search

  • Plan your search strategy, including networking, leveraging of online resources and databases, graduate school planning and personal preferences (e.g., location, desired salary, non-career considerations).
  • Develop a personal branding strategy: How will you market yourself? What do you want potential employers to know about you?
  • Apply, interview, and accept a great job or graduate school offer!

Resources