When it comes to education the most important thing is what you ultimately do with it, and this is usually measured by your eventual transition into the workforce. As such, it is absolutely vital to begin your career search while you are still completing your degree. Now, this may seem like an obvious statement to make, but let's face it, most university students are the world leaders in the industry of procrastination. Thinking about the future can cause anxiety and make you want to put it off further. But remember, thinking about your career early on does not mean you need to have all the answers because career exploration is an ever-evolving process.
As an alumnus now looking back on my time spent at SFU, I find myself thinking about the steps I took to prepare for my transition into the workforce. As with anything in life, if I could turn time back there are some things I would have done the same and others I would have done differently. But it is important to keep in mind that you are not alone when it comes to planning for your future. SFU's Career Services provides all kinds of free information and assistance to help you with your decision-making process.
A key component of planning early is to be mindful of the potential career paths in your field of study. Most departments have information on their website about the types of jobs you can find with a degree in their field, but there are other options as well. Speaking to a career advisor before you officially declare your major may give you greater perspective and knowledge about the field of study you are considering. This may also help you finalize your decision or lead you to seek another program that better fits with your interests. It could also answer questions you may not have previously considered, such as whether you need to continue your education after graduation, how likely you will need to travel or relocate for your field, or what type of co-op and volunteer experiences will help you along your desired or potential career path.
Arguably, the simplest way to explore your career interests is through the BIG Fair held every Fall semester and the Summer Opportunities Fair in the Spring semester. The fair may consist of companies that are recruiting, volunteer organizations and graduate programs from various institutions. Taking the time to stop by these tables gives you the opportunity to speak directly to representatives who are there to answer questions, network and provide you with materials you can take home and explore further on your own.
Of course, there are also other events that Career Services puts on, which are free for current students and alumni for up to two years. One of the events I attended was an all-day seminar consisting of several sessions presented by professionals from various fields. Events such as these can provide you with a wealth of information to consider as you begin exploring your career options.
Looking back, there is one thing that stood out as something I should have done: Co-operative Education. Following graduation, despite the fact that I had taken steps to think about my career options early on, it became painfully obvious that I lacked the professional experience for the majority of the entry-level positions I was applying for. This is, of course, a common problem for recent grads, but proved to be a much bigger issue when one graduates during the middle of one of the worst economic crises in the world since 1929. Co-op would have provided me with the work-related experiences I needed to gain a competitive edge over other graduates. I strongly encourage any current student reading this to seriously consider participating in the Co-op program.
Many of these opportunities may seem apparent to some students but aren't being explored by a considerable amount of the student body. We have all heard about how getting hired is about branding yourself in a way that sets you apart from your competition, and these opportunities can precisely help you do so. Take it from someone who has already been there. The sooner you start exploring these options and planning for your career while you're still in school, the less time you will waste having to do it after graduation.
Beyond the Blog
- Take the first step in developing your career by attending SFU's BIG Fair.