A career is never set in stone. It helps to make a plan, but nothing is ever guaranteed (see happenstance). Which is why it is important to explore as many different options as you can, as your chosen option may be one you are in for a long period of time. Thus, it is important that you enjoy what you do, and pursue your passion. There is nothing worse than being in a position you are qualified for, but being dissatisfied with the work or what your role is. Students do not always seek careers related to their degree (they often aren’t even in fields traditionally associated with their degree), but they may enjoy them more than they might’ve imagined – and that is truly what career exploration is about. Nothing should ever hold you back, as even if there were something to lose, at least it would be relatively minor with your role as a student right now, as opposed to when you may be supporting a family, and so forth.
Any kind of degree can land you in a range of different jobs. Most majors have an immense range of possible opportunities, which is never a bad thing, so make sure you explore all your possible options to the best of your ability. Your experience at university is all about exploring – not only with regards to taking classes that aren’t related to your major, but also trying to discover what you enjoy doing. Your life and your career are intertwined, thus it is important to keep an open mind at all times.
This is where I introduce SFU’s robust Co-operative Education program (also simply known as ‘Co-op’). Co-op allows you to get a feel for a variety of opportunities while also allowing you to use the skills you’ve been learning about with regards to your degree in a workplace setting. Furthermore, there’s a wide range of options available for each major, so you’re certainly not tied down to positions traditionally related to your degree. It’s no longer just theory and scenarios at this point, but rather something you’re actually physically doing. From my personal experience as a Co-op student, I can certainly attest to its usefulness in refining your employability skills before you graduate. It also allows you to make connections with a variety of stakeholders while adding something valuable to your resume. Speaking of employability skills, the Conference Board of Canada has a neat article about skills that employers look out for – it’s a quick read, and definitely worth your while to take a glance at.
When exploring career options, networking is vital. Use your status as a student to network in a variety of events that you have access to, including employer info sessions, workshops, job fairs, etc. Not only does this allow you to take a glimpse into what your future might hold (something co-op can offer), it also allows you to make connections that may be helpful further along when exploring your many career possibilities. Graduates often state that their networks were equally or more important in finding their careers compared to their degree, so it is hard to underestimate this valuable tool. Networking can also allow you to connect with individuals who may be your future colleagues, allowing you to establish some repertoire before you’ve even stepped into the interview room.
Just as important as networking and co-op though, is volunteer experience. Employers are always looking for candidates who give back to the community, as not only does this show that you are willing to give some of your time outside your schedule, it also can define you as a person (especially if it is something you are passionate about). If you’re unsure about where to look or are looking for some opportunities, you should check out Volunteer Services, as they’ve got more than enough to get you started.
If you’re still unsure about your possible career options, make sure to visit one of our career advisors at Career Services, as they can help you in your career exploration. Furthermore, if you would like to attend a workshop on career exploration, etc., sign up for Classroom to Career. You’ll receive a certificate after completing four workshops, and have the opportunity to meet new peers.
So what are you waiting for? Your career is a lifelong journey, but it’s never too early to start searching. The option you find today may be one you are on indefinitely, but getting a taste for a variety of opportunities is also key in understanding what career you want once you have received your degree. That is what career exploration is truly about.