Career Services Fellow Corinne Townley offers sophomores with tips to maximize their Elon experience and best prepare for their futures in this column.
Your first year at Elon flew by. You persevered through one of the toughest school years in modern history. Now you’re back on campus with a plethora of opportunities right outside your door.
What are you going to do next? How do you make the most of your second year?
Here is my list of five things to consider doing throughout your sophomore year that will help develop your career development skills.
1. Join a student organization related to your career interests
There are so many wonderful student organizations on campus directly related to different career fields and industries. Joining an organization is a low-stakes way to learn more about a career path and gain valuable transferable skills like working on a team, leadership and communication.
If you aren’t sure on what organization to join, check out Elon’s Career Communities resources to explore various opportunities on campus. Simply select the career community that most closely aligns with your interests and click “Student Organizations” for a comprehensive list of clubs and organizations to join.
- Tip: Don’t go overboard! Employers love to see you dedicate yourself to one or two organizations. They would rather see you hold a leadership position in one club than 10 clubs where you are a member.
2. Conduct informational interviews
Learn about a career of interest directly from the source by conducting informational interviews. An informational interview is connecting with someone in a field that interests you and having a conversation. This could be a family friend, someone you met at a networking event, an Elon alum or anyone you want to learn more about. You can ask them questions about their personal career journey, what internships they did, what it is like to work in their industry, what skills they believe are vital to being successful in the field and more. These conversations can help you narrow down occupations of interest and gain valuable connections within the industry.
- Tip: Get comfortable with the informational interview process by reading our quick guide and practicing on your professors or family friends!
3. Complete an externship/shadowing experience
Doing an externship or shadowing is another great way to gain an understanding of what a specific job entails. Shadowing typically lasts one to two days where you will shadow one or multiple professionals as they go through their working day. You may have the chance to attend meetings, have one-on-one conversations with members of the organizations, or take a peek at what projects they are working on. This will give you the real inside scoop on what it is like to be someone in this role day in and day out.
- Tip: You can find and apply for an externship position on the Elon Job Network or find them through networking!
4. Connect with your advisors
It’s a common misconception that the career center is only for your senior year, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! The Student Professional Development Center is here to support you throughout all phases of your career development journey and can help you explore career options, construct a resume for part-time jobs or internships, practice for interviews, draft a cover letter or simply chat about some ideas you’ve been having regarding your life after Elon. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Career Services. We are in this career process together!
5. Attend “Sophomore Success”
If you are looking to learn some professional development skills look no further than “Sophomore Success.” This free, in-person event is open to all sophomores across campus. During this multi-rotational event, you’ll be able to acquire professional skills through meeting and learning from real employers. Designed to be a learning environment, this is a low-stakes, high-reward event! If you haven’t spent time on professional development during your time at Elon, then this program will be a perfect starting point! Take advantage of the opportunities to receive free business cards, a LinkedIn headshot and make an appointment to connect with a real employer the following week for a virtual one-on-one resume review.
- Tip: Register today for Sophomore Success and place a hold on your calendar for Thursday, Oct. 28 from 4:30 to 6:40 p.m.
Your sophomore year is a special time. Don’t let it pass you by without considering some professional development opportunities. There are things you can do now to help best prepare you for your life after Elon!