Oregon State University

Career Planning Timeline

Career Planning Timeline

Career Planning Timeline

Becoming familiar with career fields and yourself is a critical part of both making decisions about your goals and being better prepared in your career exploration and ultimate job search. It's also never too early to be looking for experiences that can enhance your professional development. 

The information below will provide you with a general timeline for common career development tasks during each year of school.

First Year

  • Get to know yourself as an individual. You can do this by paying attention to the subjects you most enjoy, activities in which you participate, and by talking to your friends and family about career ideas and possibilities
  • Take a free online self-assessment called SIGI3. It can help you research occupations, choose, change, or clarify a major, and evaluate your interests, skills, values and personality: http://oregonstate.edu/career/sigi3
  • Develop an ongoing relationship with your Academic Advisor. Ask about majors, electives, general education requirements, academic policies, and possible career options.
  • Take a wide variety of classes to broaden your exposure to potential career paths.
  • Get involved on campus. It’s a great way to meet people, learn about yourself, and build your resume: http://oregonstate.edu/sli/studentorgs/find_organization
  • Focus on good grades from the start; if you fall behind, it can be difficult to recover. If you need assistance, visit the Academic Success Center: http://success.oregonstate.edu
  • Meet with a career counselor to find out more about how your abilities, interests, personality, and values match with potential career paths. You may determine that it would be helpful to take a career assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and/or the Strong Interest Inventory after meeting with a career counselor.
  • Explore volunteer opportunities in the community as a method to gain crucial experience for your resume. Visit the Center for Civic Engagement to find out about opportunities: http://oregonstate.edu/cce
  • Develop your first resume and continue to improve it by adding content throughout your college years as your experience increases and your career path gets more focused: http://oregonstate.edu/career/resume
  • You may want to work part-time on campus or in the community. This is an excellent way to gain work experience and even better if you can find a job that supports your future career goals: http://oregonstate.edu/career/campus-jobs
  • Interested in an education abroad experience while in college? Find out more about the possibilities of going abroad and meet with your academic advisor to figure out what year and term would work best with your academic schedule: http://oregonstate.edu/international/studyabroad/students/prospective

Second Year

  • Identify specifically what you hope to gain from your education. Understand the planned end result and chart the path which will take you there.
  • Focus your coursework within your major. Don't use up all of your elective credits early.
  • Ask recent graduates for the names of the professors and classes which most benefited their career.
  • Conduct general informational interviews with several employers to better understand different career field needs and what you can be doing now to prepare for these needs. Ask questions about the employment outlook, anticipated salaries, and background requirements for getting hired and what they like best and least about their career: http://oregonstate.edu/career/informational-interviews
  • Begin to build and develop your personal network. Create a LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com
  • Join a campus organization or club in an area of professional interest and attend the meetings regularly. In addition to providing valuable career information, you will develop your teamwork and leadership skills. Be a joiner throughout college!
  • Continue career planning with a greater emphasis toward understanding the targeted professions and the needs of potential employers for entry level talent. Plan and develop your work experience and classes to match this profile.
  • Develop effective interviewing skills – set up a mock interview in person or do one virtually: http://oregonstate.edu/career/interviewing-practice
  • Identify at least five marketable skills you already possess for your chosen career, as well as five that you hope to develop by the time you graduate.
  • Pursue an internship, co-op, or research position within your chosen field part-time during the school year and/or full-time during the summer. Employers like to see that students have at least one internship while in college, and it will allow you to “try-on” a career.

Third Year

  • Keep your grades up; the classes will get more difficult, so continue your focus on excelling in your studies.
  • Develop relationships with the leading professors and department heads in your major. They will be contributors to your job search, both directly as a referral source and indirectly as employers inquire about the leading students in the major.  At OSU, many of the best internship opportunities come through professor’s connection to the field.
  • Take on a leadership role in a club or organization.
  • Contact professionals in your chosen field to conduct informal informational interviews to learn more about the profession: http://oregonstate.edu/career/informational-interviews
  • Attend Career Fairs to gain exposure to both potential internships as well as potential jobs after graduation: http/oregonstate.edu/career/career-fairs
  • Fine tune your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills as you continue to expand your skills and experience – Career Services offers drop-in hours Monday-Thursday, 1-4pm. No appointment necessary!
  • Begin planning for your fourth year with your academic advisor and Career Services to insure your preparation is on target for meeting the needs of potential employers.
  • Pursue an assistant-level or professional-level internship within your chosen field part-time during the school year and/or full-time during the summer. Attempt to locate a position as close as possible to the type of work you would like to be doing after graduation.
  • If going on for further schooling, research graduate schools and apply early (one year in advance) and make sure to apply for graduate, teaching, or research assistantships. Study for the graduate school admission tests: http://oregonstate.edu/career/graduate-and-professional-school

Fourth Year and Beyond

  • Activate your personal network, enlisting their support in your job search: http://oregonstate.edu/career/networking
  • Complete as many courses within your major as possible. Use available electives to further your educational experience within your chosen field, rather than taking non-related classes.
  • Pursue professional-level work experience part-time during the school year.
  • If you have not yet acquired work experience in your chosen field, offer your services as a volunteer. Volunteer experience is still experience!
  • Direct any special projects within your major toward your chosen field or profession.
  • Prepare for your job search early and have your job application materials ready.
  • Sign up for on-campus interviews as early in the year as possible. Find out about these opportunities on Beaver JobNet: http://oregonstate.edu/career/beaver-jobnet
  • If you have not already done so, schedule a mock interview through Beaver JobNet. Mock interviews can be done in person or virtually: http://oregonstate.edu/career/interviewing-practice
  • Learn how to prepare for your job search—utilize the resources in Career Services: http://oregonstate.edu/career/job-search-preparation
  • Obtain at least three letters of reference, and talk to advisors, supervisors, and professors about being listed as references: http://oregonstate.edu/career/references
  • Attend Career Fairs to gain a better understanding of the types of opportunities available after graduation: http://oregonstate.edu/career/career-fairs
  • Fine-tune your resume for graduation and keep updating it as a work in progress. Get feedback from Career Services during our Drop-in Hours, Monday-Thursday, 1-4pm. No appointment necessary!
  • Begin interviewing as early as possible in your final year. Many of the best positions are filled during fall and winter term!
  • Learn how to evaluate job offers and negotiate salary before you receive a job offer so that you can effectively negotiate the best possible terms: http://oregonstate.edu/career/negotiations-salaries

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