The Best Advice I Can Give…

By: Garrick Nichols

Garrick is one of our Senior CSCs and is graduating this May. We’re going to miss his HR expertise in so many capacities. Thank you for all of your hard work, advice, and incredibly valuable insights. We know you are going to accomplish great things and are so glad you shared a part of that journey with us! Check out below for Garrick’s best advice for thinking long-term and achieving in the short-term.

As a Career Skills Coach, I frequently talk to students who are seeking a ‘business related’ summer internship. However, when asked what that means and what their long-term career goals are, there is often a long pause and nothing that comes to mind. While it’s easy to think short-term, it’s actually planning backwards from the future that can help you most. Here are the 3 easiest ways I’ve learned to help you think forward, but work backwards.

First, ask yourself some important questions about your future and be honest about the answers. Ask yourself things like: where do I want to live after graduation, what kind of job function do I want to do, what type or specific company/industry do I want to support, and most importantly, why? When you can clearly articulate your “why”, you’ll create a more organic and relatable elevator pitch, you’ll be able to answer the “why X company/why X role” interview questions easier, and you’ll be able to solidify your directions and options. When you have a story and a reason, it’s easier to plan and to stand out

After you know what and why, the next step is tackling the “how” Specifically, how will you achieve your long-term career goal? Typically, this is through building experiences and skills related to the role/industry you want to be in. Accumulating or building these experiences and skills can be done through a variety of ways including, internships, clubs or organizations, class projects, part-time jobs, or volunteer opportunities. Whether you take a summer job working retail or you volunteer abroad, an experience should allow you to hone and utilize one or two of your primary skills. Additionally, all opportunities can bolster your soft skills and soft skills are your power skills. You will always use the soft skills you’ve developed and even the most technical of jobs will still require those soft, transferable skills.

The final step is putting your plan in action. To do this you’ll need to have targeted companies or positions and tailored application materials. When considering targeted positions, consider what industries, companies, and job functions are in line or similar to those that you have chosen for your long-term goal in order to expand your options. For example, if a role in corporate finance at a large institution is the goal, then interning at a smaller, local bank could be a great first step and option.

To apply for these experiences, make sure your documents display what you can offer in relation to what the position needs. You want to tailor to use language and highlight skills most relevant. For example, if someone is interested in advisory or consulting, their resume should reflect their communicative, problem-solving, customer service, analytical, and time management skills ( to name a few). Your work, leadership, volunteer, or other experiences are testaments to the skills and hard work you’ve put in to achieve your goals. Position them correctly to illustrate what an excellent candidate you are and then the job market will be much easier to navigate.

Using these 3 steps can be easier said than done, but following this approach can yield long-term results and keep you from over-stressing during the process. By identifying your goals and skills, you can make rational, career-related decisions just by asking yourself, “Does this ultimately help me on my path to achieve my future career goal?”

By Trish Harper
Trish Harper ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, UNDERGRADUATE CAREER ADVISING Profile Picture