Planning for a career in college can be overwhelming to say the least. And, a visit to the career services office on campus doesn’t always accomplish much. In order to discover and land the career you are meant for you must properly plan for it. The problem today is that too many students are not planning, they’re just drifting.
In order to help you create a proper career plan, the following websites will help to guide you along the way. None of these websites will actually do the work for you. That’s still up to you! But they are helpful resources that you should be using to build out your career plan.
Why do you need a career plan as a college student anyway? The reason you need a career plan is that you are investing a lot of your time and money going to college to land a career once you graduate. If you don’t have a formal plan in place, you risk the chance of getting lost along the way. A career plan will keep you in check and on the path towards your career pursuit.
If you are just beginning your college years, you may still be in the discovery phase of choosing a major and career path. If this is the case, you should do thorough research into the career field you are interested in.
I recommend that you stick with the following resources since they are well established and have everything you need to do great research (be prepared to spend some time in research mode).
And, remember that these are just tools to help you gather information. When exploring careers, it’s important to use our self-discovery process to really hone in on a career you’re meant for.
O Net Online is a nifty resource that will allow you to explore a variety of careers and industries. I really like how you can sort the results too. For example, you can sort careers that have a bright outlook and those in the green economy sector is that’s your thing.
Also, look for the My Next Move section. This allows you to enter keywords of career ideas and they will give you a great overview of what that career entails as well as other key parameters.
Career One Stop is very similar to O Net Online above. I like O Net a bit more since it seems to be more interactive and user friendly. However, both resources provide great information that allows you to research the careers you are exploring.
I coach students to pay attention to the growing industry data as it will help to paint the picture on where a career or industry is heading. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily cross a career off your list either. Just keep digging into the data to see what it tells you.
The occupational outlook handbook is the standard resource you should be using for your initial research. This website is full of data and statistics that will show you the outlook of certain careers. Of course, this data isn’t always 100% accurate, but it is well researched and is as reliable as it gets.
Pay attention to career trends in your research with OOH. You should ideally be focusing on careers that are predicted to grow or hold steady and avoid those careers on the decline.
Another useful tool from our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industries at a glance does exactly what it sounds like it will do. I’ll admit though, you have to be a bit of a data junky to really get into this tool. It’s chock full of metrics. If you take your time and be patient, you can start to pick up on trends in any given industry.
I’m sure the majority of you are familiar with Glassdoor. This website originally started out as a pure company research website that allowed for current and former employees to rate companies. It of course still has this function, but it is becoming more and more like a job board aggregator like Indeed.
For our purposes here, you can get some decent feedback on what people are saying about companies. But please take my word on this, a large majority of this feedback can be from disgruntled former employees. These folks will never have anything nice to say. So be careful to not take everything you read on Glassdoor to heart.
I also recommend you pay more attention to the number of reviews a company has. The more engagement the better. This shows that a company is paying attention to its reputation and is taking websites like this seriously.
Indeed’s company reviews tool is in the similar vein of Glassdoor. Once you go to the site, you have the ability to search for a company and review the content. There’s typically a value proposition that will tell you why it’s a great place to work, pictures of the workplace, employee reviews and of course, job listings.
With the reviews, I will give the same warning I gave for Glassdoor. Don’t put too much weight into them (good or bad reviews). Pay closer attention to the number of reviews and overall engagement.
Crunchbase is an awesome tool for company research. It’s my #1 recommendation for college students to do thorough research prior to a career fair or interview. The tool is robust, and I recommend that you initially focus on the company section only.
You’ll see ‘companies’ on the right-hand side:
Once you click on companies you will get a list of ranked companies that you can click on for further details about the company. This is a great tool to get a clear and detailed picture the company from a variety of perspectives. You have the ability to search for specific companies as well.
LinkedIn is still relevant and if you aren’t actively using this tool, you should be. Not only is LinkedIn a great way to connect with those in your career or industry pursuit, but it’s also a great way to research companies. Most established companies have a company page in LinkedIn. The information can be pretty basic but it’s a good place to start.
I brought up Career One Stop earlier and here it is again to help you to research professional associations. For this, you just need to enter a keyword or a career in the search box and it will pull a list of associations for you:
This list of professional associations in Wikipedia is simply just that – a list. But it’s a great resource to start exploring what associations exist in your chosen career path. Most link directly to the association website. I recommend that you be on the lookout for student chapters and any information that can point you to your local chapter, so you can attend meetings.
I found this article to be very helpful for business majors out there. Here you’ll find a great list with links to business-oriented associations. As mentioned above, be sure to look for student chapters and any information that can point you to your local chapter, so you can attend meetings.
I love Ted talks. You should too. If you don’t, then you need to learn to love them. There are some great speeches that have been given on the Ted stage. Here, I’ve found some inspiring speeches on setting and achieving goals. I recommend you give each a watch and be sure to take notes and add this advice to your career plan!
This article from Entrepreneur Magazine is fantastic. I couldn’t have written it better myself, which is why I’m simply linking to it. Pay attention to the 6 action steps and put them into motion!
I feel that finding a good mentor should be a natural process. As college students you should have specific goals and needs. It’s important that you then find a mentor that has experience in these areas. With that said, I would recommend that you fall back on a couple of resources that I’ve already mentioned.
LinkedIn has millions of users. And within those millions of users you can find the perfect mentor. The original idea of LinkedIn is to allow your connections to introduce you to others. This is where locating a mentor can happen. Start with the people you are already connected with and start networking. Once you’ve found someone that can potentially mentor you, schedule a meeting.
Professional associations are another great way to find and connect with a mentor. This method works because these associations naturally bring people together that are either in or are pursuing the same career and industries. Once you attend an event and meet some new people, you should leverage their network to further expand your possibilities in locating a mentor (and use LinkedIn as stated above).
Skillshare has some awesome training videos around productivity and time management. The downside? It costs to join. But, the good news is that they do offer some free courses. I recommend you start there. This may be all you need!
To get to the free classes, just scroll down to the bottom of the Skill share home page and look for Free Classes:
Once you click on free classes you’ll be taken to a variety of categories to choose from. For productivity, just select Business > Productivity.
I found this great article that is geared specifically to you, the busy college student! These strategies are right on and I encourage you to read the article and take action on the 8 suggested strategies.
Here’s another good practical article I found for college students and managing time. It’s a little dated, but still holds water. The 12 tips are very action oriented and you can implement them in no time!
Discovering your Skills and Talents
If you have been reading anything by me and Career Energy for any length of time, then you know my stance on personality assessments. If you haven’t been following Career Energy, let me sum it up for you really quick.
Personality Assessments are flawed.
I do not place much value into these assessments because I feel they all too often can lead people down the wrong path. There’s a better way to discover what your skills and talents are, and that’s through self-discovery.
If I had to choose one personality assessment that I feel can help college students get a baseline for their strengths and areas they need developed in, it’s the DISC assessment. I recommend checking out this free version and see where you fall on the DISC spectrum. Then take these results and confirm them through your own self-discovery.
I really like BigThink. This is a great resource that can help with your personal growth. The advice is quick and easy to read and most importantly is actionable. They have a category fully dedicated to personal growth. This is where I recommend you start:
This article by Inc.com is a must read if you need to develop great professional habits (you do by the way). Take your time with this article. Rate yourself in the 17 areas. In the areas where you rated yourself low, come up with ways you can develop in those areas. The earlier you can do this the better. You’ll see what I mean when you enter the real world and realize how valuable these habits can be.
Planning for a career in college is often overlooked. This is such a disappointing mistake to make. Set aside all of your academic pursuits for one minute and think about the reason you are really going to college. I think the majority of you reading this would say it’s to prepare for a career. And in your preparation for this career, would you not agree that having a plan would be beneficial? I think we can all agree the answer is yes. Take advantage of these resources I’ve laid out for you here and get that career plan together!
Anthony lives in Indiana with his wife and 3 daughters. His passions (besides his family) in no particular order are making and listening to music that pleases his ears, taking pictures (still & moving), avoiding crowded places and good writing. He also happens to be the Founder of Career Energy.