It doesn’t matter how much you read, research and prepare: Freshman year of college is a major life transition as students learn to balance a new standard of academic and social demands.
From adapting to a new city, dorm life, Greek life, or even just the course workload alone, it takes time to acclimate to this exciting and challenging new chapter. With so many new experiences, one of the greatest mistakes college freshmen make is using this year as an experiential time without taking the necessary steps to contribute to their future success.
After all, freshmen have at least four full years ahead to finalize their career path… but that doesn’t make it a year to be taken advantage of or waste. As a current or soon to be freshman, the decisions you make this year impact your future just as much, if not more, than the decisions you make as an upperclassman.
Freshman year should be a time of exploration and career discovery, but it should also be done strategically. Whether you’re in the midst of your first year or heading to college next fall, there are proactive steps you can take that your future self will thank you for while relieving a load of stress off throughout the years ahead.
Get Matched to Relevant Careers through our career assessment
Take our free career assessment to get matched to career paths based on your unique strengths, personality, interests, values, and goals.
Learn about Modern Career Paths
We've found that most students haven't heard of many of the most in-demand careers employers are looking to fill these days. So, taking the time to learn more about each path is crucial. What skills do employers look for in entry-level hires? What major will help you take the appropriate classes to learn and develop these skills? What organizations can you join to build your network? What do you need to know to land an internship? How do you find internships? PathMatch provides guidance around each of these areas.
Take a Few Online Courses...to decide if you're on the right track.
As many as 80% of students change their major at least once in college, with the average student changing majors three times. Clearly, it’s natural to make these changes as you grow and discover new possibilities. But, experimenting with some online (inexpensive) courses can help you "try before you buy". Establishing the options best suited for you personally sooner rather than later can save multiple semesters worth of time, money, and ensure you the maximum number of relevant internship opportunities.
Develop Mentor Relationships
Start cultivating relationships with professors, advisors, and peers. Not only will they help you stay on course and keep the end goal in mind, but they’re often the most important connections you’ll have when transitioning to life after graduation. Schedule appointments with your professors during their office hours to discuss your performance and meet regularly with your career advisor to make sure you’re not missing any deadlines or opportunities.
Create Your First College Resume
Even if you worked part-time throughout high school, you likely have an outdated, irrelevant version of your resume once you enter college. Take the time to update and regularly revise your resume to include your major, courses, skills, research projects, extracurricular activities and volunteer experience that will showcase your experience when applying for internships.
Get Active on LinkedIn
If you think it’s too early to have a profile on LinkedIn as a college freshman, think again. LinkedIn is your digital resume and one of the greatest opportunities you have to connect with industry professionals and recruiters who are searching for interns as early as a year in advance. Complete your profile with a photo, summary and headline stating your career goals. Keep it updated and start researching and connecting with professionals in your field of interest. Seeing the steps that those in your ideal career have taken to get to where they are now will give you a clear idea of what you need to do to be in their shoes one day.
Need help determining the best path for you? What about making sure you're a stand-out candidate when you start looking for internships and jobs? Become a PathMatch client to get matched to a career you love and a 100% chance of landing a top internship or job.
Want all this help to fit in your pocket for on-the-go resources? Download our PathMatch app today!