It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman pursuing a degree in marine biology with no idea of what I wanted to do after graduating, or how I was going to do it. I am now a senior who will be completing a degree in marketing with a minor in public speaking in May of 2015. I have three internships under my belt, great connections in my career field, knowledge about my industry, and a solid idea of what I would like to do after graduating and how I will be able to attain my goals. A lot has changed in the past four years, and looking back I am happy to have been able to take control of my career. By utilizing the many career services resources here at the University of Tampa, I now understand how important it is to get a head start on looking into your future goals and the steps that are needed to achieve them.
To start, it helps to have an idea of what kind of industry you would like to pursue. Again, I initially started my college career as a marine biology student but I soon realized that I was not happy doing that. I dreaded going to all of my classes and taking the time out of my day to study the material. After making the switch to marketing, my classes are now something that I look forward to, and I thoroughly enjoying learning more about the industry. After finding a broad idea of what is the best fit for you, you can then cater your goals to something more specific within your industry.
After deciding that marketing was the perfect route for me, I started talking to people within the industry (professionals, professors, friends, and family) gathering advice about the steps that I should take in order to succeed in my field. I have found that there is one thing that is common to succeeding in any field that you pursue: experience. Join clubs that relate to your industry, if you are a biology major look into joining tri-beta, if you are a math major join the math club. This campus is full of opportunity, but you must be the one who is looking for it: you probably won’t receive a personal invitation to become a part of a student organization. Another word of advice is to earn a leadership position in the organization that you have become involved in. Show that you are dedicated and prove that you can take on the responsibility – it will be worth it when you are applying to jobs in the future.
Another way of gaining experience is by interning. As many know, the process to receiving an internship has become more and more competitive over the years. You are never too young to intern, even if it’s just a couple of hours a week. When you gain experience while you are young, even if it is at a smaller, unheard of company, it will open the doors to many other, bigger opportunities because you will have the prior experience that every big name company seems to be looking for these days.
By getting involved and by gaining experience you will have been given the opportunity to network without even realizing it. By maintaining these relationships that you have created with people who you have worked with, or participated in the same organization with, you will realize that these are the people who will be able to help you within your field and if needed be, lead you in the right path.
With these couple of steps, you will be headed on the right path to owning your own career. It will give you the confidence that you need to step into an interview and portray to an employer that you are the perfect fit for what the company is looking for. Your college years can be some of the most valuable years of your life if you utilize them in a way that is fit for your career. There are some things that I wish I did differently as a first year student, but I realized that it is never too late to get started, although the sooner you realize it, the better!
Marketing Intern, Office of Career Services
The University of Tampa