Discovering your career

How To Start Exploring Your Career

Tips from real students on how to take the first steps in exploring your career.

Picking a career can be stressful, but it’s good to keep in mind that not everyone’s career path will be linear. You might be majoring in one field, but find that your interests lead you in another direction. You might have one particular job in mind right now, but exploring other types of jobs in your career path can also be beneficial and exciting.

Read on for tips for taking the first step in exploring your career from us and real students who have explored their career on Handshake!

Explore job roles on Handshake

If you’re not sure where to start, try something easy like just browsing the jobs in your area. Handshake has a large pool of jobs that you can look at to get a feel of what’s out there. You can filter your search by career path, regional location, or even specific employers you might have your eye on. And for those searching for on-campus jobs, it’s a great way to find that first role and start building your network on campus.

“I used Handshake to get a job on campus, where I work now, and ever since then [Handshake] is my go to. I go to it every time just because I really like the way it’s laid out and it just makes looking for internships more effective.”

Joe, Claremont McKenna College

Every career starts with that first job or internship that can really help set the groundwork for what comes next in one’s career. Exploring and getting those first roles are a great start.

Make an appointment with your career center

Your college career center is a great resource to use when beginning to explore your career. Counselors at your career center make it their priority to lead you on the path that’s right for you. Making an appointment to chat with a counselor can give you an idea on where to start applying and who to contact. It’s an invaluable resource that you should fully take advantage of.

Keep your Handshake profile updated

By keeping your Handshake profile resumes and preferences up to date, recruiters will know what kind of roles you’re open to and might even reach out to you with an interview offer. You might even get an offer you don’t expect, but that you might end up loving!

“After looking through my Handshake profile, eBay’s Director of University Recruiting and Programs reached out to me directly through the platform’s messaging system and encouraged me to apply for the role. I have learned a lot about the art of storytelling and business development in my university classes, and I’m thrilled to finally start putting what I’ve learned into practice for a cause larger than myself.”

Amisha, UC Berkeley

Frequently, students on Handshake feel surprised when recruiters message them first. Students often think that the message is spam, but recruiters are really interested in new talent!

Attend recruiting events and fairs

Virtual and in-person recruiting events are great ways to explore your career. Not only do you get to browse jobs and employers, but you can also make connections with both employers and students. The best way to get insight on your career options is to speak with as many people as you can. You may even find out about a career that you never considered before.

“Handshake has helped me figure out what I want to do because it was through Handshake that I first learned about a recruiting event where I first met a genetic counselor. I’m now a genetic counselor myself. But four years ago, when I met that initial mentor, I was really lost in my career. Handshake connected me to a mentor that catalyzed my interest in a specific career field and has led me to where I am today.”

Hannah, Stanford University

Network, network, and network again

One of the most important steps to exploring your career is networking. Similar to speaking with employers at recruiting events, networking with a wide variety of people from many walks of life can be very eye-opening in terms of exploring your career. Each person will have a different position, a different story. It’s key in finding your own career path by learning from the ups and downs of others’.

“I used Handshake to go to a networking event with my college’s alumni and I actually got in touch with someone from GE during that call. She was part of the finance program which is not the program that I’m doing, but she was able to connect me with someone in the leadership program and I ended up applying for it. Now I’m gonna be working there!”

Marie, College of the Holy Cross

From alumni to professors and working professionals, everyone will have advice and insight about what led them to where they are now. Conversation and genuine communication can make a large impact in one’s career.