What Can I Do to Prepare While I'm Still in School?
Visit the UW Center for Career Services, located in 134 Mary Gates Hall. CCS has a broad array of services available for undergraduates, including career counseling, classes and workshops, employer panels, career fairs, job listings and internships, campus recruitment, and much more. Make CCS your home base for career exploration activities. You can even post your résumé to employers through their job web.
Go on an Informational Interview: Setting up an informational interview with a professional in your field can be an excellent and much less threatening way to practice your interview skills and find out more about a particular job or field. For tips on making contact (including a sample letter), setting up the interview, preparation, and conducting the interview, click on the link above, or see the CCS Career Guide (also known as the "gold guide"). Pick up your free copy at the Center for Career Services in 134 Mary Gates Hall.
Get Experience through an Internship or Volunteer Work: At the most recent series of Career Education Week panels, an overwhelming majority of English alumni and other professionals working in related fields stated that an internship had helped them to get where they are today, either through an offer of a permanent job by the sponsoring organization, or through valuable contacts they made, or through skills they developed which led to their current positions. Employers value experience very highly: it shows them that you know what the job or field is like and are prepared with the necessary skills. Even if you are close to graduation, consider a quarter-long internship or a short-term volunteer project.
Make Contacts: Talk to faculty, counselors, graduate students, and your peers. Get involved in departmental and college functions, lectures, seminars, workshops, and activities. Some of the most valuable contacts you'll make in college may not be apparent at the time you're making them. Networking is extremely important: this is how you get information about career fields, find resources, hear about jobs, get recommendations, forge key relationships and locate mentors. A large percentage of professional jobs are found through personal contacts, not through the want-ads!
Get Involved in a Student Organization: Consider joining a student organization like the English Undergraduate Association or Bricolage, in the Department of English, or the Undergraduate Fiction Writers Association. There is also a vast and diverse array of student organizations on campus to suit almost any interest. Not only will you have an opportunity to make contacts, but you may also have a chance to develop skills like leadership, presentation skills, and teamwork.
Take the "Navigating Career Options" course (GEN ST 350):This three-credit class, offered every quarter, is an exploration of career options that will help you to learn how to navigate your course through the vast domain of job search strategies and career possibilities. Connect your academic experiences to your future career. Elements include experiential learning, individual self assessment and processing, generating career options, group interaction/discussion and journal writing.
Begin the Task of Self Assessment: Take the Strong Interest Inventory or the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory through UW's Student Counseling Center to help you to identify your strengths and interests.
Put Your Research Skills to Work: Begin to investigate possible career fields, employers, and jobs. There are many resources at UW to help you with this task. There are also countless resources beyond UW. Some key places to start on campus are the Center for Career Services, the UW Alumni Association, the Student Counseling Center, and the UW Libraries Reference.
Attend a Career Fair, and Bring Your Résumé: Career fairs are a great opportunity to see what's out there and to make contacts with recruiters. They are also a great place to practice your presentation and interviewing skills and try out your résumé. The Center for Career Services holds their annual Internships and Summer Jobs Fair and their Liberal Arts, Science, and Business Career Fair in early April. They also sponsor a Minority Career Fair every February.