Undergraduate Timeline: What You Should Be Doing – and When

With school and all your extra commitments, it can be hard to remember that the reason you are doing all of it is to ultimately get a job. So what should you be doing to make sure you are on track with getting the experiences you need so you can actually get a job after graduation? Check out this timeline for each year of your undergraduate experience.

DISCLAIMER: This checklist is not specific to all majors and areas of interests. Sometimes different majors have different or additional milestones and experiences on path to success. This is a general guide, and if you have any questions or concerns, we’d love to have you drop in so we can help you figure out what your guide should look like!

THE GUIDE:

First Year. Learn about who you are and what you like.

  • Confirm (or question) your interest in your major and in related career areas.
  • Check out the Majors & Careers information on our website to see what career opportunities are available for your major(s) of interest.
  • Become involved in campus activities to develop leadership skills. You can find out about all the student organizations here to see which ones are right for you!
  • Start the first draft of your résumé. Find out how here.

Sophomore. Explore potential careers in your major.

  • Read about careers that interest you online.
  • Talk with professors, friends, family, etc. about your major and possible careers.
  • Start building good relationships with professors in your area of interest.
  • Make your summer count — use it to explore a career through a job, internship, volunteer service or shadow experience. Not sure how to where to start your search? Find out here.

Junior. Commit to a more specific concentration in your major and begin gaining experience.

  • Expand your list of “contact” people. Do this by keeping in contact with recent employers and supervisors,  maintaining good relationships with professors, and checking out our networking guide.
  • Set up a profile and join groups on LinkedIn. Unsure about LinkedIn? Find out why it’s critical to have, the basics, what to include in your LinkedIn profile, and how to use LinkedIn groups.
  • Conduct informational interviews with people who have jobs that sound interesting.
  • Find an internship or career-related part-time job. (Let us help you with your résumé!)
  • Prepare for graduate or professional school: choose field & schools, prepare for tests.

Senior. Prepare to make the transition from undergraduate life.

  • Update your résumé and drop in so we can help you make sure it is polished and ready for the hiring employers.
  • Learn about (and begin) the job search, interview process, and appropriate etiquette.
  • Get another internship to broaden your experiences and your professional contacts.
  • For graduate school, take tests, complete applications, write personal statements, and get reference letters by January.

If you are ahead or on track with these guidelines – great! If you haven’t reached some of these major steps – don’t panic! Again, this is a guide, not a mandatory list. Still, if you feel your major lies outside these basic guidelines, or you are unsure what the next steps are for you, drop in and see us so we can help you figure out your own timeline for career success!

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