Career Four Year Plan

career four year plan

Career success doesn’t just happen- it’s a process. The best thing you can do to prepare for a career is to focus on gaining experience, building your body of work, growing your network, and knowing what you want. Use this 4-year guide to know where you need to be.

  • Freshman Year- Know Yourself and Gather Information

    Jump in to your classes, thinking of assignments and projects as steps towards your career- not just a grade.

    Talk to instructors and your college advisor about what your major prepares you for.

    Visit the Career Center’s website to get acquainted with their services and look at resources related to your career interests.

    Browse profiles and work samples in your major through Portfolium. Save any examples you like- this will be you in four years!

    Create your own Portfolium profile, and use it to search for collaborators in other majors.

    Log on to Hanshake to start exploring job, internship, and volunteer opportunities.

    Save all of your work in a secure location- physically and online.

    Get a part-time job. Pay the bills and build up your resume to prepare for internships down the road.

    Start a master copy of your resume so you can track your jobs and accomplishments.

  • Sophomore Year- Explore and Research Your Options

    Look back at your body of work and projects so far. Consider what you are learning about yourself and your work.

    Start listing possible career paths available to someone with your major.

    Consider meeting with the Career Development Specialist if you have any doubts about your path.

    Ask your college advisor how to choose classes that correspond to your career goals.

    Keep updating your resume. How would you feel about sending it out for your dream job? Think about what you need to build on in your remaining time at Columbia!

    Start looking for opportunities to display or publish your work.

    Plan ahead to complete at least one internship in the next two years. Decide which semester it will fit with your commitments, and leave enough time available to work 10 – 20 (or more) hours a week.

    Continue checking Handshake - now focusing on internship options for the next two years.

    Attend a job fair to look for part-time jobs and/or internships.

  • Junior Year- Get Involved and Gain Experience

    Watch for opportunities to get connected with the industry you are interested in. Volunteering at events and joining professional organizations can help build your network.

    Check Handshake for internships, and start reading the full-time job postings to see the experience they require. There is still time to beef up your resume and portfolio!

    Start applying for internships if you have not already done so. Contact your department Internship and Career Advisor and plan well in advance- at least a semester beforehand.

    Conduct at least one informational interview per semester to explore your options and to build your network.

    Start developing your portfolio by meeting with a Creative Industry Liaison through the Career Center. This meeting allows you to get your portfolio-in-progress reviewed by someone in your industry and also allows you to gather information on the field.

    Stay connected to a faculty mentor to learn about career-focused events within your department.

    Read trade publications, magazines, and websites to learn the language and developments of the industry.

    Have your resume reviewed by supervisors, professors, and/or the Career Development Specialist… the more views the better.

  • Senior Year- Build Job Search Skills and Pursue Employment

    Revisit your body of work once again. You should be developing a clear vision of yourself as an artist, writer, performer, etc.

    Meet early with the Career Development Specialist or a mentor to create a job search plan.

    Polish your web portfolio by focusing on your best work.

    Do at least one mock interview or portfolio review to get feedback on how you present yourself and your work.

    Keep updating your resume and be sure that it is ready to go out to employers. Have your resume reviewed by at least three professionals.

    Create your 30 second “elevator speech” for networking.

    Take advantage of opportunities to connect with employers at Columbia.

    Plan to attend Industry Events, which allow you to network with professionals in your field of interest.

    Compile and polish your portfolio, reel, etc. Utilize production services offered through the Career Center.

    Start searching for jobs three to six months before you graduate. Apply immediately to anything that interests you!