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Career Development Starts Now

By Matt Staples, Oklahoma State University


If you took a survey of students sitting in college classes across America and asked them why they were attending college, most would say to get a job. So why would you go through your college experience getting a degree and not invest in yourself and your personal career development?

OSU Career devCareer development sounds like a far-off thing that should only happened when you are searching for a job, or when you already have a job. In reality, career development is a process, and it’s something students can, and should, begin early on in their college careers. Whether you are an incoming freshman, transfer, graduate student, or fall somewhere in between, there are plenty of resources available to students when it comes to career development.

“In the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University, we focus on empowering our students to discover, prepare, secure and thrive in their career development,” said Taylor Harbuck, CASNR student development and career services coordinator. “No matter where you are in your process, these steps will have you on your way to landing a career of your dreams.”

Discover: A college experience has its fair share of obstacles, and most of them involve discovering who you are. This may seem daunting, but what better time than while in college to discover the opportunities available to you? Study abroad. Complete an internship. Find a career mentor. Take the chance and discover what the world has to offer. The most important part of this step in your career development is to explore what’s out there — it’s about expanding your mind and finding what inspires your purpose!

Prepare: Once you have discovered your possibilities and found something you want to pursue, you need to lay out a plan. The activities you spend time doing while in college, whether academic, extra-curricular or career-related, will reinforce your decisions and set your plan in motion. The goal of preparation is knowing what you need to do to ensure success after graduation.

Secure: This step requires some action. Actively using resources both on and off campus will help you navigate the process of securing career opportunities that meet your specific goals. Regardless of where you are in your journey, seek out experiences to grow your technical knowledge and enhance your professional skills.

Partner with your college or university’s career services office to develop your personalized search strategy. Attend events such as career or internship fairs, résumé reviews and mock interviews. Or look for graduate school admissions essay reviews, internship coaching and employer contacts. Talk to your professors; ask if they have any connections that might lead to an internship or even a career.

“It is important for students to attend career focused events because as young professionals, our career development journey is never ending,” said Olivia Bills, a CASNR career liaison and agribusiness senior. “Your résumé is a snapshot of who you are, what experience you have, and ultimately, the content can make a lasting impression on employers.”

Thrive: You have invested time, effort and energy into discovering, preparing for and securing your chosen career field. Now is the time to thrive in the experience. Thriving is all about using the skills gained through your college and career development experiences to establish a strong base and grow in your profession. It’s about becoming a life-long learner while managing your personal and professional success.

Using these career development strategies in college will help you with the degree you are earning and ultimately in the career you choose. The best part? It doesn’t end when you turn the tassel. These skills apply throughout your life in whatever career path you choose.

Find out more about Oklahoma State University’s online degree programs here.