Stage 3 Testing Career Decisions
By this time, you have found one or two occupations of interest. You are progressing through the upper division
courses of your major or are taking classes in your interest area. Also, you are pursuing leadership roles in
extracurricular and community activities. It’s time to test the water. At this point, it is in your best interests to
obtain an internship. We cannot stress enough how educational, informative, and necessary internships are
to your overall career development and employment potential. Employers like to see students who are educated
on what the market is like and have some indication about what their job may or may not entail. It is no longer
just enough to have a degree in your hand. You need to be a well-rounded and experienced student and internships
Now, some of you are stating the obvious, "Internships don’t pay anything!" or "They don’t have internships for my
major (or interest)." Yes, some internships are non-paid and some fields do not have a specific means for an
internship, but neither of these things should prevent you from considering and finding (or creating) an opportunity
for pre-graduation work experience. A good example of a non-paid internship are those in the fields of advertising/public relations/television. These areas are highly competitive and highly demanding. Internships allow students the opportunity
to gain hard experience, while establishing contacts in fields that pride themselves on getting people from the inside.
It may seem difficult to give up a lucrative summer job (i.e. lifeguarding or landscaping) in order to work your legs off for
multiple hours of unpaid work, but doing it will bring you money later on (because you will actually be employed in the
industry). A famous person once said, "Do what you love. The money will follow." This is very true.
Nevertheless, there are those of you who are saying, "Nope, sorry. My field doesn’t have internships, because I have to
be licensed first or go to graduate school, etc.," Wrong! Many, many fields have internship programs that you may not be
aware of. For example, Francesco Scavullo, one of the world’s top fashion photographers who shot Grace Kelly, Madonna,
and Paul Newman, has an internship program for students interested in the fashion and photography industry. Only 25
people applied for four spots (meaning that competition may not be as tough as you think). This would be a great
opportunity for a student with an interest in photography to get top notch experience. To find these "hard-to-find"
internships, consult resources such as: The Internship Bible or America's Top 100 Internships available in the
Linda Bates Parker Career Resource Center
The point of all this talk about internships is how would you ever know that the career you are choosing is right for you
without "testing" your decision? While internships is one part of testing your decision, you can do other things that help
you along in this stage. First, begin to build networks. What is a network? A network is a connection of people that you
know and that’s their connection together. How does a network work? Follow this example. . .
You are a psychology major and thinking about law school following graduation. Your father’s co-worker in sales has a
son that graduated from law school four years ago. You contact the son (which was suggested by his father) to talk about
law school. While this person is talking about law school, he asks what you are doing for the summer, because they have
a clerk position open in his department and he can give you the name of the partner in charge. This is a NETWORK. You
would have never found that clerk position by looking in the paper (or just wishing for it), but you did with the help of a network.
Your mother may have said, "It’s not what you know, it’s who you know." Well, that’s partially true. What you know is always
valuable, but sometimes who you know gets you in the door. This is why the skill of networking is so important to develop
while you are in college (if you can).
Start small with your network: family, friends, and past supervisors. Then work larger as you become more familiar with the
skills involved. A part of networking is informational interviewing. Informational interviewing is meeting with someone in your
career field of interest to talk about their career and their organization. The key difference between these interviews and actual
job interviews is that you are NOT asking, looking or "fishing" for a job.
Finally, it is especially important at this stage to take advantage of the wealth of resources the university provides, specifically
those located here at Career Development Center. We have workshops, seminars, mock interviews, career counseling and
the Linda Bates Parker Career Resource Center.