Taking Ownership of Your Career Development
You’ve probably heard that a Georgia Tech degree can open a lot of doors for you. Georgia Tech students are highly sought after by thousands of employers from around the globe. Or, if further study is your thing, it’s good to know that graduate and professional schools welcome applicants who’ve excelled in Tech’s rigorous curriculum and who’ve been actively involved in our vibrant campus life and in the community. Are you a budding entrepreneur? If so, you’ll probably find that people will listen to your ideas because the world knows that amazing innovations and discoveries come out of Georgia Tech. Enrolling in Georgia Tech is clearly one of the best first steps you can take toward a bright future. But is that enough? Not exactly.
Doors might open for you, but you have to do the work that gets you through them. Simply put, you own your career development. Lots of people and resources are here to guide and support you. Co-op and internship opportunities might practically land in your lap. Prestigious fellowships or graduate and professional school acceptances are within arm’s reach. But, ultimately, you are the one responsible for making those things happen.
So, what does this look like? While there are many things you can do for your career future, the key tasks boil down to three main things: learn, participate or “show up,” and be open.
Your career education should be a parallel process to your academics while at Georgia Tech. In some ways, the link between career learning and academic learning is obvious, such as with the co-op program, in which students apply their classroom learning in a hands-on work setting. But other aspects of career development aren’t always thought of as an educational process.
It’s easy to get caught up in the transactional nature of some of your career objectives – get help writing a resume, register an internship, get advice for an interview, and the like. Those are important things to do, and the staff of C2D2 and others on campus are here to “transact business” with you in those areas and much more. But good career development is about more than that. That’s why the C2D2 tag line is helping students learn how work works. As a student at Georgia Tech, your job is not only to learn in the classroom but also to learn how careers unfold and evolve, how to make decisions about your future, how to get a job (not just have one handed to you), and what to do once you get there.
Hardly a day goes by on this campus without some sort of career-related activity you could participate in. C2D2 offers a workshop series, some held as webinars, on a range of career planning, job search, and graduate or professional school topics. Career advisors are available most days of the week for career coaching or counseling appointments or walk-in visits. Your school or college might be holding specialized career workshops or networking events on their own or in conjunction with C2D2. Faculty members and academic advisors might offer learning opportunities around careers in academia.
Then there are the career fairs on campus, as well as virtual career fairs you can attend in your pajamas, employer info sessions, and many more opportunities to connect with employers, career advisors, and alumni. We’re not saying you have to do something every day. But the key is not to wait until you have an urgent need for an internship or a resume, or need to hone your interviewing technique for an interview tomorrow, or anything else that could have been worked on or learned ahead of time. So, get up, go out, and show up!
You might have come to Georgia Tech with a clear career target in mind. Perhaps you’ve chosen a major that with lead you down a fairly linear path to the type of work you’ve always dreamed of doing. Maybe you even have a specific employer already identified, or you’ve set your sights on going to a particular graduate or professional school, with a clear vision of where you will teach or do research in the future. It’s good to be focused, but it’s better to be focused yet open.
You are going to be exposed to a lot of things while at Georgia Tech – academic pursuits, research, new technologies, business and engineering innovations, scientific discoveries, leading-edge arts and design, campus activities, work experiences, and more. You’re going to be learning not only your course work or how to do a job as an intern or co-op student, but more about yourself – your interests, talents, and values.
You’ll also learn more about career fields and work environments and might end up deciding to go in a different direction than the one you came in with. Or, you might confirm that the thing you’ve wanted to do since you were five years old is still the right thing for you. Be open to a diverse range of career options, from major corporations to small companies you’ve never heard of, non-profits, start-ups, fellowships, graduate and professional degree programs, entrepreneurship, and service opportunities. You never know where the most exciting options and best fit for you are going to be.
As you go through your college journey, there will be times when you question your choice of major or career plans, and that’s okay. Being open to new directions is a good thing. You don’t always have to go in a new direction, but you should explore it, even if you end up coming back to your original plan.
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