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Career Planning Guide

Choosing a Career/Major

Steps to Successful Career Planning

Make the most of your college career by setting goals and planning activities for each year you are at SMSU. To be marketable and competitive after graduation there are some key things you need to be doing. The following is an outline intended to guide you in effective career and academic planning. Develop a plan that is unique to you.

1. Assess —Learning about your interests, skills and values
2. Explore—Relate careers to majors
3. Focus—Identify education, training and employment options
4. Implement—Follow through on your plan of action

Step 1—Assess—Freshman Year  

  • Demonstrate excellent academic performance; get the best grades you can every semester.
  • Strengthen your written communication skills in English classes; use the writing labs
  • Visit Career Services to explore career options; take career assessments
  • Select LEP courses to gain exposure to a variety of academic discipline
  • Participate in extracurricular and residence hall activities to build team work skills
  • Get to know the faculty, begin building relationships, and seek out an academic advisor
  • Choose part time and summer jobs related to your career interests; view part time job listings on
  • Discover SMSU resources around campus including Career Services, Counseling and Testing, Advising Center, Health Services, tutoring and the writing lab
  • Develop and expand computer skills

Step 2—Explore—Sophomore Year

  • Make an appointment with a career counselor for help in choosing a major
  • Declare a major and meet with your advisor to create an academic plan
  • Join an organization or club related to your major and career interests
  • Research the job market in your field
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals who are working in fields that interest yo
  • Investigate opportunities for internships; visit, meet with a career counselor for assistance
  • Volunteer with an organization that will give you experience related to your major or career field
  • Begin to gather projects and assignments from your major courses to assist in your resume or portfolio

Step 3—Focus—Junior Year

  • Gain leadership skills by working through a campus or professional organization
  • Obtain related experience in your field through part time employment, internships, practicum or volunteering
  • Attend career fairs to network and interview with potential employers for jobs or internship
  • Start networking
  • Prepare your resume and have it critiqued by a career counselor or peer advisor; check out Career Services online resume resources
  • Relate course projects and papers to your career file
  • If you are considering graduate school, take steps to prepare yourself. Attend the graduate school workshop through Career Services; read the online graduate school resources or talk with a professor
  • Check out job, internship and on campus interview schedules on
  • Connect with your major advisor to discuss how to incorporate internships into your academic plan
  • Watch web videos for resume, cover letter, and interviewing preparation

Step 4—Implement—Senior Year

  • Register with if you haven’t already done so; explore open positions
  • View Job Search Links for potential job opportunities
  • Attend career fairs, including the SMSU Agriculture Career Fair and explore job opportunities
  • Step up your job campaign:
    Finalize your resume and have it critiqued
    Get letters of reference or permission from 3-5 professional individuals for references
    Research companies of potential interest
    Take advantage of on campus interviews
    Practice your interviewing skills by scheduling a mock interview.
  • Attend Career Services workshops and seminars on interviewing, resume writing and job searching.
  • Polish your experiences through internships or volunteer opportunities
  • If you intend to go to graduate school, complete the application process and take appropriate exams. View graduate school online resources of assistance or contact Career Services
  • Complete the graduate follow up survey about your employment or continuing education status

Last Modified: 12/15/22 9:39 AM | Website Feedback