I encourage you to be deliberate about career exploration throughout your time at Colgate. As early as your first year, start a career notebook, vlog, blog or twitterfeed. Document what you enjoy and what feels unnecessarily challenging.
I had a really hard time with statistics, but I was a math major and actuary was the job that was touted as perfect for math majors.
And in fact, my first job was an actuary; however, I ran out of that building after an internship and my first year on the job, as if my hair was on fire.
I wish I’d followed sooner what I think I knew at Colgate: that people and ideas were my thing; not numbers and finance and statistics.
Over time, documenting things you find easy will reveal the disciplines that are a natural fit for you. That will help you define the industry that’s best.
For example, biology lovers might end up in medicine. Start talking with others: students, professors, parents and people back home, about what responsible people in the world do with those subject areas.
What do they do day-to-day? Would you enjoy that? What associations do they join? What graduate degrees, if any, do they get? What would they do if they were to prepare themselves for a successful career in their company?
Notice as you talk with grown-ups that there are different functions in every industry. For example, those who love working with people have different functions than those who prefer ideas. People biologists might guide patient choices day-to-day, idea biologists might do research and present at conferences.
Also, if you have multiple interests (mine were high concept theoretical math, modern theater/dance and philosophy), then it’s exciting to see where the intersection lands you.
My interests led me to a deep concern for other human beings in their careers. Ask others what they really value about you and the impact you have on them: tell them you’re sorting through your career options and you’d love their thoughts. Make note of what they say and be sure to diversify whom you ask. You should end up with an industry or two, and a function. And for kicks, you might add your values and what matters.
At Colgate, my club activities and the leadership positions lined up with my true passions.
And now I’m at a media company where I’m paid to guide our employees. Work feels as if I’m home. Sophomore fall is a good time to draft your first resume. Take it to Career Services, and start having someone look it over to give you tips on shaping a great format. Learn all about effective bullet points to highlight your experiences.
Start gathering the names of alumni and family friends who do what you’d love to do based on interests you’ve developed. These informational interviews with people who earn their living doing what you love doing for free can help you map out classes that would be good to take, and summer experiences that would be valuable to prepare you for your first entry level job.
Aim to have a personal Board of Directors: a few people who are rooting for you to land well after Colgate who you really trust.
Try to have as honest a conversation as you can with your parents or other sponsors of your Colgate education.
Looking back, I had a hard time convincing my father that theater had any relevance or could help sustain my livelihood in the world.
In fact, for whatever reason, I never ended up making livable wages from theater. However, my Colgate stage experiences serve me today at work.
As I’ve learned to have honest, true and respectful conversations with mom and dad, I have more powerful conversations with my employers and with key stakeholders in my life. Part of growing up is having hard conversations. If you struggle in this area, reach out to Conant House and get some sessions under your belt to boost your self esteem and gravitas to respectfully get the support you need from your family and loved ones.
By your senior year, I hope you’ll be easily able to list around 10 companies which would be exciting for you.
Think about where you’d first love to live and work.
Think about the size of the company, whether you’d prefer a global enterprise or a start-up operation, for profit or otherwise, to work with people or ideas or things.
Basically, draft your dream first job or learning experience after Colgate and then go looking for it.
It’s so interesting that back when I graduated we’d look at the job listings and try to fit ourselves into them.
Now the guidance is first go inside and then look around the world for the matching position.
The clear advantage of a Colgate education is that it can take you almost anywhere. It still tickles me that I can pick almost any company, organization or cause and probably find a Colgate name therein. And that we as an alumni body tend to drift into leadership positions.
So dig deep, find your calling and connect with the wonderful network of ‘Gaters in the world who are part of your career tribe. We’re waiting to welcome you into the real world. Go ‘Gate.