If you’ve invested in your education by going to college, I bet you’re feeling some pressure by your senior year to have the career-defining results you hoped for. 

As a senior, it’s likely that you are anxious to graduate and you’re questioning whether or not you’ve done everything you could to be ready for what comes next. Did you choose the right major? Is this the right career path? So many questions only you have the answers to!

College is truly what you make of it. Sure you studied, but what you do with that knowledge? We all know experience is what carves your path and makes you different from everyone else. This is true especially during senior year when you start to feel the slide. You know what I’m talking about, the feeling when you are so close that you feel SO DONE. 

Here are a few things you can focus your energy on to keep that momentum, make the most of your senior year and close out your days as a student, strong! I urge you to take matters into your own hands and stay motivated instead of hoping that motivation comes to you!

Intern

Have you ever gotten caught up in that chicken versus egg conundrum? You know the one where you need some experience to get a job, but you need a job to gain experience? Internships are the GAME CHANGER.  This experience counts! Internships offer the win-win of trying out a job for a few months or a year to see if it is a fit with you and they allow you to learn something along the way. Whether that be an understanding of the field, confirmation that you do or don’t want to pursue the career, or improved results in your work, and a better understanding of what professionalism is.

Take advantage of leadership opportunities

 If you have joined student groups that align with your interest throughout college, take opportunities to lead others in that group! More responsibilities and chances for you to problem solve, work on a team and manage only grow you in ways your older self will thank you for. 

people taking advantage of leadership opportunities during their senior year

Network with people in your prospective field

Admit it, sometimes our understanding of jobs comes from what we’ve seen on TV, or what your parents/family members do for work. Has anyone else become curious about surgeons because of Grey’s Anatomy? Me too. The best way to gauge what a day in the life is actually like is to talk to someone who does the work. I suggest, making it a habit to reach out to people in your sphere of influence or using LinkedIn. The pro here is that you can learn more about yourself and the work you’re pursuing.

Build or update your LinkedIn profile

If you haven’t used this platform a lot in your college career, my suggestion is to start now. LinkedIn is a way for you to show your experience and interest in your field. It allows you to create a network of people you strive to be like. As a daughter of a machinist and a homemaker, LinkedIn was where I created a network I wouldn’t have otherwise had. During your senior year it’s important to start shaking hands with people. As the saying goes, “it’s more about who you know than what you know. This day and age, you CAN reach out to know as many people as you can. 

Utilize your school’s Career Services

Every college campus has a career development office. If you’re feeling lost, and you might be, career concepts aren’t always a part of courses in all majors. There is no shame in leveraging the expertise of the career services team to coach and support you through this otherwise really stressful and foreign arena! Remember: You do not have to do it alone!

utilizing the school's career services to make your senior year the best

Above all, give yourself permission to stumble

Face it, you’ve been in school for about 17 years, you’re not going to be great at the job search and career part of your journey just yet. We all like to do things and do them well. Chances are that you’ve mastered a rhythm that allows you to approach school, assignments, and schedules with excellence.  It will take some time to find your career groove as well, and the sooner you embrace that, the less painful this change will be. 

Hire a career or life coach

You are new to this arena and feeling lost is more so the standard than the rule. It can be stressful and you don’t have to do it alone. All great athletes have coaches, and you’ll want one for career and life as well! Coaches are in your corner to support, challenge you while helping you focus on what it is that makes your life fulfilling and successful. 

Lastly, just remember. This path is yours and success is relative. Imagine the life you want to live and let that guide your actions, not a commercial or an Instagram account. YEP. I SAID IT.

While I’m sure we all hope that our senior year will be convenient or a straight shot, please know it rarely happens this way. It’s pretty messy and never free of curveballs. Take all of them in stride. 

Remember, this is the youngest you’ll ever be, note the mistakes you make and let the things you go through lay the foundation on which your success story will stand. There really isn’t only one right way to navigate all of this. I’m giving you some steps to start with, but most of all, add your flair, and have as much fun as you can!

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Ann Vu

Ann is a career expert with a particular emphasis on the job search process. She has helped countless clients find and land jobs they love. Read more about Ann here.