Explore Careers

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As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you're opening the door to a million different career options. That's a great thing, but sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming. So many decisions and only four years to make them!

Fortunately, career counselors are here to help you. Career counselors offer expert guidance on finding your strengths, deciding on a major, crafting resumes and cover letters, networking, internships, alumni connections, graduate school options and service programs. Students can attend myriad events to explore careers, meet alumni in their interest area and learn how to polish their presentation skills.

"One can go to school to be a doctor or an engineer, but there's no major for producing musicals in Rwanda. The path to career satisfaction is not always straight and predictable It can take unexpected turns before you find the thing that gives you meaning. Seize your opportunities, explore your options, and learn what you can. And when in doubt, consider that Joy Behar taught high school, Andrea Bocelli was a defense attorney, and Julia Child spied for the government before she cooked on TV. Not even our enviable doctors lead lives of certainty. Just ask Charles Darwin." Anastasia Uglova '05

Action Steps

  • Meet with a career counselor
  • Sign up for a workshop on exploring majors and careers
  • Explore your options through our externship and FRESH programs
  • Follow your interests through courses, clubs or volunteer work

A few milestones to keep in mind

  • End of freshmen year: Create a college-level resume
  • First semester sophomore year: Connect with a Career Development counselor and participate in a career-exploration event.
  • Junior year: Make sure you have at least one career-related experience, with another lined up for the summer and participate in a student-alumni networking event.
  • Senior year: Have two career-related experiences under your belt and be open to the possibilities.

Major and Career

Your choice of major does not lock you into a particular career path, but rather opens up a broad array of careers! Our career counselors can help you clarify your interests, skills, and values, then connect those to particular majors or careers. We can also help you set goals for your time at Cornell, show you resources and help you develop a strategy for your job search.
When you think about your ideal job, you might name a job title or function— doctor, lawyer, software engineer, public relations consultant; or you might think of an industry — entertainment, sports, technology. Perhaps you are passionate about sports, but want to become an attorney? Or you want to work at an advertising agency but you have a background in finance? It’s possible to satisfy both interests at once and find the perfect job. When you think about careers, think about what you want to be doing and where you want to be doing it.

As you dream about your future, remember these resources:

The Career Field cards are a great place to start.

Another great source can be LinkedIn profiles, which reveal career paths of people in your chosen field and work descriptions. Search for Cornell alumni or others whose career paths you admire, see what groups these people are in and join them to learn about the hot topics in the field. Join our LinkedIn group for career advice and job postings.

Many Cornell organizations, especially student groups, offer resources for career exploration. Check them out here.

Other resources include:

Review the "Undecided/Exploring" Career Plan on Handshake for specific steps to explore career options.

Career Exploration

Arts & Sciences Career Development offers a number of programs to help you as you consider your future:

Exploring Majors and Careers: Students reflect on their interests, values, and strengths in this three-part series led several times a year and tailored to the career needs of each class. Sign-up on Handshake.

Career Conversations, Career Specialist Office Hours, and other ways to connect with alumni:  We frequently partner with Alumni Affairs to bring alumni to campus for small networking sessions with students to learn about careers, called “Career Conversations.” See the schedule and check out other opportunities here.

Job shadowing enables you to gain valuable knowledge that can only be learned through first hand experience. Cornell has programs designed to connect you with alumni for job shadowing programs over winter or spring break.

Externships happen during winter break, last up to one week and are open to sophomores, juniors, & seniors. The FRESH Program allows freshmen to visit Cornell alumni at their workplaces during spring break. These experiences help you expand your knowledge of career options, assess your “fit” with a particular position or organization, make connections and begin establishing your alumni network. To make the most of your experience:

  • Review evaluations and talk with previous participants in the Extern program for advice.
  • During your job shadow, talk with everyone you meet because you never know how people might be able to help you in the future. Ask about their careers and their interests. Ask them to conduct mock interviews with you and then send thank you notes to everyone you meet.

It’s never too late. That was the most important lesson I learned after seeing my career counselor. I was a second semester junior, I didn’t have a summer internship and I didn’t know what career field I wanted to go into. The fact that time was winding down and I hadn’t made any steps in the direction of a career scared me a lot. Especially since all my friends around me had summer internships and knew what field they wanted to work in after college. When I went to see my career counselor I was nervous because I thought no one could help me. I was wrong: my career counselor sat down with me and the first words my counselor spoke were, “It’s never too late.” My counselor proceeded to show me many ways I could find the career path I wanted to pursue. After the meeting I realized that I had taken my first steps in finding a career path I love and that for the most part it’s never too late to get started. - Cadell Williams ‘15 

Upcoming Programming

Below are our upcoming programs for Spring 2017:

Job Search Strategies: Summer Jobs and Internships: January 26 and 27, 4:35-6:00 p.m., Lewis Auditorium

Launching Your Full-Time Job Search: January 30, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Building Your College Resume for 1st & 2nd Year Students: February 1, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Hack Your Summer Internship for CS and IS Majors: February 2, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in 262 Uris Hall

HCEC Mock Interviews: February 3 and 10, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Location TBA.  Sign up in Handshake by searching 'HCEC' under On-Campus Interviews.

Express Resume Review: February 3 and 10, 1:30-4:00 p.m., 172 Goldwin Smith Hall

How to Find a Paralegal Job: February 6, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

How to Find a Job or Internship in Government: February 9, 4:35-6:00 p.m., 142 Goldwin Smith Hall

Mock Interview Program with Employers: February 15.  More information forthcoming!

Nonprofit and Government Employer and Alumni Panel: February 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Lewis Auditorium

Exploring Majors and Careers for First- and Second-Year Students: February 21, 2:00-4:30 p.m., Location TBA (February Break Extended Times!).  Register on Handshake!

Intensive Interview Bootcamp: February 21, 12:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Launching Your Full-Time Job Search: February 23, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

How to Find a Job in Science or Medical Research: February 27, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Building Your College Resume for 1st & 2nd Year Students: March 2, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Careers in Library Science: March 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Finance Internships for Sophomores: March 8, 4:35-6:00 p.m., Lewis Auditorium

Exploring Majors and Careers for First- and Second-Year Students: March 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

How to Find a Job or Internship in Communications: March 14, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Finance Internships for First-Years: March 15, 4:35-6:00 p.m., Lewis Auditorium

How to Find a Job or Internship in Nonprofits: March 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Launching Your Full-Time Job Search: March 28, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

On-Campus Interview Program: Prepping for Fall: April 12, 4:35-6:00 p.m., Lewis Auditorium

Making the Most of Your Summer Internship: April 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m., 262 Uris Hall.  Register on Handshake!

Exploring Majors and Careers for First- and Second-Year Students: April 24, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Location TBA.  Register on Handshake!

Building and Utilizing Your Network: April 25, 3:30-4:30 p.m., 262 Uris Hall.  Register on Handshake!