For the past two years, I’ve attended the career conference for English majors, English Career Connections (ECC). At ECC, students meet with members of the English Distinguished Alumni Board to discuss career aspirations.
What I like about ECC is that it’s no pressure: You’re not trying to sell yourself to the Distinguished Alumni Board; they’re here to help you. You’re given all of the information you need about the event in advance, which helps ease anxiety because you know what to expect. While the event is business casual, you’re encouraged to dress comfortably, and no one will judge you too harshly based on your dress or etiquette.
The goal of the event is to get you accustomed to dining with and talking to professionals. The organizers make a point to invite English alumni with a vast array of professions: from a pilot to a doctor to an attorney. With so many professions represented, students can feel like the opportunities with an English degree are endless.
Through my conversations with members of the Distinguished Alumni Board, I came away with some helpful career advice:
1. Although your resume may be filled with excellent information, order is key.
I learned that you don’t have to follow the typical resume format of objective, education, skills, experience. If you have great experiences that are directly related to the job you’re applying for and help you stand out, then list those first. Likewise, if you have important technical skills that you don’t think many other applicants will have, then consider listing those first.
Since most employers only look at a resume for around six seconds before making a decision, listing the most important information
first can make a big difference. Also, make sure you tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for: Never use the same resume for everything.
2. Don’t be afraid to take a variety of jobs or internships.
You’ll never know you like something until you try it. If you’re not sure what you want to do after graduation and you’re overwhelmed with options, then take all the opportunities you can get to try out different careers. You’ll be more prepared for a successful career because you’ll know what you like and don’t like and have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also have experience in a variety of fields, which can help you succeed when you do narrow down your options.
3. The path to success is non-linear.
You likely won’t stick with the first job you land in after college. Many people change jobs, and even careers, several times in their lifetime, and it will probably take a little trial and error before you find the most successful and satisfying job for you. But don’t be deterred: you’ll have many valuable experiences and learn many powerful lessons on the road to success.
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