How to start tomorrow: Finding your career

Career Center
KATHERINE CHEN/File

The future is a wild place. Whether you’re graduating in four months or four years, deciding exactly how to adventure into the great beyond is daunting. I, for one, often ask myself, “What am I going to do with my life?”

There are, however, some simple resources and strategies to answer that particular question, even in the vast wilderness that is UC Berkeley. 

Academic advising

There are a plethora of advisors and advocates on campus, but it can be difficult to find a place to begin. If you’re trying to decide on a particular major or academic path, an appointment with an adviser from the colleges of Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental DesignLetters and Science and Natural Resources or the schools of Business, Journalism, Public Health and Public Policy is only a few clicks away. If you’re planning to pursue a graduate degree, speaking with a few of the many graduate program advisers on campus can give you a better understanding of those fields even if you’re not planning to return to UC Berkeley in your academic career.

Specific major or department advisers are important resources, whether you’re deciding on a major or a career path. If you’re choosing what to study, meetings with these advisers can give you knowledge of specific course material. 

If you’re already on the road to a degree, advisers can be invaluable fountains of workshops, panels and advice that can lead to internships and career opportunities. While email blasts can feel overwhelming, in reality they do not bite and can result in exposure to previously unseen opportunities.

Be patient when meeting with advisers. It takes time to hunt through websites and buildings to find resources, and meetings can be discouraging. Not all advisers are the same — sometimes you resonate with them and sometimes you don’t — so be willing to talk to multiple advisers to find the person that suits you best.

Career Center

So you’ve figured out your major, or perhaps you’re working toward a masters or Ph.D. Either way, you’re about to end your education and start “adulting.” The Career Center can be a valuable resource whether you’re completely lost or just searching for a few tips to polish your application.

Career fairs will be offered throughout September and October and can be accessed on the Career Center website or on Handshake. Each fair will have a specific theme, such as STEM, business, government, non-profit and education, so be sure to attend several that pique your interest.

There are plenty of other resources available. You can talk to alumni in the Career Connections Series to both make connections and learn more about specific industries. There are also tools for improving your job search: guides, examples and peer counselors can help you write cover letters and resumes. Additionally, you can schedule virtual appointments, though be sure to be on time.

The aforementioned Handshake could turn out to be your best friend. While plenty of websites list jobs and internships, UC Berkeley’s Handshake has opportunities offered specifically to Berkeley students. The Career Center can provide access to some of these platforms, but Handshake can be accessed from your own device.

Time

While there are plenty of resources available on campus, time may be the most important of all. 

You can afford to be patient; certainty does not have to be rushed. We all exist in particular situations that have their own extenuating circumstances, and your future and career come at your own pace.

Be patient and examine your options. Know that many choices are not permanent; you can always try new classes, majors or jobs in the future. Never be afraid to ask questions, try new experiences or return to old ones. Set up informational interviews, apply for competitive positions and be ambitious. You always have time.

Contact Jasper Kenzo Sundeen at [email protected].