What Is Your Game Plan?

A champion always has a strategy to win his or her competition. Good coaches help those athletes determine the necessary training and planning for success.

The IUP Career and Professional Development Center is committed to providing high-quality services and developmental opportunities to help students become successful. It provides students with coaching and support on how to become active participants in their own continuing career development.

So where do you start? Think freshman year is too early to be focusing on a career after graduation? It's never too early! Use this checklist as a guide to help you get ahead of the competition.

Year One: Explore (Rookie)

  • Visit the Career and Professional Development Center and familiarize yourself with services and resources.
  • "Like" us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
  • Attend the annual Career and Professional Development Center Open House in September.
  • Schedule a meeting with a faculty adviser or a career counselor to discuss your major and your future plans by calling 724-357-2235.
  • If you are unsure of your major or career goals, schedule an appointment to use FOCUS II with the Major and Career Exploration Center in 216 Pratt Hall. You may also enroll in the ADVT 170 class.
  • Join a departmental organization that will afford you leadership roles in the future.
  • Identify at least four skills employers look for, and plan how you will acquire those skills prior to graduation.
  • Start drafting a résumé.
  • Get a part-time job.
  • Attend the IUP Spring Career Fair in February.
  • Participate in community service activities through the Office of Service Learning.
  • Find a faculty mentor in your department.
  • Conduct an informational interview with someone who works in a job you would like to have some day.
  • Begin a cocurricular transcript, which will help you track your involvement with campus organizations, events, leadership activities, and more.

Year Two: Focus (Semi-Pro)

  • Commit to a major by at least halfway through your sophomore year!
  • Research career options related to your chosen major.
  • Participate in the National Student Exchange or International Exchange program, or the Disney College Program.
  • Begin to shape your "elevator speech," a self-introduction that you will use to describe your education, experience, and goals.
  • Develop your leadership skills by becoming a chairperson of a committee in your departmental or campus organization.
  • Attend a networking event with alumni in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, DC or New York City.
  • Continue meeting with a career counselor or faculty adviser to discuss your future plans.
  • Consider a minor or concentration to complement your major.
  • Consider whether you will return to your previous summer job, or find an internship.
  • Evaluate the skills you identified your freshman year to see if you've obtained them, and what other skills you should add.
  • Update your résumé.
  • Take advantage of events and programs related to your career.

Year Three: Prepare (Pro)

  • Meet with your academic advisor regarding your preprofessional experience (e.g., internship, student teaching, clinical, etc.).
  • Update your résumé.
  • Learn how to interview. Participate in a Mock Interview at the Career and Professional Development Center.
  • Attend job and internship fairs.
  • Search the IUP internships website for opportunities to gain more experience in your major.
  • Meet with a career counselor or faculty adviser to discuss the next step in your career plans.
  • Explore graduate school options. Take the appropriate admissions exams.
  • Attend networking events.
  • Become an officer in your departmental and/or campus organization to enhance your leadership skills.
  • Create a business card to use in your job search.
  • Register on LinkedIn and create a profile for job searching.
  • Build your professional wardrobe.

Year Four: Act (All-Star)

  • Start your job search or graduate school application process six to nine months before graduation!
  • Target your résumé and cover letters to specific positions.
  • Research employers and apply online. Keep a record of each application and follow up.
  • Attend job fairs. Develop an "elevator speech" to sell yourself at these events.
  • Network with alumni and professionals in your field.
  • Meet regularly with a career counselor or faculty adviser to work on your job or graduate school process.
  • Identify professors, work supervisors, and advisers who can serve as professional references.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and other social media sites.

Year Five and Beyond: Thrive (Hall of Fame)

  • Complete the IUP Graduate Survey.
  • Set goals to advance your career.
  • Join a professional organization.
  • Continue to network.
  • Identify a mentor in your profession.
  • Attend IUP Alumni events and give back to IUP in some manner.
  • Utilize IUP Career and Professional Development Center services (e.g., job fairs, mock interviews, résumé and cover letter assistance) as needed.
  • Participate in IUP Career and Professional Development Center events (e.g., job fairs, etiquette dinners, professional panels) as a professional.
  • Encourage your employer to recruit at IUP.
  • Discuss with your supervisor ways to advance your career.
  • Consider an advanced degree or professional certificate.
  • Maintain your LinkedIn profile with regular updates and group activity.
  • Maintain your IUP email through IUP Live, or let the Career and Professional Development Center know your preferred email address.