Getting started

‌Your career development is more than a journey from point A to point B.

It’s a cycle that begins early in your collegiate career and continues throughout your academic and professional life. When you meet with your VCU Career Services career adviser, you’ll work together to determine your place in the cycle.

We offer one-on-one career advising, workshops, networking events and six industry-specific career fairs each year to help you find a career you’ll love and focus your efforts toward success.

Process Wheel

Discover

What do you want to be?

A key to charting a successful future is to fully invest in and contribute to your career goals. The first stage is to discover you. Start by exploring your interests, skills, abilities and values to see how they could relate to your potential career.

Ways to discover

  • Explore your skills, values and interest through self-reflection and/or assessments
  • Research industry and job market needs through an informational interview or career resources
  • Assess your personality and interests as they relate to career choices by taking an assessment such as the Strong Interest Inventory or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • Develop your long- and short-term goals with your career adviser
  • Define success for your personal career

Questions to ask yourself

  • What areas of study do I like?
  • What careers seem interesting to me?
  • What effects might this career have on my life?
  • Am I choosing this career to please someone else or is it truly my choice?
  • What have I always been able to do well? 

Reflect

Why do you want to be a …?

Context is key. It is important to gather information first to discover potential career paths. However, in order to be successful, you can’t discover in a vacuum. You must reflect on what you have gathered to see how your career choices will fit within the context of family pressure, economic changes, and industry shifts, as well as your personal aspirations.

Ways to reflect

  • Interview someone in an industry you’re interested in about his or her career
  • Explore LinkedIn and other networking tools to learn how others got to where you want to go
  • Research the industry by reading articles and blogs to learn about current trends
  • Find out where you’ll need to live to be successful in your career

Questions to ask yourself

  • Why is what I know relevant and needed in this industry?
  • Who is someone I admire? What strengths do they have? What have they accomplished?
  • What accomplishments or achievements do I have or am I working toward? How will these help me start my career?
  • Am I willing to move to a new city, state or country to achieve success?

Focus

Tell them why they should hire you.

You are unique. No one like you exists. How will you show the audience why you are a better investment than your competitors — other graduates and job seekers? Developing your own personal brand allows you to showcase your talents, skills and abilities to a potential employer.

Think about your life as a consumer. What brands catch your attention? What are they known for? Employers and graduate programs are looking for that same brand identity from you.

Ways to create your personal brand

  • Develop a strong resume or CV
  • Create tailored cover letters or personal statements
  • Develop your personal “elevator pitch”
  • Create business cards
  • Start or contribute to a blog related to the career you are pursuing

Questions to ask yourself

  • Who is my audience?
  • How can I show the best of me in 30 seconds or less? What’s the pitch?
  • How can I think outside of the box to present myself to employers?
  • Who in my class appears to be most likely to get his or her first-choice job?
  • What can I offer an employer that would make them want to hire me?
  • Am I using the language an employer would use when I talk about myself?

Connect

Apply what you’ve learned

If you are in a new job or internship, you have committed your skills and work to a new organization, its mission and goals. Use this opportunity to discover new areas to enrich your talents and experiences. Now is the time to set up new goals to further your professional experiences and career path.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How can I connect with more people in my organization and industry?
  • How can I create an opportunity to add value to the organization?
  • What does the professional development process look like in this field?

Connection exercises

Enrich

What’s next?

The opportunity to enrich your career does not end once you graduate from college or land an internship or full-time job. Career enrichment is a lifelong phase requiring continuous reflection, evaluation and action. Enrichment means keeping up with current trends in your industry and building the skills needed to remain relevant throughout your career.

When you get a new job or internship

  • Update your LinkedIn profile and use it to keep track of your new professional contacts
  • Find industry and professional groups to learn about trends in the industry
  • Identify a mentor in your organization or industry to help you learn more about it
  • Put your best foot forward by asking questions to understand expectations and norms within your organization

Ways to enrich your career

  • Learn new skills that will benefit you professionally
  • Build and maintain your professional network so you can learn about new opportunities
  • Stay updated on the current trends in your industry
  • Consider furthering your education

Questions to ask yourself

  • What do I want out of my next job and how will I get there?
  • What skills or experiences am I missing?
  • How can I learn what I need to know to move ahead in my career?
  • How have the people I admire gotten ahead in their careers?

Enrichment exercises