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Proper planning prevents poor career performance

By Kim Halpin
On January 26, 2014

You've likely heard dozens of acronyms to remember by the time you've made it to college. One of the most poignant ones that I've learned is the 5 Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Great in theory, but like many others, can sometimes be difficult in practice.
If you apply this phrase to just one area of your life, let it be for your career. The vast majority of college students have presumably come to get their degree to be better prepared for the job market when they graduate. It's easy to lose sight of that goal when exams and extracurriculars consume our time and we can't see the forest for the trees.
Proper planning can give you a leg up when May comes, and because it inevitably will come, why not be prepared? Whether you're a freshman looking to get more out of your summer than a minimum wage job or a senior looking to begin your career, January and February are crucial months that should be used to your advantage. Now is the time to take advantage of the below zero wind chills by staying inside and getting a head start on your future.
You can't take steps to finding your ideal job without knowing where you want to go. If you haven't given much thought yet to what you want to do when you graduate, start there. You can explore your field perhaps by talking with professors in your department or by going to the Center for Career Development for a personalized career counseling session.
The second step is to develop your resume, or more specifically, your resumes. A good strategy to developing a good resume is to target it to each specific job or program that you are sending it to so that the person reading it will see how your previous positions will help you in your future one. This could mean changing the objective that you list at the top of your resume or giving more detailed descriptions of your responsibilities and experience in roles that are closely aligned to the position for which you are applying.
When sending your resume with an application, it is almost always appropriate to send a cover letter to accompany it. A resume tells employers what you've done and what you've achieved, but a cover letter can show them why you've gotten involved and what you plan to do with your experience. It's a great place to show employers your passion for your work and what drives you.
One of the best pieces of advice when looking for a summer internship or job is to begin early. Many employers are looking now, and by applying early you can not only beat the rush of other candidates, but also have peace of mind when the semester comes to a close that you already have a job lined up.
There are many great resources on campus, particularly this week, which can help you through these steps. Monday's event is at 3:30 p.m. and is called Navigating the Career Fair. On Tuesday, a presentation called Five Steps to Finding an Internship will be given at 3:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom, and on Wednesday, Writing an Irresistible Resume will be presented at 4:30 p.m. in Oak 117. There is also a College to Career Fair at Rentschler Field on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Transportation to the event is available.
Take advantage of the extra time you have on these bitter winter days to go to a career development session or begin searching for internship and job applications. Come May, you'll be glad you did.

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