Top 10 Success Strategies for Freshmen and Sophomores

“You control your career destiny!”

So, don’t wait until the last minute to have a great destiny…use all four years!

  1. Keep your grades up: While this isn’t earth shattering new information, you have to remember that employers and graduate schools want candidates with good grades, and that will probably never change. Doing well academically not only proves that you have a good knowledge base, but indicates a strong work ethic, a value that employers value. It’s best to get help early. Check out Academic Support Services’ many resources!
  2. Identify interests, skills, values, and personal characteristics: Meet with a career counselor to learn what assessments are the best for you, take an assessment and meet with a career counselor to review the results.
  3. Actively explore career options: If you spent more time last night adding applications to your Facebook page than you have trying to decide on a major or career…you are typical, but you need to get started…yeah, today! Here are some ideas for career exploration: Informational Interviews: Talk with professionals in occupations of interest; Job Shadowing: Observe professionals on the job; Network: Talk with alumni, attend career fairs and attend information sessions; Research: Read about careers of interest on-line ( and and in the career resource library (303 Martin Hall)
  4. Get involved with extracurricular activities and clubs: Active (That’s active, not just signing up for the free t-shirt.) involvement in college activities and clubs is highly valued by employers and graduate schools. So, don’t just join, become a leader, hold an office, or coordinate an event to develop leadership and teamwork skills, skills that are on the top of every recruiter's list! Go to or to find opportunities that match your interests.
  5. Get involved in community service: You live in a larger community than your college or hometown. Show recruiters you know that by giving back to your community through service. IMPACT is one of the easiest ways to give back to the Auburn/Opelika community. From there, find something you are passionate about and commit!
  6. Develop computer skills: Not only should you be able to write a business letter and resume, you need to know how to use spreadsheets, design data bases, and produce automated presentations. Take COMP 1000 or just experiment on your own. Create a database of contact information of family and friends or use your Auburn web space to develop a website. Contact the Office of Informational Technology with questions.
  7. Develop writing skills: We hear recruiters complain again and again that college graduates have weak writing skills. To make sure you aren’t one of those, don't avoid classes that are writing intensive, practice writing and utilize the English Center for feedback on your papers. A career counselor will happily review your cover letter or personal statement, which is often your first impression with a company or graduate school.
  8. Complete at least one internship in chosen career field: With a troubled economy, internships are more often the springboard to employment. Many recruiters say that when they need to fill entry-level jobs, they only hire previous interns. In addition to making yourself more marketable, internships are a great way to explore careers and determine whether or not a certain career is for you. When you work for a company as an intern for three to four months, you get a really good feel for whether the field (and company) is one in which you want to work day in and day out! So, go out and find an internship. Read this tip sheet for more assistance.
  9. Gain an appreciation of diversity through study abroad, foreign languages, and courses: That’s right, not everyone is a clone of you. The American work force is becoming more diverse. So, to be successful at work and in your life, stretch yourself and learn about people and cultures different than yours. This is your time to travel…you don’t have a career or family to worry about! Learn more about Auburn’s Study Abroad opportunities.
  10. Use Career Development Services (CDS) all four years: More shameless promotion...but it’s true. CDS can help you all four years, not just the last semester of your senior year. Here is just a sampling of how CDS can help you:
  • identify your skills, interests, and values
  • choose and explore major and career options
  • obtain an internship or part-time job
  • write a resume and cover letter
  • develop interviewing skills
  • develop a job search or graduate school plan
  • connect you with prospective employers (career fairs, on-campus recruiting, etc.)

Don't wait until your senior year to start realizing your goals. The career train is on the move.


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