Timeline for Career Success | College of Information Sciences and Technology
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Timeline for Career Success

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Below is a suggeted timeline of things to consider in preparing for your future career success. Remember that Penn State has a lot of resources that are available to you, but you do need to be proactive in taking advantage of them. Your success depends on you, but following the steps below will certainly help you get you on your way.

 


 

First Year

  • Study hard! Some employers exclude students or recent graduates with grade point averages below a certain level (often, 3.0) from consideration for co-op, internship, or entry-level full-time opportunities, so maintaining a good GPA will help you have access to the greatest number of opportunities.
  • Learn about the career resources offered through our office, including IST’s job posting system Compass available to all IST and SRA students.   Create a profile in Compass.
  • Create a LinkedIn account and complete your profile. You should add to your profile as you go through your degree program. Make connections with recruiters and classmates as appropriate.
  • Write a resume, if you do not already have one. Do not worry if you do not have a lot of information to include yet! You will gradually add information as you go through your degree program. Remove high school information after your first semester at Penn State.
  • Learn how to write a cover letter.
  • Purchase a good-quality interview suit in a classic color and style that you can use for the next few years. Visit here for tips on what to wear on a job interview.
  • Attend IST and University-wide career events, including employer information sessions, receptions, and career fairs. These events offer you great opportunities to meet and network with employers. Company events, workshops, and career fairs can also be found under the ‘Events’ tab in Compass. Students from all Penn State campuses are welcome at all career events (students at campuses other than University Park should also check for events on their own campuses, if available).
  • Look into the IST majors available at Penn State. Talk to an academic adviser if you have questions about the majors or your job prospects with one or more majors.
  • Start building relationships with faculty and instructors.
  • Investigate the various student organizations both at the College of IST and at Penn State. Getting involved with student organizations will help you to develop interpersonal and leadership skills, and may help you to make professional connections.
  • If you are an international student, check with an adviser in the University Office of Global Programs regarding any special requirements for co-ops or internships with your specific visa status. Find out how much and when you may be allowed to work at a short-term assignment, if you choose to do so.
  • Think about the impression your social media presence may be making on employers. Clean up inappropriate content on your Facebook profile and any other social media sites, or make any such content private.

 


 

Second Year

  • Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile with any career-related experience you have had so far.
  • Since fall tends to be the heaviest recruiting season in your sophomore year, be prepared to engage in networking and other recruiting activities as soon as you arrive on campus.
  • Use Compass to look for co-op or internship opportunities and apply for positions of interest.
  • Practice your networking skills at career events, seminars, and fairs. Target employers who are seeking students in your intended major.
  • Join a student organization related to your intended major.
  • Continue to build relationships with faculty and instructors at Penn State.
  • Do a mock interview to work on your interview skills. If you are not at the University Park campus, check with your campus career office to see whether mock interview options are available to you.
  • Arrange some informational interviews with professionals in any fields you are considering.
  • Make sure your voicemail message sounds professional once you start interviewing.
  • Think about the impression your social media presence may be making on employers. Clean up inappropriate content on your Facebook profile and any other social media sites, or make any such content private.

 


 

Third Year

  • Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Add all professional positions you have held, including any volunteer or leadership positions.
  • Consider using the GPA Calculator to add your major GPA to your resume.  You calculate this using only your IST, SRA or DS courses.
  • Use Compass to seek and apply for co-op or internship opportunities.
  • Attend career events at Penn State and check Compass for information sessions and company workshops. Before you go, find out which employers will be attending and focus your efforts on those of most interest to you. Remember that the fall is the heaviest recruiting season.
  • If you are a transfer student, start getting to know faculty in your department as quickly as possible. You may need them as resources or references.
  • Join a professional organization in your intended field and use every opportunity to network with other professionals.
  • If you are considering graduate or professional school, investigate your options and get information on entrance exams that may be required (e.g., GRE).
  • Think about the impression your social media presence may be making on employers. Clean up inappropriate content on your Facebook profile and any other social media sites, or make any such content private.

 


 

Fourth or Final Year

  • If you are planning to go to graduate school, take any required entrance exams.
  • Update your résumé. Add all professional positions you have held, including any volunteer or leadership positions. Create targeted versions of your résumé for different positions or employers, as needed. Update your LinkedIn profile as well.
  • If you are concerned about your interview skills, sign up for a mock interview and practice. If you are not at the University Park campus, check with your campus career office to see whether mock interview options are available to you.
  • Search for and apply for entry-level full-time jobs with both Compass and Nittany Lion Career Network (the University-wide electronic job search system managed by Career Services).
  • Attend career events at Penn State, including networking events and career fairs. Remember that the fall is the heaviest recruiting season.
  • Think about the impression your social media presence may be making on employers. Clean up inappropriate content on your Facebook profile and any other social media sites, or make any such content private.
  • Sign up for on-campus interviews, which are common around the time of large career events but also happen at other times in the academic year. If you are enrolled at another Penn State campus but you are planning an on-campus interview, talk to the recruiter about your options for a telephone interview if you are not able to make it to University Park.
  • Contact people in your professional network—including professors, instructors, and former employers—to request references.
  • If you have had successful co-op or internship experiences, you may already have one or more full-time job offers from past employers. Weigh the pros and cons of your options before you accept any offer.