Career Planning Checklist

Career Planning

Would you build a house without a plan? As foolish as that sounds, many people attempt to build a career without a plan. A Career Plan is a flexible tool to guide you in making decisions regarding courses, extra-curricular activities, part-time/summer jobs, and special projects. Each year of college, with its courses and activities, provides experiences upon which to build and revise a Career Plan. Career planning doesn’t require a great deal of time. What it does require is initial drafting followed by periodic assessments, additions, and revisions. The results are a better picture of who you are, what you can do, where you want to go, and how to get there.

First-Year - Ask & Experience


•   Enroll in core courses.

•   Participate in extra-curricular activities.

•   Study and learn about different majors; make a tentative selection of a major.

•   Research careers.

•   Acquaint yourself with students, faculty, and staff.

•   Learn about resources available on campus.

•   Find a part-time position to gain work experience, even if it’s not in your possible major.

•   Visit Career Services.


•   Encourage student to make grades a top priority.

•   Encourage student to become involved in campus activities and clubs, and speak with them about ones that may match their interests.

•   Be aware that a part-time job, even if unrelated to career interests, will be beneficial to them. Employers want graduates to have work experience.

•   Promote Career Services and our resources to your student. Our Top 10 List on the website will give you our most common resources.

•   Be open to ideas your student has regarding majors and career fields.

Summer - Work Experience


•   Obtain a part-time position and/or be involved in volunteer service. Build related work history.

•   Develop solid work habits.

•   Become involved in leadership activities and special projects.

•   Continue personal growth/skills development.


•   Encourage student to find a part-time position and/or get involved in volunteer service.

•   Continue to speak with them about their interests and skills.


Sophomore Year - Assess & Explore


•   Begin introductory courses in major field.

•   Take inventories of interests, values, and abilities. Our office offers these to students in the office and on our website.

•   Take the Career Planning course that is offered for academic credit.

•   Explore and select occupations, and then choose a major.

•   Visit companies related to your major and conduct informational interviews.

•   Talk with alumni regarding careers. One way to find contacts would be the McKendree University Career Services’ mentoring program on the website under College Central Network.

•   Participate in extra-curricular activities and join clubs.

•   Begin to plan internship search.

•   Visit Career Services.


•   Speak with your student about various majors and career fields they may be considering.

•   Encourage your student to visit Career Services for career counseling if they are undecided on their major.

•   Assist them in developing a list of people you may know in their field(s) of interest so they can contact them for an informational interview and/or shadowing. There are also McKendree graduate mentors available through the College Central Network online system.

•   Encourage student to get (or remain) involved in activities and clubs related to their interests and skills.

Junior Year - Evaluate & Network


•   Enroll in your major courses for majority of classes. Take electives in various areas.

•   Choose electives to strengthen skills and enhance career options.

•   Continue to participate in extra-curricular activities and clubs.

•   Check academic status related to credits and GPA.

•   Speak to Career Services about an internship for academic credit.

•   Continue talking to professionals about career choices.

•   Draft your resume, cover letter, and references page and have Career Services critique.

•   Plan or continue internship search, and begin thinking about job search and/or graduate school admission.

•   Take an internship for college credit.


•   Encourage student to attend career fairs and other professional events through the Career Services office.

•   Encourage student to start searching for career-related experiences.

•   Encourage student to get (or remain) involved in activities and clubs related to their interests and skills.

•   Speak with student about career-related goals.

Senior Year - Market Yourself and Search


•   Complete graduation requirements.

•   Take an internship for college credit.

•   Start job search early in senior year through SEVERAL methods.

•   Revise resume and create cover letters.

•   Create a references page – ask for permission before using someone. Possible references could include current or previous supervisors, faculty, administrators, coaches, or other related individuals. Do not use family and friends for references.

•   Schedule a mock interview session with Career Services.

•   Take advantage of on-campus interviews.

•   Attend various workshops and events offered by Career Services.

•   NETWORK with as many people as possible!


•   Encourage your student to participate in events sponsored by Career Services and other professional events.

•   Give your student ideas for people who are in their “network” system, since so many jobs are found this way.

•   Ask student how you can help, but DO NOT give them too much assistance! While they can use resources you may have, they should be writing their own resume and cover letter, doing their own company research, and attending events on their own.

•   Listen to them! This is a stressful time for most students.

What Do Employers Seek in Candidates?


Verbal Communication skills

Teamwork skills

Decision-making and problem-solving skills

Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work

Organizational skills

Quantitative skills

Technical knowledge related to job

Computer skills

Written communication skills

Ability to sell or influence others


Source for Employer Information: Job Outlook 2013, National Association of Colleges and Employers