Step by Step

This page is designed to help you plan for a future career. Included are many resourceful links that include practical tips on finding a job and applying for it.

Here are some things to think about during the decision-making process:


Now you have established your career goals, you need to make a realistic plan of action. First, think about what your future job requires - education, certain degrees, certificates, or vocational training, etc. Then determine how you can fulfill those prerequisites. Remember to think about the admissions requirements as well. Employers may require you to take an exam or placement test, go through an interview process, or write a resume. Make sure to also keep your plan in a realistic time frame.

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The best way to determine if a job best fits your career plan is to find an internship or summer job in your particular field of interest. They expose you to the dynamics, demands, and challenges of work in various careers, and allow you to gain a fuller understanding of possible work fields, evaluate their skills, and determine if you need to further your skills to apply for a position in a specific work field.

If completed successfully, an internship, summer or part-time experience can lead directly to your first full-time job. Internships are great opportunities to demonstrate your interest in your chosen field, to future employers.

Before you apply for an internship, you need to make several choices as well. Consider these questions:

  • What is the main reason you're looking for an internship or summer job? To earn money? Test out career alternatives? Gain experience to add to your resume? Develop career-related skills?
  • What are you interested in doing?
  • What skills can you contribute to the job?
  • Is money a conflicting issue? What is the minimum you need to make?
  • Will you get class credit?

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Be resourceful when looking for job openings. Research jobs in online postings, newspaper advertisements, campus-related career services, professional and trade publications, etc. It is important to network and advertise yourself. Let people know that you are in the job market , and ask for advice and assistance in finding a job.

Looking for jobs on the internet can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to searching on the internet:

  • Visit company websites
  • Get the latest stock market reports and financial information
  • Search for newspapers, trade publications, books and articles
  • Obtain salary surveys and read about job market projections
  • Research industries and professions
  • Network with potential employers and other job seekers
  • Submit online resumes and participate in electronic interviews

Below are some links to resources.

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Job applications, which generally make first impressions on employers, are extremely important in the career planning process.

Below are some helpful links to tips on content, writing style and formatting of the various parts of a job application.

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Preparing for your interview is very important as well; your behavior and communication display valuable information about you to your future employer. You must be able to market yourself -- your experience, skills and talents, ability and willingness to learn, work habits, etc., and demonstrate that you are enthusiastic about the job.

To prepare for your interview, anticipate tough questions and be ready to answer them. If the interviewer asks about your GPA, which is below a 3.5, you can formulate a response that addresses any compensating experiences you may have. When asked about your weaknesses, you can relate your weakness to one of your strengths. Practice your responses enough until you are comfortable. It is to your advantage to appear confident, organized and well-focused.

In your interview preparation, you should also research the industry, organization and position for which you are applying. Doing so will help you to prepare appropriate questions to ask and give you prior knowledge to help answer some of the interview questions.

Also, you should be prepared logistically for your interview. Know where to park, what to wear, how to maintain professional speech, and exercise simple ettiquette. Make sure to write your interviewer a thank you letter and keep in touch with him or her until you have been offered the position or found that someone else has been chosen.

Below are links with various interviewing tips and resources:

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After receiving confirmation of your employment, you need to negotiate your salary and benefits with your employer. Employers often expect you to set the bar and often ask about your expectations on application forms or during the interview. Therefore, be ready to answer to those questions with facts and figures.

Remember to stay calm and collected when negotiating. Be ready to compromise if your employer comes close to your goal salary, and always emphasize your skills and abilities, as opposed to your needs. Instead of talking about how much you need that new car, explain how you can contribute to the company.


Most employers know what they are willing to pay for a particular position, but in some occasions, you can negotiate additional benefits to recognize your skills, abilities and accomplishments. Be sure to clearly communicate your strengths and ability to contribute to the company. Your employer will probably ask you about your salary requirements and how much you earned in your last job. Do not lie about your salary history.

After researching the going salary rate for the industry, consider the cost of living in your particular area as well as any other items that can account for differences. Determine the lowest figure you would settle for, as well as your goal -- remember to be realistic.


Benefits also need to be discussed as part of the compensation package. Most entry level employees can expect basic packages including health, dental, disability and life insurance, as well as paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays.

A more comprehensive benefits package might include:

  • cell phone and/or pager
  • child and daycare services
  • company car
  • computer equipment
  • cost of living adjustments
  • desirable office and furnishings
  • education and training programs
  • expense accounts
  • flexible work schedule
  • maternity or parental leave
  • preferred parking
  • savings plans
  • relocation expenses
  • retirement and 401K plans
  • stock and equity options

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