The Hows and Whys of Making Your Career Plan Now

Hello, World.

I’m here today to talk about career plans. Kind of a daunting phrase, right? Most people in their early twenties get a little anxious whenever the “so what will you do this summer? What job do you hope to get post-grad? Where do you see yourself in five years?” line of questioning starts. Most of us shrug, explain the little plan we have, then subsequently stop listening to whatever the other person is saying because we are internally freaking out about how unprepared for life we sound.

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a planner, but as of late I feel like no matter what my plans seem to get muddled or I run out of time to achieve all of my goals. When I was driving back to school last week, my parents and I were talking about my summer plans, my LSAT date, my deadlines for law school applications, and my RA role for next year. Toward the end of the conversation my dad said, “you have a lot of big decisions to make.” At that moment, it really hit me that I’m no longer a kid that can just soar through life. I can no longer assume that the next four years have a set path. I have to start making life-changing and career-forming decisions. So, to say the least, I started thinking about career plans, and how to go about making them.
making your career plan now

The Whys
When creating a career plan, you may question whether or not it’ll actually be a relevant document soon. The answer is yes, it’s always yes. You may be asking, why should I stress myself out by trying to put together a career plan? Well, my short answer is that doing it now will save you major stress in the future. Imagine trying to plan your career senior year of college, and realizing that you missed opportunities to do things that would make getting the career you want easier. Start thinking about the major reasons of why this is important.

1. Knowing where you’re going allows you to prepare properly.
When you have a goal in mind, doing things that will help you get there makes it easier to do them. You also may choose to take a college class over another if the class is going to be more relevant to what your plan entails. You may choose one internship over another if the first is more geared toward the career you want. Have a direction, and make decisions from organic opportunities that allow you to get there.

2. You’ll have the upper hand when applying to graduate or professional programs.
If you follow must first ‘why’ you will have a resume jammed packed with relevant information to the programs for which you are applying. This will not only look good to schools, it will also imply that you know your direction, and that applying to law school as an English major isn’t just a fluke.

3. You will not waste your time.
When people just kind of wander aimlessly through undergrad, it’s hard to figure out where exactly they want to go. In order to avoid taking useless classes, or doing an internship that teaches you very little that will be applicable to your occupation, have a career plan. If you do, you’ll feel like you used your four years or so to the fullest capacity.

The Hows
Once you have a direction, and once you’ve figured out that you want to make a career plan, you need to sit down and map it out. Make your career plan a tangible thing that you can refer back to in order to keep yourself driven and headed toward your goals.

1. Create a timeline.
Consider this a loose outline for your life in the next five to ten years. Sure, it’ll be subject to change, but at least try to sketch out a plan that seems plausible. If you want to be effective with your time, make sure you make a plan of how to use your time well and how long it’ll take you to get certain things done. You also want to know what you’re going to accomplish in each year.

2. Think big picture and small picture.
When planning your career, think about your big-time and long-term goals, as well as the small-time and short-term goals that’ll get you there. You want to be a partner in a law firm by 30? Think about the small things that’ll get you there. Don’t discount even the little, tedious things that seem pointless now (like consistently updating your resume).

3. Prioritize all items included in the plan.
If you know you need to get something done in order to get to your goal, put it as one of the first things you do. If you know you need to get some things that under your belt before you can accomplish another item, make sure to prioritize the things you need to get done first.

Making a career plan is a really important thing. Making your plan now will prove fruitful once your career really picks up. Do work now, be successful later!

Callie leigh

Making Your Portfolio Now

Hello, World.

Today I had tea with two friends, and we were talking about our futures, and graduate school, and our plans for the upcoming year, and suddenly it hit me…I’m going into my junior of year college. The carefree mentality I’ve grown so fond of is slowly becoming less and less prominent, and my thoughts are now churning about what I need to do to prepare for law school apps, what programs I want to do, where I want to work, and most importantly, where I’d like to live in a couple years. Where you want to live is actually a HUGE factor when it comes to choosing schools. If you don’t love where you are, it’s hard to love what you’re doing.

Anyway, our conversation made me remember another conversation I had with my roommate from last year about portfolios. She works in the campus archives, and she said they had a client come in asking for some information, and the woman was explaining why it’s great my friend has a job, and that she’s adding things to her resume. Apparently she told my friend that the thing college students should really be doing, but that they often do not, is building a really stellar portfolio. Sure, college students make resumes, and we do things that will look great on graduate school or job applications, but we don’t always put together a really strong portfolio that offers proof of our skills and accomplishments. So, let’s talk portfolios.

Some people may feel a portfolio is unnecessary given that you submit a resume to jobs and graduate schools. While resumes are helpful, a portfolio will make you stand out because in addition to an awesome resume, you are providing some pretty incredible work for employers and admission committees to refer to when making decisions.

You may be wondering how you should even go about making a portfolio. Well, I’m here with a few helpful hints!

What is a portfolio? It is a binder that shows off your talents and abilities and is a tool to help market yourself.

What should be included in a portfolio? Your complete portfolio should include a Table of Contents, Career Summary and Goals, Resume, Skills, Abilities, and Marketable Qualities, Samples of Various Works, Awards or Honors, Transcripts, Test Results (ex: GRE, LSAT), any News Coverage you’ve received, References.

How should my portfolio look? Your portfolio should look clean, concise, and professional. Try not to get overly decorative, and keep it short and sweet. No portfolio should exceed 25 pages, as you should be mindful and realistic about how long a potential employer or admissions counselor will spent looking at your documents. Each page should have a title, snapshot caption, and artifact. When you have the portfolio put together, write a summary of its contents that highlights the major components as well as why you stand out.

Eight Things to Remember when Creating Your Portfolio:

1) Think about format. How do you want to format your portfolio? Will you make a digital version or paper or both?

2) Begin with a self evaluation of your skills. What have you done? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?

3) Consider your work as a potential employer would consider the work. Does it stand out? Is it your best? Does it showcase the skills necessary to succeed at the job?

4) Only choose items that will showcase your best abilities. Make sure you look really strong on every page.

5) Make sure the pieces you include are relevant to the job or field.

6) Consider the lengths of pieces. Do not include a 15 page research paper and only one or two more pieces. Offer a strong sample of works.

7) Customize your portfolio each time you submit the portfolio. Do not leave a generic description or the same pieces in every portfolio unless two jobs allow. Make sure you are customizing your portfolio to appear perfect for the position for which you are applying.

8) Keep a digital and paper copy with you at all professional engagements. You never know when opportunity will knock, and you want to be prepared. You may want to create a condensed portfolio in your briefcase or backpack just in case!

Don’t wait until spring of senior year to make a portfolio. Start today, and be successful tomorrow. That was cheesy, sorry, but it is true. You want to be successful in everything you do, and preparing early on will help you achieve your goals!

Callie Leigh