The Center for Career Development is not where you go when you feel you have your future figured out; it's where you go to get started figuring it out.
Career development is an ongoing process unique to each person. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach to career development, the journey can seem ambiguous at times.
We are here to help. Make an appointment with a career adviser to talk about how you can get started.
Discover Your Interests & Values
Your first year is the perfect time to pay attention to what excites you and start reflecting on what you may be interested in pursuing at Princeton. Understanding your values, interests, skills, and identity can help you determine what you may want to try in the future.
Brainstorm a list of things you may want to learn about or explore more over the next four years, including:
- Academics and research
- Co-curricular opportunities
- Internship and volunteer activities
- Career possibilities
- People you’d like to meet
- Experiences, including joining student groups, clubs and communities, and domestic/international travel
Jotting these down and periodically revisiting them will help you learn how your values, skills and interests change over time, which will be helpful in informing post-graduate decisions.
There are many ways for you to actively learn more about yourself during your first year:
- Participate in our FYRE program to learn more about the Center for Career Development (October)
- Complete your Handshake profile, including the "Career Interests" section, to start receiving personalized internship and job recommendations
- Take the CareerExplorer assessment to learn about your interests and work style
- Talk to your assistant dean or a Peer Academic Advisor (PAA) about how academics and careers connect
- Meet with a career adviser to talk about your interests, values, and skills
- Hear from LGBTQIA+ alumni about the intersection of identity and work (November 2)
Career advisers are here to help you reflect on your interests. You can make an appointment to just talk through your interests and possible options, you do not need to have anything prepared to meet with an adviser.
Explore Different Fields
When you have identified a few career fields that interest you, start to learn more about them by researching online; connecting with alumni, employers, and other professionals in the fields; and attending our programs.
- Use Career Compass to learn about fields, find related resources and ways to gain experience while at Princeton
- Browse Firsthand to find detailed industry guides and career profiles
- Learn about the pre-health path at Princeton
- Attend the career fairs to learn about different fields, and internship and job opportunities they offer
Planning advice from a PCA
Meeting with staff members or Peer Career Advisers helped me immensely to find my true calling and discover my career goals.
- Justin Ong '23
Connect with Others (Networking)
Connecting with others is one of the best ways to learn what the day-to-day looks like in different career paths. This is often called "networking".
Networking has many benefits, and we encourage you to start connecting with others during your first year at Princeton.
- Read our Five-Step Guide to Networking to learn how to approach professional connections
- Sign up for a Career Chat with an alum to learn about career areas that interest you and to start to build your Princeton network
- Register for a coffee chat with an employer to learn more about organizations and career paths that interest you
- Find alumni in fields that interest you by using Career Compass
- Use LinkedIn, TigerNet and CareerShift to find contact information
Networking advice from a PCA
Take time to speak to students and professionals in your area of interest — they are always willing to give constructive, eye-opening advice! Also, don't be afraid to cold email professionals as I am sure they will be happy to speak to you!
- John Mulunda '24
Use Winter Break Thoughtfully
During winter break, make sure to find time to relax and reflect on the fall semester and the spring semester ahead. Princeton offers many opportunities to participate in fun activities, professional development work, academic development and more:
- Sign up for Wintersession and additional career exploration opportunities
- Set aside time to reflect during winter break to consider:
- What have you learned about yourself, your interests and skills during your first term at Princeton?
- How can you learn more about yourself through activities (e.g., student groups, volunteering, etc.) and courses?
- How can you build in opportunities to reflect when the spring term begins and throughout your time at Princeton?
Think About Your Summer Plans
It is important to think through how you would like to spend your summer after your first year. There is no right or wrong way to plan your summer. Some students prefer to relax at home, while others might participate in a job/internship, academic study, or alumni-sponsored or independent projects.
There’s no pressure to pick something that aligns with your career aspirations. No matter what you do, there are ways to connect with your future career possibilities.
- Review our Planning Your Summer Guide to learn about different options you can pursue.
If you are interested in pursuing a summer internship or Princeton program, we have resources available to help guide you through your internship search experience.
If you need assistance weighing options for summer, career advisers can help you put together a plan that is right for you.
Advice on exploring your interests from a PCA
Join clubs related to your career interests and use your peers as a resource. We’ll be here to support you at any step along the way and answer as many of your questions as possible.
- Nicole Svensson '24
Prepare to Apply
Regardless of your summer plans, you should learn how to prepare effective application materials.
It can be helpful to put together a master resume to keep track of your experiences and reflect on your accomplishments this year. We also recommend getting a sense of how to write convincing cover letters and setting up your LinkedIn profile to create a professional online presence.
You can schedule an appointment in Handshake to have a PCA or career adviser review your resume, cover letter, and your LinkedIn profile
- Draft or revise your resume using our resume guide
- Learn how to write an effective cover letter
- Review our Interviewing Guide to learn the basics of how to nail an interview
PCA advice on helpful resources
The guides are extremely accessible and can be especially useful for first-year students who are just starting to craft resumes/cover letters or who want to explore professional development!
- Caren Kim '25
As you move forward through your sophomore year at Princeton, check in with yourself about your thoughts, feelings, observations, and progress. College is a time of growth and discovery, and you should be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. We encourage students to celebrate their victories, big and small, throughout their college journey.
It is important to find and practice wellness activities that work for you. Think through activities that can help you feel balanced and motivated. Examples include:
- Reaching out for help
- Discussing your thoughts and feelings with others
- Staying physically active
- Music, mediation and/or yoga
- Reading and journaling
You can meet with Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) for broader confidential counseling and psychological support and/or a Center for Career Development adviser for career strategy and planning support. Both CPS and career advising are dedicated resources that welcome conversation about these topics.
Remember: career development is ongoing and, at times, it is full of decisions outside of our control. Go at your own pace and try not to compare your journey to others. Our career advisers are here to support you in your journey every step of the way.