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 unique for every individual.
As you progress through your sophomore year, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to have your career figured out. Instead, get involved in a wide range of activities. Eventually, your interests and values will emerge through your experiences.
Plan for the Year Ahead
Spend a few minutes recording reflections about your academic and career exploration. Consider:
- Your first year and summer experiences
- Courses you are especially excited about
- Career areas that you are curious about
- Co-curricular experiences that interest you
- Opportunities to develop your professional skills
- Browsing Career Compass to research career fields and alumni profiles
- Completing your Handshake profile, including the Career Interests section, to start to receive personalized recommendations
- Taking the CareerExplorer assessment to learn about your interests and work style
Reflection will help you recognize broader themes about your interests. You may also identify whether your current activities are still serving you.
If you aren't sure what interests you or where to start with this exercise, make an appointment to talk through it with a career adviser.
Create a Plan with a Career Adviser
Advisers are here to help you reflect about career possibilities, discover interests, and create a personalized plan. If you want to discuss anything in this guide in more detail, make an appointment with a career adviser.
Peer Career Advisers (PCAs) are students trained to help fellow students with applications, resumes and cover letters, explore opportunities and more.You can schedule an appointment with them in Handshake or find their PCA Pop-ups and Coffee Chats in various locations on campus, including your residential college. There are no prerequisites to make an appointment.
Explore Different Fields
Exploration is an ongoing process. As you gain experience, you may notice your interests changing. Continue to explore options through conversations with students and alumni, as well as resources offered by the Center for Career Development including advising, recruiting and programs.
- Review our Recruiting Timelines to get an idea of when application deadline for different career fields
- Use Career Compass to research career fields and ways to gain experience during your time at Princeton
- Browse Vault Career Guides to find detailed industry guides and career profiles
- Attend career fairs to learn about different fields
- Get first-hand experience in a job without the commitment of an internship through Princeternship
- Go on site visits to various companies/organizations by applying for City Treks
- If you're thinking about graduate school:
- Meet with a professor or academic adviser to share your interests
- Read our Graduate School Guide to learn how to explore options
- Connect with alumni who have pursued courses of study and topics that interest you
- Learn about the pre-health path at Princeton
Advice on exploring your interests from a PCA
Don't restrict yourself to experiences that directly relate to your concentration/intended career path.
Join clubs, attend workshops, and listen to lectures on campus, and you'll have more opportunities to learn what you like and dislike.
- Felicia Sanders '25
Connect with Alumni and Professionals
Through networking, you can learn about different career paths, application advice, best practices, and job/internship opportunities. Many students find internship and job opportunities through networking.
We offer programs, resources, and tools to help you network with peers, alumni and industry professionals.
- 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
Create a Summer Plan
It is important to think through how you would like to spend your summer after your sophomore 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.
- 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. You can find a list of service and social impact internship opportunities funded by Princeton on the Learning and Education Through Service (LENS) website, which includes our Summer Social Impact Internship Fund.
If you need assistance weighing options for summer, career advisers can help you put together a plan that is right for you.
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
Develop Job Search Skills
Now that you have some ideas about career fields that interest you, it’s time to find opportunities to gain experience. Below are some resources and programs we offer to help you build search skills that can help you land an opportunity.
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 on the Center for Career Development website are honestly one of the most underrated resources out there.
Whether you're looking for tips on resumes, cover letters, elevator pitches, or more, the guides provide everything from advice on where to start all the way to multiple samples tailored to people of differing backgrounds.
- Austen Mazenko '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 through activities and courses?
- How might your learnings inform your career aspirations?
- How can you build in opportunities to reflect when the spring term begins and throughout your time at Princeton?
Decide on Your Concentration
Concentrations do not dictate careers.
We recommend choosing a concentration that deeply interests you. Choosing a concentration that excites you will help you feel satisfied with your undergraduate experience and help you demonstrate your motivation and interest to employers.
All concentrations and certificates at Princeton teach skills that are transferable to a wide variety of roles and industries. Reflecting about your skills and interests along the way will help you create and follow a personalized career plan.
- Reflect on your curiosity, personal preferences for learning styles, interests, and skills you enjoy using
- Research concentrations and speak with representatives from academic departments that interest you
- Consider attending events for prospective concentrators to learn more about studying that area
- Meet with a career adviser to talk through your reflections about choosing a concentration
- Take a look at the wide variety of landing spots for recent Princeton graduates
Concentration selection advice from a PCA
These past few months have taught me that I just want to find a career that I am passionate about. If I’m passionate about neuroscience but want to pursue a career in business, I can do that.
My concentration and career interests do not have to be linear.
- Declan Waters '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.