Sophomore Guide

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. 

This guide features tips, resources and events you should start to explore during your sophomore year.

Sections

During your first-year, you might have taken career assessments, met with a career adviser, or attended a program offered by the Center for Career Development. If you did, great - let’s continue building your career development foundation on your first-year experience. If not, no worries - we will help you navigate this process together. 

While everyone’s career development process is unique, this page takes you through step-by-step what you can do during your sophomore year at Princeton to help you with your process. 

Your interests, values, and skills will change as you gain experience through academics, co-curricular activities, internships, volunteering and other activities. You don’t always know what you want to do from the beginning, but rather your interests (and even passion) emerge through your experiences. 

Reflect and Prepare

Spend a few minutes writing down ideas for your academic and career exploration this year. You may want to consider: 

  • Courses that you are especially excited about and why
  • Topics or career areas that you are curious about 
  • Experiences you would like to seek out including co-curricular activities
  • Traditional or creative opportunities to develop your professional skills

This will help you recognize broader themes that interest you and notice related opportunities as they arise. You may also identify activities you are currently doing that you no longer feel drawn to that you might want to spend less time on. 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.
 

Discover Your Interests

Explore Career Possibilities

Exploration is an ongoing process. As you gain more experience (professional, personal, extra-/co-curricular and academic), you’ll notice your interests changing. 

Continue to explore your interests and options through conversations with students and alumni, as well as resources offered by the Center for Career Development including advising, recruiting and programs

  • Browse Career Compass to research career fields, find related resources and ways to gain experience while at Princeton
  • Find out about the pre-health path at Princeton
  • Attend the Fall HireTigers Virtual Career Fair (9/17)
  • Learn from Peer Career Advisers (PCAs) what networking actually is and how to do it as a first-year student (9/29 and 10/26)
  • Go to a PCA Study Break Coffee Chats (schedule to be posted in Handshake) 
  • Join the Introduction to Networking Cohort Group (sign up by 10/19)
  • Consult our PDF iconNetworking Guide for information and ideas about how to approach professional connections 
  • Sign up for a Career Chat with an alum to learn about career areas that interests 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 
  • Attend the Internship & Summer Funding Expo to learn what other Princeton students did this past summer and become familiar with internship programs offered by Princeton University and beyond (11/5)
  • Attend the Industry Insights Series:
  • Attend our Sophomore Career Kickoff event during Wintersession (1/14-15)
  • Apply to participate in Princeternships (deadline in mid-October)
  • Apply to participate in City Treks (spring)
  • If you're thinking about graduate school:
    • Meet with a professor or academic adviser to share your interests
    • Read our PDF iconGraduate School Guide to learn how to explore options and the requirements for programs that most interest you
    • Connect with alumni who have pursued courses of study and topics that interest you 
  • If you are interested in law school, attend our Exploring Law School workshop (10/25)
  • Join the Spring HireTigers Career Fair (check back for dates and details)
  • Apply for Industry Insights small group program to learn about different fields from alumni and recruiters (check back for dates and details)
     

Gain Experience at Princeton

Now that you have some ideas about career fields that interest you, it’s time to seek out opportunities to try them out including internships, volunteering, projects and other activities. 

Plan for your Summer

Students choose to do many different things during the summer, including relax and reflect at home, a job/internship, academic study or independent or alumni-led projects. 

Many students find it’s helpful to spend their summers doing something that gives them an opportunity to grow and learn more about their interests. There’s no pressure to pick something that aligns with your career aspirations. No matter what you do, there are ways to learn and connect with your future career possibilities.

If you need assistance weighing your options for your summer, career advisers can help you put together a plan that is right for you

 

Decide on Your Concentration 

What piques your intellectual curiosity? What topics do you read about or discuss for hours and lose track of time? You will learn deeply about various subjects within your concentration through coursework and independent work.

Choose a concentration that deeply interests you to be more satisfied with your undergraduate experience and so you can 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.
 
Action Steps

  • Reflect on your curiosity, personal preferences for learning styles, interests, and skills you enjoy using
  • Research concentrations that interest you and by speaking with current concentrators and alumni
  • Speak with representatives from academic departments that interest you and consider attending events for prospective concentrators to learn more about what it would be like to study that area
  • Meet with a career adviser to talk about your reflections about choosing a concentration and to plan for summer and beyond
  • Discuss your reflections with a career adviser and the director of studies in your residential college
  • Attend the Careers & Majors Alumni Panel Series and peer-to-peer conversations with PCAs and PAAs (spring 2022)
     

Using Academic Breaks Thoughtfully 

  • Attend the Make the Most of Your Winter Break workshop (12/8)
  • Attend the Sophomore Career Kickoff (1/14-15)
  • Sign up for Wintersession courses and additional career exploration opportunities, virtual project work/mini-internships with alumni
  • 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?
       

Meet with an Adviser

Career advisers are here to help you reflect about career possibilities, discover interests and create a personalized plan. Peer Career Advisers (PCAs) are students trained to help fellow students with applications, resumes and cover letters, explore opportunities and to share advice. There are no prerequisites to make an appointment.

You can: 

Practice Self-Care

While thinking about the future and exploring possibilities can be exciting, searching for opportunities and making decisions can be stressful. It is helpful to recognize when you feel stressed and to develop coping strategies that work for you.

It is important to identify what helps reduce your stress and anxiety, especially during job or internship search. Examples of coping strategies include:

  • 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.