Your Career Action Plan


Career planning is a decision you make - starting early on in your education at Columbia - to actively:

  • Use resources to gather information about career options that match your strengths and interests
  • Explore career options through internships, jobs, volunteer opportunities, international experience, student clubs, professional associations, and networking
  • Set realistic career goals, incorporate reflection and feedback, and obtain support from advisors, professors, and counselors

While students create their individual paths, stay on track with our guide to creating your very own career action plan with our Career Planning Guide and Four Year Action Plan!


While you acclimate to Columbia and focus on your studies and on campus involvement, start to learn about CCE's resources, meet with one of our counselors, attend interactive career workshops (especially the Power Half Hours on Resumes/Cover Letters and LionSHARE) and explore the possibility of landing an internship or job during your first spring or summer at college. Complete your profile on LionSHARE to start exploring options! If you're ready to start gaining experience, consider applying to the Columbia Exploration Externship Program, or one of the many other ways to get involved at Columbia. 


As you are more assimilated to college life, start to more deeply explore areas of career interest. You can do this through classes, student clubs, networking, and employment opportunities on and off campus, from internships to part time jobs throughout the year. Identify the many other ways to get involved in your interest areas through Columbia. Take part in CCE's career fairs, alumni panels, site visits, networking events, and information sessions. Attend interactive career workshops (especially the Power Half Hours on the Job/Internship Search, On Campus Interviewing, and Interviewing and the Career Fair Warmup) to learn new skills. As you declare your major and start to explore career options connected to your interests, check out our Exploring Majors and Careers resources.


Now that you've declared a major and have clearer interests, junior year is the perfect time to gain more experience, meet professionals in career fields, and decide if graduate school or a fellowship program is a step for you after graduation. Develop a network and connect with alumni and employers through informational interviews. Start to build your professional presence online. And be sure to attend interactive career workshops (including those on LinkedIn, a Power Half Hour on Networking and On Campus Interviewing, and our Career Fair Warmup) to prepare!


It's time to make decisions about your career direction after graduation. Take everything you have learned about yourself and the world of work up to this point into consideration to decide what types of jobs (including leadership development programs and gap year programs), graduate programs, fellowship opportunities, or other activities (travel, volunteering, internships) to pursue as you move forward from college. Meet with a counselor early on in the year, reach out to your network to explore opportunities, and apply to jobs on LionSHARE and through other targeted resources. Consider joining a professional association as a student member. Attend career workshops (like our Skills Identification Workshops) at CCE. Review our 6 Stages of the Senior Job Search to help you stay on track!


You might be seeking a career change and also dealing with the competing demands of school, work, and family. During this time, it's important to develop a plan to set short and long term career goals, gain experience in the field you wish to enter, and develop powerful interview skills to communicate the unique experiences you have to offer an employer. Actively participate in panels, site visits, workshops as well as our walk-in hours and counseling appointments to jump start your plan. Check our calendar of events for special programs for General Studies students and career changers to add to the mix.


You have unique strengths when it comes to adapting to new situations, understanding other cultures and practices, and language fluency. These strengths will help you overcome the challenges to a job search. The search takes careful planning and strategizing early on in your education. Work with CCE to engage early in your job search process, develop professional skills, build a network, and find organizations that are more likely to sponsor students for working visas (if you're interested in staying in the U.S.). Check out our web resources and Four Year Action Plan for international students and be sure to attend CCE's Career Workshop for International Students in the fall or spring to learn more!

To make the partnership between CCE and students a success, we ask students to:

  • Take initiative in gathering information, building professional skills, and applying to/securing opportunities
  • Use CCE resources by regularly attending career events and workshops, reading tip sheets and guides, and listening to web shops to develop professional knowledge and skills
  • Meet with a counselor at least once yearly to manage a plan for achieving career goals
  • Follow up on strategies identified through counseling meetings, workshops, and events
  • Build a network of professionals, professors, and advisors throughout the educational process to aid in the transition after graduation