Steps to Success

Climb the Steps to Success

The Steps to Success, if followed closely, will give you a competitive edge on the job market. This set of actions, in combination with applying yourself in the Student Professional Development Program (SPDP) workshops, will help you develop personally and professionally, and rise above your competition on the job market.

The key is to start now!

  • Keep up your grades and stay on track. Make classes a priority and work to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, because a 3.0 is often the GPA cut off mark for selecting candidates to interview and/or hire. Follow your degree plan closely in order to graduate in four years.

  • Discover your strengths. Learn about yourself, your strengths, and how they may be more appropriate for particular professions and careers. Discover your strengths by taking personality tests such as Meyers-Briggs and utilizing the Strengths Finder 2.0 online book reviewed in the University Success Course and reinforced in the SPDP workshops.

  • Obtain a business suit as soon as possible (freshman year). You will need to dress professionally for certain workshops, interviews and networking events. You also need to feel comfortable in the suit.

  • Make sure professors and other professionals know you. If done correctly, they can serve as references, provide letters of recommendation and introduce you to key contacts and resources to which you would not otherwise have access.

  • Join and actively participate in a student or community organization. Employers often use this to differentiate candidates and select those who are more involved because it demonstrates balance. 

  • Develop your communication skills. Understand the importance of each of the five aspects of a general communications model: sender, receiver, message, feedback and perceptual screens. Master the art of reflective listening, delivering succinct messages, and writing professionally. 

  • Increase public speaking skill. Practice presenting information in a concise and pointed manner. Develop and rehearse your “elevator speech”. Practice is important in overcoming nerves and anxiety. Know your material because information is power, and power leads to confidence. 

  • Interview, Interview, Interview! Interview often in mock and real settings, because practice makes perfect. The more comfortable you are with this process, the better you will perform when it matters most. Public speaking will also help improve your interview skills.

  • Develop as a team player. Understand and practice informal and formal leadership roles within the team dynamic. Demonstrate your grasp that team synergy and performance is increased through seeing others’ perspectives and embracing diversity. Play team roles well. 

  • Explore career pathways. The more you learn about different industries, organizations and careers, the better prepared you will be to determine if you “fit well” there. Employee–organization fit is extremely important on both sides of the employment equation.

  • Perfect your résumé. Understand that your résumé is a living document and will change and grow as you do. You should begin the résumé-building process immediately and get help perfecting it from the on-campus resources at your fingertips, such as the Office of Career Services. 

  • Develop leadership skills. Seek informal and formal leadership roles in any organization and environment. You will be able to use these experiences in interviews, as well as in your future careers.

  • Become a professional. Develop your professional image and habits, including dress, introductions, non-verbal cues, speech, writing, business etiquette etc. This is often a distinguishing characteristic between those who get the job and those who are left searching. Be mindful of this important process.

  • Get an internship. Gaining hands-on professional experience will improve your résumé and give you a competitive edge in the job market. The more internships you can complete the better.

  • Go global. Gain international experience by participating in a study or internship abroad, immersion program, internationally-oriented organization or international seminars.

  • Network, Network, Network. Professional networking is often the means by which students discover job opportunities. Build your professional network by meeting with organization representatives in all offered venues (workshops, etc.). Create and maintain a central location to house contact information. 

  • Mentor. Establish mentor relationships by finding a mentor and being one yourself. A mentor provides guidance and support in your academic and/or professional career. Be a mentor to others in need. 

  • Manage your money wisely. Employers routinely check an applicant’s background and credit as part of the selection process. Make sure you manage your money and debt wisely, to include credit card, student loans, etc. Pay your bills in a timely fashion. Don’t let this be the reason you did not get the job!

  • Conduct an effective job search. Investing ample time to research opportunities will pay big dividends downstream. Understand that this is a continual process because the job market changes from day to day. It is often the candidates who have built effective job search routines who are the first to apply. 

  • Be willing to relocate. The more flexible and mobile you are, the more opportunities for internships and first-time employment will be availed.

  • Ready yourself for the offer and compensation & benefits discussion. Prepare yourself by researching the market value of the position before you interview. Be realistic in determining how your skills, experience and knowledge fit within the organization. Be ready to negotiate your compensation & benefits offer if necessary, understanding that the timing of this discussion is important also.

  • Be willing to start on the ground floor. Be realistic in your expectations, get your foot in the door, and then prove yourself once an employee of the organization. The first 18 months of initial employment is very important in this regard and may lead to a timely first promotion. 

Start STEPS to SUCCESS today!

Achieving each of these steps will vastly increase your probability of landing the job of your dreams. Make this process an undergraduate habit, starting now!

STEPS Printable Version

This page was last updated on: August 8, 2017