Student Voices: Career Planning and Mentor Support

Most World Campus students likely hope to use their education (and the skills and lessons they have gained) to support their professional goals. But sometimes planning ahead can be difficult, especially if you’re unsure exactly what your plan may look like. Whether you’re interested in working in your chosen industry, conducting research, or continuing your career in academia, the best way to prepare for any of these avenues is to get some insight from someone who is where you want to be. In other words, find a mentor!

How to find a mentor

The good news is that finding a mentor isn’t necessarily as difficult as you might think. A good place to start is LionLink. This is Penn State’s professional connection network, where you can find alumni who have a background, job, or academic history that interests you or aligns with your own goals. These alumni are usually happy to help Penn State students by answering questions, offering advice, or even being a mentor. 

This has been a valuable resource for me personally. LionLink connected me with a Project Manager at Apple who primarily worked on software related to green accounting and sustainability development. Talking with him gave me a lot of insight into what skills and experiences companies prioritize for roles related to sustainability, which is a realm I’m working toward exploring. 

Establish goals — and celebrate milestones

When envisioning your future, it is never too early to start preparing. Identifying both long-term and short-term goals can create more opportunities to take your time and avoid the anxiety associated with procrastination and being rushed. Research, networking, and skill-building take time and effort, and the more space you intentionally make for these efforts, the easier it’ll be! Incorporating short-term goals into your plan is important because that allows you to gain small wins along the way as you meet those milestones — which is great for staying motivated — and helps you to keep building your résumé, as you can add those credentials or achievements as you go.

You’re part of a global network of staff, faculty, students, leaders, activists, artists, scientists, researchers, and visionaries who are working together to build a better today for a brighter tomorrow. I think you’ll find they are always eager to help, and there are also likely many ways in which you can “pay it forward” by helping another student or someone else in the Penn State community.

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