3 Tips for Improving Your Career Plan

Help!  I don’t know what to do with my life.

Why would you? People in their 40s and 50s still don’t know exactly what they want to do in life. You know why? Because they are still living and learning more about themselves every day. Pressures are placed on students by their families, friends, and themselves to be successful. Oftentimes you need to choose a major during the college application process, so you may feel locked in to a specific career path from day one. Did you know that 80 percent of students change their majors at least once during their college careers? Or that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds 10 different jobs before age 40? Or that Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime? You are not alone.

long road

It’s a long road ahead and not knowing what you want to do can be very stressful and can make you feel lost. Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of figuring it out:

  1. Your major does not necessarily dictate your career. Not all literature majors become writers or professors, and not all computer science students become programmers. You are more than your major and the skills you develop in pursuit of your major make you marketable in many fields and industries. The key to success is to major in what you love and find a variety of opportunities to use the skills you develop in this major. Computer science students often develop strong investigative and problem-solving skills. These skills are desired in many fields. The trick is to learn how these skills are transferrable and how to articulate this to others.
  2. Visit Career Services and take a career assessment. Career assessments can help you identify your personal values, interests, skills, and personality style. Follow up the assessment with a career advising session. Career advisors are skilled at helping you find jobs and careers that best fit your professional profile. They can even recommend on- and off-campus opportunities for you to test drive career options.Opportunity-Career
  3. Say yes to opportunities that appeal to you. Maybe you are an engineering student and you’ve been asked to join the marketing club. Marketing is an interesting subject, but it has nothing to do with engineering, or does it? Of course it does! If you engineer a solution to a problem, how will others know if you aren’t skilled in the art of selling or persuasion? If you aspire to a leadership role, you will need to effectively communicate and present your ideas to others. Getting involved in a variety of fields helps strengthen your skills and educates you about the many jobs you are capable of holding in your lifetime.

Understanding who you are right now can lead you to who you will become. Don’t limit yourself, and enjoy the process.


Developing Your Career Plan

Finding employment in any industry at any time can be a daunting task.  In order to find a rewarding career that you are passionate about, you should devise a plan to help you map it out.


What is your career goal? 

The first and most important question that you must ask yourself, what do you want to do?  Whether it’s becoming an engineer, architect, a doctor, or a teacher, find something that inspires you.  Your family and friends may have their own opinions on the type of career you should have, but at the end of the day, you should choose a career that feels right for you.

Not sure about which career path to take? Think about the skills and interests you possess.  Are you good with numbers?  Do you have an interest in art?   If you have trouble figuring out your skills, try doing a self-assessment to evaluate your interests.

If you’re debating between a few different career options, opportunity is something to consider.  Choosing a career that has job growth could be a major factor in your decision.  You can research data collected on the job market and trends by The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What type of training do you need for your career goal? 

Once you figure out what your career goal is, you will need to figure out the type of training you need to get there.  Can your current major provide you with the background and education necessary for this career?  Do you need additional schooling such as a graduate degree or technical training?  What type of internships or on-site training can you obtain that will prepare you for this career?

Develop your career plan

At NYIT, we help our students start thinking about what they will do after graduation during their first year.  Our Career Services office can help explore professional development resources and answer many of the questions listed in this post.  We created a career plan that guides you toward setting short-term goals while working toward your ideal career.


What to Expect At Your First Job

So you’ve graduated from college…congratulations!  Now what?

You’ve updated your resume, gone on several interviews, attended multiple networking events and workshops hosted by Career Services, and you’ve accepted an offer at a great company to start your first job.

So what should you expect?  This is a new and exciting chapter in your life, but one that is different from your first day on campus or starting an internship.


At NYIT, we’re committed to educating the next generation of leaders and we would like to share some anecdotes and offer insight on what you should expect at your first job.

  1. Remember to have the right mindset and be humble.

You won’t start at the top and you’ll most likely be asked to do a lot of grunt work. Just remember that those who approach every task, big or small, with a good attitude and who treat everyone (and I mean everyone) with respect and fairness are the ones who climb a lot faster.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes.


If I had any sage advice to offer, it would be to ask plenty of questions and take notes on the answers. For example, ask what the usual office protocol is and once you start your daily duties, ask questions again about things you are unsure of rather than fear looking dumb. Asking questions rather than assuming things always creates for more efficient results.

When assigned a new task, write it down on a post-it and keep it in front of you. Trust me. It will save your life.

*Tip – Use Asana, a free project management tool, to get organized and manage workflow.

  1. If you are still interviewing, don’t forget to do your research.

My first job was in marketing and I learned, early on, the power of negotiation. I wish I had the strength and courage to negotiate for a better salary, but I didn’t say a word. I just took what they offered (which was low) and an extra few thousand dollars would have went a long way, especially considering I worked part-time for several months to make ends meet. My advice: negotiate! Do your research to know your worth and be confident to ask for it.

*Tip – Use Payscale to research salary profile databases


  1. Salary is important, but not as important as your passion.

Don’t place too much emphasis on the money.  A few hundred or thousand dollars in salary in the grand scheme of things (especially after taxes) is important, but not as important as finding a job and career that you are passionate about. 

  1. Most people don’t stay at their first job forever. You may use it as a stepping-stone, or if necessary, re-evaluate your profession.

My initial thought at my first job was that I was going to be there forever.  As it turns out, this job was the perfect stepping stone! Through this experience, I learned that your first job doesn’t have to dictate your entire career if you don’t want it to.  Sometimes accepting jobs as a “resume builder” will equip you with the skills you need to reach your ultimate goal. Don’t shy away from an opportunity just because it’s not your dream job; rather, make the most of your experience, soak up as much knowledge as you can, and leverage your skills to create the career you want.

If you find yourself questioning your chosen career path and needing to re-assess yourself, it is important to not only consider what you like to do, but why you like to do it.

*Note –According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average job tenure for workers age 20-24 (most often, new graduates) has historically been around 1.3 years


  1. Be patient and continue to learn and grow.

Enjoy the job, enjoy being a professional.  Be patient and embrace the learning process, especially if you find a good job at a  company with a good culture and atmosphere.

 Learning starts right away.  It does not stop just because you have graduated from college.  There is a lot still to be learned in your career and it takes time to develop and apply what you have learned as a student into your daily life. 


Do you have any anecdotes or insight to share about your first job?