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Junior Year: Career Goal Setting, Gaining Experience & Graduate School Planning

By your third year, you should have laid the groundwork for your future. You have chosen a major and are active in adding experiences to complement your studies. At this time all the experience and information you have gathered should be crystallizing into solid career goals and plans.

  • Meet with a Career Development staff member to formulate your job or graduate school search timeline and plans.
  • Focus and set career goals based on what you have learned about you, your interests, and possible professions.
  • Discuss your career plans with your faculty advisor.
  • Explore and make arrangements for off-campus study and internship options.
  • Consider applying for scholarships and fellowships found in the Career and Internship Center and in Career Resources, Graduate School Financing.
  • Join student chapters of professional organizations to gain career information and to start networking.
  • Research graduate/professional school possibilities, their application procedures and deadlines. Many resources are available through the Career Development Office, including Peterson’s Graduate and Professional School Guides.
  • Pick up a GRE, LSAT or MCAT packet in the Career Development Office.
  • Register and prepare for admission tests such as the GRE, LSAT and MCAT.
  • Participate in career fairs and career related events to explore your options and network with potential employers.
  • Get to know faculty members in your major.
  • Take on leadership roles on and off-campus.
  • Get professional experience through on-campus research, an internship, on-campus employment, volunteer work or a summer job.

Use all of your resources, including the Career and Internship Center. You are not alone in this process!

NEXT: Senior Year: Implementation & Transition

Timeline for Applying to Graduate School

Begin planning for graduate school at least a year prior to when you would like to enter. Deadlines vary depending on the program, though, and it is important that you begin identifying potential schools/programs early and are clear on individual deadlines!

Junior Year

If you are considering graduate school, you need to begin your search for possible programs the fall of your junior year.

  • Meet with staff in the Career and Internship Center for assistance as you begin the search
  • Attend Graduate/Professional school fairs both on- and off-campus
  • Request information from programs that spark your interest
  • Consider making a visit to those schools/programs of most interest to you
  • Begin to explore financial aid resources - the Career and Internship Center can assist!

By the spring and summer of your junior year, you should have a fairly good idea of places you intend to apply and know the deadlines you face in the fall.

  • Develop a personal statement using faculty and the Career and Internship Center as resources to create the best possible document for your field.
  • Register and prepare for required standardized tests.
  • Develop an application timeline for all schools to which you are applying - the process takes too much effort to be eliminated because you've missed a deadline!

Senior Year

Fall of your senior year is the time to be sure everything is in order and submitted on time!

  • Ensure you know how to apply for each school and have all the materials needed
  • Finalize essays and personal statements for each application
  • Request letters of recommendation from faculty - provide reference writers with your resume, personal statement, proper forms, adequate time to write the letters, and directions for handling the letters
  • Consider doing a mock interview with faculty or videotaped in the Career and Internship Center prior to professional school admissions interviews
  • Take your required standardized tests
  • Complete the applications - cutting and pasting information from word documents helps in ensuring there are no typing errors. Be sure to proofread the application before sending.
  • Order transcripts from the Registrar's Office - include fall semester grades if available prior to the deadline

By spring of your senior year, many application deadlines have passed. Hopefully you are not waiting until the final deadline to submit your application! This is the time to await word on acceptance and finalize financing.

  • If you haven't yet completed your application submissions, you need to do that now
  • Complete financial aid forms - you may need to include a copy of your income tax return so consider getting that done early
  • Contact schools to be sure your application was submitted if you haven't received notice and verify the timeline for acceptance
  • Write thank you notes to the many people who have assisted you in the application process

Service Opportunities

Where small commitments make big differences.

Service work provides opportunities to gain experience in an area you are considering as a career. You may choose to help out a local candidate for political office, assist the elderly in preparing their taxes, or work with children in the schools. Whatever your career interests are, you can find great experience in a service opportunity.

Here is a very limited list of organizations providing service opportunities—the possibilities are limitless!

  • 4-H Clubs - Volunnteer as an adult in your local community club.
  • American Cancer Society - Work as a volunteer in any community to help further the fight against cancer.
  • American Red Cross - A national organization with local chapters.
  • Americorps - Your chance to put your ideas into action while learning new skills, making new connections, and earning money to pay for college.
  • Camp Staff - A resource for summer camp jobs across North America.
  • Connect-123 - Volunteer and internship programs in five international cities: Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Cape Town, Shanghai, and Dublin.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions - A resource for international volunteer opportunities.
  • Global Volunteer Network - A non profit organiziation which places volunteers in community projects worldwide.
  • Global Volunteers - Live and work with local people on life-affirming service programs.
  • GoAbroad.com - Directory of over 27,000 opportunites abroad updated daily.
  • Habitat for Humanity - Building projects across the nation and world change lives and communities.
  • Idealist.org - Thousands of volunteer opportunities in the nonprofit sector.
  • Innisfree - Provide live-in caregiving to residents with intellictually disabilities.
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation - Fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses - opportunities available at chapters across the country.
  • Michigan Community Service Commission - Provides vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association - Committed to promoting and strengthening a life-long ethic of service and civic engagment through the support of community-building initiatives.
  • Peace Corps - Work across the globe to train people for better lives.
  • Rotary International - Service club providing volunteer opportunities locally, regionally, and internationally.
  • Student Conservation Association - Providing hands-on conservation service opportunities.
  • Teach for America - Teaching children in underserved areas.
  • UN Volunteers Program - The United Nations Volunteer Program (UNV) is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide.
  • United Way - Volunteer in one of countless ways across America through the United Way.
  • Volunteer Centers of Michigan - Statewide network of over 30 volunteer centers serving 59 Michigan counties.
  • Volunteer Match - Find opportunities around the country to volunteer.
  • World Volunteer Web - A resource of networking and dissemination of information, to develop an inclusive and global volunteer network.

This page contains links to web sites that are not under the control of Albion College or the Career and Internship Center. We are not responsible for the contents of any linked site. The Career and Internship Center provides these links merely as a courtesy. The data contained in this web site is for informational purposes only and is not represented to be error free.

The Behavioral-Based Interview

Today, Behavioral-Based Interviewing (BBI) is the most commonly used campus interviewing technique. Corporate recruiters spend anywhere from half a day to two days learning to ask questions based on the BBI method. For you, acing the BBI is a matter of planning and understanding what recruiters are looking for.

Why BBI?

It’s simple. The best predictor of future behavior is recent past behavior. For example, you have a friend who is always late to class. What’s the likelihood that she’ll be late to class tomorrow?

That’s the principle of BBI. Interviewers want to get a picture of how you have behaved (recently) in a situation because it will help them determine how you’ll most likely behave in that same situation on the job.

What kinds of questions will be asked?

Questions will always be asked in the past tense. For example:

  • Tell me about a time that you…
  • Think back on a situation where you…
  • Play a little movie in your mind and remember a time when you…

How should I respond?

Let’s say that I asked you to tell me about a time when you were a part of a difficult team and what you did to get the team back on track. Corporate recruiters want your answers to include the following:

  • Situation: Explain the situation. Was it a class team? What was the project? What was difficult about the team?
  • Action: What did YOU do to pull the team together? What specific action did you take? Keep in mind that recruiters want to know what “you” did. Not, what “we” did or “they” did. Talk about your role in the situation.
  • Outcome: Discuss the outcome of the project or team. Did the team succeed? How did you know the team was successful?
  • Learning: Sometimes you’ll be asked to think back on an example when you weren’t successful (or when you failed at something). If the recruiter doesn’t ask you what you learned and how you modified your behavior, be sure that you add this information to your answer. Again, be specific about exactly what you learned and how you’ve incorporated this learning into your daily routine.

Whenever possible, use examples from your internship, class work, professional association, or other work/degree-related experiences. Before going to an interview, stop and think of some of your most important milestones: projects, grades, presentations, work experiences that make you most proud. Build your examples around these when answering questions. Always use your best examples and concisely tell the story to the recruiter.

Caution: Corporate recruiters spend hours being trained to ask legal questions. Keep your answers focused on recent job-related experiences, professional association experiences or classroom examples. Do your very best NOT to use personal or family examples, examples from religious organizations or nondegree related association examples. And, when deciding whether to use an example from something you did when you were in high school vs. college—use the most recent example.

How do I prepare?

To prepare, look at the job description (if one is available—if not, use the ad for the job as a basis) and think of the best example to demonstrate that you have each attribute. In addition, there are some standard attributes that many companies look for, such as the following:

  • Strong communicator
  • Adaptable/flexible
  • Able to work in teams
  • Self-directed/motivated
  • Demonstrates honesty and integrity
  • Goal-oriented
  • Strong follow-through

A corporate recruiter’s advice

Dana Pulliam, senior manager of university relations for Applied Biosystems, offers the following tips:

  • Make sure your response is clear and concise. Watch the interviewer’s body language. If they seem uninterested, wrap up your answer.
  • The worst thing you can do is make up an answer. If you can’t think of an answer, say so. Don’t try to bluff your way through because the interviewer will know it.
  • Before admitting to not having a response, stop and think about class projects, group projects, or even an activity that’s not school-related.
  • Use your career services center to look for sample questions and participate in mock interview classes.
  • If you have to use a personal example to answer a question, that’s okay. Just be sure that you don’t answer every question with a personal example.
  • The best students that I have interviewed have been those who are able to speak to everything on their resume.
By Sue Keever
JobWeb.com - Career and Internship Center and job-search advice for the new college graduate

Tips on Writing a Personal Statement

There are many resources on the Internet to assist you in writing a personal statement for graduate school.  No one resource is helpful to everyone and you are encouraged to read several as you start the writing process.

Following are some resources published on the web.

While the above articles can provide insight into writing personal statements, there is no substitute for speaking with people at Albion College. The faculty in your area of study has been through this process and can assist you with questions.  In addition, the Career and Internship Center is available to you for individual assistance as you start the process.

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