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Career questions can be intimidating for any college student, but for first and second years they can feel downright impossible to answer. Figuring out what you want to do, and more importantly what you can do with your degree, is an ever-evolving thing. However, starting to ask some of those career questions can mean that you get the internship experience, mentorship, and start building a network you need before you’re too far into your college career.

Unfortunately, a lot of students end up stressed out, nearing the end of college, trying to cram in some work, internship, and mentorship experience. So, if you’re already thinking about this kind of thing (good on you!) we’re here to tell you how you can get your foot in the door and build some really impressive experience by the time you graduate.

Going to a career fair can help answer a lot of the questions you have, and if you already have an idea of what you want to do, you’ve got a direction to follow! Over 100 employers will be at Boise State’s Spring 2022 In-Person Career Fair. They’re all looking to meet you and give you some more knowledge about what you’re interested in — and they can help get you hooked up with the experience you need.

We know. It’s a lot. But here are some baby steps you can take in your first year or two to narrow it down.

Just start off with a conversation

Chatting with people who are doing your dream job, or working for a company you’re interested in, gives you great information on how to get hired there and if it would be a good fit for you! Ask questions like, “What’s your favorite part about your company/job? What experience did you need to get where you are? Do you see a future with this company?” You’ll get an insider view into how the company operates, and if you could see yourself working there either as an intern or full-time after graduation.

Career fairs can be noisy and maybe a little stressful, so don’t be afraid to ask if they have time later in the week to do an informational interview with you (which is literally just where you sit down and ask questions — like the ones we listed above.) That way, you can make sure you get one-on-one time with the employer and can ask to speak with someone who works specifically in a position you might be interested in pursuing.

Make connections with people who have similar interests

So…what’s all the commotion about networking? Let’s talk about some important statistics all college students should know about. According to LinkedIn, over 70% of professionals hired in 2016 had a connection at their company beforehand and 80% of those surveyed said that networking was vital to their success. It’s never too early to start building your network and speaking with some of Boise’s (and the West’s) employers is a great way to start. Print out some business cards and resumes, start up a few conversations, and get employer’s contact information at the in-person fair. We know it can be so scary at first, but just think about it as making friends and connections with people who have similar interests. Trust us, it’s a big deal when it comes to your future career goals.

Take a chance on something that excites you!

You may be wondering if internships are worth it, and the short answer is yes, definitely, and of course! If you’ve taken a look at the job market lately, you probably found dozens of positions available for young professionals in Boise alone. Another thing you may have noticed? Most require one or two years of experience, minimum. Get that experience in college! And if you’re wondering how to do just that, stop by the career fair and talk with some of the recruiters who are there. Many will have positions available, will have them open in the future, or they’ll be excited to work with you to create an internship opportunity.

Hopefully, we’ve un-scarified the process of networking, interviewing, and finding internships. It really is just as simple as showing up, finding people of similar interests, and starting that conversation. You really never know who you could meet or what opportunities might present themselves to you. Take a chance on something fun and you might end up with some awesome experience for your resume.

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