Published: Oct. 31, 2022

Res Life Floor MeetingIt may not seem like it right now, but it’s never too early to start thinking about life after graduation. Whether you know what you’d like to do or not, exploring your options now can set you up for success and help you feel prepared when it’s time to take action. Career Services is here to help you at any point in your academic journey. 


Here are three things to do in your first year to help you prepare for life after college. 


1. Gain experience by getting involved

Professional experience doesn’t just have to look like an internship. While you could still pursue an internship in your first year, this is a great time to build up your resume by getting involved on campus. Joining a student organization, volunteering, playing sports and working a part-time job are all ways to build skills and gain experience.


With many different ways to get involved on campus, there’s something for everyone:



Part-time jobs on or off campus are also a great way to explore the kinds of work settings you enjoy (or don’t) to help inform your future career decisions. Maybe you’re an international affairs major, but end up loving your part-time job at Career Services so much you end up changing directions! Use Handshake and/or the CU Student Jobs Board to find opportunities.


For more ways to gain experience in your first year, check out short-term projects and professional experiences like Buff Works. These programs offer a chance for you to apply your education, skills and knowledge to work on real-world projects.


2. Meet with others 

Taking time to meet with others this year and learn from their experiences can help you later on your journey. Whether you’re uncertain about your path or you’re set on a future career, you can gather advice and start building a professional network.


  • Get comfortable with networking. Start making connections in your classes with your peers and professors. You can also meet others on platforms like LinkedIn, Handshake and Forever Buffs Network.

  • Set up informational interviews. This is a great way to explore different careers in a no-risk environment. You may also get some great industry advice you couldn’t have just gotten off the internet! 

  • Attend career-related events focused on specific industries and career paths to explore and make connections. And when you’re ready to find your next job or internship, attend the career fairs offered several times every semester. 

  • Meet with Career Services. We can help you start exploring what careers or majors could be a good fit for you, help you find ways to start building important skills you’ll need, or any other career-related support you might need in your first year.


3. Don’t be afraid to change your mind

As you explore and discover new interests this year, you may be thinking about changing your major or future plans. This is common—many students change their major, add a second major or add a minor after their first year. 


The world of work is also changing: Studies show that within 10 years after graduation, most people are working in careers that aren’t directly related to their undergraduate majors. This means that your major does not have to equal your career.


If you’re considering a different major or career path, check out What Can I Do With This Major? and Programs from a Different Lens to explore options for your area of study. If you have an idea of what you’d like to do but don’t know which major to pick, review the I want to… page to find ways to pursue your passion.


If you’re not sure where to start, request to take a YouScience aptitude test. This can help identify what you’re good at and what you like to do, and combine the two to find potential good fits for you. Schedule an appointment with a Career Services advisor to take this test. 


Learn more about exploring majors and careers.