How My Career Uncertainty Led to Valuable Career Exploration

During my time at Binghamton University, I have been exploring various career options. I entered college as an engineering major, and a few weeks into classes, I recognized that engineering was not for me. I became unsure of what I wanted for my future. I took advantage of the Fleishman Career Center resources and scheduled a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor to help me through this period of uncertainty. I was asked to take the “Focus-2 Quiz” which was then analyzed by my counselor. We spoke about my interests and strengths, and together we imagined my future in various industries that the quiz had narrowed down for me based on my results. Additionally, I utilized the Fleishman “Exploring” Career Cluster, found on the Fleishman Career Center website, which allowed me to visualize all of the possible career paths. 

The results from my “Focus-2 Quiz” and the guidance I received from my career counselor at the Fleishman Career Center helped me through this period of career uncertainty, which still exists from time to time. I recognized that my worries of uncertainty and feelings that I needed a concrete plan were contingent on my ability to keep an open mind. I have realized that there is an abundance of careers that I have an interest in and could envision for my future. To narrow down my plans post-graduation, I need to focus on the now; taking time to learn more about myself and my skills by focusing on the opportunities and involvements that are available right on campus. This support during my career exploration, both in-office and online, is simple to plan and easy to navigate; I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing career uncertainty!

Recognizing My Strengths and Interests Through Opportunity

Through my visits to the Fleishman Career Center for career exploration and resume review, I met the most energized, professional, and dedicated student workers. At this time, I was searching for an on-campus job; I had already applied for a position at the East Gym and to work as a Tour Guide, both of which I didn’t get. My experience in the Fleishman Career Center inspired me to apply for a job opening in their office. I enjoyed the professional setting with driven student-workers and I just knew that this opportunity on campus would provide me with a multitude of benefits. I applied for a position to work as an intern for the Peer Consultant Program within the Fleishman Career Center, which I also did not end up getting. I then applied for an internship with the Binghamton Food Pantry, an organization that I highly respect, because any on-campus experience is good experience!

I interned at the Binghamton Food Pantry during the Spring 2023 semester and I held the position of an undergraduate intern. This was an unpaid internship, but I was able to receive four upper-level credits as there was a Career Development Centralized Internship (CDCI) course as a co-requisite to my weekly working hours. The CDCI course is taught asynchronously by members of the Fleishman Career Center, making it easy to fit into your schedule. This course gave me the ability to reflect on my internship and learn about other students on campus who were also interning in various departments and gaining their own individualized experience. It was very eye-opening to learn about the internships my fellow classmates were involved in and all that was available to students, whether it be an on-campus internship or an off-campus internship that they applied to gain credit for through the Fleishman Career Center’s CDCI program. From this CDCI course, I was encouraged to create my first-ever LinkedIn profile, update my resume,  schedule a resume-review visit with student advisors at the Fleishman Career Center, and learn all about professional development and transferable skills.

My hours working at the internship included seven hours of being physically present in the pantry; my tasks included serving the students who utilized the pantry resources and maintaining the organized and clean state of the pantry. During my shifts, I was able to bond with and learn from my co-interns and peers. My bosses did the majority of the upkeep for the pantry: ordering food, meeting with auxiliary staff, updating and posting resources on social media, etc. It was great to ask my bosses questions about the work done behind the scenes and how an on-campus resource like the pantry is able to be funded and maintained. The entire pantry staff would also attend a weekly hour-long class taught by two of the graduate student workers at the pantry. Here we would learn various lessons on food insecurity; why it exists, how the food pantries that we get our supply from operate, local food insecurity, proper nutrition, and we had multiple guest speakers come and teach!

The food pantry was a semester-long internship, and I will forever cherish the time I spent there and the knowledge I gained through my professional and educational experiences. Mid-semester, I applied for my now-current position at the Fleishman Career Center and I am thrilled to be working as a Student Employment Intern. My journey on-campus searching for work and failing to find a good fit for some time, taught me that putting myself out there and being patient work hand-in-hand. Taking opportunities that are available now will have benefits later on. It may take multiple attempts to secure these opportunities, but putting yourself out there and applying for that job, inquiring with your club about interning for future E-board positions, etc., is beneficial in that you tried, and trying and possibly failing is better than not trying at all.

Gaining Transferable Skills Through Experience

The Fleishman Career Center emphasizes the transferable skills that students can obtain through on-campus positions. These transferable skills, also known as the NACE Competencies, were incorporated into my position in the Food pantry, and again highly emphasized in my current position at the Fleishman Career Center. 

Through my past and current positions, I have done a lot of teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and I have learned a lot about professional development. While studying and preparing to enter the workforce, I recognize how important it is to both maintain the career competencies I already possess, while simultaneously gaining a new variety of transferable skills. Working with people from all sorts of backgrounds provides me the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of others, each of whom have lived diverse individual experiences and had their own unique life lessons. It also allows me to practice my ability to work collaboratively and develop relationships with people, going from strangers to teammates. Through this process, I have learned, and I continue to learn, my own strengths and areas that I would like to improve upon.

Recognizing your strengths can be very eye opening when considering future careers. What comes naturally to you may correlate very well within certain career paths. As you realize your strengths and learn what you enjoy, you can analyze the attributes involved. To reinforce the services and amenities provided by the Fleishman Career Center, analyzing your skills and interests can be done with the help of a Career Counselor. Once you know which Career Cluster or Clusters have interest in, there are several Career Clusters that can be explored through the Fleishman Career Center’s website.

At Binghamton, student employees are a necessary asset and together we contribute to so much of the action on-campus. Our presence and collaboration as a community reinforces that each of us have our own unique strengths and contributions. By being a student employee, you get exposure to a multitude of new skills and learning opportunities. Transferable skills for future jobs are what many employers are looking for, and Binghamton’s on-campus employment promotes the teaching of these competencies. Students feel more prepared and have a better understanding of their goals for future employment and graduate with a more secure feeling of career readiness, prepared to take on both opportunities or obstacles that may come their way.

As a person who has experienced the impact of finding the right resources to be able to figure out more about myself and what I want for my future, I wanted to share my story to my fellow students about the benefits that exist right on-campus. Whether it be the knowledge you receive from an on-campus job or visiting the Fleishman Career Center with questions, there are many opportunities to get on a track of career readiness.

By Billie Finn
Billie Finn Student Employment Intern