There are many myths and misconceptions related to career development on a collegiate campus. While being anxious or nervous in thinking about career planning and development is understandable for students, some myths may cause more worry than is necessary or helpful. As a supporter of your student, we are happy to provide more information and context to help demystify career development and share some of our resources that might put your student at ease.
MYTH: Choosing a major/career is an easy process.
FACT: Exploring majors and careers is a cyclical process without a defined beginning or end. There are many ways to make confident, informed career decisions. Your student can choose amongst the skills they want to use and what type of organization interests them most.
MYTH: A career test or advisor will tell me which career is right for me.
FACT: Career assessment tools and career advisors can help guide students in the process of researching career options. However, a single test or meeting with an advisor cannot determine what your student wants to do with the rest of their life. They are the career decision-maker, and we encourage them to use the resources the career team provides along with an evaluation of their values, experiences, and priorities to come up with a career plan.
MYTH: The major I choose will determine my career.
FACT: Some people choose a major based on academic interests or strengths. Your student's coursework provides them with a perspective that they will take into any career they pursue. While a major can certainly align with their chosen career, it does not automatically determine their career path.
MYTH: Once I choose a career, I am stuck with it for life.
FACT: Changing careers is not uncommon during someone's working life. Career changes can be attributed to many factors including the economy, changing interests or skills, and personal circumstances. It is not likely for your student to know if a career will be long-term or not. Knowing their skills, values, and career interests can help them make informed and confident career decisions throughout the course of their working life.
MYTH: The Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement is only for seniors.
FACT: We encourage students to start engaging in their career development process during their freshman year. Exploring interests early will help them develop a plan as they proceed throughout their educational journey. Meeting with a career advisor early can set them up for success to be in the know about internships and networking opportunities to begin gaining experience and building their resume.
MYTH: Career fairs are only for seniors who are about to graduate.
FACT: Students should start attending career fairs as early as freshman year to learn how to network with recruiters. Participating in these events can help identify what skills and qualifications are in demand.
MYTH: Internships are only for juniors and seniors
FACT: While some employers will be looking for juniors or seniors for their internships, there are options for students of all class years. These experiences typically span across a semester or summer and can be full-time or part-time. Internships are often considered one of the most significant related experiences on a resume.
MYTH: The Career Center only helps with resumes.
FACT: Advising appointment conversations can cover a wide range of topics, including career interests and exploration, internships, resumes, interviewing, networking, and graduate school. Advisors are generalists and available to all students, while also serving as specialists in either an industry area, including public service and education, business, creative, and STEM, or special topics in early career engagement and internships.
MYTH: Only accounting and consulting firms recruit at William & Mary.
FACT: A variety of employers from all industries including government, nonprofit, education, finance, accounting, marketing, communications, technology, consulting, and more recruit through career fairs and expos, information sessions, career panels, meet-ups, and online through TribeCareers. On average in recent years, approximately 500 unique organizations across the world have employed graduates in their first full-time position after graduation.
MYTH: There’s no one at the event for me in my interest area.
FACT: Students can talk with professionals at career fairs and expos, employer information sessions, industry panels, and meet-ups, as well as through the on-campus recruiting program. These events include general fairs for all industries, as well as industry-specific programs for STEM, accounting and consulting, government, nonprofit, education, publishing, arts and entertainment. A robust network of William & Mary alumni, parents, and other partners is accessible via LinkedIn, referrals from career advisors, and other career center programs.
MYTH: I only need an internship after my junior year.
FACT: Students can start searching as early as freshman year, but it’s important to focus on a well-rounded extracurricular portfolio. Students can develop skills through other experiences such as research, student organizations, campus jobs, volunteering, and externships, which can make them more competitive for internships.