Supporting Student Wellness Series: 4 Tips for Combatting Career Concerns

“What are your plans after graduation?” is probably one of the scariest questions someone can ask a college student. At some point, almost every student experiences the pressure to grow a resume, land internships and ultimately find professional employment. All of which can lead to feelings of stress, uncertainty, even Imposter Syndrome, which if left unchecked hosts the potential to overarchingly impact a student’s holistic wellness.

When explored through a student-focused lens, facing career concerns encompasses the Barnes Center at The Arch Dimensions of Wellness, with an emphasis on Career Wellness, Physical Wellness, Emotional Wellness and Social Wellness.

The following tips have been curated to enhance the student experience and to help undergraduate students establish a customized foundation to launch their careers. Searching for jobs and internships is not a “one size fits all” process; what’s most important is self-defining success, working toward personal goals and maintaining overarching wellness.

Tip One: Remember You’re Not a Failure or Falling Behind
It’s important for students to remember not to compare themselves to their peers. “Is it too late for me?” Is a common question Kate Mercer, Syracuse University Career Services career exploration specialist, receives from students. Almost always, the short answer is no.

Everyone moves at their own pace, meaning students should not start panicking because friends may have secured an internship before them. Taking the first steps in professional development can be daunting but by doing so it ignites essential momentum forward in an overarching journey to success. Students are told where to begin, or seeking guidance around suggested professional development checkpoints, are encouraged to explore and complete the undergraduate student Class Year Checklists.

Tip Two: Define What Success Means to You
Woven throughout each student journey is a unique definition of success. By first defining what post-graduation success means on an individual level, it then naturally helps to establish professional goals and identify support opportunities.

“The reality is, that almost every student I meet has some degree of uncertainty,” says Mercer. “Students face pressure from internal factors such as self-set timelines and external factors such as unknowns about interviewing, to overarchingly still planning out exactly what they are going to do upon graduation.”

Gathering a strong understanding of personal likes and dislikes, skills and more, can often assist students in discovering their definition of success. Career Services offers a variety of free self-discovery resources in addition to personalized one-on-one appointments.

Tip Three: Organize a Plan and Take Action Frequently

Once success is defined, organizing goals, identifying milestones and an overarching professional development plan will become clearer. Schools, colleges and unit career teams in partnership with Career Services, understand the importance of frequent professional development experiences. Students are encouraged to turn their professional aspirations into reachable destinations, by exploring a variety of opportunities often.

Tip Four: Don’t Neglect Holistic Wellness

While “grind culture” or “hustle culture” approaches to professional goals that often deprioritize wellness are thankfully on the decline, it is still imperative to be mindful of prioritizing and aligning professional development with holistic wellness.

The Barnes Center at The Arch team also challenges students to consider how not only career success but also its stress can affect their wellness. “It’s important to understand the intersectionality of wellness, as if someone isn’t happy at their job, all other Dimensions of Wellness could suffer. Or if someone feels successful in their career, then all other Dimensions of Wellness could be uplifted,” explains Shannon Hefti, MPH, CHES, Barnes Center at The Arch assistant director of health education and outreach.

Meaning that as a student and beyond graduation, focusing on Career Wellness, is just as important as Physical Wellness, Emotional Wellness, Social Wellness and more. The Barnes Center at The Arch Integrated Wellness Philosophy webpage and Supporting Students webpage offers a variety of resources, services and more to enhance the student experience.

About the Supporting Student Wellness Series

Through a student-focused lens of integrated health and wellness, this series explores a variety of Barnes Center at The Arch resources and services. In the pursuit of enhancing the student experience, topics empower faculty, staff, students, families and supporters as catalysts of health and wellness within their daily interactions.

This story was written by Student Experience communications intern Madison Manczko ’24, SI Newhouse School of Public Communications

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