getting involved in activities that will lead him down the path to becoming a political foreign service officer. Take, for instance, the Woodrow Wilson Foreign Services Fellowship he recently received. “I did a lot of research to find it [back in high school],and met students that had applied for the program and asked them how they felt about it,” says Jones, who knew he was on the right track. “It’s basically a training program for the State Department. I was asked grammar-related questions in economics, politics, etc., and you even take yourself out on a date to find out what your interests are.” Jones recently finished teaching a debate course at Emory University.
Although it’s a bit more rigorous than Jones lets on, the program is preparing him to protect our foreign interests abroad and to find peaceful foreign policy measures through meetings with dignitaries. Preparation is vital during your sophomore year. As you enter it, start thinking about what you really want to do after college and engage in the following activities to help you get there.
Select a major. Choose something that you’re good at and would enjoy. To figure out what academic areas fit those criteria, make an appointment with your academic adviser. You may also want to talk with a career center adviser to see what professions suit your talents. “There is a battery of assessment tests [available] such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Sigi/Plus, and the Discover System, to help a student focus their interest,” says Wells. Contact your career center to find out about taking these tests. No need to worry, there are no grades involved. You simply get a chance to be honest with yourself. The assessment tests match your likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses, with your skills. You may be able to audit classes, attend without receiving any academic credit. This way, you can see if the coursework makes sense for your career aspirations.
Set up an internship for the summer. Upon graduating from college, every student should have completed at least two years of internship experience. “Internships provide students an opportunity to put into practice concepts discussed in their college curriculum and to make contacts with professionals in their area of interest,” says Richard A. Smith, area manager of INROADS (www.inroads.org), an organization that recruits students of color who are interested in careers such as business, nursing, and accounting.
You should apply for internships in the fall of each year. “Those students who are searching for internships [early in their college years] are more successful at getting internships and employment upon graduation than their peers who may have waited until their final summer in college to begin their search,” says Smith. Go to sites like Monster.com and MonsterTrak.com to view various companies and internships.
Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If a company you have an interest in doesn’t have an internship, simply volunteer, says Carter. For example, during Christmas break, “You can say, ‘I know you don’t have