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Cornell University

Explore Options

Understand Yourself, Explore Options, and Take Action

Knowing your abilities and understanding what is important to you in a work setting and career are crucial to making a career decision. Gathering information is a critical next step. Cornell Career Services staff want to help you determine your career direction. We provide a great deal of information in these pages and in our Career Guide and Canvas Course. We also encourage you to meet with our career advisors and other staff members. Register now with Cornell Handshake for events/workshops. Later on you may use other features of the system, such as job postings, on-campus recruiting, and networking with alumni mentors. 

Explore Career Options

Through experiential learning, volunteering, and job shadowing, you can learn a great deal about potential career paths. Observing someone in their work environments allows you to experience the work first hand. They can answer questions such as:

  • What are the daily/weekly/yearly responsibilities of this position?
  • What is it like working for this company?
  • What would I like about this career?
  • What would I find challenging about this career?
  • What questions do I have about this industry, company, position, career path? 

Job shadowing and volunteering are great ways to try out different options in a lower-commitment environment and develop valuable career-related skills. Plus, by volunteering you get the fulfillment of knowing that you are giving back to your community in a meaningful way. These experiences can help you:

  1. Discover your preferences. You can also learn things about yourself and your work style. Figure out whether you prefer to be on the front lines implementing programs or behind the scenes coordinating plans, or working independently vs. with a team.
  2. Identify career-readiness skills. Even through observation, you are gaining transferable skills. You will also see what skills are needed in a variety of environmentsproject management, teamwork, communication, marketing, and more.
  3. Develop and refine skills. Regardless of whether you plan to continue working in the same industry where you gain experience, you are developing transferable skills that will be relevant in a variety of environments—project management, teamwork, communication, marketing, and more.
  4. Impress employers. Not everyone makes the effort to seek opportunities to learn about an employer or position through a job shadow experience. Employers are often impressed by this motivation.
  5. Expand your professional network. You may meet others during a job shadow experience. These connections can lead to future work opportunities or even just insightful information interviews. You never know what connections you might make.
  6. Increase likelihood of a job in a particular industry. The more you learn about a specific industry, employer, or position, the more likely you will be able to show your understanding during the application process and demonstrate  commitment and competency. If you apply at a related organization, your volunteer supervisor can also serve as a reference that others will trust.

Resource Library

Volunteering Resources

Our Resource Library contains links to many resources that will help you in your search for opportunities for volunteering.