There is a lot of information and advice out there about careers and the path you "should" take to find a “good” career. It can be hard to navigate so much chatter, including myths around careers. Below are some of the common myths we hear on campus, the more nuanced truths, and helpful references.
Myths & Truths
MYTH: “I need to figure out my career right now.”
TRUTH¹: People today change jobs an average of 12 times throughout their career. Reframe “what am I going to do for the rest of my life” to “what am I going to try first.” To get started exploring different roles and industries, check out the resources below!
MYTH: “My major will dictate which job opportunities are open to me after graduation.”
TRUTH²: 75% of all college grads don’t end up working in a career directly related to their major. Every major has transferable skills and knowledge that will be marketable to employers. There are always ways to gain additional industry skills and knowledge outside of your major (campus organizations, elective and online courses, summer opportunities, etc.) during your undergraduate years.
MYTH: “I need to find a summer internship Autumn Quarter or it’s too late.”
TRUTH³: Big finance, tech, and consulting companies recruit heavily Autumn Quarter. However, smaller companies in finance, tech, and consulting and every other industry recruit Winter and Spring Quarters. In fact, the peak for posted internships is actually in February and March!
MYTH: “I have to find a summer internship after freshman year. That’s what everyone does.”
TRUTH⁴: A summer internship can be a great way to learn about a role or industry, make connections, earn money, and travel. However, it is not required and will not dictate what opportunities are available to you for next summer or after graduation. There are many alternatives to a traditional internship such as study abroad, research, and service projects, and employers often find these experiences equally as valuable on your resume.
MYTH: “I need a network of well-connected people to get a good job opportunity.”
TRUTH⁵: Studies show that 70-85% of opportunities are found through connections, but you do not need to know people in high power roles. You already have a large network, including your family, friends, Stanford faculty, and alumni, who are often excited to help. Developing these connections can be as simple as emailing these professionals and taking them to coffee to learn more about their career and hear their story.
MYTH: “I don’t have any paid experience, so I’m not qualified for most job opportunities.”
TRUTH⁶: You do have experience. Experience includes leadership positions, athletics, service opportunities, group projects, and more. Employers often care more about transferable skills and a willingness to learn. Additionally, up to 85% of opportunities are found through connections, so focus on relationship building, not your resume.
MYTH: “I need to figure out what I’m passionate about so I can figure out what I want to do with my life.”
TRUTH⁷: Most people are passionate about many different things. Only 20% of young people have a clear vision of what they want to do, where they want to go, and why. Instead of trying to find one passion, re-focus on discovering new interests by trying new things.
- ¹Doyle, A. (2018, January 24). How Often Do People Change Jobs? Retrieved from www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467
- ²Selingo, J. (2017, November 3). Six myths about choosing a college major. The New York Times, Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/education/edlife/choosing-a-college-major.html
- ²’⁷Burnett, B., & Evans, D. (2016). Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- ³Lindzon, J. (2017, March 1). Why March Is The Best Time To Apply For A Summer Internship. Retrieved from www.fastcompany.com/3068509/why-march-is-the-best-time-to-apply-for-a-su...
- ⁴Fisher, A. (2016, June 28). Here's why you should put volunteer work on your resume. Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/06/28/volunteer-work-resume
- ⁵’⁶Adler, L. (2016, February 28). New Survey Reveals 85% of All Jobs are Filled Via Networking. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-network...
- ⁵Belli, G. (2016, April 6). How Many Jobs Are Found Through Networking, Really? Retrieved from www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/04/many-jobs-found-networking
- ⁶Franek, R. 10 ways to build job skills while you're in college. Retrieved from www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/experiential-learning-opportunities
- ⁶Zhang, L. What to put on your resume when you have no relevant work experience. Retrieved from www.themuse.com/advice/what-to-put-on-your-resume-when-you-have-no-relev...
- ⁷De Witte, M. (2018, June 16). Instead of ‘finding your passion,’ try developing it, Stanford scholars say. Stanford Report, Retrieved from https://news.stanford.edu/2018/06/18/find-passion-may-bad-advice