Fostering the path to a purposeful future.
Across multiple schools and 100+ areas of study–academic excellence and career preparation are paramount to the Western Colorado University education. Through a combination of small class sizes, attentive professors who are experts in their field, state-of-the-art-facilities and unique opportunities, our mission is to help students find their path to a purposeful future.
Taking the next step
Two students meet with an employer at Western’s career fair.
There is no better time than now to prepare for life after Western.
You don’t need to wait until graduation to start planning for your career. You can gain critical skills and experiences along the way to ensure that you are ready to conquer your career, educational and personal goals on day one as a Western graduate.
Career Services exists to help connect talent with opportunity and to make sure that, when the time comes, you are prepared for whatever comes next.
Advising & Opportunities
Career Services offers job, internship and career fairs and other events throughout the year. You might see us in class giving a presentation requested by your instructor, or you may request a workshop for a club or organization that you are part of. We also will send periodic updates and newsletters via email.
What does Career Services do? It’s a fair question, especially if you are just starting your college journey. The bottom line is that we are here to support you in any that you need, even if that means grabbing a Scantron on your way to an exam or finding out which office to contact about a question. But here are some of the things we work on with students most often:
- Résumé and cover letter writing and edits
- Finding a work-study or off-campus job
- Exploring internship, job and volunteer opportunities
- Preparing for a job, internship or graduate school interview
- Understanding your values and interests so you can grow as a student, employee and person
- Discovering ways that your major relates to your career and personal interests
The sky is the limit! Just let us know how we can help. You can start with the numerous resources and tools listed on this site, and you are always invited to make an appointment for more personalized advising. Learn about accessing appointments and other opportunities below.
Request an Appointment
To request an appointment, simply log in to Handshake and schedule yourself by clicking on “Appointments” in the “Career Center” area. Appointments are available virtually or in-person. If you can’t find a good time or just prefer to communicate in another way, email us.
Events and Fairs
Handshake is your hub for keeping up-to-date about events and fairs. In Handshake, click on “Events” to see all upcoming campus events as well as dozens (or hundreds!) of virtual events hosted by employers that have connected with Western because they want to get to know you.
The Mountaineer Mentors program connects Western students and recent alumni with experienced alumni and other professionals who offer one-on-one guidance, advice and insight. Your Mountaineer Mentor will help you develop personally and professionally while you build a professional relationship and expand your network.
Coming fall 2021, visit the Trailhead Online in Canvas for more advice, tips and guidance to help you maximize your Western experience and achieve your academic, personal and career goals
Career Development Timeline
Finding your career path can be overwhelming. That’s why we broke down the tasks and experiences you should be thinking about year-by-year. Follow these steps during your time at Western and you’ll be on track for success after Western.
Main objectives: Clarify your interests, sharpen your skills, get involved and get to know faculty and staff who will support you throughout your time at Western.
Set Yourself Up for Success
- Attend every class, whether they are held in-person or virtually. Numerous studies have found that class attendance is a key indicator not only for your grades, but also for developing peer relationships, feeling connected to the university and more.
- Get to know each of your instructors individually, but don’t overthink it. At the end of your first day of class, simply approach them and introduce yourself. While you’re there, take the opportunity to ensure your success by asking them, “What do I need to do to be successful in this course?” Trust us, it works.
- Learn about opportunities in your field by speaking with faculty, staff, Career Services and others who study or work in your field(s) of interest. Don’t forget to activate your Handshake account and complete your profile to start getting noticed by potential employers right away.
Explore Majors and Careers
- Take general education courses that interest you. Explore a range of courses that you might not normally take. Exposing yourself to new ideas will help you clarify your interests and aspirations for the future.
- Meet with your advisor, chat with your EPIC Mentor, or check out the Exploratory Program for support and resources.
- Try MyPlan, which offers many free exploration resources, including What Can I Do with a Major In…?
- Read (yes, read!) the University Catalog to understand the requirements of your current or potential major(s) and minor(s).
- Join at least one club or organization in your first year at Western. The Multicultural Center, the LEAD office, and Wilderness Pursuits are great places to start.
- Build connections in the Gunnison community by volunteering with a local non-profit.
- Get out of your room and participate in events on campus and in the community.
Main objectives: Declare your major, continue to explore career options, and pursue experiential learning opportunities like job shadowing, internships, student-research and study abroad.
Deepen Your Involvement
- Take on more active roles or leadership positions in campus clubs and organizations. Consider campus leadership roles through offices like Orientation, Residence Life and Student Government Association.
- Explore whether your volunteer gig could become an internship.
- Branch out to community leadership positions or new roles that allow you to learn and practice new skillsets with different organizations.
Declare Your Major
- Identify and commit to a major (or majors) that fits your personal and career interests. To learn more about how your values and interests could inform your career direction, try the O*NET Interest Profiler.
- Consult with your academic advisor, trusted friends and family, Career Services and the Academic Resource Center for support and guidance with any lingering questions.
Prepare for Internship and Job Applications
- Browse Handshake to see what kinds of internship and job opportunities are available. Learn how to set up and save filters to make future searches a little simpler. And don’t hesitate to reach out to employers directly if you have questions.
- Write or update your résumé and cover letter based on a position description that you could see yourself applying to in the future. If you’re new to résumés, check out Big Interview’s résumé curriculum and builder.
- While you are at Big Interview, explore a relevant interview playbook, study the job search curriculum or complete a virtual mock interview with AI-powered feedback (share with an advisor or Career Services for individual feedback, too)
Main objectives: Gain relevant experience, solidify your résumé and grow your professional network
Build Your Reference List
- Keep in touch with former employers, teachers and supervisors. Make sure they know what you’re doing and where you’re headed so they can best advocate for you.
- Network with professionals in your career field via LinkedIn, workshops, conferences and other opportunities.
- Make sure you have at least three professional references and two academic references ready to go when needed.
Get Serious About Work Experience
- Look to upgrade that part-time job to one that is related to your academic pursuits or professional goals. Leverage Handshake and good old-fashioned networking to identify opportunities.
- Continue to pursue internships, job shadowing, volunteer positions and research opportunities to build your résumé, skillset and experience base.
Develop Your Employment Portfolio
- Ask your advisor, parents/friends, supervisors and Career Services to give you feedback on your résumé and cover letter.
- Give your online brand a tune-up. Employers will search for you via social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and others. Make sure you are portraying yourself in way that helps your candidacy rather than hurting it.
Main objectives: Put your knowledge, skills and experience to work and put your plan for life after Western into action.
Put It All Together
- Using your résumé, cover letter and social media presence, package it in a consistent brand that flows naturally from what an employer reads about you on paper to how they see you online to your physical (or virtual) presence in an interview setting.
- Take advantage of the numerous supports available to you—including Handshake, Big Interview, and academic and career advising—to maximize your preparation prior to graduation.
Initiate Your Search
- Plan your search strategy, including networking, leveraging of online resources and databases, graduate school planning and personal preferences (e.g., location, salary, family considerations).
- Develop your personal branding strategy: How will you market yourself? How do you want to be perceived? What do you want potential employers to know about you?
- If you are seeking a career position, plan to be submitting two applications per month during the first semester of Senior year and two applications per week during the last semester of your Senior year.
- If you are planning to attend graduate school, aim to submit 4-6 applications in total, but this number may be greater depending on the type of program and acceptance rate of the school that you are applying to.
- Apply, interview and accept an amazing job or graduate school offer!
Major & Career Exploration Resources
The first step to landing the job of your dreams is learning more about yourself. The tools below will help you explore your personality traits, goals, interests and values so you can best apply them when making choices about your future.
- My Colorado Journey connects students and job seekers to careers, education planning and support resources through a guided process that drives action and goal completion.
- My Next Move helps you explore career options and information through keyword search, industry browsing and the O*NET Interest Profiler.
- The National Career Development Association has compiled many free resources ranging from self-assessments and tutorial videos to jobs search advice and occupational data.
- The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is based on Keirsey Temperament Theory, which will help you understand how you communicate and take action.
- The Big Five Personality Test identifies your dominant personality trait, which may help you to understand your learning styles and work preferences.
- The DISC Personality Test helps you find out how the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (DISC) factors predict your behavior toward others and the everyday things you do.
- The NERIS Type Explorer is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire and applies archetypes to the classic MBTI types.
- The Career Cluster Interest Survey asks you to rate the activities you enjoy doing, subjects you enjoy studying and personal qualities to identify “career clusters” that may be a good fit for you.
*These links are provided for exploratory purposes and to encourage self-reflection and dialogue. Career Services has not contractual or other relationship with the providers of these tools. The links above are recommended only as free resources. Western does not promote or require any premium or paid upgrades that may be offered.
- CareerOneStop is a service of the U.S. Department of Labor that offers career exploration and management tools, job search and training information, and many more resources.
- O*NET offers career information including typical duties, work styles, salary/workforce outlook and links to job search resources.
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a comprehensive database from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes career information on duties, training and education requirements, pay and employment outlooks for hundreds of professions.
Tools for Success
Find jobs and internship, register for career fairs and events, and connect with others in your field in Handshake.
Gain interview experience in your field, explore curricula in job searching and salary negotiation, or take advantage of the résumé builder in Big Interview
Coming fall 2021, visit the Trailhead Online in Canvas for more advice, tips and guidance to help you maximize your Western experience and achieve your academic, personal and career goals.