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Yakira McKay

Find What’s Next on
Your Career Path

Take it one day at a time

Helping Others Prepare for a Career

– Yakira McKay –

I work in Career Services as a peer guide. I’ve always liked helping people—my friends would naturally come to me. Like, “How do you do this? How do you apply to college?” when I was in high school. I figured, this was something I was already doing, so I might as well get paid for it.

I get to look over other students’ resumes and work on improving them. I also give them advice on how to get jobs and contact employers. I give presentations on interviews or resume building—things like that. I think it’s really cool to be able to help other students.

When I was first hired as a peer guide, I had a weeklong training where I realized how bad my own resume was. I also learned how to help students take steps toward a good career, whether they know what they want to do with their life yet or not.

There are students who don’t know want they want to do and don’t come in with much information. Their resume may have a couple things on it and, say they have a job at McDonald’s and you ask them, “What did you do there?” and they say, “Oh I just rung up orders.” Then I’ll work with them to figure out what the actual, relevant job experience was from that, like “communication skills” or “money handling.”

How to Get Started: Experiment

Usually my advice to students who are figuring out what they want to do is to join clubs they think might interest them. If they’re into photography, we have a photography club. I also tell them to talk to their professors about career paths.

There are lots of ways to get internships and volunteer experience, too. I just tell them to start experimenting. It’s better to experiment while you’re still in college than five years into your career when it’s not as easy. If students need a lot more guidance than what I can help with, I’ll refer them to an advisor or the Explore Center where they have a lot of knowledge on how to execute your ideas and interests and make it into an actual career.

I encourage new students to use their general education classes to try new stuff out. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new things, or try something different that you never thought you would enjoy, because you might actually enjoy it. Try to identify what you like about each class, what you dislike, and kind of make a decision from there on what to pursue.

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Helping other students with this stuff also really helps me stay focused on what I’m doing at the university. I’m always trying to write my goals down. I read articles on how other people deal with their situation and then relate that to myself and the students I meet with. I’ve learned that it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out because nobody really does if you think about it. We just have to take it one day at a time, and set goals. If you don’t meet that goal, then evaluate what happened, how you can make it better for next time.