The Piper Center for Vocation and Career is your resource to help you create a plan that incorporates meaningful opportunities to "learn by doing" into your four years on the Hill. We can help you choose experiences that complement your academic interests, build your skill set and assist in your vocational exploration. The programs within the Piper Center provide a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities. Use our resources to enrich your education and identify your place in the world!
The following guide will help you explore different ways to make the most of your time at St. Olaf. Although class years are listed, these activities may occur at any point. Ideally, you will start early and connect with multiple opportunities!
Discover Yourself (first years and sophomores)
- Explore your academic interests by being intentional in choosing classes to fulfill general education requirements.
- Choose your major(s) and/or concentration(s) and learn about the myriad of potential career paths open to you as a liberal arts student.
- Browse course descriptions in the online Academic Catalog and talk to professors in various departments about majors and opportunities.
- Check out the Piper Center’s Majors and Careers web links. While you’re there, check out other resources that are relevant to you.
- Research majors or career interest areas using the Piper Center resource library; peer advisors are available from 9-5 Monday-Friday to you get started.
- Visit the Piper Center website or in person to stay updated on workshops, fairs, grants, scholarships, internships, jobs and other opportunities through the five programs in the Piper Center .
- Join a student organization or engage in volunteer work related to your interests.
- Meet with a Piper Center coach to talk about ideas for your future. While you're there, be sure to discuss plans for a productive summer that might include employment, an internship, informational interviews, volunteering and more.
Explore Options (first years and sophomores)
- Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or STRONG Interest Inventory by making an appointment with Janine Knutson through Ole Career Central.
- Discover how your interests and skills apply to the world of work using the Assessing and Exploring Careers web links on the Piper Center ’s student page.
- Meet one-on-one with a Piper Center coach to create an experiential learning plan that complements your academic program.
- Get involved with local non-profit organizations or schools utilizing the local service and internship opportunities web resource, Volunteer Network, or off-campus work study.
- Learn about local issues and organizations.
- Find a work study opportunity that relates to your interests and goals.
- Conduct informational interviews with alumni, relatives, family friends, etc. to learn about career areas that interest you. You can use the Online Alumni Directory to locate and contact former Oles who work in your field of interest.
- Engage in job shadowing opportunities.
- Attend career panels and forums related to your major or interests.
- Plan for an international or domestic off-campus program that will complement your academic program.
- Enhance your experience by selecting a summer job, internship, research, or volunteer opportunity related to your interests.
Experiment & Evaluate (juniors and seniors)
- Explore internship opportunities using Ole Career Central and other links on the Piper Center website.
- Create a resume and have it critiqued by a Piper Center peer advisor and coach.
- Take a class with an academic civic engagement component that allows you to apply academic knowledge and tools to address community issues.
- Explore and apply for funding to support an unpaid internship, service or civic engagement project or idea.
- Develop skills to make a difference by getting involved with civic engagement initiatives such as issue-based seminars, networking events, retreats and reflection opportunities.
- Complete an internship, possibly for academic credit. Explore programs available through the Piper Center, including Leaders for Social Change, Innovation Scholars, and Legal Scholars. Evaluate the experience by reflecting on the skills you’ve acquired and its impact on your future plans.
- Test your entrepreneurial skills by applying for an Entrepreneurial grant to start a non-profit or for-profit venture.
- Engage in independent study (IS), independent research (IR), or another undergraduate research program to enhance your experience in your field (highly recommended if you are planning on graduate study).
- Seek leadership opportunities within student organizations, clubs and/or student government.
- Research multiple career options and reflect on your interests by engaging in focused informational interviewing. Develop a network of contacts in your field of interest by using the Online Alumni Directory and participating in the Career Network for Oles program.
- Spend time developing an online professional profile through LinkedIn. Reach out to potential contacts in fields of interest.
- Identify education and/or additional skills necessary to your field of interest and begin to research graduate school options.
- Practice articulating what you’re studying and why. Be able to explain the skills you’ve developed through your academic and experiential learning.
- Apply for a St. Olaf-sponsored summer internship program through the Piper Center.
- Find a summer job, internship, research or volunteer experience directly related to your career goals.
Implement Your Plan (juniors and seniors)
- Define your post-graduation goals and create an action plan for your senior year.
- Refine your resume and create a cover letter. Have them critiqued at the Piper Center.
- Write a personal statement and a curriculum vita for graduate school applications.
- Create your personal calendar of job, volunteer, and graduate school fairs and recruiting events.
- Research employment, post-graduate volunteer, post-graduate scholarships and fellowships, or grad school options and start applying.
- Utilize your network in seeking opportunities.
- Understand what employers and graduate/professional schools seek in an applicant. Be able to convey how your knowledge, skills and experiences will be an asset to the organizations to which you apply.
- Conduct a practice interview with a Piper Center coach to enhance your self-presentation skills.
- Remain open to possibilities; be proactive and continue to assess your options.