Why Try Out a Career?

Trying out a career can help you:

  • Continue exploring and narrowing down your list of potential career options.
  • Gain firsthand experience in, developing skills.   
  • Make personal and professional contacts
Getting Started
  • Determine your goals for getting hands-on experience.
  • Match opportunities (outlined below) with your goals.
  • Learn the process for obtaining the opportunity. This may require a resume.
  • Discuss ways to accomplish your goals further with a career advisor, faculty member, or personal mentor.

There are many ways to explore a career field. If you need help identifying your own opportunity, please schedule an appointment with an advisor. 

  • Shadowing is an observation experience where you can learn about a job by walking through the work day with a professional in the field. This can include conducting an informational interview
  • Shadowing usually lasts one day to one week.
  • Most people are willing to speak to potential new professionals, so identify places and people of interest, introduce yourself, and talk about your interest in shadowing.
  • Externships are usually more active and lengthier than shadowing experiences. In addition to observing and informational interviewing, you may be participating in day-to-day activities and projects.
  • Externships usually last one to eight weeks.
  • To find an externship, connect with places and people of interest or search for posted externship opportunities.
  • See our section on Internships for more information.
  • Internships usually last eight weeks to three months.
  • Volunteering is an off- campus opportunity to contribute your knowledge and skills, give your time without pay, and gain experience in a field of interest. 
  • Volunteering can take any amount of time.
  • Community Service-Learning is a great place for JMU students to identify volunteer opportunities.
Undergraduate Research
  • Conducting undergraduate research allows you to assist with student or faculty-initiated research to supplement what you’re learning in your classes.
  • Research is completed over the course of at least one semester.
  • Talk to academic departments, individual professors, and your academic advisor about identifying specific research opportunities. Explore the Honors College for additional opportunities.
Student Organizations/Peer Education
Part-Time Jobs
  • Part-time jobs are paid opportunities that provide experience in a professional setting. They can be on or off-campus
  • Part-time jobs can be held for any length of time.
  • Start by visiting Student Employment for on and off-campus job postings.

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