University Activities - From Classroom to Career Freshman Year
Hear From The Experts
Attend lectures on campus and hear from professionals and experts in your field of interest. Start with the Open Visions Forum and look for other events listed in the University calendar. In choosing FYE events to attend, include those most related to your major and career interests.
I think that to younger students, the list of things to do freshman year might be overwhelming - although they should be doing all of those things. - Mary Kate McCormick '12, English; executive assistant at Lucky magazine in New York
Seek Out As Many Experiences As Possible
Not sure of a career path? Use extracurricular activities to help you expand, or narrow, your choices.
I have always struggled with what my place is in the world... During my sophomore year, I traveled to Spain with the Glee Club and some of my good friends. During my junior year, I participated in a service/immersion trip to Jamaica through campus ministry. This trip greatly affected my outlook on life and my relationships with others. I had such a great experience that I chose to lead the trip this year.
Having recently returned from Jamaica, I can say that this trip was a hallmark of my time at Fairfield. I had a powerful experience with a group of fellow students, whom I now consider some of my closest friends.
- Greg Burke '12 Economics and Accounting; PricewaterhouseCoopers
The Core: Start Exploring
Talk to your faculty advisor about how to choose core courses that will encourage you to explore new areas and supplement your areas of interest and career goals. Unhappy with your advisor? Ask your department chair for a different one.
I enjoyed my Core classes as well because they allowed me to interact with students of different majors and career paths, expanding my friendship circles and allowing me to learn about Fairfield's other Schools and programs. The Core also allowed me to explore some minor interests such as Russian culture or American sociology while also expanding my broader view of the world.
- Kelly Young '10, History
Without sounding overly dramatic, the core curriculum changed my course of studies and career trajectory. I entered Fairfield University with the intention to prepare for law school and declared a major in Politics as an incoming first year student. I was not raised in a religious household and I was intimidated by the prospect of enrolling in the required Religious Studies courses. As it turned out, those courses were among my favorite ones; they awakened an interest that I would not have discovered without the core curriculum requirements. I became a Religious Studies minor and after graduation went on to earn an M.A. in Religious (Ethics) and an M.Div degree from Vanderbilt University. - Christine Henchar Reed '90
Showcase Your Material
Start collecting materials you put in a portfolio to market yourself and help show your experience. Create a blog or e-portfolio to both present the work (newspaper stories, poetry, well-crafted essays, videos) and to offer reflections on them. Contact CAS Associate Dean Aaron Perkus for help in creating an e-portfolio.
Discover Your Passion!
Take chances on different classes and majors. Find faculty members who can guide your journey here. Get plugged in and, along the way, discover what you are passionate about.
Without Fairfield University's sense of community, I never would have developed these relationships with my advisors, and I certainly would not have had the opportunities to truly pursue what I wanted to in my college career. Their support extended far beyond the classroom environment, so much so that even now I am in regular contact with my advisors. The compassion exhibited by the professors at Fairfield allows for a beautiful community to develop, which in turn fosters a true sense of comfort and security among the students. If we have learned anything from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, students (and people in general) will never "self-actualize," or reach their full potential, if lesser needs like comfort and security are not first met. I have Fairfield University, and in particular, Drs. Nash and Primavera, to thank for helping me to self-actualize in my academic and life interests. -Jonathan M. Tirrell '09; music/psych double major; doctoral student, Program in Arts and Youth Development at Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Tufts University
Summer Jobs or Internships
Work with your faculty advisor to discuss options for a summer job or internship that could give you experience and add content to your resume. Although students might not be able to take on internships for credit as freshmen, other paid internships are available. Unhappy with your advisor? Ask your department chair for a different one.
I can't overstate the importance of relevant summer jobs. One of the thrills of my time at Fairfield was broadcasting Bridgeport Bluefish games on WVOF for three summers. (I weaved in some newspaper work the summer before senior year). In that example, I was staying on campus and working for a campus organization, but working for a news organization anywhere would have been beneficial. It was great to be able to focus on career-focused work without having to juggle it with a full course load. - Ben Doody '07, English; managing editor of JRC Connecticut media group
Campus Clubs and Student Organizations
Invest your time in activities that would give you experience in your field of interest and put you in touch with students who might have a similar career interest.
I also think that it is important for any Arts and Sciences major to get involved in some sort of extra-curricular activity right away. There are so many clubs and activities, (and) there is something out there that will give you professional experience and help you make contacts that will eventually lead to a job. - Tom Cleary, English '10; reporter, theConnecticut Post
Why do more than a third of Fairfield students spend a semester or a year abroad? Start to explore your options now. How might it give you experience to aid your undergraduate studies and your potential career? What core courses should you take abroad?
Consider taking additional foreign language courses; don't automatically stop after the core requirement is met.
I don't even like art, but taking art in Florence was absolutely incredible. I did a one-month summer intersession and was exposed to masterpieces on a daily basis. I also took a course in International Relations as part of my minor, so it was a win-win. If you haven't taken art and you're going to Italy or France, save it!
- Michael Curran '09, English; teaches English at a prep school in Massachusetts
Work, Work, Work
Look for a relevant job on campus to gain work experience. Consider volunteer opportunities, often tied to your academic interest, to give you experience and provide information on potential careers, especially with non-profit organizations. Looks for summer internships and jobs so you can apply classroom lessons to the professional world.
Living and Learning
Make plans for sophomore year to team up and network with other students who share your career interests.
My participation in the Ignatian Residential College program, paired with my English major, allowed me to grow more in one year than I thought possible. The idea of improving your mind, body, and spirit were ever-present when I lived with most of my classmates and our experience was shaped by Jesuit values and philosophy. We wanted to be "men and women for others" and I remember deeply considering these ideals in my English classes... With Ignatian, I found myself engaged in talks in the lounges that stretched from Descartes to Baudelaire. Campus Ministry, Living and Learning Communities, Open VISIONS forums, and more allow and encourage students to continue thinking well beyond class time. It worked for me and many of my friends, so I know students will benefit if they take advantage of all that is offered early and often.
- Michael Curran '09, English; teaches English at a prep school in Massachusetts
Look for chances to begin building leadership skills. Take advantage of New Student Programs that bridge the classroom with the residence halls. Network with students in your residence hall who are enrolled in the same Cornerstone core classes and participate in the First Year Experience (FYE) program. This will help you to make friends who share your passions and interests.
It's very important to distinguish yourself. Specifically, finding a non-profit to volunteer with, a cause to advocate for, or even a leadership position at a club on campus will make you stand out. Law schools generally require a Personal Interest Statement where you have about two pages to make yourself stand out and explain why you want to go to law school. This statement is much easier to write if you have focused on an area or two with which to become involved over the course of your undergraduate career - Lauren Solari '10, English/Politics major; student, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
How do you want your resume to look like on graduation day? Talk to your faculty advisor, department internship coordinator and Career Planning. Given your goals, what do you need to do between now and Graduation Day to reach your goals? Summer jobs? Internships? On-campus activities? Technology skills, foreign language literacy, leadership experience? What will help you move from Classroom To Career?
Preparing for Graduate School, Early
A large percentage of Fairfield students further their academic careers after four years at Fairfield. Fairfield's pre-law program has a full-four year agenda of recommended activities. For freshman year, interested students should concentrate on attaining high grades in your University Core classes; develop good study habits; attend St. Robert Bellarmine Society Events; and follow the Pre-Law website for events and tips on applying to law school. Talk to your academic advisor about preparing for graduate school options.
Ask A Librarian
The DiMenna-Nyselius Library has a large array of resources to help you to discover, begin and manage your career. If you would like assistance in using any of these resources, please contact a librarian.
Honestly, the library was probably my favorite place on campus. Utilize everything it has. Its people, its resources. Everything. You won't regret it. The reference librarians are a lifesaver. They were so helpful to me last year while I was doing a variety of research papers. - Liz Holman '12, English; student, Quinnipiac University School of Law
Start Career Planning. Now.
Make an appointment with the Career Planning Center (CPC) to meet with staff, talk about your goals and aspirations and how to best utilize the next four years.
Read about jobs in which you might be interested attend Career Fairs and ask employers what they are looking for in new hires. Look at the CPC's online Career Planning Advisor Videos and Research Tools.
I wish that seeing a Career Center advisor had been mandatory. I think that more people would have utilized their resources earlier in their Fairfield years... I think that this would make students go and help them in the long run. - Mary Kate McCormick '12, English; executive assistant at Lucky magazine in New York
More career activities by class year, from across the University
(Note: for students quoted, all career information accurate as of Fall 2012)