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Welcome home study-abroad returnees! I hope your time in [insert city inevitably cooler than Denver] was fantastic and you’re ready for late nights in the library and Nagel burritos again. You must be exhausted after finishing all the homework you put off until the last weekend, while contemplating your argument about how your trip to Ibiza was absolutely necessary to your education. But quickly after returning to DU, you’ll realize you don’t have time to be exhausted. You barely have time to inhale those Nagel burritos between classes.

The first quarter back at DU is often like Mark Wahlberg’s music career: it’s fun for a minute but you soon realize things are very wrong. Your car is broken, classes are hard and, on top of that, you need to lock down a career path because you’re a junior and you’re graduating soon. That’s why we are here of course. That, and to ski until June. Unfortunately, I don’t know the first things about cars and probably can’t help with your physics homework, but I can tell you about some creative ways to develop your professional career.

Internships are a great way to gain professional experience and develop connections for future careers. DU hosts an online resource called Pioneer Careers Online (PCO) where you can find lists of events, ranging from internship fairs to resume building workshops. These are great for networking with employers, professors and DU staff members who can aid in your career search further down the road. The winter career and internship fair is one of the best events to get involved in, as many students interning over the summer find arrangements by Spring Quarter. If you’re not sure what field interests you, PCO also has links to external sites dedicated to help narrow your choices and provide further information in potential fields.

Your trip to [insert exotic beach getaway] drained your savings and you’re probably wondering how you can afford anything other than Nagel burritos for the rest of the year. Thankfully, PCO posts many paid internships. If you’re a business major taking an unpaid internship over the summer, you can apply for the Taylor Internship Grant and afford the luxuries of boxed mac and cheese again. Make sure to talk to Daniels Career Services about getting your summer internship to count for college credit, too.

But much like chicken parmesan HotPockets, internships can be highly competitive and stressful to find, so turning your attention to jobs around campus can also work to your benefit. These positions are usually more flexible about scheduling, finals and workload compared to interning, and students typically don’t have to commute for work study jobs. Under the student section of PioneerWeb you can find on- and off-campus work study positions related to almost every major. Even if you haven’t been granted work study in your financial aid, many positions are posted for non-work study students as well.

Unfortunately, work study positions are often filled by the time Winter Quarter begins, so it’s important to be flexible in the types of jobs you apply for. If you get accepted to a position outside of your major, you can usually work with employers to implement aspects of your major into your position and find ways to further your professional experience.

Above all, finding a position that allows you to utilize aspects of your degree is paramount. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of an internship. You can still find ways to expand your professional skills and learn new ones in many different jobs. If you take a position outside your ideal field, find the ways in which you can learn from it and see it as an intermediary step to the job you really want.

Good luck, Pios!