Career Advising

We help empower students to navigate the self-discovery process and integrate their curricular and co-curricular experiences by providing comprehensive resources and professional development opportunities that promote career development as a lifelong process. Through individualized career advising and career education programming, students gain new insight on different aspects of their professional development.

On This Page:

Explore Your Academic & Career Potential

At Otterbein, we can help you discover your interests, set goals for your future, and explore majors and career options. Career planning will ensure that the decision you make and the actions you take as a college student will put you on the right path – a path that will lead you to a lifetime of career achievements and personal fulfillment.

Self Assessment

We believe that starting with an analysis of your unique passions, talents, values and experiences, is the best way to begin the process of self assessment.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What do I do best?
  • What’s important to me?
  • What kinds of experiences have I had that have helped me develop my professional skills?

Focus 2

Use Focus 2, an online, self-paced career and education planning tool, to assess your values, skills and interests and explore career fields and major areas of study that are compatible with your assessment results. Focus 2 also lets you compare occupations you may be considering so that you can make a more informed occupational choice.

Use the following steps to register for Focus 2:

  • Click here to go to Focus 2
  • Click the link to create a new account
  • Our access code is ‘otter’
  • Create a username and password of your choosing
  • We encourage you to meet with one of our staff members to discuss your Focus 2 results and to develop an individualized action plan to move forward.

Career Exploration

Many students come to college with questions about which major to choose or which career path to take. If you are one of those students, you’re not alone. We can answer your questions and help you explore your options.

Exploring Your Options

  • Study the academic catalog to learn about the courses and requirements of different majors.
  • Choose courses that will allow you to explore fields of interest.
  • Make an appointment with us and we can help you assess your natural abilities, interests, and work values in order to discover compatible majors and careers.
  • Discuss your interests with your advisor and contact faculty in the departments you are considering for more information.
  • Talk to upper class students about their majors.
  • Research career options utilizing books, periodicals, and professional associations.
  • Talk to people in career fields you are considering; ask us for contacts.
  • Gain practical experience by interning, shadowing, and volunteering.
  • Explore sites such as The Occupational Outlook HandbookO*Net Online, and Explore Health Careers for specific occupational information.
  • Check out BuzzFile to explore employers by major.
  • Find your path with this “What Can I do with a Major In…” guide, courtesy of UNC-Wilmington

Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a focused meeting/conversation with a networking contact designed to help you choose or refine your career path by giving you the ‘insider’ point of view. To learn more, click here.

Job hunting takes time, patience, and persistence. Keep in mind that with every contact you make, every call you complete, and every resume you send, you’re getting closer to the finish line.

Outcomes Reports

Job Tracking & Networking Documents

We’ll help you STAND out.

Assessing your interests and choosing a major and career path are only the first steps on the path to your future. To get the internship or job you want requires preparation and an organized search. Essential to any successful search are the marketing tools you need to present yourself as a competitive candidate – your resume, cover letter, and online presence. Interviewing skills are also key. Your resume and cover letter may get you the interview, but your performance in the interview is what gets you the job.


The single most important function of your resume is to generate an interview by “selling” your qualifications, including your abilities, accomplishments, and potential, as a job candidate. The most challenging part is that it has to be done in about 6-15 seconds, the average time devoted to the first reading of most resumes. Therefore, like any good advertisement, your resume must focus the reader’s attention immediately on your most valuable skills and qualifications.

The first step in writing a good resume is to examine yourself, the “product,” to determine what you have to offer as an employee, considering your unique combination of educational and work background. As the “consumer,” the employer is looking for someone to fill a particular need in his/her organization, and it is your task to determine what the employer is looking for and show how your qualifications are a good match.

There isn’t one perfect way to write or format a resume. You need to determine which format is right for your particular situation. You may even want to develop several resumes if you are considering several different career options.

To help you get started, check out our Resume Handout, list of Action Verbs, and Developing a Competency-Based Resume. Also, browse the following MS Word samples:

Cover Letters

An effective cover letter will: demonstrate your understanding of the organization; describe how you can meet their needs; provide a specific follow up step that you will take. The cover letter should not be a simple reiteration of what has already been stated in your resume and each letter needs to be customized for a particular organization and/or job.

Here is the basic formula for a cover letter:

  • Standard business letter address format
  • Salutation to a real person, not “To whom it may concern”
  • First paragraph: Why you are interested in the position and what company needs can you fill
  • Second paragraph: Briefly state two or three top skills and follow with the benefits these features can provide the company
  • Third paragraph: Outline a specific action you will take to follow up the letter

Check out these resources:

Graduate School Preparation

Making a decision about attending graduate school is not easy. It is a decision that requires complete honesty about your motivation, goals, and limitations. Pursuing further study immediately after undergraduate school is only advisable when you are clear about what you want to achieve, both personally and professionally and if a graduate degree is a necessary next step toward your career goal.

The Application Process

Most graduate programs require Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores as part of the application for admission. Other tests required for specialized fields are the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), Medical University Admission Test (MCAT) or the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT).

Most programs also require three or more letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a resume, and an application essay. The essay typically involves writing a personal statement of purpose. You must be very clear about why you wish to pursue graduate school. Many graduate programs provide a very specific prompt that helps applicants address the important issues the graduate committee is interested in. The Career Center staff has a lot of experience with critiquing graduate school essays, so make sure you ask them or a faculty member to read your essay before you send it.

Financing Graduate School

Both the federal and state governments offer financial assistance programs for graduate students. Other aid sources come from private foundations, industrial organizations, service organizations, and financial institutions.

Fellowships are prestigious awards that cover educational expenses and sometimes include a stipend for living expenses. Grants are also given in the form of a stipend and are usually based on need. Both fellowships and grants require no work or repayment.

Assistantships are administered and awarded by individual academic departments or colleges and are common ways to finance graduate education. This type of aid is given in return for service, most often in the form of teaching or research. These activities are often integral to your education and can enrich it deeply. Residence Hall assistantships are another option that require living in a residence hall as a director or assistant director in exchange for tuition benefits. Tuition waivers are other common sources of support offered by graduate school.

Student loans are also available from sources such as the federal government, graduate institutions, and private banking institutions. These, of course, must be repaid.

Tips for Writing Personal Statements

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself and tell a compelling and unique story in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

  • The general, comprehensive personal statement that allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write.
  • The response to two or three specific questions; your statement should respond directly to the questions being asked.
  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Do not use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.
  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. Find an angle and distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.
  • Do not, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, teacher, etc. should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader’s attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What’s special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family challenges, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field–through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (integrity, compassion, persistence, etc.) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school–and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. Find an angle and distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Seek Feedback

  • Have several individuals read your statement and provide feedback. Faculty, friends, relatives, Student Success & Career Development, and The Writing Center can provide you with varying perspectives.

External Fellowships and Scholarships

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to take some time off before going to graduate school?
Yes, this is very common, and is a good idea for many people. Taking a year or more off may allow you to gain life and work experience, give you more time to prepare your application and, if relevant, work to enhance your credentials (such as GRE scores or foreign language skills), and give you a chance to reflect on what you want to do. You should not worry that you will lose your “study momentum,” or lose interest in further study. This rarely happens unless your motives for going to graduate school are not very strong to begin with. Graduate schools do not “look down on” applicants who have taken time off, and may even consider them better candidates at times.

I’ve been admitted to a good program. Can I defer for a year?
That depends on the program. Policies on deferment differ. Some school will honor every request to defer, others may ask for your reasons to do so. Some may let you keep your financial aid offer, others will defer your admission and ask that you reapply for funding in the following year. If, in your senior year, you are certain that you want to take a year off after graduation, consider deferring your application by a year instead.

I’m not sure what I want to do, so I’m going to apply to graduate school. Is that a good idea?
Not really. Graduate school should not be a default solution for you, but a carefully considered choice. Graduate school is not a destination, but a journey toward a goal. If you cannot identify your specific goal, you need to do some more thinking.

Will I make more money with a master’s degree than with a Ph.D.?
Not necessarily. Depending on your career choice you could earn less. You should investigate the career paths you have been thinking about and compare earning potential and life style issues.

Find Internships & Professional Experiences

Pursuing an Internship (credit-bearing) or professional experience (non-credit bearing) is an exciting time in your education. Otterbein encourages its students to complete at least one internship; however, it is important to recognize that completing two or three internships will enable you to be more competitive and make you a more desirable candidate for future employers and/or graduate programs.

Your college internship may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, credit bearing or non-credit bearing, completed during the school year or the summer and may be located on campus, in the Columbus area or in other regional, national or international locations. There is a great deal of flexibility when it comes to internships; therefore we would encourage you to make an appointment with one of our staff to begin discussing your internship goals.

Internship Benefits

  • Gain an understanding of the world of work.
  • Explore career options and gain professional skills related to your major and/or future career choice.
  • Increase your motivation to achieve your academic goals.
  • Gain a competitive edge for graduate school and full-time employment applications.
  • Decide which course of study and specific classes will prepare your for jobs and careers after graduation.
  • Expand your professional network.

Getting Started

Research and decide upon the career field(s) in which you want to gain practical experience.

  • Develop or update resume. See resume and cover letter samples here.
  • Have your resume reviewed by a staff member in the S. Walk-in hours (1-3 p.m. weekdays) are a great time for this. If walk-in hours do not work with your schedule, feel free to make an appointment.

Search for opportunities.

  • Network with personal and family contacts, faculty, alumni and other professionals in your field of interest.
  • Make an appointment to develop an individual internship search strategy and learn about available resources.
  • Generate a list of “target organizations” in fields of interest; contact them to inquire about potential career-related experience.
  • See Internship Resources for other options.


  • Target your resume and cover letter to each specific organization and/or position.
  • Contact each organization within 1 to 2 weeks to confirm receipt of materials and inquire about their hiring timeline.

Prepare to interview.

  • Set up a practice interview with a staff member in the SSCD.
  • Research the organization.

Accept an offer.

  • Once you accept an offer from an internship site, follow the instructions for internship if you plan to receive academic credit or Professional Experiences if you do not want to receive academic credit.
  • Note: If you wish to receive academic credit for an internship, you need to identify a faculty sponsor the semester prior to the internship and work with him/her to complete the required paperwork.

Internship Criteria

When you pursue an internship through the Otterbein Internship Program, you will work closely with a faculty internship sponsor and on-site work supervisor to plan the internship experience.

The following factors characterize this type of internship:

  • You will receive academic credit for the internship; you must pay tuition for this credit based on the credit hours attempted.
  • You must be in good academic standing. Generally student interns must have a junior or senior status and a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 is preferred, but the final decision about participation rests with the individual academic department.
  • Together you, a faculty sponsor and the on-site work supervisor will develop a learning contract that outlines mutual intentions and educational and work expectations for the internship.
  • You will receive a grade for your internship.
  • Your performance is officially evaluated at various stages during the experience.
  • Some additional academic work may be assigned by the faculty advisor to help tie academic learning with “real world” work experience.

Receiving Academic Credit

A maximum of 15 semester hours of internship credit may be counted toward degree requirements at Otterbein.

For each credit hour you earn, 42 hours of work or work-related activities must be completed over the semester. Therefore, a full-time intern registers for 16 semester hours and is expected to spend 45-48 hours per week on activities specified in the learning contract. These hours include both “on-the-job” tasks and “off-the-job” tasks such as reading, journaling, research, etc.

  • 3 hours per week x 14 weeks = 1 semester credit
  • 15 hours per week x 14 weeks = 5 semester credits
  • 30 hours per week x 14 weeks = 10 semester credits
  • 48 hours per week x 14 weeks or 45 hours per week x 15 weeks = 16 credits

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the SSCD
Student Success & Career Development serves as a central point and clearinghouse for internship postings, policies and procedures. Our staff is eager to discuss your internship goals and help you develop an individualized internship search strategy and prepare for the interview process. Employers list internship opportunities for many majors through our online job and internship database, Handshake.

The role of your faculty sponsor
Whether you use the SSCD or other resources, you will need to confirm your eligibility to earn credit and receive credit through your academic (major/minor) department. Students must identify a faculty sponsor (often your academic advisor) to oversee the academic portion of the internship. Students should seek out a faculty sponsor the semester before they plan to complete the internship.

The role of the intern
Once your internship has been secured and you have identified a faculty sponsor, you must submit the Undergraduate Registration Permission form for Internship 4900 credit (with the appropriate signatures) to the Office of the Registrar. This generally must be submitted by the 2nd Monday of the term; submission date should be confirmed with the Registrar. Students must then work with their internship supervisor and faculty sponsor to develop the Learning Objectives. At the completion of the internship, interns must submit an evaluation of their supervisor and one for the overall internship experience. Students must also ensure that their supervisor has completed and submitted the final supervisor evaluation.

Please note: If you feel victimized by a work-related incident, contact your faculty sponsor or Student Success & Career Development immediately.

The role of the supervisor
The site supervisor should assist with the development of the Learning Contract and take an active role in mentoring and guiding the student to help meet learning goals. The supervisor is also expected to orient the student to the organization and be available for meetings or conversations with both the intern and the faculty sponsor. The site supervisor should also provide regular constructive feedback, complete the evaluation form and return it to the faculty sponsor in a timely fashion.

The intern, faculty sponsor and intern supervisor should all be familiar with the policies, procedures and guidelines outlined in the Otterbein Internship Manual. If you have questions or concerns, please email or call 614-823-1456.

Professional Experiences (non credit-bearing)

You may choose to pursue internship experiences on your own rather than under the auspices of the college program. No credit is earned for these experiences and the University plays no role in the supervision or evaluation of these internships.

Most majors do not require that students complete an internship for credit as part of their curriculum; therefore many students choose not to receive academic credit.

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the SSCD
Student Success & Career Development serves as a central point and clearinghouse for internship postings, policies and procedures. Our staff is eager to discuss your internship goals and help you develop an individualized internship search strategy and prepare for the interview process. Employers list internship opportunities for many majors through our online job and internship database, Cardinal Careers.

The role of the student
Once your internship has been secured, you must complete the Professional Experience Reporting Form to document your experience with the SSCD. While it is not required, you are highly encouraged to utilize our internship forms to help maximize your internship experience. Work with your internship supervisor to develop learning outcomes at the start of your internship; you may consider using our Learning Contract. To help ensure a quality learning experience both you and your supervisor should also complete a Final Evaluation of your experience. You will also be asked by the SSCD to complete a brief survey at the end of your internship.

The forms may be downloaded here.

If you feel victimized by a work-related incident, contact Student Success & Career Development immediately.

The role of the supervisor
The site supervisor should assist with the development of the Learning Contract and take an active role in mentoring and guiding the student to help meet learning goals. The supervisor is also expected to orient the student to the organization and be available for meetings or conversations with both the intern and the faculty sponsor. The site supervisor should also provide regular constructive feedback, complete the evaluation form and return it to the faculty sponsor in a timely fashion.

Interns and supervisors should contact Student Success & Career Development if questions or concerns arise at any point during the internship, or 614-823-1456.

Internship Manual and Forms

Our internship manual has been written for students, faculty and employers who wish to participate in Otterbein’s internship program. This manual serves as a guide to policies, expectations and responsibilities for those participating in the internship program.

Helpful resources:

Forms to be completed:

Internship Resources

Internships can be found in a variety of ways. Students who have the greatest success in their internship search are those that employ a multi-faceted approach, which includes networking, utilizing online resources and targeting specific organizations. Be mindful that many internships are never advertised or posted, while others are advertised nationally online or in printed directories. Search broadly and cast your net wide.

Additional internship resources

Past internship sites

Information for Employers

Otterbein University enrolls 3,000 diverse students, whose critical thinking and communication skills make them ideal candidates. Working with Student Success & Career Development (SSCD), employers can tap into this pool of outstanding students to find qualified candidates for jobs and internships in a wide range of fields.

Host an Intern (Alumni Give Back)

Provide internship and job opportunities

Share your professional knowledge

  • Serve on a career panel
  • Present a workshop
  • Represent your organization at an information table/session
  • Join the Otterbein Alumni group on LinkedIn
  • Participate in a networking event

Posting a Job on Our Board

Otterbein is part of the Handshake network. Please visit Handshake to create an account and post your opportunities.

If you need assistance, please email or call 614-823-1624.

Recruiting on Otterbein's Campus


Student Success & Career Development looks forward to hosting you as you connect with Otterbein talent!

Due to upcoming Campus Center renovations, we are unable to provide information tables. We apologize for any inconvenience and do encourage you to post your part-time jobs to Handshake.

The Value of an Otterbein Hire

Through its liberal arts core, Otterbein is committed to educating the whole student and preparing students for successful careers upon graduation. Otterbein offers nearly 70 majors, 50 minors and seven graduate degrees. At the core of Otterbein’s curriculum is the Integrative Studies program. Through this unique and creative program students take a variety of courses that broaden their view of the world and prepare them for the future. The program has been honored by the Ohio Board of Regents and by the Association of American Colleges & Universities for its quality and innovation.

As employees, Otterbein students will contribute:

  • Communication skills. Our core curriculum stresses writing and presentation skills for all students.
  • Analytical and problem solving abilities. Our liberal arts focus emphasizes reading, research, evaluation and reasoning.
  • Leadership skills. Our students have developed leadership skills while serving as officers in student-run organizations, participating in the governance system or in peer advisor roles.
  • Commitment to community. The majority of Otterbein students have participated in some form of community service.

Talk to your advisor, faculty in your department, alumni in the field, career advisors, and people with the kinds of jobs you are interested in about choosing a program.