Whether it’s years or months until commencement, it never hurts to set goals and plan ahead.

Many students feel unsure what to do with themselves after graduation. Career Services at Oakland University is open to both students and alumni. The office offers advising and helps develop interview skills, build résumés, prepare portfolios and write cover letters, among other things.

Typically, OU has both fall and winter career fairs. During fairs, employers appear on campus and give students and alumni a chance to interact with them. The 2017 Winter Career Fair is scheduled for Jan. 25 in the Recreation Center.

OU also has an online service called Handshake that can be accessed through MySail. On Handshake, students and alumni can upload their résumés, search for job listings, and apply for jobs and internships online.

“I never utilized Career Services, but I know a lot of girls from my sorority who did and have found work,” said Sarah Bacon, an alumna who majored in integrative studies. “They’ve said wonderful things about it. I should have [used Career Services], but I didn’t need to. Anyone that graduates from OU can utilize it any time, years and years after graduation. It’s a great perk. If I’m ever in a tough spot, I’ll definitely use it.”

As an OU alumna, Bacon offered a lot of advice for planning for life after graduation.

She said that when she was on the verge of graduating, she didn’t have much of a clue what she was going to do after. She knew she wanted to do something involving teaching elementary school students, but wasn’t sure what she was doing after commencement.

It wasn’t until the summer after graduating that she developed more concrete plans. She considered getting her master’s degree. She looked at several different graduate schools and eventually decided to get her teaching certificate through the University of Florida.

“I take online classes to get my certificate at the University of Florida right now,” Bacon said. “I didn’t start on these classes right away. I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do after my degree. I wish I had made a plan sooner. Don’t take time off. Look for jobs and higher education while you’re still an undergraduate, and get your life on track as soon as possible.”

When it comes to pursuing additional degrees, Bacon recommended looking at higher education, making a mental list of schools that spark interest and developing a plan of how to pay for tuition ahead of time.

“Brush up your résumé before you graduate,” Bacon said. “Even send those résumés into companies, stating your expected graduation date, and you can put the month and year.”

She also advised students who have several years left to find internships in order to gain experience.

Cody Glander, a sergeant in the military, told students that they should develop both short-term and long-term goals.

“My short-term goal is to enroll in college immediately after I leave the military,” Glander said. “My long-term goal? Major in zoology and work at a zoo, eventually. Your short-term goal could be to map out what classes you need to take every semester and work an internship.”

He also advised students to make contingency plans and to prepare for the worst-case scenario. He stressed the fact that one should never give up if a desired path in life doesn’t work out.