The Sophomore Year Checklist

Last week’s post was all about making the most of your freshman year. It’s important to spend some time your freshman year figuring out what you want to accomplish during college. Well, your sophomore year is all about setting those goals in motion and making great use of all the opportunities you have access to right now.

Want to be ahead of the curve? Here are six things to do now that many other sophomores aren’t even thinking about yet:

1.) Throw the Parties!

No, I’m not talking about hanging up a disco ball, sneaking a keg into your dorm room and inviting all of your friends over.

sb456I’m talking about taking on a leadership role in the clubs and organizations you decided to get involved with during your freshman year. If you joined a greek organization, volunteer to be the social chair or event planner. If you are in a band, throw a concert with other bands on campus to raise money for a great cause, like building a school in a developing nation. Or, if you play on a varsity or intramural basketball team, organize a fundraising tournament to promote peace through the game of basketball.

Whatever your interests are, pursue them further in a leadership role. Don’t just go to parties, concerts, or basketball games- be the one to organize and host them!

2.) Now That You’re Comfortable, Leave

You’re starting to feel settled in and “at home” in your college environment. So, probably the last thing on your mind is leaving. But now is the time to start thinking about taking a semester or two to study away (not necessarily abroad). The options are endless. I have friends who went away to: study economics in London; learn French in Paris; take a voyage around the world; study at a different college just a state away; and spend a semester in D.C. while campaigning for the presidential election.  When I was in college, I spent a semester abroad conducting independent research on beauty ideals in Fiji.

sb450If I could give just one piece of advice to every college student out there, it would be to take at least a semester to have an amazing new experience in a different state, region, or country. The opportunity to do this is rare and truly a privilege, so take advantage of it!

3.) Create a Portfolio

A resume isn’t enough anymore. If you really want to set yourself apart and be able to showcase all of your skills and achievements for potential employers, you need a portfolio. Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career, calls it a “brag book”. You could also think of it as a 3-D, extended version of your resume.

Portfolios are particularly useful (and often necessary) if you are interested in careers that are highly visual or sample-based. For instance, if you are an aspiring journalist, future employers will expect that you have a portfolio of all your writing clips. If you are a budding artist or graphic designer, it is essential that you have a presentable collection of your work for jobs or grad school applications.

sb458You could also include these in your portfolio

-       Powerpoint presentations from class projects

-       Your best college papers

-       Letters of recommendation from professors, coaches, or mentors

-       Awards you’ve won in high school or college

-       DVD of a speech you gave at a Debate Club conference 

-       A summary page of your skills and accomplishments

Remember that your portfolio, just like your resume, should always be evolving. Be sure to update your portfolio as you gain more experience and hone in on your interests throughout college.

4.) Get an Internship…Now!

Come late spring, college students from around the country will all be competing for the same summer internships. So why wait until then? It’s easier to land an internship in the fall or spring, simply because many college students never think to apply for one then.

If you think you can handle a part-time internship during the academic year, then apply! Particularly if you are interested in working at a popular company, this is a great way to get your foot in the door for a summer internship- and possibly even a job offer post-graduation.

You don’t necessarily have to go to school in a big city to take advantage of fall or spring internship opportunities. A company might be looking for a viral marketing or social media intern, which would allow you to do all of your work from your laptop at home or school.

You could also look for internship opportunities on campus. A professor may be looking for an intern to help with research projects; the alumni office may want an intern team to help organize on-campus events, like Homecoming or Parents Weekend; and the career center might be looking to hire peer counselors to help other students practice their resume writing and interviewing skills. Keep your eyes and ears out for opportunities- your next internship may be right under your nose!

Whatever you choose to do, make the most of your sophomore year. After this, you’ll be- gasp- halfway done! So keep working hard, staying ahead of the curve, and enjoying every minute of the college experience.


Melissa is the Editor-in-Chief of She is also an Assistant Brand Manager at Time Inc. Home Entertainment, where she manages brand extension projects for numerous publications including: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, People, and Entertainment Weekly. Melissa majored in Psychology at Hamilton College and currently resides in New York City. To find out more, read her blog, follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. The Junior Year Checklist
  2. The Senior Year Checklist
  3. The Freshman Year Checklist

One Response to “The Sophomore Year Checklist”

  1. avatar Tom Reaoch says:

    Great checklist, should be part of “My Future 101″. I speak on personal branding to many universities in Brazil, unfortunately most students stop thinking of the keg and start thinking about their future at the end of the senior year.

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