Starting Your Career

With more than 100 different specialties to choose from, nursing is a diverse field. To begin exploring your options, learn more about where you can take your career. For help with defining your professional goals or designing the right path for you, schedule to meet with a career counseling officer at a Rutgers campus of your choice.

The 4-Year Journey

These next four years of nursing school will equip you for nursing success, but there are things you can do to develop the professionalism of a successful leader, like skill development, work ethic, judgment, and personal presence. Follow this recommended 4-year plan to help navigate your journey to nursing excellence.

By the end of this year, you should be able to:

» Identify available career options within the nursing field.

» Begin building a network of professionals.

» Engage in at least one co-curricular activity to expand your skills and professionalism.

» Effectively market your skills and backgrounds through a resume.

You can achieve these goals by:

» Attending nursing student organization meetings and becoming active in at least one organization.

» Gaining experience and exposure by volunteering or conducting community service with a population of your choice or by working in a health care setting.

» Attending a resume-writing workshop, drafting your resume, and working with a career counseling officer LINK HERE to ensure it’s properly formatted.

» Attending at least one nursing-related program outside of class where you can introduce yourself to one or more upperclass students and/or one speaker and ask about their experiences and advice.

» Researching your nursing options at informational websites such as
By the end of this year, you should be able to:

» Demonstrate leadership potential/skills.

» Identify five areas of nursing you wish to explore and determine your interest level in those fields.

» Begin incorporating health care experiences into your resume and your professional goals.

You can achieve these goals by:

» Assuming a leadership role in a student organization, like a committee or event chair role or an officer role.

» Engaging in a clinical rotation and/or a health care work/volunteer experience.

» Updating your resume to include clinical and/or volunteer experiences in a health care setting.

» Conducting informational interviews with practicing professionals and/or researching five fields of nursing.

» Attending the Nursing Career Fair LINK and interacting with a minimum of five employers to learn about potential opportunities.
By the end of this year, you should be able to:

» Demonstrate clinical skills in practical settings.

» Provide examples of demonstrated leadership.

» Market your clinical and leadership skills in resume and interviews.

» Identify your target area of nursing.

» Determine the role and timing of graduate school in your long-term plans.

» Develop a professional network of 25+ people.

You can achieve these goals by:

» Meeting with a counselor or advisor to solidify goals and put together a job search plan.

» Attending an Applying to Externships workshop. LINK

» Attending an Applying to Graduate or Professional School workshop. LINK

» Actively participating in and reflecting on experiences through clinical rotations.

» Engaging in at least one out-of-class practical experience (externship or volunteer).

» Engaging in at least one leadership role on-campus or in the community, or assuming a leadership role in a work experience.

» Updating your resume and working with a career counselor or advisor to ensure it adequately represents your skills and knowledge.

» Developing a plan for taking appropriate graduate/professional school exam.

» Attending the Nursing Career Fair LINK, submitting applications for externships, and conducting informational interviews with employers in your area of interest.

» Attending Networking/Utilizing Social Media. LINK
By the end of this year, you should be able to:

» Conduct an effective job search to secure a satisfying job placement and/or conduct an effective application process for admission to a graduate school program.

You can achieve these goals by:

» Finalizing your resume and having it critiqued by a career counselor, advisor, or faculty member.

» Attending an interviewing workshop.

» Participating in a Mock Interview. LINK

» Taking appropriate graduate admissions test (scores are typically admissible for 3-5 years).

» Drafting a personal statement and having it critiqued by a career counselor, advisor, or faculty member.

» Securing 3-5 persons to serve as references and asking them to provide verbal and written references (at least one faculty and one person from a clinical).

» Applying for the NCLEX and planning to take the exam as soon as you are ready to in order to improve your viability to employers.

» For fall admission to a graduate program, submiting applications by January.

» For employment after graduation, beginning to apply for positions in the spring.

» Securing interview attire that adheres to professional dress standards for interviews.