Center for Career Development - Families
The Center for Career Development (CCD) recognizes the important role that parents and guardians play in their students' career journeys as advisors, counselors, troubleshooters, cheerleaders, and advocates. You are a crucial part of the team in working with your students toward their academic and career success.
We need your help to best serve your students! The amount of information and resources on campus can be overwhelming, especially to new students. Please encourage them to meet with our office early to help them plan for the future. Remind them to log in to Handshake and register for CCD events that interest them. Help them think about internships early and consider our Valiant Internship Programs. We reach out to students regularly with everything they need to know, but sometimes that nudge from a parent means the most.
While students are ultimately responsible for their career decisions, you can play an integral part during each stage of career planning by encouraging them to try out new things, be open to new ideas, and take active roles in the process. As a parent, you are a vital part of the process by offering perspective and encouragement.
The college years are a time of exploration, experimentation, and learning on many levels for students and their parents. Some student challenges may seem more positive than others, but all contribute to the educational outcomes of the college experience. We know that you are your student's greatest supporter and we hope this information will help advise and coach your student in their career exploration.
Supporting Your Student's Path to Success in Four Steps
Most students enter college unaware of all the possible courses and majors available to them. Students take a broad range of course subjects to promote this exploration. The first year is a great time to learn more about their strengths and unique talents they hope to share with a potential employer. Remember that many students use their first semester to "settle into" college life; students need some time to get used to their new living situation, their classes, and meeting new friends.
How You Can Help
- Support your student’s exploration of new areas of study and interests. This, after all, is what education is all about.
- Affirm what you know to be areas of skill and ability he or she has consistently demonstrated. Sometimes students overlook these and need to be reminded.
- Talk with your student about the courses and activities they are enjoying. Students discover new things about themselves throughout the college experience. Your willingness to listen and be a sounding board will keep you in the loop.
During the second year of college, students begin to explore majors and career options more seriously. A common misconception for students is that they can only plan their career when they know what they will do. The truth is career planning is a process and even students who know what they want to do after graduation often change their minds.
How You Can Help
- Encourage extracurricular involvement. Part of experiencing college life is to be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities.
- Suggest that your student talk with an academic advisor and Career Counselor about potential choices.
- Trust that the decision process takes time. If you sense that your student’s indecision is a barrier to positive progress, urge that he or she look for assistance in the Career Center. Students often have difficulty making a "final" choice because they fear they may make a wrong choice and close off options.
- Direct your student to family, friends, or colleagues who are in fields in which he or she has an interest. "Informational interviewing" with people can be extremely helpful at this stage. Teach the value of networking.
During a student’s second and third year, it is important that they experiment with possible career options. They can do this in a variety of ways: internships, summer jobs, campus jobs, and responsible volunteer experiences both on campus and in the local community. This is a critical time for your support and understanding.
How You Can Help
- Encourage your student to use the resources available at the Career Center. Counselors there can assist your student in preparing a good resume and finding opportunities to test career choices.
- Tell your student that you understand the importance of gaining exposure to and experience in their field of career interest. Broadening experience through involvement outside the classroom is a valuable use of time.
- Challenge your student to become occupationally literate. There are multiple career fairs, networking events with employers, and workshops they can attend throughout the year.
- Don't conduct the internship or summer job search for your student. It's a great help to provide networking contacts or names of people who may be helpful; however, making the contact and speaking for your student deprives them of an important learning experience—and may make a poor impression on the future employer.
College is a time of significant growth and increasing independence. The last year of college is a time when students are heavily involved in more advanced courses and often have more responsibility in campus jobs and/or volunteer activities. Balancing these important pursuits and setting priorities is a constant challenge for seniors.
How You Can Help
- Be prepared to support your student through the ups and downs of the job and graduate school search. Your student will need reassurance that for every door that closes, another opens.
- Remind your soon-to-be graduate that you are proud of their accomplishments.
- Be ready to hear new ideas. Listen to new ideas with an open mind, making positive suggestions when appropriate. Ask open-ended questions to show your student that you’re interested—and the answers will help them think through the new ideas.
- Refrain from becoming overly involved in your student’s job or graduate school search. The employer may wonder about your student’s maturity and ability to manage job responsibilities. If anyone should call, it should be the student. You can help them plan the call, but don’t make it.