Resources for Parents
One of the most valuable things that parents can do to help a student with career planning is listen. Be open to ideas. Try to help your student find information. And, be nonjudgmental.
Here are 10 ways you can help:
1. Encourage your child to visit the Career Center
Anytime your son or daughter is feeling anxious about his or her future, suggest that they visit the Career Center and speak with a Career Adviser. Many students use their first semester or first year to "settle into" college life. However, the Career Center is not just for seniors, and meeting with a Career Adviser can take place at any point during their college career. The sooner a student becomes familiar with the staff, resources, and programs the Career Center offers, the better prepared he or she will be to make wise career decisions.
The Career Center aids in career planning and development through a variety of services and resources:
- Career counseling, vocational testing, and computerized guidance
- A career resource library of books on liberal arts majors, careers, internships, and graduate programs/schools
- Individual advising – on careers and majors, cover letters and resumes, internships and volunteer/community service opportunities, and graduate school opportunities
- Classes on career exploration and job search skills are offered every semester
- Workshops on writing resumes and cover letters are offered frequently
- Alumni mentoring and shadowing
- Employment resources such as practice interviews, campus recruiting, job listings, and career fairs
- An expanding network of recruiters who come to campus looking for soon-to-be graduates
- Career resources are accessible for students 24/7 at Hiram careerNet
These services support a students’ career development by working to:
- Enhance self-awareness of interests, values, and talents
- Encourage exploration of future paths
- Provide opportunities to acquire knowledge and experience
- Develop skills for effective self-presentation
To help your student get off to a good start , the student Peer Career Advisers make two presentations to all first-year students about choosing and exploring majors and the importance of internship experience. Information is provided both in an e-mail and a printed newsletter on a regular basis to keep students informed about opportunities and deadlines. Residence hall programs are offered frequently.
2. Advise your student to create a resume
Writing a resume can be a "reality test" and can help a student identify strengths, as well as weak areas that require improvement. Suggest your student get sample resumes and cover letters from the Career Center. You can even review their resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, but recommend that the final product be critiqued by a Career Adviser or our trained staff of Peer Career Advisers. By creating a simple and free account, students can even submit their resumes to be reviewed by Career Center staff online at www.collegecentral.com/hiram/.
3. Challenge your student to become "occupationally literate”
Ask: "Do you have any ideas about what you might want to do when you graduate?" If your student seems unsure, you can talk about personal qualities you see as talents and strengths. A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute event. Discourage your student from putting this decision off until senior year. You might also recommend that your son or daughter:
- Talk to favorite faculty members about opportunities
- Job-shadow a professional or complete an internship in an area of interest
- Research a variety of interesting career fields and employers
- Visit the Career Center to take a “self-assessment inventory”, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey
4. Allow your student to make the decision
Career development can be stressful. Maybe this is the first really big decision that your son or daughter has had to make. Even though it is helpful to occasionally ask about career plans or choice of major, too much prodding can backfire. It's okay to make suggestions about majors and career fields, but let your student be the ultimate judge of what's best. Even if you don’t agree with the decisions being made, continue to be patient, sympathetic and understanding.
Myth: A student must major in something "practical" or marketable.
Truth: Students should follow their own interests and passions.
Myth: Picking your major means picking the career you will have forever.
Truth: That's not true anymore. "Major" does not necessarily mean "career", and it is not unusual for a student to change majors. Many students change majors after gaining more information about specific fields of study and career fields of interest. Many students end up doing something very different than originally planned, so don't “freak out” when they come up with seemingly outrageous or impractical ideas. Chances are, their plans will develop and change. It's okay to change majors—and careers.
5. Emphasize the importance of internships
The Career Center will not "place" your child in a job at graduation. Colleges grant degrees, but not job guarantees, so having relevant experience in this competitive job market is critical. Your son or daughter can sample career options by completing internships and experimenting with summer internships, employment opportunities, and/or volunteer work.
At any year during their Hiram education, the Career Center is happy to assist your student in pursuing a variety of experiences that will help them to explore their interests. Generally speaking, freshman students should not seek internships but rather volunteer work or other forms of employment. This will allow the student an appropriate amount of time to build up skills that will make them more marketable for internships later in their college career.
Employers are interested in communication, problem-solving, and administrative skills, which can be developed through internships. Many employers often hire from within their own internship programs. However, those providing internships require a necessary level of these skills as well. Getting started too soon can be detrimental if it leads to demotivation. Students should be putting their best foot forward with respect to internships and any other contact with employers.
6. Encourage extracurricular involvement
Part of experiencing college life is to be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities highly valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities and through on-campus employment and community service. Employers look for experience on a student's resume. These days a high GPA is not enough.
7. Persuade your student to stay up-to-date with current events
Employers will expect students to know what is happening around them. Encourage your student to subscribe or read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or other applicable journals and publications. When they are home on break, discuss major world and business issues with them. There are also a vast number of performances and presentations that students should be encouraged to attend, both on- and off-campus.
8. Expose your student to the world of work
Most students have a stereotypical view of the workplace. Engage your student in conversations about the world of work. Explain to your son or daughter what you do for a living. Take your student to your workplace. Additionally, exhibit the value of networking by interacting with your own colleagues, or speaking about these interactions with your student. Help your student identify potential employers and internship sites and suggest ways they might approach these opportunities.
9. Teach the value of networking
Introduce your student to people who have careers/jobs that may be of interest to them. Suggest your son or daughter contact people in your personal and professional networks for information on summer jobs, internships, or a simple informational interview. Encourage your child to "shadow" someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields. Both winter and summer break can be the best times to pursue such opportunities.
10. Help Career Services
There are many ways you can partner with Career Services. If your company hires interns, have the internships listed with Career Services – the same goes for jobs. Use your "real world" experience to offer advice to students about their career options by participating in a career panel or career-related workshop. Finally, offer short-term housing when students accept unpaid internships in locations other than their hometown.
Information provided above was adapted from the article A Parent's Guide to Career Development by Thomas J. Denham, Director of the Siena College Career Center in Loudonville, NY - Copyright © National Association of Colleges and Employers
As parents, you may have questions about career development for liberal arts students. Please see the articles we have collected for a variety of interesting discussions.
- Parents' articles are available on JobWeb
- The Career Planit library contains many articles students find informative.
- The National Association of Colleges and Employers features a topical article each week.