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A Parents' Guide to Career Development
Article Index
A Parents' Guide to Career Development
Page 2

One of the most valuable things 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 (and you go too!)
Next time you visit campus, drop into the career services office and pick up a business card from one of the career counselors. When your son or daughter is feeling anxious about his/her future, offer the card and say, "Please call this person. He (or she) can help you."

Many students use their first semester to "settle into" college life, and so perhaps the spring semester of the freshman year is the optimal time to start using career center services. And, it's a good time for you to prompt that first visit.

Ask your student (in an off-handed way), "Have you visited the career center?" If you hear, "You only go there when you are a senior," then it's time to reassure them that career services is not just for seniors, and meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point (and should take place frequently) in their college career. The sooner a student becomes familiar with the staff, resources, and programs, the better prepared he or she will be to make wise career decisions.

Many centers offer a full range of career development and job-search help including:

  • mock interviews,
  • a network of alumni willing to talk about their jobs and careers,
  • a library of books on a wide range of careers,
  • workshops on writing resumes and cover letters,
  • a recruiting program, and
  • individual advising.

2. Advise your student to write a resume
Writing a resume can be a "reality test" and can help a student identify weak areas that require improvement. Suggest your student get sample resumes from the career center, from books at the public library, or online [put link here to our resume information].

You can review resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, but recommend that the final product be critiqued by a career center professional.

3. Challenge your student to become "occupationally Iiterate"
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. You can also recommend:

  • Taking a "self-assessment inventory," such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey at the career center,
  • Talking to favorite faculty members,
  • Researching a variety of interesting career fields and employers.

A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute event: Discourage putting this decision off until the senior year.


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