Today’s headlines consistently remind undergraduates and parents of the scarcity of jobs available upon graduation. According to the Pew Research Center, student debt has tripled over the past two decades. All parents want their graduates to be employed and to be able to independently support themselves. After all, this is why families invest in college!
In surveying 153 college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates, Beyond the U found the top three resources for career information were professors, parents, and friends. As parents, you have the unique ability to see the big picture, knowing your student’s strengths, passions, and dreams. This puts you in a position to be a supportive resource and to encourage exploration of possible career paths.
According to Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, in Emerging Adults in America, the college years are a time of personal instability and identity exploration. The current climate only increases the anxiety associated with making major life decisions, and as a parent, you are on the front lines of guiding your student to concrete steps they can take to position themselves well for meeting the goal of a meaningful job upon graduation.
Here are 5 things you can do right now!
- Keep the conversation going. As a parent, it is all too easy to control a conversati
on. You will be far more effective and realize your goal of learning more if you practice the art of Active Listening (Forbes: 10 steps to Effective Listening). This is particularly important when discussing career interests. Millennials have distinct ideas about the world of adulthood. They prioritize differently than workers in the past. Though they work hard, are tech savvy, and are known for a commitment to social justice, they also value personal time and a work/life balance. They are not afraid to change jobs frequently in order to find that life balance. It is important not to judge a different vision from your own experience. So, start the conversation early, as early as the winter of Freshman Year, and keep it going!
- Encourage a Career and Personality Assessment (Personality and Career Assessments – BeyondtheU). In Beyond the U’s survey, 80% of students expressed interest in taking an assessment. This tool can provide a great starting point for conversation, and it can give the student a place to start in exploring options.
- Suggest a visit to the college’s career center. Did you know 50% of students never visit their college’s career center? With the results of the assessment in hand, a fruitful conversation with the college’s career counselor can ensue. Many colleges have workshops that focus on resume writing, interviewing skills, and include internship opportunities, as well as connections to businesses who frequently hire new graduates. Some examples of what colleges offer can be found here: Best Colleges for Career Services – BestColleges.com
- Network, Network, Network. Do you know other parents who are interested in networking? Start a parent group to share ideas and contacts. Encourage your student to use social media for professional networking, and not simply for personal communication. A LinkedIn account is a great place to start. Your student can highlight work experience, skills, and indicate job/career interests in their profile. If your student has a particular non-controversial interest, encourage them to start tweeting links to interesting articles and to post articles to read on Facebook. This can establish a following online, and as others repost, the student’s name is circulated in wider circles. Many internships are gained through parent contacts, so introduce your student to friends who may offer an opportunity. Internships are still one of the best ways to get a job (Networking Tips for Millennials – Lifehack.org).
- Find a Mentor. Successful adults can always identify someone who was a mentor in their journey. As a parent, you naturally fulfill this role, but students can find mentoring through a favorite college professor, a family friend, or a co-worker/boss from an internship. Not only do mentors help shape a student’s work ethic and experience, they can provide critical links to finding permanent employment (Find a Career Mentor in College – US News).
Finally, and this goes without saying, a good GPA will make the job hunt much easier.
Always keep in mind that “patience is a virtue!” Though you and your student may be confused, anxious, and unsure where the journey will lead, embracing the above tools, and taking it a step at a time, will alleviate the stress. Every experience is valuable in shaping who the student will be as an adult, so encourage your student to accept any opportunity that arises. As a parent, you have successfully launched a child to college. It will be the same love and support that can help launch them to a career! We are confident your emerging adult will have a worthwhile journey into the world of work!