Helping Your Student Succeed: Tips from Career Development

Dale Austin, Associate Dean of Career Development

Many students meet with us and report they have no idea where they should even start when it comes to networking and the job search. As a parent of three college graduates, I sincerely wanted the best for each of my children as they attended college. I hoped that they would figure out what they would major in, that they would have quality advisor relationships, and that they would have a plan for what they would want to pursue following graduation. Frankly the college years at times, were stressful, even though I had been working in a college setting. Questions about major, questions about what to do with the major, hoping that as each of my children entered their last year and last semester, that they would take the initiative and seek out viable options following graduation. There came a point in each instance with all three, that I had to trust that as adults, it was their responsibility to do, or to not do it. And sometimes part of becoming an adult is learning hard lessons, which too many times, we want to protect our children from.

Through my own experience, I saw the value in frequently serving as a sounding board to each of my “collegiate children”, empathizing with their struggles, providing encouragement and support whenever possible.

Encourage them to explore options

As my oldest considered post graduate options, I listened to her choices and pointed out pros and cons of each, with her deciding on taking a gap year before heading to the University of Michigan for graduate school. My son reconsidered pre-med after his sophomore year when he took organic chemistry. I expressed to him that the core outcome of his liberal arts education should be to think, write and communicate critically (i.e., effectively) and he decided to study History and now works as an entrepreneur. Whenever he is back in West Michigan, he reconnects with his former History advisor.

Importance of Internship Experience and Contacts

As my youngest planned for study abroad during a May term, I suggested that it would be wise to gain an internship for the summer; she also thought it made sense, and through a personal friend, was able to provide an introduction that resulted in an interview and summer intern role.

Guide Your Student to Resources

Events Coming Up:

GVSU Winter Career Fair

Out of State Teacher Fair

West Michigan Teacher Search

Technology/Online Resources:

Handshake

Spotlight on Careers (username: spotlightkey; password: lacn18)

InterviewStream

One important part of the job search that will be crucial for your student is networking! Here are four helpful tools and tips from Megan Scheldt, Career Counselor-Networking, to share with your student to help them combat the anxiousness surrounding networking.

Come meet with us!

The Career Development Center offers appointments specifically tailored to students seeking to network. During these meetings students are able to tap into the Career Resources Network. This database is a comprehensive list of alumni willing to connect with students for informational interviews!

Build a Strong LinkedIn Profile & Use the Alumni Database

Just as we review resumes, The Career Development Center is here to help students build a professional online presence. We also navigate students through the LinkedIn database of Hope College graduates.

 

Conduct Informational Interviews

No matter how a student finds a contact it is important that they conduct several informational interviews. It gives them the opportunity to hear firsthand from a working professional and be given advice to confidently move forward in the pursuit of their career. Many of our students have reported back that their contacts have helped them tweak their resume, passed along this document, as well as provided helpful tips for interviewing with their company. In addition to this, students can potentially expect to learn about jobs that are not yet posted on a company’s website.

Follow Up!

As cliche as it may be, “thank you” goes along way. It is important to encourage your student to write anyone who supports them with their job search a thank you note or email. Being able to clearly express what they learned as well as their gratitude can help them make a great impression! In addition to a thank you note, following up with contacts days, weeks, or months later is very crucial. At that time they might be hiring or be able to provide an additional introduction to another professional of value.

We asked a student!

Nursing Major, Madeleine Goodman

The process of searching for a job can be a stressful time for students, but there are some things that parents can do to help. However, there is a fine line between helping and nagging, and the trick is learning to navigate what your student wants from you and what they don’t want.

With all the help you give your student, there are still some pitfalls that parents should avoid stumbling into. A student does not want to be told what job they should do by their parent. A parent might just be trying to give a friendly suggestion when they confidently say, “You should do this job,” but a student is going to interpret that as an order. Using an “I” statement instead of a “you” statement can make sure that your student understands your suggestion is genuine. For example: “I think that you would excel in this career.” Paying attention to make sure that comments don’t come across as controlling can go a long way.

Not being controlling is key with your student. They are already worried about applying for jobs and preparing for interviews and having their parent checking up on them too frequently can aggravate them. You might want to be kept up to date on what’s happening in your student’s job search, but they might feel like you are watching to make sure they don’t mess up. As hard as it may be to be more hands off with your student, it will help reduce any friction.

Following these guidelines should help you help your student, but remember, you can never go wrong with simply asking your student what they would like from you during this big change.

 

 

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