Tips for Parents
What Will My Student Choose to Do? Making Career Choices
For many college students, the pressure to determine a future career weighs heavily on their minds. And this economy sure isn't helping. Even though we know that the majority of people change careers several times throughout their lifetime, students still experience substantial stress as they try to figure out what they want to do with the "rest" of their lives.
Luckily, internships and co-op opportunities allow students to "try out" a career through hands-on experience. Job shadowing through the alumni or career office can be a great way to gain practical knowledge, too. Encourage your student to visit the career center on campus now — they offer plenty of opportunities that your student may never have considered!
Although nothing beats real-life experience, online tools are also available to help students examine their career possibilities. One website, TheCareerProject.org, is a free resource that disseminates practical career advice — directly from the people who work in the careers shared. It includes profiles, detailed interviews, statistics and an hour-by-hour account of a typical workday.
The campus career center site can also provide tools for students to use — and for parents/families to peruse. As you and your student are using these resources, consider asking questions such as "What types of jobs can I/my student pursue with a major in _______?" and "What are some ways I/my student can better prepare for work within the _______ field?"
How to Help Your Student Explore Career Options
- Support your student as she chooses to take a variety of classes. This is what college is all about. You never know what might spark a student's interest and lead to a career choice in the future.
- Talk, listen and suggest options. Many students go through several years of college before deciding what they want to do. This is normal. Encourage your student to take advantage of internships and other practicum opportunities to try out potential career areas. The more exposure your student has to different arenas, the better.
- Keep the panicking to a minimum. This is an important developmental step in your student's life. Remind him to take advantage of campus resources like career fairs, the career center and more. You might even consider visiting the career center's website yourself to get tips and explore resources.
- Share your wisdom. Many students don't consider the values and lifestyle choices associated with making a career decision. What have you learned along the way? What might you have done the same or differently? Share openly but just remember that your student's values might be different than your own at this point in his life.
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