A Parent’s Guide to Career Development

The most valuable things parents can do to help a student with career planning are:

  • Listen
  • Be open to ideas
  • Help your student find information

Here are eight more things you can do to help:

1. Encourage your student to visit the Career Development Office (and you go too!)

Next time you visit campus, drop into Career Development 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 the spring semester of the freshman year is the optimal time to start using Career Development services. Ask your student (in an off-handed way), “Have you visited Career Development?” If you hear, “You only go there when you are a senior,” then it’s time to reassure him/her that meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point—and should take place frequently—throughout a college career.

The FDU Career Development Office offers a full range of career development and job-search help, including:

  • 1 hour, individual career counseling appointment
  • Resume and cover letter reviews
  • Mock interviews
  • Websites and resources for job searching
  • Workshops on career related advice, such as choosing a major
  • Career Fairs and networking

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. Students may find that they need more experiences to fill it out and be a top candidate when they graduate. Suggest that your student get sample resumes from Career Development.

You can review resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, but recommend that the final product be critiqued by a career counselor who works with your student’s major.

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. You can also recommend:

  • Taking a “self-assessment inventory,” such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Strong Assessment (both available at Career Development)
  • 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.

FDU also offers great resources for information and exploration: What Can I do with this Major? and The Occupational Outlook Handbook

4. Emphasize the importance of internships

Career Development 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 employment opportunities or volunteer work.

Why an internship?

  • Employers are interested in communication, problem-solving, and administrative skills, which can be developed through internships.
  • Employers look for experience on a student’s resume and often hire from within their own internship programs.
  • Having a high GPA is not enough.
  • A strong letter of recommendation from an internship supervisor may tip the scale of an important interview in their favor.

5. Encourage extracurricular involvement

Part of experiencing college life is to be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities.

6. Help your student to stay up-to-date with current events

Employers will expect students to know what is happening around them. Each student receives a free subscription to The New York Times via the FDU Library. Encourage your child to read it each week and discuss current events with them.

7. Teach the value of networking

Introduce your student to people who have the careers/jobs that are of interest. Suggest your son or daughter contact people in your personal and professional networks for information on summer jobs. Encourage your child to “shadow” someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields. Talk to your child about the realities of the working world, the pros and the cons. Have them conduct an “informational interview” to learn more from those directly in their field who can offer an honest perspective.

8. Help Career Development when you can

Email Career Development when you have a summer, part-time, or full-time job opening. The staff will help you find a hard-working student. If your company hires interns, have the internships listed on Career Quest, our job board. Register and attend one of our Career Fairs to meet fantastic FDU students and see the process from the other end.

Adapted by Juli McDonald from Thomas J. Denham. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.