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Preparing for a Career Fair

Careers 401-For parents of graduating seniors

The senior year is when organizing and conducting a job search or graduate school search begins in earnest. It is also a time when students are heavily involved in more advanced courses in their majors and often have more responsible roles in campus and/or volunteer activities. Balancing these important pursuits and setting priorities is a constant challenge for seniors!

You are probably anxious for this young adult to make a decision-and yet, he or she may be moving toward closure more slowly than you would wish.

There are a number of ways you can lend support during this challenging time.

  • Suggest that he or she use the campus career center throughout the senior year. These offices provide assistance in preparation for the job search offering some or more of the following:
  • Workshops and individual help with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and other job-search skills,
    individual and group career advising,
  • A library of books and bookmarks to web sites with links to job resources,
  • On-campus interviewing opportunities and alumni career consultant or mentor programs may also be a part of their services.
  • Don't nag your child about not having a job yet! This will often have the reverse effect. Use positive reinforcement.
  • Offer to assist by sending information you may have found about the career field of your student's choice and/or job listings that may be of interest. Listen for indications from the student that you are getting carried away-and back off!
  • Don't call potential employers to intervene for your child. Contact with potential employers is the candidate's responsibility!
  • Be prepared to support your child through the ups and downs of the job and graduate school search. It can be a bumpy road! Not every desired job or graduate school acceptance will come through. Your student will need reassurance that for every door that closes, another opens.

A few final thoughts

The college years are a time of exploration, experimentation, and learning on many levels for students and their parents! Some student challenges may seem more positive than others, but all contribute to the educational outcomes of the college or university experience.

Throughout these years, students are developing a "record of achievement" which will be evaluated by employers and graduate schools as they move beyond college. There are several pieces of this record:

Academic achievement. Although it is not (and should not be) the primary factor in determining a candidate's success, the grade point average (GPA) is one factor considered by competitive employers and graduate schools. It is one of the few tangible indications of a student's ability to learn and perform effectively, at least in the academic environment. Therefore, students need to do as well as possible in the classroom, especially in courses in their majors.
Responsible work experience. In today's competitive employment market, many employers seek students who have related internship, summer, cooperative education, or part-time job or volunteer experiences. In fact, employers often look to their own such programs as primary sources for their new hires. These experiences are particularly critical for liberal arts students whose majors may not appear to be directly related to their areas of career interest.
Responsible involvement outside the classroom. Extracurricular activities provide the opportunity for students to gain many valuable and career-related skills such as the ability to work effectively with others in a team environment; leadership; planning and organizational skills; and priority-setting and time management. These are part of the package of skills employers seek in their new hires.

Best of luck to you in navigating the challenging waters of parenting a college or university student!

Thanks to the National Association of Colleges and Employers for the content.

Student Center room 239

Monday-Friday
8am-5pm

501-279-4454

H.U. Box 12243

careercenter@harding.edu