With 25+ years in higher education and the parent of a college senior, I have experienced first-hand how searching for jobs and internships can be a daunting task for students. However, with a strategy and an understanding of how to build a network, the process can be easier and more rewarding. The Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) provides support and resources for your student. But how can you use your experience to partner in your student’s professional development process?
- Share your story. Your experience and career journey can be very helpful to your student. Sharing the steps you took to get you where you are provides valuable insight. Make the process relatable by telling them your interview experiences. This will humanize the career process and let them know that this is just the beginning of their career journey.
- Expand their network. You do not have to work in the industry your student is interested in pursuing. Through your network, you can help them make connections in various professional areas. A parent or family member can be invaluable in opening doors. If you are able, explain to your student that you can connect them to family and friends who may be willing to talk with them about career advice or even be open to a job shadow opportunity. This process will also help refine your student’s communication skills.
- Listen. One of the most important ways parents can help in their student’s professional development is to listen. Ask them to share their strengths, talents and the type of work culture that interests them. They may not have answers to these questions, but it will get them thinking about and providing direction for their journey after college. By reassuring them that they have what it takes to succeed, they will gain more confidence in the professional development process.
- Help build their brand. Resumes, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters are the gateway to marketing yourself to potential employers. While CSPD offers resume review workshops, you can never have enough people reviewing your materials. Encourage your student to be one step ahead of others by using fall and winter break to make sure resume materials are error–free and tailored for specific opportunities.
- Encourage. The job and internship search requires motivation from your student. This is their journey, not yours. Be supportive and remind your student to take advantage of the free resources available to them at CSPD. Let them know that more interview practice and a polished resume often leads to more job offers.
Cynthia Smith is associate director of communications at the Fox School of Business.