The pathway from college to career can wind and often shifts throughout the college experience. You can play a pivotal role in helping your student with her career planning process and transitioning into the professional workplace. Thinking about career planning as a process that takes time and energy over a student’s entire time in college is helpful to prepare her for a successful, strong transition after college. Here are some ways to support your student:
Listen and help her explore career pathways.
Say: What ideas do you have about what you might want to do when you graduate? You’ve done (insert activity/leadership experience, etc.) this year, how has that experience influenced your thoughts on what you might like to do after graduation?
Do: This can be a challenging conversation for many. If your student is feeling uncertain, talk to her about the personal strengths and skills that you’ve seen her use. You can recommend that she meet with a career counselor in Meredith’s Office of Career Planning (OCP) to consider a self-assessment. Help her to develop her career knowledge by researching a variety of fields and employers through tools including: onetonline.org, careeronestop.org, nccareers.org and meredith.edu/acp/classroom-to-career. Talk about values and factors that are important to your student such as job-market demand, skills and education required, salary averages, etc.
Advocate for her to plan to build experience.
Say: What experiences do you think would interest you? Have you considered/looked into them? What experiences do you think will help you to decide if this field/career is the right fit for you?
Do: Employers will seek graduates with relevant, real-world work experience. Students should not wait until senior year to begin thinking about seeking career-related experiences. Sometimes the most meaningful and impactful opportunities aren’t the ones located in your hometown or the most financially lucrative. Have conversations early and often about the importance of building experience and help your student to seek these experiences out early in her time in college. These could include part-time jobs, internships, co-ops, research, volunteer opportunities, etc. Collaborate with her to plan for any adjustments to housing, course schedules and budget that will allow her to take advantage of key experiences. Encourage your student to stay active on CareerLink and meet with her career counselor in OCP to explore opportunities.
Open your network and facilitate career conversations.
Say: Who have you talked to that works in (insert area of interest)? Let’s think about people we know in career fields that interest you (such as neighbors or relatives) so you can set up informational interviews with them.
Do: Help your student develop contacts and approach them for information, advice and assistance in their career planning and job search. Who do you know who does work similar to your student’s interests? Who might work in an environment, if not a position, that is interesting to your student? Think broadly, refer your student to friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members, etc. Encourage your student to have an informational conversation with that contact to learn more about their work, career path and skills. Listen to your student after the conversation and help her reflect on the information she gathered.
–By Katie Peterssen, Assistant Director, Career Development