Almost every college or university has an office dedicated to helping students find a career in which they are interested and to getting a job after college. Whether the office is called the Career Center, Career Services Office, Career Placement Office, or some other variation of the title, the function is similar everywhere. The variety of services offered by these offices is usually wide-ranging. Unfortunately, many students think of the Career Office as a place they should visit during that last semester of senior year as graduation looms and they realize that they won’t be returning to school in the fall. Students who learn early that the Career Office can help them, and who visit often at various stages of their college experience, are able to take full advantage of what this department has to offer.
What do Career Offices do?
Most Career Offices offer a variety of services for students. Some of these services are specifically designed to help students early in their college experiences as they work to decide on their interests, strengths, and abilities and to choose a major. Here are a few of the things that your student may be able to do in the Career Office.
- Participate in self-assessment activities designed to find out more about his personality, abilities, strengths, interests and values.
- Learn more about the types of careers that utilize his abilities and interests.
- Explore majors offered by the college.
- Explore careers that relate to the various majors offered.
- Connect with college alumni to discuss their career paths.
- Maintain and manage an ongoing file with cover letter, resume, letters of recommendation and references.
- Explore internship opportunities and apply for internships.
- Participate in workshops or receive individual help with cover letters and resumes.
- Practice interviewing techniques.
- Participate in informational interviews.
- Attend and participate in career fairs with employers visiting the campus.
- Participate in job shadowing.
- Make use of a library of resources about careers and job openings.
- Learn about graduate school programs and application requirements and procedures.
The earlier that your student learns to take advantage of the many services and opportunities, and to get to know the Career Office personnel, the more assistance and assurance he will get.
What can parents do to help students?
As a parent, you will be able to have many meaningful conversations with your college student regarding her career interests and choices. However, you can also help your student in several direct ways.
- Encourage your student to visit the Career Office early in her college career. If your student is undecided about a major, there will be materials to help her learn about majors. If she knows what her major is, she can find information about careers related to that major and about internship opportunities.
- Talk to your student about his skills and interests. Help him to explore what he might like to do – and to get to know himself even better.
- Talk to your student about your own job and responsibilities. Discuss the things that you like and don’t like about your job.
- Encourage your student to participate in at least one internship during her college career. This is a wonderful way to “audition” a job and to learn about the work world, as well as to build a solid resume.
- Encourage your student to take advantage of any networking opportunities and/or career fairs offered by the Career Office.
- Volunteer to work with the Career Office by visiting, mentoring a student, participating on a panel, allowing a student to shadow you at your job.
Colleges definitely want to see their graduates succeed in the world. Providing the services of a Career or Placement office is one way in which most colleges assist their students. However, the services are only as helpful as the use that students make of them. Help your student take full advantage of what the college is offering by helping him understand that the Career Office may have something for him all through his four years.