Career Preparation

First Year Student

First Year Student

Throughout a student's first year of college, they will begin to assess their interests, past expereince, and skills.  They will do this through their course work, involvement on campus, and interactions with others (friends, faculty, supervisors, etc...).

As a parent or family member you can support your student though their first year exploration by supporting their interests, validating their strengths, discussing their course work, asking intentional questions (see How to Be Involved), supporting and encouraging involvement with campus activities, recommending students visit their college's career services office, and encouraging them to gain real-world experience (see Experiential Learning).

Career services offices offer many resources (e.g. career coaching, mock interviews, introducing them to electronic resources, assessment instruments, etc.) that can assist students with the beginning stages of their career exploration process.  

Second Year Student

Second Year Student

On average, students begin to explore major and career options in their second year of college.  They have had a full year of course work and experience on campus.  How can you assist them with determining a major and possibly a minor?

  • Know that it is not uncommon for a student to be hesitant to commit to a major.  You can help by asking intentional questions (see How to Be Involved) or by suggesting they visit their college's career services office.  Even if they already visited their career office, they could not possibly have taken advantage of all the available resources. Encourage them to visit again!
  • Discuss the courses they enjoyed and have done well in.  Recommend they talk with faculty and academic advisors about their major.  
  • Have them think about whether the major matters for jobs they are interested in.  Do not assume that a major in philosophy, sociology, English, or any other "unrealistic" major will never land them a job after graduation.  Employers are seeking students with a well rounded liberal arts education, strong communication skills and experiences.  
  • Suggest they enhance their skills and knowledge through their minor course work too.  Have they considered taking a foreign language, computer course, career course, etc...
  • Encourage them to 'Network.'  Introduce them to a relative, friend, colleague, or acquaintance who is in the field(s) they are considering.  If you do not know anyone in their field of interest, or they simply want to speak with more people, encourage them to attend one of the many career events on campus and discuss networking strategies with a career counselor.  An additional option is to get involved in a mentorship program. Suggest they find out if their college offers a formal mentorship program. They can also gain access to the GoldPASS Professional Networking Database (available to students in CBS, CEHD, CLA, CSE).

Third Year Student

Third Year Student

During their third year students will declare their major.  It is important for students to test out their career options, through internships, part-time jobs (on or off campus), volunteering, and getting involved on campus or in their community.  

You can support them with their career by:

  • Encouraging them to use all resources available to them on-campus.  Their college's career services office is a great place to start.  They can get help with their resume, cover letter, job search process, access to employers, information about graduate or professional school, and so much more...
  • Encourage, support and give welcomed advice.  Be sure you are not doing the work for them.  Learning to navigate one's own career is an important to learn at this time in their life.

Fourth Year Student

Fourth Year Student

Their fourth and final year of their undergraduate education is where they will get organized for life after college.  They will conduct their job or graduate school searches.  Their course work will be heavily focused on their major.  They will often have more leadership roles with the activities and opportunities they have been involved in over the course of their college career.

Ways you can support your student with their last year of college are: