The following tips are from The Parent's Crash Course in Career Planning: Helping Your College Student Succeed by Marcia B. Harris and Sharon L. Jones and from the FPU Career Services Center.
- Choosing a Career/Choosing a Major
The CSC assists students in all phases of self-assessment, career exploration, decision-making and job search. We encourage students to start working with our office during their freshman or sophomore year. Students have many factors to consider such as skills required, market demand, salary range and education required for a major and/or career. For additional information and career resources, visit our office or check our Career Services pages.
- Choosing to Double Major
Most employers do not place a premium on a double major. It usually requires an extra one or two semesters to obtain a second major and does not particularly enhance a student's marketability. Exceptions would be a second major chosen for a specific career, such as English and chemistry for technical writing or pre-health and business for hospital administration. Of course, some students may choose to double major primarily for intellectual purposes.
- Grade Point Average (GPA)
Encourage your son or daughter to make academics a high priority beginning with his or her freshman year. Some students who get off to a rocky start eventually raise their grades; however, this can be very difficult to do, so starting well is important. When computing a student's GPA, advanced placement credits and study abroad courses generally do not count. Employers vary on the emphasis on GPA. Some use GPA cutoffs in considering applicants. Other employers stress the student's overall background: experience, job history, leadership activities, etc. Of course, for graduate school, GPA is always important.
- Obtaining Marketable Skills
Most employers put as much or more emphasis on graduates' skills than on their academic majors. Encourage your college student to develop the top ten qualities employers want:
- Team player and interpersonal skills
- Quantitative skills (accounting, statistics, economics)
- Communication skills (written and oral)
- Work ethics, integrity and honesty
- Analytical skills and critical thinking
- Motivation and initiative
- Leadership skills
- Computer skills
- Ability to be flexible and adaptable
- Leadership Activities
Many employers rate leadership activities even more highly than GPA. Being involved in a few meaningful leadership roles which can be mentioned on a resume is valuable. On the other hand, a long list of college clubs or activities done in high school will not be as significant.
You may want your son or daughter to work in his or her hometown every summer. However, the experience gained as a lifeguard or counter clerk does not compare to that which comes from an internship (paid or unpaid) in the career field that he or she aspires to enter. Employers seek graduates with relevant, real-world work experience. Some students have little to write about on a resume if their summers were spent in school, traveling or working at low-level jobs. We strongly suggest that students seek career-related experience for their sophomore and junior summers even if they must live away from home or accept an unpaid internship. Students needing financial support can combine an unpaid internship with a paid job such as a waiter/waitress, etc. Studies indicate that 70 percent of college graduates with work-related experience get jobs faster than those without.
- Planning for Graduate/Professional School
In a recent survey, about 88 percent of the nation's college freshmen indicated that they plan to go to graduate or professional school, yet only about 24 percent do so within a year of completing their bachelor's degree. Students aspiring to graduate or professional school should:
- Be clear about the reasons they want to go on for further education
- Research the qualifications required for admission and be realistic about their chances for acceptance
- Always have a back-up plan in case they are not accepted
Students should discuss their interest in graduate or professional school with their academic advisor well before their senior year. The CSC offers information about graduate programs, admissions and exams required for entry into graduate school.
- Using the Career Services Center (CSC)
Students should begin taking advantage of the CSC their freshman year. The CSC provides individual career counseling and advising, internship assistance, career fairs, part-time and full-time job listings, on-campus interviews, and a number of workshops on career planning, resumes, interviewing, job search etiquette and more! Your son or daughter should seek help early with choosing a major and career and preparing for it. Competition for good jobs is stiff, but the CSC helps prepare students for the challenge. Our experts are ready to assist your college student today!