10 Ways to Help Your Son or Daughter Make Good Career Decisions
1. Encourage your student to visit the Career Development Center
- Visiting the Career Development Center (CDC) – Botany Building
When on campus, visit our center in the Botany Building, pick up some business cards, and become aware of our programs and services; review our website. If your son or daughter is anxious about the future, offer a card or our web address and encourage your student to call or email us. Spring semester of the first year of college is the optimal time to start using the career center, after your student has had a chance to “settle into” life at Bucknell.
- Ask your student (casually) if they have visited the CDC. Assure them that career services is not just for seniors and that a meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point during their college career.
- For wiser career decision-making, encourage them to take advantage of our career counseling services regarding majors, careers, graduate and professional school options AND skills, interest, & personality assessments.
- Encourage them early on to use our online career resources, including industry profiles, and network of alumni willing to talk about jobs and careers, as well as the Career Resource Library in Botany. We also provide ongoing walk-in services in resume and cover letter writing.
2. Challenge your student to become occupationally literate
- Career decision-making is a process; discourage putting it off until senior year. Ask: “Do you have any ideas about what you might want to do when you graduate?” If your student is unsure, talk about the qualities you see as their personal strengths and talents. Recommend that they: take a self-assessment inventory or skill & interest survey at the CDC, talk to favorite faculty members, research a variety of interesting career fields and employers, attend the various programs that the CDC offers throughout the year.
3. Allow your student to make the decision
- This may be one of the first really big decisions your son/daughter has had to make. Be patient, sympathetic, and understanding, even if you don’t agree with your child’s decisions. Too much prodding can backfire – but do check in occasionally. It is okay to make suggestions, but let your student be the ultimate judge of what is best.
- Myth: A student must major in something “practical” or “marketable”
Truth: Students should follow their own interests and passions
- Myth: Picking your major means picking the career you will have forever.
Truth: That is no longer true. “Major” does not necessarily mean “career”, and it is not unusual for students to change majors. The chances are plans will develop and change. It is okay to change majors – and careers.
4. Advise your student to write a resume
- This can be a “reality test” that helps students identify gap or weak areas that need improvement.
5. Emphasize the importance of externships and internships
- Having relevant experience in today’s competitive job market is critical. Externships, internships, summer employment opportunities and/or volunteer work will give your student an opportunity to sample career options.
- Why an externship? Externships (job shadowing experiences for sophomores over Winter Break) provide exposure to the world of work so students can make decisions and become more informed about careers before finding an internship.
- Why an internship? Internships provide experience and help develop communication, problem-solving, and administrative skills. Doing well academically is not enough; a strong letter of recommendation from an internship supervisor can tip the scale of an important interview.
6. Encourage extracurricular involvement
7. Persuade your student to stay up-to-date with current events
- Employers expect students to know what is going on around them. On Bucknell's campus we enjoy free issues of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and USA Today. Encourage them to read online publications related to their career interests; discuss major world and business issues with them.
8. Expose your student to the world of work
- Take your student to your workplace, explain what you do for a living, help identify potential connections or employers.
9. Teach the value of networking
- Introduce your student to people who have careers and jobs that are of interest to them, if possible. In addition, there are many Bucknell alumni and parents who are willing to talk with students about what they do or about their organization/industry. Suggest your student contact people for information about possible summer jobs. Encourage him/her to “shadow” someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields.
- We also have many networking opportunites for students, both at events and online. Help us educate students on the value of attending the career fairs and alumni panels that are offered through our office.
- Students and alumni can also connect through LinkedIn
- Encourage your student to read up on our Networking and LinkedIn tips on the Career Insider (blog)
10. Help the Career Development Center
- Get involved!
- Call us when you have an summer or full-time job opening
- Sponsor an extern for two days at your organization
- If your company hires interns, have the internships listed in the CDC
- Join our advisory network and use your “real-world’ experience to advise students of their career options, participate in a career event on or off campus, or be a speaker at a career workshop; we welcome your involvement!
Additional Links for Parents