Congratulations on your student’s choice to attend Kalamazoo College, and welcome to the K community!
We in the CCPD look forward to supporting your student’s personal and professional growth over their four-year college career and beyond. From one-on-one career coaching to extensive professional networks of alumni mentors, we offer the resources your student will need to prepare for success after college. We expect your student to take responsibility for their career exploration and planning, and we encourage parents to play a supportive role.
One of the most valuable things parents can do to help a student with career planning is very simple: listen without judgment. Ask non-leading questions, be open to your student’s ideas, and encourage your student to explore all of the opportunities a Kalamazoo College education affords.
Here are 10 other ways you can help:
1. Encourage your student to visit the CCPD “early and often”.
Anytime your student expresses interest, enthusiasm or anxiety about their future, suggest that they visit the CCPD. Meetings with a career coach can take place at any point during a student’s college career. The sooner your student becomes familiar with the CCPD’s staff, resources, and programs, the better prepared they will be to make wise career decisions.
2. Advise your student to create a resume and a LinkedIn profile.
Writing a resume can be a “reality test” and can help a student identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. Suggest your student use the CCPD’s resume resource to get started. You can review their resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, and then recommend a critique by a Career Associate (specially trained student advisors) or a career coach.
Your student’s basic resume will help populate a LinkedIn profile, an important complement to a paper resume in today’s virtual job market. Again, the CCPD can guide development of this important professional tool. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you might offer to connect with your student to allow access to your professional network.
3. Challenge your student to become “occupationally literate”.
Ask: “Do you have any ideas about what you might want to do when you graduate?” If your student seems unsure, you can talk about your student’s talents and strengths. A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute event; discourage putting this decision off until the senior year. You can also recommend:
- Talking to favorite faculty members about opportunities
- Job shadowing a professional or completing an externship or internship in an interest area
- Researching a variety of interesting career fields and employers
- Reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of alumni professionals
4. Allow your student to make the decision.
Even though it is helpful to occasionally ask about career plans or choice of major, too much prodding can backfire. It is okay to make suggestions about majors and career fields, but let your student be the ultimate judge of what is best. Career decision-making can be stressful. Maybe this is the first really big decision that your student has had to make. Be patient, sympathetic and understanding, even if you do not agree with your child’s decisions.
5. Emphasize the importance of externships, internships, and job experience.
In a competitive entry-level job market, having relevant experience is critical. Your student can sample career options and gain skills by securing externships and internships, employment opportunities or volunteer work in a field of interest. The summer after a student’s first or second year is a perfect time to pursue an externship through the Discovery Externship Program, which places students with alumni sponsors for 1-4 week extended job shadows and homestays during the summer. The CCPD can also help rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors to search for and secure summer internships.
6. Encourage extracurricular involvement.
Suggest that your student be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities highly valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities, and through on campus employment and service-learning.
7. Persuade your student to stay up-to-date with current events.
Employers will expect students to know what is happening around them. Encourage your student to subscribe or read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or other applicable journals and publications. Ask about lectures and performances taking place on campus. When your student is home on break, discuss major world and business issues.
8. Expose your student to the world of work.
Most students have a stereotypical view of the workplace. Engage your student in conversations about the world of work. Explain to your student what you do for a living. Take your student to your workplace. Additionally, show them the value of networking by interacting with your own colleagues. Help your student identify potential employers and internship sites and research industries of interest.
9. Teach the value of networking.
Introduce your student to people who have careers/jobs that may be of interest. Suggest your student contact people in your personal and professional networks for information on summer jobs, internships, or simply for an informational interview. Encourage your student to “shadow” someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields. Winter break can be a great time period to pursue such opportunities.
10. Help the CCPD.
There are many ways you can partner with the CCPD:
- If your company hires summer interns, share the internship listings with the CCPD—and the same goes for jobs.
- Finally, parents may offer to host student Externs through the Discovery Externship program.
Visit our For Parents and Families page for more resources.