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Frequently Asked Questions by Parents and Family
My student is graduating but hasn't started a job search. What can I do?
Encourage your student to set-up an appointment with a career advisor as soon as possible. Career advisors can give students a perspective on the employer partners they work with and their recruiting cycle, training on using Sycamore Career Link (online job and resume database), and other job search resources.
What does The Career Center offer my student?
We have services for each stage of the career planning process and we hope your student will take advantage of them all.
- Developing a career plan, finding a major, and what can I do with a major?
- Resume and cover letter development
- Practice interviews
- Career Fairs
- Networking, Etiquette and Career Workshops
- Graduate school preparation
- Job Shadowing, Internship, and full-time job search assistance
- And More… Check out the Career Center's Student section.
When should my student start using the Career Center?
It is never too early to start thinking about career and professional development. The earlier students start addressing career issues, the more successful they will be. We encourage students to start using our services as soon as they can. There are many things students can start with right away – career assessments, resume writing, and searching for internships. To learn about the services we recommend for students at different developmental levels, check out our Four Year Plan.
Does my student's college major determine his/her career?
The relationship varies between college major and careers. For example, accountants typically need accounting degrees and nurses need to have a nursing degree. But professionals in other fields such as public service have degrees in many fields such as social welfare, political science, communications, etc. It is more important for students to focus on the skills developed through a course of study, rather than the title of their major course of study. All academic majors allow students to develop transferable skills that are desired by employers. It is important for students to choose a major that is a good fit with their interests and skills because "hot" majors may not lead to success if they are not a good match.
What skills and characteristics do employers look for?
According to the annual employer survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers seek a wide range of qualities when hiring new employees: communication skills, integrity, teamwork skills, problem solving, motivation, initiative, work ethic, analytical skills, flexibility, adaptability, computer skills, organizational skills, attention to detail, leadership skills, self-confidence, friendly personality, tactfulness, politeness, creativity, entrepreneurial skills, and sense of humor.
My student is interested in "everything" and is having a difficult time choosing a major. What should he/she do?
It is extremely common for students to have a broad range of interests and to feel overwhelmed about choosing "one thing" to study. We encourage students to explore a number of different fields, especially during their first couple semesters. They can do this by taking introductory courses, speaking with faculty members in academic departments in which they have some interest, speaking directly with people already employed in different fields of various careers, and learning what requirements it takes to be successful.
We also encourage students to seek assistance with their exploration process by taking our free MyPlan career assessment and meeting with a career advisor.
Is a high GPA in the right major all my student needs for career success?
No! Finding a satisfying job and developing a fulfilling career depends on more than good grades and the right major. Career-related experience during the college years is also very important because it allows students to assess the fit between their interests and skills and potential careers. Students can get career-related experience through internships and summer jobs, campus jobs, community service projects, involvement in student and professional organizations, research, and many additional places.
How do employers look at students who have a lot of work experience but not much career-related experience?
Employers ultimately want employees who are hard workers. A track record of hard work is impressive. Work experience specific to a student's intended career is desirable, but any work experience coupled with a demonstrated commitment to the intended career through coursework, projects, and other activities is also valuable. While there may be some fields where lack of related experience can be an obstacle to permanent employment, career advisors in the Career Center can work with students to overcome these obstacles.
What is an internship?
Internships are time-limited work that provide opportunities for students to learn something specific or new. Tasks associated with internships usually center around projects. Internships can last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years and they can take place during the academic year or during the summer. Internships can be paid or unpaid. Students can research more information on internships online and using Sycamore Career Link.
Does involvement in extracurricular activities help students get jobs after graduation?
Most employers highly value students' involvement in activities outside of class. Participation in activities such as athletics, student government, student clubs, and performing arts allows students to work in teams, complete projects, develop leadership ability, and strengthen other skills they may not be able to develop in the classroom. Employers tend to value substantial involvement and leadership roles in a few activities rather than superficial involvement in many activities.
How can I best assist my student with his/her career development?
Parents of university students often wonder what they can do to help their children with career-related concerns and questions. Parents have significant influence over the career development of adolescents and young adults so we appreciate your interest in learning how to use your influence in a positive way. Check out our "Top 5" list of ways you can support your student's career development.
Can you suggest any books with additional resources?
- 25 Jobs That Have it All
Checkmark Books; 2nd edition (November 2003)
- Best Jobs for the 21st Century
Michael Farr; JIST Works (2006)
- Career Coaching Your Kids: Guiding Your Child through the Process of Career Discovery
David H. Montross; Davis-Black Publishing (2004)
- Career Patterns: A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities
Annette Price, Marilee Robertson; Prentice Hall (2003)
- College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs
Neeta P. Fogg, Paul Harrington, Thomas Harrington; JIST Publishing (2004)
- Dig This Gig
Laura Dodd; Citadel Press (2011)
- Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money
Johnson and Schelhas-Miller; St. Martin's Press (2000)
- Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College
Andrea Van Steenhouse; Simpler Life Press (2002)
- Hand-Me-Down Dreams: How Families Influence Our Career Paths and How We Can Reclaim Them
Mary H. Jacobsen, Sarah Silbert; Three Rivers Press (2010)
- Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years
Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger; Harper Paperbacks (2009)
- Major in Success
Combs, Ten Speed Press (2007)
- Majoring in the Rest of your Life
Carol Carter; LifeBound (April 2010)
- Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their MindsRichard J. Light; Harvard University Press (2001)
- Parent's Crash Course in Career Planning: Helping your College Student Succeed
Marcia B. Harris, Sharon Jones; McGraw-Hill (2007)
If you have questions, always feel free to contact the Career Center and the staff will be happy to find the answer.