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Career Coaching Tips for Parents - A Four Year Guide

Parents of First Year Students

The first year of college is a time of transition in many areas, making new friends, freedom of choice, facing the increased rigor of university academics, and expanding understanding of majors and careers. This is typically a time of assessing abilities, interests, and personality while evaluating majors. Students make these judgments based on their success (or failure) and interest in their courses, involvement in activities, and discussions with family and friends.

Ways you can help:
  1. Affirm your student's abilities, skills, interests, and personality traits. You've spent a lot of time with your son or daughter and probably have some valuable insights! He/she may have forgotten his/her positive traits in the flood of college life. Listen to your student's thoughts and comments and be open to change.


  2. Refer your student to the CCO for career counseling if he/she is confused about his/her major. The CCO offers a variety of interest, personality and values inventories. A career consultant can provide many strategies for exploration and evaluation of careers and majors which may fit. The CCO is located in Young Hall 132. Students may call 765-494-3981 to make an appointment.


  3. Encourage your student to:
    1. Develop strong study skills - poor academic performance can limit academic options.
    2. Get involved in campus life. It provides an opportunity to development leadership skills that employers are seeking! It also often makes the difference in feeling that Purdue is a good choice.
    3. Balance social life and academics. The above suggestions may seem conflicting at first glance. BALANCE is the key to creating a successful first year.


  4. Allow your student to try new ideas. Don't panic if History, English, or Psychology are mentioned. If the option isn't a good fit, it will probably pass, but if it does match the student's interests and abilities, she/he may have discovered a great career path. Encourage your student to explore majors and careers thoroughly, including tasks, job market, salary, etc.


  5. Listen non-judgmentally to your student's thoughts and feelings about classes, activities, friends, etc. You may pick up valuable information to help in the decision-making process!


Parents of Second Year Students

Sophomore year is a time of serious reflection about major and career direction. The second year is a time of evaluating the prospect of succeeding or failing in this major. Your student is aware that if she waits much longer to make a change, it may take more time and money to graduate. A student that hasn't been ready to consider other options may now want to explore a variety of majors and careers. If she is content in her major, she may be realizing that it is important to add relevant professional experience to her classroom experience.

Ways you can help:
  1. Refer your student to the CCO for career counseling if he expresses ongoing doubt about his choice of major. The CCO offers a variety of interest, personality and values inventories. The consultant can also provide many strategies for exploration and evaluation of careers and majors The CCO is located in Young Hall 132. Your student may call 765-494-3981 to make an appointment.


  2. Encourage your student to talk to faculty and advisors for more information about majors and careers of interest. Professional relationships can inspire interest that isn't sparked in the classroom.


  3. Direct your student to colleagues, friends or family employed in careers of interest. Informational interviews are a great way of expanding knowledge about a career field. Informational interviewing involves asking a professional questions about her job, how she got into the field, requirements for that career path including skills needed, educational background, and recommendations for success in the field.


  4. Suggest that your student develop or refine his resume. A resume is the primary document for marketing skills and education to a potential employer for internships and full-time employment.


  5. Inform your student that he can apply for internships through myCCO, on-campus interviews, and job listings.

Parents of Third Year Students

The junior year is a critical time for gaining professional experience and leadership experience. Students can get experience through internships, cooperative education, service learning, volunteering, independent projects, study abroad, and leadership in organizations. Experience serves students by helping them to understand competencies while preparing them to demonstrate these to prospective employers. Employers increasingly expect graduates to enter their organizations or companies with track records of professional experience.

Ways you can help:
  1. Encourage your student to obtain relevant professional experience. The CCO provides a host of resources for seeking internships and other professional experiences.


  2. Suggest that your student take on a leadership role in an organization of interest.


  3. Ask your student if he is aware of research and/or service learning opportunities on campus.


  4. Support your student in applying for positions through myCCO, the online system to connecting students and employers through on-campus interviews and job listings.


  5. Send your student the CCO Calendar and encourage them to attend career fairs or other events pertinent to her career goals.

Parents of Fourth Year Students and Beyond

Senior Year is another time of transition. Whether a student plans to enter the world-of-work or continue his education through graduate or professional school, it takes a lot of preparation to obtain a satisfying first job or higher education program. Today's students live in a world of change and in many ways are comfortable with multiple job changes and career changes, but senior year can be stressful because of the dual goals of successfully completing a degree and competing for jobs or graduate/professional school admission.

Ways you can help:
  1. Encourage your student to seek career consultation if he is undecided about whether to pursue professional employment or seek further education. The CCO is located in Young Hall 132. Students may call 765-494-3981 to make an appointment.


  2. Suggest that your student meet with a faculty member in her department to discuss preparing for graduate study and finding an appropriate graduate program.


  3. Refer your student to the Office of Pre-Health Advising if he is planning on applying for a professional medical program or to the pre-law advisor if considering applying to law school.


  4. Advise your student to begin the job search process early in the fall semester as the heaviest recruiting activities occur in the first half of the fall term (on-campus interviewing, career fairs, company days, etc.).


  5. Encourage your student to hone his job search skills by having his resume reviewed at the CCO, attending a job search or interviewing workshop, or practicing interviewing.


  6. Offer names of friends, family, and colleagues who might be valuable job search resources for your student and suggest how that person might be of assistance.