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In support of students’ post-graduation ambitions, the Career Connections Center offers undergraduate students a suite of resources. Our resources are geared to help your student explore, get ready and gain experience so they are well prepared for their next step after Clark.

The Career Connections Center is located on the first floor of the Shaich  Family Alumni and Student Engagement Center and is part of the LEEP Student Success Network. We work closely with employers, alumni and partners to connect them with our students for full-time, part-time, summer internship opportunities.

As family members, you play an important role in the life of your college student and the choices and decisions they make about their future.  We hope you will explore what we have to offer students and encourage your student to seek us out. The Career Connections Center is here to support all undergraduate students in all stages of the process.

Listed below are helpful links to information to address questions or concerns you likely have.

The Career Connections Center communicates with students in many ways, including emails from our office that highlight upcoming deadlines, programs, and opportunities. Please encourage your student to read this information. If you are interested in keeping up with the Career Connections Center, you can follow us on Facebook @CONNECTclark, and/or Instagram @clark_connect.

A Career Planning Course for Parents

By Sally Kearsley
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Your son or daughter just left for (or returned to) college but doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what he or she wants to major in, let alone choose as a career. Don’t worry, this is not unusual, although you might wish your child had a little more sense of direction.

Choosing a career is a process students need to go through — and they go through the stages of this process at different rates of speed. The steps include:

  • Assessing skills, interests, and abilities (an important first step to choosing an appropriate career).
  • Exploring majors and career options.
  • Experimenting with possible career options.
  • Organizing and conducting a job or graduate school search.

You can assist and support your child in each of these stages. But what can — or should — you do?

Here’s your own career planning timetable.

During their first year or so of college, students will be involved (formally or informally) in assessing their skills, interests, and abilities. They will do this through finding success (or failure) in courses they take, involvement in campus activities, discussions with their friends and faculty, and by being exposed to and trying out different ideas and experiences.

Most students enter college with a very limited knowledge of the vast array of courses and majors available to them. When they begin to delve into studies that are new to them, even those who entered with a plan may be drawn to different options. This is an exciting time for students.

What You Can Do to Help

Support your child’s exploration of new areas of study and interests. This, after all, is what education is all about.

Affirm what you know to be areas of skill and ability he or she has consistently demonstrated. Sometimes students overlook these and need to be reminded.

Talk with your son or daughter about the courses and activities he or she is enjoying. Students discover new things about themselves throughout the college experience. Your willingness to listen and be a sounding board will keep you in the loop.

Don’t panic if your child is excited about majoring in something like English, history, or art. These can be excellent choices, particularly if they are a good match for a student’s interests and skills.

Support your son or daughter’s responsible involvement in campus activities but urge this to be balanced with maintaining achievement in the classroom.

Urge your child to seek assistance in the campus career center. Most institutions have assessment instruments and counselors to help students to define their skills, interests, and abilities.

Generally, during the second year of college, a student begins to explore majors and career options more seriously. Many colleges and universities require that new students take a broad range of subjects to promote this exploration.

What You Can Do to Help

Don’t insist upon a decision about a major or possible career choice immediately. If you sense that your child’s indecision is a barrier to positive progress, urge that he or she look for assistance in the career center. Students often have difficulty making a “final” choice because they fear they may make a wrong choice and close off options

Suggest that your son or daughter talk with faculty and career advisers about potential choices.

Direct your child to family, friends, or colleagues who are in fields in which he or she has an interest. “Informational interviewing” with people can be extremely helpful at this stage.

Steer your child toward a source of information. Many campuses have a career consultant or mentoring network of alumni in various career fields who are willing to share information with students about their careers. These resources are invaluable both in this exploratory stage and later as students are seeking internships and jobs.

During the sophomore year and throughout the junior year, it is important for students to experiment with possible career options. They can do this in a variety of ways: internships, cooperative education programs, summer jobs, campus jobs, and responsible volunteer experiences both on campus and in the local community. This is a critical time for your support and understanding.

What You Can Do to Help

Encourage your child to use the resources available at the campus career center. Experts there can assist your child in preparing a good resume and finding opportunities to test career choices. Most career centers are in direct contact with employers.

Tell your child that you understand the importance of gaining exposure to and experience in his or her field of career interest. Broadening experience through involvement outside the classroom is a valuable use of time.

Internships or summer experiences may be non-paying. Also, a good opportunity may be in a distant location. Discuss your financial expectations with your child before a commitment is made.

Don’t conduct the internship or summer job search for your child. It’s a great help to provide networking contacts or names of people who may be helpful; however, making the contact and speaking for your child deprives him or her of an important learning experience—and may make a poor impression on the future employer.

The senior year is when organizing and conducting a job search or graduate school search begins in earnest. It is also a time when students are heavily involved in more advanced courses and often have more responsible roles in campus and/or volunteer activities. Balancing these important pursuits and setting priorities is a constant challenge for seniors.

You are probably anxious for this young adult to make a decision—and yet, he or she may be moving toward closure more slowly than you would wish.

What You Can Do to Help

  • Suggest that he or she use the campus career center throughout the senior year. These offices provide assistance in preparation for the job search. Offerings may include:
    • Workshops and individual help with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and other job-search skills,
    • Individual and group career advising
    • Job-search resources
    • On-campus interviewing opportunities
    • Alumni career consultant or mentor programs
  • Don’t nag your child about not having a job yet. This will often have the reverse effect. Use positive reinforcement.
  • Offer to assist by sending information you may have found about your child’s target career field and/or job listings that may be of interest. Listen for indications from your child that you are getting carried away—and back off.
  • Don’t call potential employers to intervene for your child. Contact with potential employers is the candidate’s responsibility.
  • Be prepared to support your child through the ups and downs of the job and graduate school search. It can be a bumpy road—not every desired job or graduate school acceptance will come through. Your student will need reassurance that for every door that closes, another opens.

A Family’s Guide to Career Development

By Thomas J. Denham
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

The most valuable things parents can do to help a student with career planning are:

  • Listen
  • Be open to ideas
  • Help your student find information

Here are eight more things you can do to help:

Next time you visit campus, drop into the career services office and pick up a business card from one of the career advisers. When your son or daughter is feeling anxious about his/her future, offer the card and say, “Please call this person. He (or she) can help you.”

Many students use their first semester to “settle into” college life, and so the spring semester of the freshman year is the optimal time to start using career center services. Ask your student (in an off-handed way), “Have you visited the career center?” If you hear, “You only go there when you are a senior,” then it’s time to reassure him/her that meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point—and should take place frequently—throughout a college career.

Many centers offer a full range of career development and job-search help, including:

  • Mock interviews
  • A network of alumni willing to talk about their jobs and careers
  • A library of books (including an online library of information) on a wide range of careers
  • Workshops on writing resumes and cover letters
  • A recruiting program
  • Individual advising

Writing a resume can be a “reality test” and can help a student identify weak areas that require improvement. Suggest that your student get sample resumes from the career center.

You can review resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, but recommend that the final product be critiqued by a career center professional.

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 personal qualities you see as talents and strengths. You can also recommend:

  • Taking a “self-assessment inventory,” such as FOCUS2.
  • Talking to favorite faculty members
  • Researching a variety of interesting career fields and employers

A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute event.

The career center will not “place” your child in a job at graduation. Colleges grant degrees, but not job guarantees, so having relevant experience in this competitive job market is critical.

Your son or daughter can sample career options by completing internships and experimenting with summer employment opportunities or volunteer work.

Why an internship?

  • Employers are interested in communication, problem-solving, and administrative skills, which can be developed through internships.
  • Employers look for experience on a student’s resume and often hire from within their own internship programs.
  • Having a high GPA is not enough.
  • A strong letter of recommendation from an internship supervisor may tip the scale of an important interview in their favor.

Part of experiencing college life is to be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities.

Employers will expect students to know what is happening around them. Buy your student a subscription to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

Introduce your student to people who have the careers/jobs that are of interest. Suggest your son or daughter contact people in your personal and professional networks for information on summer jobs. Encourage your child to “shadow” someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields.

Call your campus career center when you have a summer, part-time, or full-time job opening. The staff will help you find a hard-working student. If your company hires interns, have the internships listed in the career center. Join the campus career center’s career advisory network and use your “real world” experience to advise students of their career options.