How to Support Your Students Career Development
Your student's years at Western will be a time of dramatic growth and development. We suggest the following tips you can help your student maximize opportunities for academic, social and career development while at Western.
- Help your student identify his or her interests and abilities. Share your observations regarding your student's special talents and past successes, and provide support and feedback as new interests and goals develop. Encourage your student to use GUR (General University Requirement) courses to explore areas of interest. Career assessments available in the Career Services Center help students identify interests and relate them to fields of study and potential career fields.
- Help your student explore careers and become occupationally literate. Most students have stereotypical views of careers. You wouldn't believe how many students developed an interest in forensic science when the CSI series first came out! To help your student start thinking about different kinds of careers, talk about your job, the field you work in and your employer. If your student shows interest in your career field, invite him/her to do a job shadow with you. Discuss different organizational cultures and encourage your student to explore occupations and work environments by doing informational interviews or job shadows with relatives, family friends and individuals in your professional network. Informational interviews are particularly helpful in developing networking skills that will be valuable in seeking internships or career employment. Remind your student that the Career Services Center has a wealth of resources to help them explore career options.
- Allow your student to make his or her own career decisions. While it may be tempting to try to "nudge" your student into what you consider to be a practical or marketable degree, students are more successful when they follow their unique interests and passions. Remember that most majors don't translate directly into particular careers; our Graduate Outcomes Report can give you an idea of the varied directions our grads take after graduation. Employers don't hire "majors"; they hire skills, experience and personal characteristics like a strong work ethic, initiative and the ability to work effectively as a member of a team. Hopefully, when ready to graduate, your student will have a resume that reflects more than their major field of study. Campus leadership activities, thoughtfully selected elective coursework, internship experience and volunteer work provide opportunities for students to develop marketable knowledge and skills.
- Emphasize the importance of internships and other forms of career-related experience. In the competitive job market faced by today's college grads, relevant experience is critical. Our employment survey data reveals that students with internship experience find jobs faster and earn higher starting salaries. Some employers hire exclusively from within their own internship programs to make their entry-level hires. In addition to providing an opportunity to develop and document skills employers are looking for, internships also allow students to "test-drive" areas of interest and build professional contacts.
- Help your student develop professional networking skills. Job shadows and informational interviews at the career exploration stage (see above) can provide a head start with networking to seek internships or career employment. Professional networking allows students to develop relationships through which they can identify, or in some cases create, the kinds of opportunities they want. Provide your student with names and contact information for people in your personal and professional networks who might be able to assist them.
- Encourage your student to take full advantage of the programs and services provided by the Career Services Center. Every year a number of graduating students tell us they wish they had connected with us earlier and that they didn't realize we had so many resources available to help them. Our counselors are available for one-on-one assistance. We provide internship and job listings on our website and connect students and employers through our On-Campus Recruitment Program. We also host a variety of special programs each year including quarterly career fairs, the Internship and Volunteer Fair, Law School Info Fair and Health Professional School and Graduate School Info Fair. Our on-line tool, Optimal Resume, allows students to create professional resumes, websites and e-portfolios. It can also be used to rehearse for job interviews and to identify personal skills and relate them to the qualifications for specific job titles.
- Help the Career Services Center! If you're in a position to influence your organization's hiring activities, encourage your colleagues to recruit at Western by listing openings on our website, recruiting on campus and participate in our career fairs.